1. And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
3. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Vs. 1-3.—After the apostle had described Babylon in the preceding chapter, he “saw another angel.” This seems to be the Lord Christ, the same as in Ch. x. 1. He “confirmeth the word of his servants,” (Ch. xiv. 8;) that “Babylon the great has fallen,” and is adequately punished for her crimes, which are enumerated, v. 3.
4. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
V. 4.—The phrase, “my people” indicates that the speaker is not a, created angel whose warning is here given with a “voice from heaven.” This call of the Lord Jesus has been addressed to his elect, ever since the revelation of the “man of sin.” It has been obeyed but partially hitherto: but upon the sounding of the seventh trumpet, his Holy Spirit will give the call unusual efficacy.
5. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
6. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double, according to her works in the cup which he hath filled, fill to her double.
7. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burnt with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Vs. 5-8.—“Her sins have reached unto heaven,” and now she is to be visited with condign punishment; although it seemed both to her and God’s own people long delayed. “God hath remembered her iniquities.” There is reference to ancient Babylon’s punishment, and the law of retaliation. (Jer. l.15; Ps. cxxxvii, 8; Is, xlvii 1-8) Her punishment is “destruction from the Almighty: “strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
9. And the kings of the earth who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning.
10. Standing afar off, for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas alas. That great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
11. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.
12. The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and pure purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine—wood, and all manner of vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble.
13. And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off, for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
16 And saying, Alas, alas! that, great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
17. For in one hour so great riches is come to naught. And every ship master, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18. And cried, when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city?
19. And they east dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas! that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea, by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Vs. 9-19.—At the fall of Babylon some of the kings who had been her supporters, will lament for her while utterly unable to protect her, and afraid of partaking of her plagues. It may be proper to remark, that the word translated “alas,” and repeated in this chapter, is the same in the Greek text as that which is rendered, “woe” in Ch. viii. 13; from which fact we are to infer that the fall of mystical Babylon described in this chapter comes under the last three, or probably the seventh trumpet. That the Turkish empire is to be overthrown by the sixth trumpet or second woe, and gradually exhausted by the sixth vial; hardly admits of a doubt: but it does not necessarily follow, that said trumpet and vial are to terminate when that judgment ends. Each trumpet and vial may continue its effects for some time after the following one commences.—Kings, merchants and shipmasters are mentioned as chief mourners, while they are helpless spectators of this judgment. In all this narrative there is plain allusion to the language of Old Testament prophets who predicted the destruction of the enemies of God’s people; as Babylon, Tyre, Egypt. All these powerful kingdoms have been made desolate for their idolatry and. cruelty; and thus history comes in aid of prophecy to confirm the faith of the saints. The moral government of the Most High is uniform, and he will execute vengeance upon his and Zion’s impenitent enemies. The merchandise and lamentations are borrowed from Ezek. xxvii. In ver. 13 there is mention made of “the persons of men” as part of the wares in the markets of Tyre, and we find “slaves (bodies) and souls of men,” among the commodities for sale in modern Babylon. How can we, in view of historic facts, exempt the United States of North America from complicity in the crimes of mystic Babylon as one of her dependencies? While earthly politicians, sustained by eminent divines, proclaimed to the world in gushing oratory that “America was an asylum for the oppressed of all nations,”—the land of the free, and the, home of the brave;” perhaps there never was a more effectual refutation of this popular sentiment, accompanied with a more biting sarcasm, than that which was uttered in derisive song by the sable, coffled [fastened together] chain-gang in the streets of the national capital,—“Hail! Columbia, happy land!”—All who are acquainted with the internal and political history of the United States, know that the adherents of the “Man of Sin” always gave their suffrages for the support and continuance of that cursed traffic.
The great variety of the articles of merchandise here enumerated, is calculated to impress the reader with the idea of the wealth, luxury, splendor, and self-indulgence of the metropolis of the idolatrous Roman empire, the “mother and mistress of all churches.”—The prophetic declaration, however,—“with feigned words shall they make merchandise of you,” (2 Pet. ii, 3,) is not confined to the Romish communion. This traffic, in souls, pervades all the streets of symbolic Babylon. The overthrow is sudden and unexpected,—“in one hour.” This is thrice repeated, (vs. 10, 17, 19.) In v. 18 this “spiritual Sodom” is compared to her prototype in her fearful end. “They saw the smoke of her burning.” (Gen. xix. 28.)
20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
V. 20. Judgments on the impenitent enemies of God and of the saints, are mercies to the church. (Ps. cxxxvi. 15-20;) and consequently, while the former are lamenting for the fall of the great city, the latter are exhorted to rejoice in her ruin,—all the members of the church in general, and “holy apostles and prophets” in particular. The apostles are daily worshipped at Rome in their supposed likenesses, the work of the “cunning artificer; but here they are mentioned as rejoicing in the destruction of the idolatrous sinners who so greatly dishonoured them, and detracted from the glory of God.—As “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,” so is there over the destruction of the impenitent. (Jer. li. 48.) “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord.” (Judges v. 31.)
21. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
22. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in three; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
23. And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
Vs. 21-23.—The emblem of “a great millstone cast into the sea,” is a very striking indication of the sudden and irretrievable ruin of mystic Babylon; and contains an allusion to Jer. li. 63, 64.—The removal of “musicians, craftsmen, candles, etc.,” from this devoted city, as they plainly point to the statuary, music and paintings which have attracted multitudes to the idolatry, superstition and harlotry of antichristian Rome, emphatically proclaims the utter and perpetual desolation of papal Rome. The language is borrowed from Isa. xxiv. 8; Jer. xxv. 10; Ezek. xxvi. 13.—Her merchants being the “great men of the earth, and the, “sorceries” by which the nations were deceived, very plainly indicate the successful traffic of the “mother of harlots,”—the church of Rome.
24. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
V. 24.—When the Lord “maketh inquisition for blood,” the “blood of all that were slain upon the earth,”—for Christ’s sake, will be found in the skirts of this Jezebel. Papal Rome has shed more innocent blood than pagan Rome; than Babylon, Tyre and Egypt; and by her relentless cruelty to “prophets and saints,” ministers and members of the witnessing church, she has endorsed all the murderous persecutions from Abel down to the present day. (Luke xi. 50, 51; Acts vii. 52.) Now when we contemplate in the light of prophecy, confirmed by authentic history, the numberless, aggravated and long—continued crimes of Babylon the great, her pride, (v. 7,) her cruelty, (v. 3,) her luxury, her tyranny, her idolatry, her fornication, her impenitence in all, can we hesitate to acquiesce in the righteousness of her final doom, or to join in the plaudits of the saints in the next chapter?