Proclamation of the Angel

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PROCLAMATION OF THE ANGELAfter this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” (Revelation 18:1-3)

When the Proclamation is Given – The final verses of Revelation 17 (before) warn of Babylon’s impending fall. Revelation 18 (after) gives the details of its destruction. While John received visions (before) that would happen in the future (after), he wrote down what he saw after seeing the vision. Thus,
his visions are recounted as if they had already occurred (“after this”).(1) The events of chapter 17 are likely fulfilled at the midpoint of the seven years, whereas the events of chapter 18 likely occur at the end of the seven years, and immediately before Christ’s second coming.(2)

Who Gives the Proclamation – The revelation about the destruction of Babylon was made by another angel coming down from Heaven. This contrasts with “one of the seven angels” mentioned in Revelation 17:1.(3) While this is no ordinary angel making the announcement (he has great power and a glory that radiates throughout the whole earth),(4) he should not be confused with the Angel of the Lord (i.e., Christ).(5)

What the Proclamation Says – Just like the Old Testament prophets often did, John proclaims these future event as if they had already taken place (“Fallen! Fallen…”). The angel’s lamentation is taken directly from the Old Testament (Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:8), as is the description of a barren land possessed only by desert creatures (Isaiah 34:9–15; Jeremiah 50:13; 51:29, 37).(6) 

Fallen, Fallen – The repetition of the word fallen is an indication of the certain occurrence of the yet future event.(7) It may also suggest two aspects of Babylon’s judgment: the fall of the apostate religious Babylon, “the harlot,” in Revelation 17, and the fall of the commercial/political Babylon here in Revelation 18. This thought appears to be affirmed in Revelation 18:6 when God announces that Babylon will receive “double” for her many sins.(8) As there is to be an ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate religion) in the great Tribulation period, so there is also a great commercial and political Babylon (empire). It will be the pride of the great men of the earth (“kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her”). Like the Babylon of history, it will come to a terrible and an everlasting end, when Christ returns in His glory.(9)

The fall of the woman (apostate religious system) at the end of Revelation 17 apparently brought no mourning from the earth and was actually brought about by the powers of the earth. By contrast the fall of the political/commercial Babylon in Revelation 18 appears to be caused by supernatural events (see next section), although modern nuclear warfare could also bring sudden and total desolation. Its destruction brings loud lamentation from the earth’s political and economic powers, lending credence to the argument that the destruction is supernatural in its origin (why would earth’s inhabitants “weep and mourn” if they were the ones who had caused the destruction?).(10)

Desolate Forever – In Jeremiah 51:26, the prophet proclaims that the judgment of Babylon will be so complete that its ruins will lie desolate forever.(11) Such will also be the case with the end times “revived Babylonian/Roman Empire.” It will become “a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.” See also Isaiah 13:21–22; 34:11–15; Jeremiah 50:39; 51:37; Zephaniah 2:13–15. With his reference to every unclean and detestable bird John probably envisions carrion fowl—birds that eat flesh (see Revelation 8:13; 19:17–18). The Greek word for bird here and in Revelation 19 differs from the word used earlier in Revelation 8. It is normally used to refer to birds that are unclean for religious reasons (Deuteronomy 14:12–18). However, the two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as several flesh-eating fowl appear on Moses’ list.(12) Some translations also say that it will be a haunt of every unclean and detested animal. The Greek word for animal is also translated beast, a term that is also used for the anti-Christ figure and the false prophet. John likely intends to create a subtle comparison between them and the other beasts living in desolated Babylon such as hawks, hyenas, jackals, and buzzards (see Isaiah 13:21–22; 34:11–15; Jeremiah 50:39; 51:37; Zephaniah 2:13–15).(13)

Why the Proclamation is Necessary – Retribution to the wicked in accordance with their mistreatment of others was a common theme in the Old Testament (Nehemiah 4:4; Esther 9:25; Psalm 7:15–16; 35:8; 57:6; Proverbs 26:27; 28:10; Daniel 6:24; Jeremiah 50:15, 29; Obadiah 15). Paying someone back “double” indicated that the retribution would be more than complete (Isaiah 40:2).(14) The judgment on this Babylon comes because the Babylonian system had polluted the entire world. As in the judgment of the harlot, the sin is that of fornication or idolatry. The system intoxicated the people of the world with all the riches and pleasures it had to offer. It catered to those who were “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). Christians in every age have had to heed the warning of 1 John 2:15–17 (“lust of eyes, lust of flesh, pride of life”). How easy it is to become fascinated by the things the world offers. Like a person taking a sip of wine, we can soon find ourselves over indulging and still wanting more. A world system that opposes Christ has always been with us, and we must beware of its growing influence. It temporarily satisfies the desires of those who follow the beast and reject the Lamb. But worldly pleasures and possessions never permanently satisfy or last. They are a form of idolatry that is demonic in its origin and destructive in its outcome.(15)

Up Next – Proclamation from Heaven.

_______________

References

  1. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 18:1–24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  2. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 973). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 972). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 614). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 972). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 18:2). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 325). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 614). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament (p. 94). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  10. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 972–973). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Dyer, C. H. (1985). Jeremiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1202). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  12. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 18:6). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  13. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 18:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  14. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 18:6). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  15. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 614). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

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