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Study Guide: The Fall of Babylon - Revelation 18:1-24

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Revelation 18:1-24

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
    She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
    the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
    lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.
Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
    and repay her double for her deeds;
    mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
    so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
    ‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
    and mourning I shall never see.’
For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
    death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
    for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas! You great city,
    you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

“The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
and all your delicacies and your splendors
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!”

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

“Alas, alas, for the great city
    that was clothed in fine linen,
        in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
        with jewels, and with pearls!
For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

“What city was like the great city?”

And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

“Alas, alas, for the great city
    where all who had ships at sea
    grew rich by her wealth!
For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
Rejoice over her, O heaven,
    and you saints and apostles and prophets,
for God has given judgment for you against her!”

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
    and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
    will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
    will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
    will be heard in you no more,
and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slain on earth.”

 


 

Main Idea:
Heaven provides a correct perspective on the judgment of “Babylon the great.”

Summary:
Chapter 18 builds on the narrative of Babylon’s destruction described in the previous chapter. Sandwiched between two heavenly pronouncements of God’s judgment on Babylon (v. 1–3, 21–24) are the responses of the people of God (v. 4–8) and the people of the earth (v. 9–20). The people of the earth mourn over her and stand in fear of her destruction. In contrast, the people of God are called to come out of her and to rejoice in the goodness of God’s judgment on her for the destruction she brought on the world.

Observation:

  • What is heaven’s perspective of Babylon in this chapter? How is she described (v. 1–2, 21–23)? Why is this her fate (v. 3, 23–24)?
  • Who are the different groups that weep at the destruction of Babylon (see v. 9, 11, 15, 17–18)? What are the reasons for their weeping (v. 9–20)?
  • How are the people of God called to respond differently to Babylon (v. 4–8)?

Application:

  • List some ways that the church in our culture is enticed to embrace the spirit of Babylon (immorality, luxury). Which of these things are the strongest allurements for you?
  • How would you counsel a believer who is caught in the spirit of Babylon? (Consider the lies that we are tempted to believe about God, the world, and ourselves, and how the gospel responds to these lies.)
  • What are the similarities between how non-believers in this passage and non-believers today view God’s judgment? Is judgment something that Christians ought to talk about in evangelistic conversations? How could the truths from this chapter help you in a conversation with a non-Christian friend?

Prayer:
In this passage, heaven has the final word. So let’s respond by thanking God for the victory that He will ultimately win over sin, for His righteous judgment on sin, and for His deep love for His church. Ask for the Holy Spirit's help in unifying us against the temptations of immorality and luxury. And pray for those who are caught in it.