Revelation 18:1-24 Part 8

REVELATION 18:1-24 Part 8


1)    After those I saw another messenger, one having great authority, come down from the heaven; and the land was emblazoned by His glory.

2)    And He did cry out in a mighty sound, saying “she has fallen!  Babylon the Great has fallen!  She has become a dwelling place of demons and a haunt of every unclean spirit and a gathering of every unclean and detestable bird.

3)    All the nations drank from the wine of the passion of her fornication; for the kings did fornicate with her, and the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her wantonness.”

4)    Then I heard another sound from the heaven, saying “come out of her My people that you not participate in her sins and receive her plagues;

5)    for her sins are heaped up unto the heaven and God remembered her iniquities.

6)    Repay her just as she meted out; and double double according to her works!  Mingle her double in the cup that she mingled!

7)    As much as she appeared glorious but waxed wanton, give her that much torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I am the sitting queen, I am not a widow, and I will never see mourning’.

8)    Because of this, in one day her plagues will come: death and mourning and famine, and she will be utterly burned in fire; for mighty is the Lord God Who judged her.

9)    When they look upon the smoke of her burning, the kings of the earth who fornicated and reveled with her will weep and lament over her,

10) having stood at a distance in awe of her torment, saying ‘woe, woe the great city’, Babylon the mighty city, for your judgment came in one hour.

11) And the merchants of the earth weep and sorrow over her because there is no longer anyone buying their cargo -

12) cargoes of gold and silver and precious stone and pearl and fine linen and purple and silk and crimson; and all kinds of scented wood, and every kind of ivory vessel, and every kind of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble articles;

13) cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense; wine, oil, fine flour, wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and chariots; and slaves…… human souls!

14) And the fruit of your soul’s lusts has gone away from you; all – the dainty and the bright – have gone away from you; and you will never find them again;

15) These merchants who had been enriched from her shall stand at a distance weeping and mourning at the awesomeness of her torment,

16) saying ‘woe, woe the great city’, arrayed with fine linen and purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls, for in one hour so much wealth is made desolate.

17) And every shipmaster and all sailing to the place and mariners and all who trade by sea did stand at a distance

18) and cry out when seeing the smoke of her burning, saying ‘any likeness of the great city?’

19) Weeping and mourning they cast dust upon their heads, saying ‘woe, woe the great city’ by which all that had ships in the sea did abound from her great worth, for in one hour she was made desolate.

20) Be gladdened over her heaven and holy ones and apostles and prophets! for from your lawsuit God did pass judgment on her.”

21) Then the one mighty messenger raised a stone as a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying “so with violence Babylon the great city shall be cast and shall never again be found.

22) The sound of harpers and musicians and pipers and trumpeters shall never be heard in you again; and no craftsman of any craft shall ever be found in you again; and the sound of a millstone shall never be heard in you again;

23) and the light of a candle shall never shine in you again; and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall never be heard in you again; for your merchants were the princes of the earth, and by your enchantment all the nations of the earth were seduced.

24) And the blood of the prophets was found in her, and that of every one of the holy ones ever slain upon the land.”


The language used in the Revelation of God’s original Garden of Eden appears as well in the descriptions of Israel - the paradise land of promise.  So, we know that, in the infinite and incomprehensible mind of God, they are “alike”.  And they were alike in that they both were to reflect the glory of God and His tabernacle in the heaven.

A number of the “likenesses” were brought to our attention last Lord’s Day in the preaching; and there were others mentioned in the second hour.  But that wasn’t an exhaustive study.  There are others (probably many others) which would serve to illustrate the height and depth and breadth of the immeasurable and unfathomable mind and will of God. 

And, by extension, the consideration of these things and the meditation on them serves to keep us in fear and humility; for, having reflected on them, how could one ever think too highly, or take up his own independent course, or presume self-determination (as did Eve in the original paradise, and as did the harlot in the second “heaven-and-earth” creation known as Israel).

The “flip-side” of that is, that one who has taken up his own way in opposition to God has no fear of Him.  The Psalmist said that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  In other words, when we begin to fear Him, we start being wise.  Therefore God’s reasoning is that - opposing Him, or rebelling against Him, reflects the absence of fear and wisdom!  It’s just foolish arrogance!


After reading from the twenty seventh chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel (a fearful passage of Scripture), we were made aware that the same language there also appears here in the verses nine through nineteen as Almighty God brings judgment upon the harlot that was given all of the beauty and perfections of paradise – just as in the original edenic paradise.  And just as in the original, so it was in the land of plenty (Israel) - it was all taken away… paradise lost. 

The mourning of the kings and merchants and seamen of the nations appears in both passages (here and in Ezekiel twenty seven).  So, the loss of the harlot that had caused the nations to drink of the passions of the wine of her fornications meant the loss of the riches she provided… which brings us once again (for just a minute or so) to the third (and eternal) Kingdom in Christ Jesus, one which will bestow all of the perfections of Paradise; and one which will never be destroyed.

The apostle Paul, in his letters to the Churches, elaborates on just these things, doesn’t he?  He makes it clear that Israel’s loss is to the gain of the nations!  The loss suffered by the Gentiles of all the riches from dealing with the harlot nation of Israel is more than made up for by the gain that has been secured for them – as promised in the Abrahamic covenant!

The destruction of the paradise land of Israel meant the inclusion of the Gentile nations in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!  They lose the beauty and riches of the paradise of the harlot; and they gain the Paradise of the Savior of the world! 

And, once again, we’ll hear all about His Kingdom/Paradise in the later chapters of The Revelation; and (just as in these first eighteen chapters) we’ll hear it in the prophetic language of God… all of which leads us to understand that the original “Eden”, described to us only briefly by Moses, is prophetic of the future Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  And the later creation of Israel was a much more explicit prophecy of His future Kingdom!

In the later chapters John will hear our Lord’s Kingdom Paradise described in the very same language used by God in the conformation and fashioning of His heaven-and-earth land of promise.

So, the creation and loss of the original paradise, and the creation and loss of the second one (both due to sin and the curse) are essentially prophetic revelations of One to come Who would take sin and the curse upon Himself for the sake of the world – and ultimately for the glory of God the Father.  And since He will have overcome sin and the curse, there will be no loss of His Kingdom Paradise!

Just a few further comments about it before we continue in verse twenty….

It’s been said that the Kingdom is “in heaven”, where Jesus is.  But nothing is any more plain in Scripture than the fact that Jesus has been given reign and rule over all the creation.  And He rules it all “from” the heaven.  And since He IS the Overcomer of sin and death and the curse, all of His work in this creation will be completed.

It’s also been said that the Kingdom of Christ is “in your heart”.  But, you see, as much as that sounds good to the ears, it’s just another unbiblical attempt to separate Jesus Christ from the work of His creation!  His work is not to save individual souls “out of” this creation, but to save His people AND the creation itself!  “In the beginning was The WORD; and the WORD was with God; and the WORD WAS God.  And without Him nothing was made that was made.”  There is not one indication in all of Scripture that His intent is to destroy the world!  His work in His creation is ongoing; and it’s not done until all of it glorifies The Father.

When we say that we now live in the Paradise inaugurated at the death, burial and resurrection of The Christ, we must never forget that the resurrected Christ was thereafter crowned King of Kings!  He’s not only Prophet and Priest – He is also King!  His work wasn’t over at His resurrection, for all the creation has not yet been subjected to His rule!  And we who belong to Him haven’t yet experienced the completed work!  We live in it; and we see it and anticipate it through the Word of God and the gift of Faith.

But, you see, He is the OVERCOMER.  The curse and abandonment of Jesus Christ on the cross “overcomes” the curse of God that was pronounced on mankind and the creation in the first paradise – AND in the second one.  Now His work proceeds; and the promise to Abraham will come to its fullness as the kings and nations and tribes and tongues acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.  And at the “general” resurrection, the paradise inaugurated at Jesus’ resurrection will be fully realized – by not only the creation itself, but by an innumerable seed promised to Abraham in Christ Jesus.

Our lives span only a brief period during Jesus’ work; and when we die we are by no means separated from Him – abandoned and alone in death.  Even in death we are In Him; and we’re kept by Him – to be resurrected in Him to a fully realized Paradise – and all to the glory of the Father.

Much of it is yet to be heard in The Revelation – all of it heard and written by John in the words and language of God that we’re becoming so familiar with.

The elect of Jacob (the remnant of Israel scattered in the nations) and the Gentile converts received this letter in advance of our Lord’s Parousia.  The hope and anticipation in their time was the Parousia – the prophesied execution of the harlot and the beginning work of the Christ in subduing all of the Gentile nations.

Our perspective is somewhat different in that the Parousia of our Lord has already occurred (as prophesied); the harlot has been executed and there is no more paradise land of Israel.  Our forefathers, the elect remnant of Jacob, established the visible representation of Christ’s Kingdom (the Church) in the midst of the fourth beast of history!  And that empire was splintered and shattered into many parts by the rod of iron in the hand of the King of Kings.

Our original forefathers in the first Churches shouldered the load; and they took the brunt of the attack from that beast; and the Church of Jesus Christ won!  For almost two thousand years now, the beasts (mini-beasts) keep on coming, and raising their ugly heads in multiple attempts to cut off the Kingdom. 

But there has been victory after victory after victory.  Not one of them has ever ruled the earth in competition with the Christ.  He has overcome each time.  And now the Church is visible in almost every nation tongue and tribe, and is growing faster and faster!  And no matter how ominous present and future attempts may be, we anticipate more victories and more growth – even in times of persecution… (and may I say it) especially in times of persecution!

And, in our time, and from our viewpoint, we may find it ironic that the nation that is often called the greatest and freest nation in history is now led by the latest, serious provocation of the King and His Kingdom!  And when these mini-beasts rise up against the King of Kings, that’s when His mighty rod of iron demonstrates the futility of that arrogance.

One last thing about the Church before I’m through with this….

Theologians have posited that the Church of Jesus Christ is “more or less pure”.  And statements like that serve to “confound” lots of folks.  They don’t like the sound of it, because the Church is supposed to be the “body of Christ”.  The “supposition” is that it is to be pure.

Others have said that all of the various sects and denominations that exist in the Church deny the unity of the body of Christ.  They say it shouldn’t be that way… that there shouldn’t be “divisions”; and that imperfections shouldn’t exist in His institution.

Many others say that they want no part of “organized religion” because there are “hypocrites” in the Church. 

Then there are those who just generalize about the “imperfections” that seem to abound in all Churches; and, in their opinions, those imperfections serve to denigrate the value and even the legitimacy of the Church! 

And then there are Churches that actually deny that any other Church is the real Church!  They throw them all out… except their own.

But you see, here’s the thing… the original “Eden”, and the heaven-and-earth paradise land of Israel, are both prophetic of a coming Paradise – already created in Christ Jesus – that is yet to be fully realized! ... one in which there will be no imperfections… one in which there will be no disunity… and one in which there will be no sin and curse on humanity and the creation.

In His death and resurrection that new paradise was inaugurated, and He was crowned and installed as its Head!  And in His further work as reigning King of Kings from the heaven, all the nations will one day acknowledge His Kingship.

So the question has to be: why in the world would anybody expect unity and perfection in the Church as long as the creation suffers under the curse… and as long as humanity languishes in its own depravity?

The fully realized paradise that we long for and anticipate isn’t finished yet!  Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords hasn’t completed His work yet!  So the critique of the Church as not being pure and unified is inane and empty!  Although the seed of Abraham are secure in Christ, nothing this side of the resurrection is without blemish!

Of course we should anticipate it and work for it; but… judge Christ’s Church and condemn it because it isn’t perfect?  Avoid it because it isn’t pure?  Rubbish!  That’s just another example of the lack of fear of Almighty God and His King – and the ensuing paucity of wisdom.


Now…the last words that John hears from the mighty sound from above the tabernacle appear here in verse twenty:


“Be gladdened over her heaven and holy ones and apostles and prophets! for from your lawsuit God did pass judgment on her.”


We’ve heard what I’m about to say before; but, due to the importance of it, let’s do it again.  We’ve all heard Jesus quoted (by evangelicals and unbelievers alike): “judge not lest you be judged”.  And if you remember, they never quote the whole text!

Rather, they pick and choose the parts they want in order to pummel anyone who calls sin: sin!  And the real irony here is that their accusation is a judgment!  They’re judging the one who they accuse of judging!

And since they leave out most of what Jesus said, they’re judging by their own standard rather than God’s standard.  What Jesus further said was: “… for you will be judged with the judgment with which you judge”.

So the real issue there that Jesus was addressing was “by what standard”.  (That’s the title, by the way, of a very good book by my [now deceased] friend and mentor: Greg Bahnsen).

Should you judge and condemn by your own standard, then you’ll be judged by that same standard.  But should you judge by the only “just” standard (i.e. God’s holy Law-word), then you are included in the four groups that we find here in verse twenty!!

All four of these groups have judged by God’s standard; and they form the witnesses in the law-suit against the harlot Israel!  God’s Law requires multiple witnesses in order to confirm a thing.  He is Three in-and-of-Himself.  But He has many, many more Who He calls “judges of the world”!  They are: heaven, holy ones, apostles and prophets!

In the first place, God calls attention to heaven itself.  And, by that, He means the entire glory cloud/tabernacle and all its creatures.  In our repeated readings of all the chapters in the Revelation, we’ve been made aware that the entirety of the heaven rings and flashes and thunders with the sights and sounds of joy and praise to YAHVEH of Hosts as He reveals to John and the Churches what His will and intent is with regard to this harlot. 

We don’t need to read all of those again.  But as the time nears for the Day of YAHVEH and the Parousia of His Christ, the entire prophetic Word is brought to bear as John is shown all that’s happening in the tabernacle.  He sees it all; and He hears it all.  And all the creatures there in the tabernacle respond with rejoicing!  They all are participants, you see; and they are witnesses to what is about to be!  And, as so, they are “judging” – making judgments – by God’s standards rather than some other.

Then the mighty sound that John hears refers to “holy ones”.  The Greek word means those who have been “separated out” and belong to God.  They are the seed Kept for Himself; and they are “holy” because of that!  King James and other translations use the term “saints” to translate the word; but that just doesn’t do the word justice.  And, besides that, the word “saints” has collected some negative connotations through the centuries of the Church.  It’s better – much better – to use the direct translation: “holy ones”. 

There are holy ones from the tribes of Jacob scattered into the nations to form the Churches of Christ; and there are holy ones who have been persecuted and whose blood has been shed by the ancestors of Israel’s priests and pharisees throughout history.

I have two passages to read for you… one from the apostle Paul as he writes to the Churches in Corinth; and the second from chapter six of John’s Revelation.  They both have to do with the people of God being judges of the world.

Here’s Paul first…


1)    When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the holy ones?

2)    Or, do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?

3)    Do you not know that we are even to judge messengers? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

4)    So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?

5)    I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,

6)    but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

7)    To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

8)    But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

9)    And do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived!  Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate,

10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God….

11) and such were some of you!  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


You see, Paul says that in the Kingdom of our Lord, the holy ones (those separated out by God for Himself) are to judge the world… and the fallen angel/messengers!  They are witnesses before God who are to make judgments according to the standard – not by some other standard, but by “no other standard”.

And here’s what John heard from the heaven as the Lamb of God opened the seals, you remember… chapter six at verse nine:


9)    And when He did open the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of the testimony that they were holding.

10) And in a great sound they did cry out, saying “until when, holy and worthy Master, are You not judging and avenging our blood from those dwelling on the land?

11) And a white priestly garment was given to each one, and it was spoken to them that they should rest themselves yet a little time until also their fellow-servants and brothers who are about to be killed even as they, should be fulfilled.


The holy ones of God whose blood has been shed for the Word of God and their testimony – their witness – are judges of those who remain in “the land” – the heaven and earth paradise of God.  And they cry out from beneath the mercy seat in God’s tabernacle – petitioning for God’s vengeance to be poured out upon their persecutors.

And now they are to be “gladdened” (John hears) – they are to rejoice and be glad; for the time is near for Almighty God to avenge their blood.  All of the harlot’s beauty and riches and world-wide fame is about to be extinguished in one hour in the wrath of God.  The testimony of the persecuted holy ones in YAHVEH’s lawsuit against the harlot is by God’s standard; for there is no other standard.

Just a couple of points here from Paul’s letter before we continue:

We are not to take a brother to law before those who operate by some other standard.  Paul made that clear when he told the Church at Corinth that the Roman government was not the legal entity before which Christians should settle disputes between them.  However, if we are forced to go to law in a venue that doesn’t hold God’s Law as the standard, then we are to use their law against them as best we can.  The apostle himself did that, you remember….

Second point is… if, or when, we are persecuted at law for holding the testimony of Jesus Christ and keeping His Commandments, then we are to be judges of that law and petition our Lord to avenge us.  We are not to take vengeance into our own hands; for vengeance on our adversaries belongs only to God.  And, further, we can rejoice and be glad when that vengeance takes place!

And even further than that…!  Should a government subvert its own law for its own purposes, and invoke another standard in place of God’s standard, and God’s holy ones become subjects of persecution, we can very easily conclude that imprecatory prayers are required of us!  This is the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And a government that rises up against Him and His people becomes a subject for vengeance from Him.  The prayers of His people constitute a cosmic lawsuit against anyone who purports to compete with Him and to persecute His holy ones.

When you pray (and I hope that you take advantage of the incredible privilege of prayer often), don’t ever take it to be a “duty”.  It’s not.  If you see it as a duty, then it’s not by HIS standard.  Rather, it’s a great privilege – afforded only to those who are separated out as His Own – to humble ones self before Almighty God in the Name of Christ.  And when you do, your petitions will be heard.  And they should include asking for His vengeance to be poured out on all who would persecute His people.

Let’s go on now and finish this text – verse twenty.

The third and fourth categories of those judges and witnesses in God’s lawsuit against Israel are prophets and apostles.  We’ve read so many passages from the prophets – from Moses to the apostle John here in the Revelation.  I’m not going to read any here.

But just remember that each and every one of them were personally confronted by God Himself; and each of them were given words and deeds as witnesses to God.  And, as such, they are proclaimed here in our text as “judges” in this lawsuit.  As God pronounces the execution of the harlot, it is their judgment that forms the multiple witnesses to Israel’s unrepentant sin against God.

And the same is true of the apostles of Jesus Christ.  They too have preached the Gospel of the Kingdom.  And they, along with the lost sheep of the house of Jacob, were the subjects of persecution at the hands of Israel’s elders and lawyers and priests.

And as the Churches receive this letter from John, all of these witnesses join with the creatures in the heaven to rejoice and be gladdened that the time is near; that the Parousia of the Christ is “at hand”; and that Almighty God would avenge them.

As we finish the preaching this morning, the words of Jesus to His disciples (just before His crucifixion) come to mind once again; for He was warning them about the “end of the age” and the “Day of YAHVEH”… that they and all of His sheep from the tribes of Jacob would join the prophets of old in persecution and death by this harlot.  Their witness was the same as the prophets; and their allotment of persecution was also the same.

Listen to it from the Gospel of Matthew:


“Woe to you scribes and pharisees hypocrites, you repair the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

and you say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers of them in the blood of the prophets.”

So you are witnesses to yourselves that you are sons of those who killed the prophets;

and you, you fill up the measure of your fathers.

Serpents, brood of vipers, how shall you escape from the judgment of Gehenna?

Because of this, Lo, I send to you prophets and wise men, and scribes; of them you will kill and crucify, and of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and you will persecute them from city into city,

In order that all righteous blood shall come upon you which has been spilled upon the earth from the blood of the righteous Abel until the blood of Zacharias Son of Barachias, who you murdered between the temple and altar!

Amen I say to you, these things shall come upon this generation.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, she who kills the prophets and stones the ones who were being sent to her, how many times I wished to gather together your children (even as a bird gathers her brood under her wings) and you would not.

Lo, your house is left to you a desolation.”


You see, the elders and priests and pharisees of Israel proved themselves to be not the seed of the holy ones – but the seed of those who persecuted and killed the holy ones!

The “holy ones” of God, and the prophets sent by God, and the apostles of Jesus Christ are all the promised seed; and they are all witnesses to God of Israel’s persecution.   And they’re all judges in this lawsuit… a lawsuit with no other standard!  And they would all join with the creatures in the heaven to rejoice and be glad in the coming vengeance of God.