Revelation 18 and part of 19 discuss Babylon’s destruction. In the rest of 19 and on through 20 we read about Christ’s victory and how the faithful will partake in it.
The message of Revelation 18:1-19:10 is the complete downfall of Babylon at the hand of God. Babylon, Rome, is extremely corrupt (Rev. 18:1-8). It is doomed because of its iniquities that infested the “great city,” including the kings and merchants. The latter two indicate that both the politics and business of Babylon were crooked. It seems things have not changed and makes one wonder how long God will tolerate such today before He brings an end to it. Anyway, the saints are instructed to flee her before she is taken down (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Gen. 19:2). This section (18:1-8) closes by declaring the arrogant city is simply getting what is coming to her; she is reaping what she sowed.
Those whom Babylon corrupted mourn over her fall, while the righteous rejoice (Rev. 18:9-20). The kings mourn because of the loss of their power. The merchants weep because of the loss of their wealth. Both groups are troubled for selfish reasons. They concern is not for sin or even human misery, but for what they have lost. The righteous, on the other hand, are told, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” (Rev. 18:20).
Revelation 18:21-24, tells us Babylon was to sink like a millstone, never to rise again. This is an image of the Roman Empire sinking into oblivion. When it fell, it fell forever. The joy that once existed will exist no more; festivity ceases. The reason for this: “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:24). God was exacting vengeance on the power that stood against His people, putting them to death.
The “great multitude” praise God for the defeat of Babylon (Rev. 19:1-10). These are the saints described in Revelation 7:9, 14. The harlot is judged and condemned. God is praised for bringing her down. Then comes a beautiful scene, the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). At this point there is a betrothal of the wife and the Lamb, similar to Joseph and Mary’s condition when she was found with child (Matt. 1:18, 20). The marriage is fulfilled in Revelation 21.
John is so overwhelmed by what he is seeing that he falls down to worship the angel (Rev. 19:10). The angel stops him and tells John to worship God. This truth cannot be lost on us today. God, and God alone, is worthy of worship. All other beings, great or small, are not to be worshiped.
Just as God defeated Rome, so He will defeat all His enemies. The message of Babylon’s fall gave great courage and hope to saints in the first century. Their persecution was intense and the cause seemed doomed. However, the Revelation gave them a look behind the scenes to see God knew what was going on, was still in control, and would lead them to victory. He will still lead us to victory, no matter how bad things may appear. Therefore, we cannot lose heart.
Steven F. Deaton