Revelation 18:9-19 – In the rest of this chapter we have the mourning of the world over the destruction of the world’s city of cities. Ezekiel 27 may have been on John’s mind, Ezekiel’s lamentation over the fall of ancient Tyre is so similar to these words.
The first group of people Revelation discusses are the kings of the earth, the rulers who have adopted the Babylonian philosophy of self-gratification and have based their kingdoms on it. They lament because the Beast who will destroy Babylon (Revelation 17:16) is letting them know that the days of any independence are over, their sovereignty is now about to end. The kings of the earth are mentioned first, probably because they are the highest examples of materialism and independence.
The merchants mourn (Revelation 18:11-17). They have most to lose because Babylon was built on luxury. There will be businesses all over the world that are devastated by the collapse of Babylon and its wealth. There are at least thirty kinds of merchandise listed here in Scripture that demonstrate how much of a commercial center the city will become. It will be the commercial trading and financial crossroads of the world. The business and commercial people of the world mourn the loss of so much wealth (Revelation 18:17a). There is a reference to slavery which speaks of the bondage that people were in as a result of its system and wealth.
A third group, the working man, is represented here by the transport industry (Revelation 18:17b-19); they will also have cause to lament, for they will lose their jobs as a result of the destruction of Babylon. At the beginning of the tribulation, the world will believe as it has always believed that mankind will be able to use and control the Beast for the betterment of society. However, in great sorrow and self-pity the world will wake up to the fact that the Beast has deluded them, and that instead of giving them unbridled leave to advance its independence and self will, he will place them in a bondage that they never thought possible.
This was the hope of my kinsmen in Germany in the advance of the markets under the initial rise of Hitler, only to wind up in the concentration camps and to see their beloved Germany laid waste in the aftermath of WW II.
The range of merchandise covered in Revelation 18:12-13 is extensive, covering luxury and necessity alike, but emphasizing luxury. The word fruit in Revelation 18:14 seems to be an allusion to the fruit of the garden, which began the whole mess we have now come to. The fruit was desired to make one wise and desirable for food, and the source of pride and rebellion. It seems to suggest that just when humanism feels it can attain its goals it will self-destruct, for, at last, when they reach out for the desired fruit, it will disappear.
The words of the merchants’ lament emphasize luxury, and no spiritual value. The quest for independence from God and its failure will be revealed to all. The path that started in the garden and seen in Babel will end here in Mystery Babylon; Satan will be demonstrated to have been behind it, yet he will have to destroy it because it will be out of control and will be threatening to compromise his kingdom. Sadly man will not turn even after this to the one who can bring healing and life.
Revelation 18:20-24 In contrast to the sorrow of the kings and merchants there rejoicing in heaven that Babylon has fallen. It is so important for God’s people to look at events from God’s perspective. This is the answer to the importunate widow of Luke 18 banging on the judge’s door asking to be avenged from her enemies. This judgment by God vindicates His servants who were martyred (Revelation 6:9-11).
We see another strong angel who appears and takes a stone that is compared to a millstone. Millstones were noted for their heavy weight and were used to grind grain. Like the stone Babylon the great will be thrown down with great violence and will no longer be found.
Jeremiah spoke of this as well (Jeremiah 51:61-64). No longer will the sounds of mirth and the sound of work be heard in the city, no marriages no births, Babylon will be utterly destroyed. Revelation 18:24 should be compared with Revelation 17:6 and Matthew 23:35.
Satan has used religion and business to persecute and slay the people of God. During the first half of the Tribulation, as “the beast” rises to power, religion and the need for political- economic unity, Babylon will work together in opposing the Lord and His people. It may have seemed that God does not care; but at the right time, the Lord will vindicate His people and destroy both “the harlot” and the great city. God is patient with His enemies; but when He does begin to work, He acts suddenly and thoroughly.
Revelation 19:1-6 The rejoicing over the destruction of Babylon is looking back to vindication but also looking forward to the glorification of the Saints. Verse one begins with the shout of the multitude in heaven.
The Hallelujah chorus finds its inspiration in these words of Revelation 19 for this is the only time it appears in Scripture and it appears four different times. It is the Hebrew word that is translated “praise the Lord”. It is derived from halal, which means to praise, and Jah, which is the name of God.
Although Hallelujah appears only here in the Bible, it occurs in a translated form (praise the Lord) most often in the Psalms. The series of Psalms from 113-118 were called the Hallel, the Praise God, and is part of the education of every orthodox Jewish young man. God is praised because salvation, glory and power belong to him.
The theme of rejoicing in Heaven (Revelation 18:20) concludes the prophecy introduced by the voice from Heaven in Revelation 18:4; this rejoicing includes saints of both the Old and New Covenants. The basis for their rejoicing is that God has vindicated their suffering by this judgment.
The judgment calls to question one final time whether man will acknowledge God or Satan as Lord? The scene in heaven is one of pure delight as Satan is judged and removed for one thousand years.
Until God’s final Kingdom is set up on earth, there will still be an ember of rebellion against Him. Babylon’s judgment caused the smoke of her judgment to rise up forever which speaks of the remembrance of her judgment, that is final and permanent, just as the fires of hell are final and permanent. It brings to mind God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:28) and the description of hell (Mark 9:48).
The twenty-four elders represent mankind both Old and New Covenants and the living creatures represent the Spiritual creatures including the angels and other spiritual servants of the Lord as in Ezekiel 1. They are seen throughout Revelation worshiping the Lord. They cry out Amen, It may it be”, and Hallelujah, which means praise the Lord. The voice calls out to all of heaven to join in the heavenly praises. Believers in heaven are described as God’s bond servants, and denote that they have been faithful servants of the Lord, and include the small and great. Together they made the sound of multitude singing all together rejoicing in God’s reign.
Revelation 19:7 The marriage of the Lamb is the reunion of God’s promise to remarry His wife Israel. A marriage was the single greatest celebration and social event in Jewish tradition and remains so to this day. As we have considered in our earlier studies of God’s marriage to Israel, her divorce for unfaithfulness in keeping her marriage vow, and her remarriage with betrothal first are consistent with the flow of Scripture from Deut. onward.