The Revelation of John – chapter 18: Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen

19 Jan

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I, Twelve II, The Beast, The Mark, Three Angels, Two Harvests, Righteous, Plagues, Whore, Kings

Chapter 18

Chapter 17 described Babylon. This chapter now describes the judgments that God has decreed against her.

Verse 1 

I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

John sees another angel. Honestly, I have lost count as to how many angels John has seen in his vision. Obviously the events of the last days will bring all of God’s servants into the actions. While we are given no indication as to who this new angel is, their power and glory indicates one who holds a very high position of authority in heaven.

Verses 2-3

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. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication…

The angel announces the fall of Babylon, and explains the reason for it. The final fate of Babylon is to be a foul and evil place, where only devils dwell. The reason for this is the corruption that was described in chapter 17. Verse three is very reminiscent of that chapter. Notice here that Kings, and merchants have partaken of this corruption, meaning political and economic groups.

Verses 4-6

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins…For her sins have reached unto heaven…Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works…

I believe the voice is the voice of God, though it is not identified as such. God issued a similar call to the saints today. “Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean…gather ye out from among the nations…from one end of heaven to the other…Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness…” (D&C 133: 5, 7, 14)

The admonition to double unto her according to her works rinds me of the Law of Moses and the restitution that it required for many crimes. This could be God calling his people, not only to abandon the evil of Babylon, but to condemn it in others.

Verses 7-8

How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously…for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day…and she shall be utterly burned with fire… 

The pride of Babylon, or the culture of corruption, will cause the judgments to come swiftly against her. In one day does not literally mean 24 hours, but rather a very brief period of time. Notice also that Babylon will be burned. This is common imagery for the events of the last days. In the parable of the Wheat and Tares the tares are burned. In D&C 64: 24 the Lord says that all the proud and those who remain in Babylon will be burned. And of course, the wicked will be burned at the second coming.

Verses 9-19

And the kings of the earth…shall bewail her, and lament for her…Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!…And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more…The merchants of these things…and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning…weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city…for in one hour is she made desolate.

Here we read that all those who partook of the wickedness of Babylon and supported the culture of corruption will mourn its destruction. Both the kings and the merchants mourn (including seafaring merchants), again showing how pervasive the culture had become. Verses 12-14 give a long list of merchandise that is basically all encompassing of every fine thing that could represent the pride of the world.

President Harold B. Lee warned “we are going through some of the severest tests today and we don’t realize perhaps the severity of the tests that we’re going through. … Today we are basking in the lap of luxury, the like of which we’ve never seen before in the history of the world. It would seem that probably this is the most severe test of any test that we’ve ever had” (“First Presidency Devotional” [unpublished Christmas devotional for Church employees, Dec. 13, 1973], 4–5

Among the list of goods included are “slaves and the souls of men.” If we take this literally we see a reference to human trafficking (slavery). We also see an allusion to the practice in many religions of promising salvation for money, or the trafficking in souls. This reference can also be seen as a symbol of the addictive nature of the corruption of Babylon, causing men to be slaves to it, both body and soul.

Verse 20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 

Those who are aligned with God and heaven has suffered greatly at the hands of Babylon, but now they can rejoice, for God has brought vengeance against her.

Verses 21-23

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 the voice of…musicians…shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman…And the light of a candle…and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more…for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Another angel, this one of great strength, now declares that all those things that made Babylon enticing no longer exist. The culture, the industry, community, the families; all are gone.

Verse 24 

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The only thing that is now found in Babylon is the guilt that she carries for the death and persecutions of the saints and the prophets.

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