After the first angel of the seven, which appeared with the bowls in Revelation 17:1, a second angel descends from heaven. This angel announces the fall of Babylon as if it has already taken place, indicating the surety of the event. His illuminating splendor is a sign of his power and authority – proof that he came from the presence of God. When Moses was in the presence of the Lord, he, too, radiated God’s glory.
Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.
In Revelation 14:8, the second angel announced the same judgment over Babylon, which shows us the same judgment from a different angle. In the former Babylon was accused of making the nations drink of her maddening wine of adultery. Here, Babylon is accused of becoming a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit and every unclean and detestable bird. Literally, the angel accuses Babylon of being on the edge of hell until the judgment day.
Jude 1:5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe, 6and the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Isaiah 34:9, 10 Edom's streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch. 10It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again.
Having drunk from her maddening wine symbolizes the worldly race to acquire wealth and carnal pleasure from this life instead of glorifying God for the riches of his mercy. The pursuit of wealth and power is likened to seduction and the obsession to be away from the Lord likened to adultery. The richness of her luxuries changes men’s rationale, enticing them with pleasure and worldly comfort, dragging them away to death.
Directly from the throne of God comes the call to the church, ‘Come out of her’ which is as if he said, ‘set yourself apart from the wicked; come with me now; don’t linger; don’t hesitate.’ We see the same thing happening on several occasions in Scripture:
Genesis 19:12, 13 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here 13because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
Numbers 16:26 He warned the assembly, "Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins."
Isaiah 48:20 Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it. Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, "The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob."
Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD.
Jeremiah 50:8 "Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock."
Jeremiah 51:6, 45, 50 "Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD'S vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves. 45Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the LORD. 50You who have escaped the sword, leave and do not linger! Remember the LORD in a distant land, and think on Jerusalem."
Matthew 24:15, 16 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
II Corinthians 6:17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
I Timothy 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
The call is not only to flee from the wrath of God, but to set ourselves apart from evil by keeping ourselves pure, not that we boast in being superior to others, but we boast in Christ our Lord who provided for us, through his merits on the cross, his blood in which we are washed clean or pure.
When the angel calls us to ‘come out’ we are not called to isolate ourselves from the world, but we are not to participate in evil or wickedness, while we are in the world but not of the world.
These passages of Scripture describe our duty to judge on another.
I Corinthians 5:9-13 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.
Because of the protection we have in Jesus Christ, we are able to work and minister in the world, while remaining separate from the world, from the evil one.
John 17:14-18 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
While in the world we are to act as the salt of the earth, proclaiming that one ultimate expression of love for our fellow man, the gospel.
Matthew 5:12-16 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
If, however, we are called out, as the angel does in Revelation 18:4, we are called to separate ourselves from the antichrist-Babylon, the secular world, because there is a danger, while we are in the world, that our common interests with the secular world could dilute our resolve to be the salt or the city on the hill.
We have to remain diligent in judging our fellow believers as to their fruits, giving them that love and protection that will sustain them in times of trial and temptation.
Matthew 18:15-17 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
When the angel says that ‘her sins are piled up to heaven’ it literally means that they are so gross and overwhelming, that the sins of the world cry out in heaven, such as the petitions of the martyrs under the altar who cry out for the revenge of their blood.
Jeremiah 51:8-10 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. 9"We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds. 10"The LORD has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the LORD our God has done."
Ezra 9:5-7 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God 6And prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7From the days of our forefathers until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today."
God remembers our crimes as we see in Ezra 9:7, but not to punish us, but to purify us through affliction, as a father disciplines his child – and we children of God through the merits of Christ. In contrast, Babylon’s crimes are punished, without any intent of purification but only satisfaction for her sins. She does not posses the merits of Christ, so she has to stand in judgment for the satisfaction of her own sins, which will cost her, her life.
It is important to note that God remembers all sins, those of the believers as well as those of the unbelievers. The difference is that God punished his Son for our sins so that we may be free, and punishes the unbelievers directly because they refuse to believe the truth and be free.
Since Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross was sufficient for all the sins of all the believers, past, present, and future, we are sure that our past, present and future sins are debited to Christ’s merit-account, which He earned on the cross.
Since we are that precious to God that his Son’s humiliation, suffering, and death was an acceptable price for Him to pay for us, we ought to show unlimited gratification and loyalty, knowing that as God remembers Babylon’s sins, he also remembers ours but his Son paid that account in full.
Some translations read ‘as she has given you’ implying that Israel must pay her back, but in the most reliable text the implication is absent, which is more in harmony with Revelation 17:16, which says, “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” It is then not us who will bring about her destruction, nor should we seek that revenge, but the secular world will render that judgment, as we have seen in Revelation 17:17 where the ten kings will willingly perform God’s will, destroying her.
The measure of Babylon’s payback is commensurate with her evil, ‘as she has done to others.’
Jeremiah 50:15, 29 Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the LORD, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others. 29Summon archers against Babylon, all those who draw the bow. Encamp all around her; let no one escape. Repay her for her deeds; do to her as she has done. For she has defied the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
Psalm 137:8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us.
The measure of the believers’ benefit is commensurate with Christ’s sacrifice.
Isaiah 40:2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
Isaiah 61:7 Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.
Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
As she enjoyed her riches and luxuries, so she must now suffer her torture and grief. She does not realize that her judgment has come, still proclaiming that she is queen and will never mourn.
Isaiah 47:7-11 You said, 'I will continue forever--the eternal queen!' But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen. 8"Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.' 9Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. 10You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.' 11Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.
It is not an accident that Isaiah records the words that Babylon uses for herself, “I am, and there is none besides me.” In the Hebrew text the word, ephec is used, while the Septuagint translated it with ego eimi, which are the words God use to describe himself. Christ also used ego eimi to describe himself, such as in Luke 21:8.
The word ‘therefore’ indicates that this judgment over Babylon is a direct result of the crimes mentioned before. The words ‘one day’ indicates that it will not come over a long period of time, but rather suddenly and unexpectedly. Her destruction will come by a four-fold demise, namely, death, mourning, famine and fire. It represents her total destruction.
Jeremiah 50:31 "See, I am against you, O arrogant one," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty, "for your day has come, the time for you to be punished."
Jeremiah 51:58 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations' labor is only fuel for the flames."
In the following verses up to verse 20, the fall of Babylon is mourned by the world but primarily by those who participated with her in her wickedness. The smoke of the burning city will be seen like that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 19:28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
Jeremiah 50:40, 46 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah along with their neighboring towns," declares the LORD, "so no one will live there; no man will dwell in it. 46At the sound of Babylon's capture the earth will tremble; its cry will resound among the nations.
The kings mourn because their days of luxury and pleasure have ended. They also mourn because they realized that they, too, will be destroyed. They realize now that Babylon’s assurances to them, ‘I sit as queen, I am not a widow, and I will never mourn’ were false.
If Babylon could fall so suddenly and so completely, and she was so strong, then their destruction is certain. They trusted in her to be their protection and power. Now she is in ruin.
Jeremiah 51:8, 9 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. 9'We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds.'
Life up to the destruction of Babylon was regulated by trade and profit, and even slave trading, ‘bodies and souls of men.’ What has been a custom has disappeared and they were not ready to give up their luxuries and pleasures that wealth brought forth.
A list of luxury and trade items is given indicating in what they believed their power is vested. They were obsessed with these things.
This does not mean we are not allowed to trade and pursue happiness and pleasure provided we glorify God in our worldly engagements, but they sought their salvation in the carnal world and not in Christ. It became their god and their hope, which is their sin. They were not only in the world, but they were also of the world.
The fruit Babylon longed for refers to her wickedness, her hope on herself, and that it would mature and ripen, becoming a world power, controlling all trade and commerce, even becoming God. But God’s judgment destroyed all her riches and splendor forever, leaving her destitute.
The merchants are not yet destroyed but their terror at the scene before them brings realization that their time has come, as they lament her fine attire and glittering properties.
If she has been destroyed, having had such splendor and great wealth, what are their chances of surviving God’s wrath? They are standing far off now, hoping to escape the coming wrath of God. Ships are meant to sail to promote trade and commerce. Now they are ‘standing far off’ not able to come to her to trade and continue their business.
Since the bulk of their lives were based upon the wealth of Babylon, she was truly everything to them. They were dedicated to her, and even worshiped this symbol of all their accomplishments. Such a great city was, indeed, an important thing in their lives. Without it, they cannot survive. Their ships are standing far off.
Ezekiel 27:33-36 When your merchandise went out on the seas, you satisfied many nations; with your great wealth and your wares you enriched the kings of the earth. 34Now you are shattered by the sea in the depths of the waters; your wares and all your company have gone down with you. 35All who live in the coastlands are appalled at you; their kings shudder with horror and their faces are distorted with fear. 36The merchants among the nations hiss at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.
Throwing dust on one’s head meant utter sadness and mourning, as we see, among other, in the following verses:
Job 2:12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
Ezekiel 27:30 They will raise their voice and cry bitterly over you; they will sprinkle dust on their heads and roll in ashes.
It is the third time that they cry out ‘woe, woe’ concerning Babylon. The first was in verse 10 and then again in verse 16.
In stark contrast to the people of the world, heaven is rejoicing at her destruction. The blood of the martyrs is revenged. Saints, apostles, and prophets rejoice. They suffered under the torment and discrimination of the world. They are not of the world proclaiming the gospel to those who scoff at it, rebuke them for their wickedness, separate themselves from those who talk idle and practice evil.
Not being ashamed to declare the world of God is not a world-friendly action and easily leads to retribution. All believers rejoice. The words, ‘saints and apostles and prophets’ indicate that past, present and future believers, the apostles of the New Testament, and the prophets of the Old Testament rejoice at the fall of Babylon, which include all of the elect.
It is justified rejoicing because God announced Babylon’s destruction and the believers’ rejoicing through many prophets. God’s promise to the souls of the martyrs, who are under the altar, that their blood would be revenged is fulfilled with this action and their rejoicing is certainly in order.
Psalm 18:47-49 He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me; 48who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. 49Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name.
Psalm 58:10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
Proverbs 11:10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
Isaiah 26:21 See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
Isaiah 44:23 Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.
Isaiah 49:13 Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
Jeremiah 51:47, 48 For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her. 48Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will shout for joy over Babylon, for out of the north destroyers will attack her," declares the LORD.
Luke 18:7,8 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
Revelation 6:10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"