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.
Oh, how pretty and smart and secure is big money in our day and
time. Is she not the queen who rules over all? Has not big money placed
herself in high positions above the laws of nations? Sure, she has.
The comedians make their jokes about celebrities being immune from
punishment for crimes in California. They make jokes about Michael Jackson
and Robert Blake being acquitted of their charges because they are
celebrities. But they are wrong. They were not acquitted because they were
celebrities. They were acquitted because they are extremely wealthy,
enabling them to hire attorneys, private detectives, public relations
specialists, and a whole host of benefits that the wealthy have access to
that even some local and state governments cannot afford.
Consider Michael Jackson’s arrogant and obscene display of
opulence. Consider Donald Trump’s vulgar ostentatiousness. All of that
celebrity is the result of having enormous sums of money at their
disposal. Now consider Scott Peterson. His parents had the money to hire
an expensive attorney, but not enough money to fight bad press with their
own media specialists, not enough money to counteract their son’s public
stupidity with public relations coaches.
Remember Jon Bene Ramsey, the little beauty contest winner who was
murdered in Boulder, Colorado some years back? No one ever arrested. No
prosecutions of any kind. Why not? Were her parents celebrities? Was her
half brother a celebrity? No. However, his father is an extremely wealthy
man whose resources overwhelmed the Boulder, Colorado police department,
much as Kobe Bryant overwhelmed that small Colorado tourist town police
department and district attorney where he was charged.
Do I know anything about their guilt or innocence? No. We have all
observed what can happen when a suspect who is very wealthy decides to
respond in every way his wealth enables, sometimes spending more money
than the entire police department and district attorney has budgeted for
the entire year.
Take all of those individuals and combine them into a vast system
of commerce and political clout. Imagine what it would be like for them to
have that kind of power in a system which did not oppose them, but which
they were allied with? That is what Rome was like. That is what it was
like in the Soviet Union. That is what it is like in China, to a degree.
That is what it is like in Saudi Arabia. And it will be worse than all of
them combined during the great tribulation.
However, no matter how bad it will be, according to the heights to
which she has glorified herself she shall in like manner suffer torment
and sorrow. God will exact vengeance upon commercial and political
But notice how severe will be the punishment. Verse six calls for
double punishment according to Babylon’s works. This verse calls for
punishment in direct proportion to her extravagance. Interesting, is it
not? The world thinks they do well by living beyond their means, by living
the golden and gilded life. But God’s punishment at the end of the great
tribulation will be related to how high on the hog the people will be
living, how much excess Babylon indulges herself in.
Why so? The wicked rich mistake the reason God gives wealth. God
does not give wealth to enjoy, to be extravagant with, or to indulge
yourself with. God gives wealth to use for His glory. And when great
wealth is greatly misused, there will be great punishment to follow.
her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she
shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth
This verse powerfully reinforces my belief that the Isaiah 13 and
Jeremiah 50 prophecies, that we looked at earlier concerning Babylon’s
destruction, have not yet been fulfilled but will be literally fulfilled
in the future. This verse indicates that that judgment will be meted out
in a single day . . . by fire.
Notice Who actually destroys Babylon here. Remember, religious
Babylon was destroyed by the antichrist in chapter 17. And when it
happened her destruction was not mourned by the wealthy and powerful. But
here, in chapter 18, we see political and commercial Babylon destroyed,
with her passing greatly mourned, as we shall see.
Why will she be mourned in this chapter? Because in this chapter it
is the Lord God Who destroys her. Being opposed to Jesus Christ and His
cause, they will naturally be opposed to the judgment God rains down upon
The way in which the city is destroyed is described by John as four
plagues. Death, mourning, famine and fire. Though it is difficult to
imagine anyone dying in one day of mourning, or famine causing deaths in a
single day, we can imagine the city suffering the various judgments that
have been poured out to this point causing death, causing mourning, and
bringing famine. Then, in a swift and sudden act, God smites the city with
fire that brings about her sudden end.
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
See what I mean? She will be mourned. The kings of the earth may
not be only those who rule countries, but also those who run powerful
multinational conglomerates. But no matter who they are, they have winked
and nodded their way to an entangled web of illegal, immoral and unethical
arrangements to build their wealth, to live off the backs of the common
man’s labor. God calls it fornication. Why so? It is the illicit
gratification of the lusts.
Do the men in the inner circles live deliciously with her? Oh, my,
yes. They have little to do with ordinary people, living far above the
fray in a sort of elite club of insiders. And when these men see their
beloved city of Babylon, destroyed by God with fire, seeing the smoke from
afar, they will mourn and weep because they will know that their sweet
deals have ended, their advantages over others have come to an end.
Babylon will be burned with fire, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were.
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.
In that day Babylon will dominate and rule the world. The capital of Antichrist will be Babylon, and he will have the first total dictatorship. The world will become an awful place. In that day everything will center in Babylon. The stock market will be read from Babylon—-not New York. Babylon instead of Paris will set the styles for the world. A play, to be successful, will have to be a success in Babylon, not London. Everything in that city will be in rebellion against Almighty God, and it centers in Antichrist.
No one dreamed that this great city would be judged. Yet by the time the sun goes down, Babylon is nothing but smoldering ruins. When the news goes out, the world is stunned, and then begins the wail. The whole world will howl when Babylon goes down. I imagine that if you were on the moon, you would have to tune down your earphones because the howl would be so loud!
In chapter 17 we saw that the kings of the earth hated religious Babylon and that Antichrist got rid of it in order that he might be worshiped without any competition in the area of religion. And the kings of the earth joined in her destruction.
contrast to this, here in chapter 18 we see that the kings of the earth
love commercial Babylon because of the revenue she brought to their
coffers. In fact, it is called here fornication— you can’t find a
better word for it than that! All the lobbyists were in Babylon, not
Washington, D.C. They were representing all the great corporations in the
world. But the kings desert Babylon like rats leaving a sinking ship;
their mourning is both pathetic and contemptible. They eulogize her with
panegyrics of praise, but there is a hopelessness in their anguish. They
marvel at the sudden destruction of that which they thought was gilt-edged
security. The judgment came in the space of one hour, reminding us of the
sudden devastation caused by atomic explosions. This is a frightful
picture presented to us, and it is the final conflagration and
catastrophic judgment that will bring Christ to the earth to set up His
And the merchants
of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their
merchandise any more:
Why is it that it is the merchants who weep and mourn? Why do the
poor not weep and mourn?
Simple. The poor will have received no benefit from commercial
Babylon for seven long years. Remember, there has been famine and
pestilence. Food has been scarce for the poor all along.
For that reason, the demise of commercial Babylon will have little
impact on the poor. But to the rich . . . .
merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and
fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and
all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood,
and of brass, and iron, and marble,
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.
Look at this list that I have just read off. Not one of the things
mentioned here are commodities that can be afforded by the multitudes and
the poor of this world. Folks, these are the items that are enjoyed only
by the rich and the elitist.
“The list of articles of merchandise (twenty-eight in all)
commences with gold and finishes with slaves and souls of men.”
Notice the last two items that these merchants are used to
purchasing. Slaves and the souls of men. What depths of depravity mankind
will sink to when the Spirit of God no longer holds back the tide against
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.
God takes away that which the wealthy and powerful lusted after. In
essence, He takes away the toys their lusts fed on.
How soon will they be made available to those people again? The
Bible says, “no more at all.”
I would suggest that you underline that phrase in your Bible. It is
an important one in this chapter, and it reveals the finality of God’s
judgment against Babylon.
The merchants of
these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the
fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
Though they weep at her passing, the merchants are intelligent
enough to stand back a ways so that they do not take part in her
How little do they realize that their own judgment will come soon
saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and
purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and
For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every
shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as
trade by sea, stood afar off,
And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,
What city is like unto this
And they cast 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.
These men who have trusted in riches see how very transient their
riches actually are.
There is another phrase, found three times in this chapter, which
you should probably underline. It is found in verses 10, 17 and 19. The
phrase is “in one hour.”
Three times John records the wealthy saying this phrase. How very
surprised they will be, how very aware they will be that that which took
so long to build and accumulate, Babylon, is destroyed “in
Take this to heart and keep your priorities in order, my friend.
Make very sure that your are investing your life in that which cannot be
destroyed “in one hour,” or
ever. Make sure that you, Christian, are not making a Babylonian mistake
by spending all of your labors on material wealth that will just be burned
“in one hour.”
5. By the way, have you also noticed that the phrase “Alas, alas” appears in verses 10, 16, and 19, and is the cry of those who are weeping and wailing over the destruction of the city of Babylon and the commercial and political Babylonian system? The word translated “Alas” is the word ouai. So, they are crying Ouai, ouai.