After describing the wickedness in Babylon, the “mother” of evil, John sees a vision of God’s wrath coming down on her and the resulting celebration of her defeat. In the Bible it is common to announce a future event as if it has already happened, an emphatic way of saying a prophecy is a God-determined certainty (“fallen, fallen,” 18:1-2). Her downfall is also the downfall of her followers (18:3).
The vision includes a call for God’s people to separate themselves from the debauchery and degradation of evil. Separation from evil is the essence of holiness (18:4-8). God will “remember” Babylon and act accordingly (18:5). She will receive divine retribution (18:6) from the hand of God Himself (18:8). He will bring back on her what she caused: pestilence, mourning, and famine (18:7-8).
Verses 9 through 20 contain three dirges over the fall of evil. The allies of evil now mourn its defeat, not from affection but because their source of luxury is gone. Kings of the earth weep over Babylon’s destruction, but for just one hour (18:9-10). Merchants of the earth see their godless livelihood destroyed (18:11-17a). Her trade goods included human beings (18:13). Babylon’s destruction is observed for just one hour (18:17a). World trade suffers (18:17b-20), a prophecy against Tyre in Ezekiel 27:25-36, and applied here to Babylon. Again, mourning lasts just one hour (18:19). “Saints, apostles, and prophets” who benefit by these judgments have been the targets of all this evil (18:20).
Babylon is pictured as a large millstone being hurled into the sea, never to be found again (18:21; Ezek. 26:21). The joys of family, festival, and a boom economy at the expense of others will disappear (18:22-23). Verse 24 relates that evil forces and sinful people are not only responsible for persecuting the church (“prophets and saints”), but also for all the bloodshed of all time.
Revelation 19:1-4 relates the first three of four “Hallelujah” songs by a multitude in heaven celebrating the defeat of evil and the triumph of the Lamb. “Hallelujah” only appears four times in the English New Testament, all in Revelation 19. The first song focuses on God as Victor (19:1-2). The second celebrates God’s eternal supremacy (19:3), followed by a choral response in 19:4. Revelation chapters 4 and 5 foretold how God would ultimately win out over evil and bless His faithful people. Chapter 19 praises the accomplished fact of that vision.
Dr. David Moore is a university online instructor in Bible and theology. Email: email@example.com