And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying…
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, etc. In these words we have a symbolization of moral evil.
I. A SYMBOLIZATION OF ITS NATURE. Babylon is a symbol. Not unfrequently is moral evil in the aggregate represented by some one object. Sometimes by the "old man," that is, the unrenewed, depraved man; he is the embodiment of all the elements of sin. Sometimes by the "world," that is, the moral evil embodied in the world. "He that loveth the world," etc., that is, the moral evil embodied in the world. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream it is represented as a colossal image, representing the wealth and power of empire, the pride of the idolatry, the wickedness of all kingdoms. Here in these words it is represented by the great city Babylon. Babylon stands here as the grand symbol of moral evil. If you want to see sin, or moral evil, in all its hideous aspects, in all its infernal operations, in all its damning consequences, study the great city of Babylon. In this city you will find not only the evils of the Roman Catholic Church, but of all Churches, of all institutions, of all countries and climes, ay, of all human hearts. The great city Babylon is in every unreserved soul. Here is -
II. A SYMBOLIZATION OF ITS OVERTHROW. "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." The moral evil of the world is to be destroyed; it is not to exist forever. The various figures used to symbolize it are set forth as objects for utter destruction. The world is to be "overcome," as Christ overcame it. The old man, which is corrupt, is to be "crucified with his affections and lusts." The great image is to be shivered to pieces by the "stone," the symbol of Divine truth; and here the great city Babylon is represented as being thrown like a great millstone "into the sea." Two remarks are suggested concerning its overthrow.
1. It is to be overthrown by superhuman agency. "A mighty angel," a messenger from heaven. Was not Christ a mighty Messenger sent from heaven for this purpose? Yes; he came to "destroy the works of the devil." It is said that good alone can overcome evil. True, but it must be good in a supernatural form; and in this form the gospel brings us the good.
2. It is to be overthrown in such a way as never to appear again. Babylon is thrown like a great millstone into the sea. "And shall be found no more at all." As Pharaoh sank like lead in the mighty waters, and rose no more to life, so shall moral evil like a mighty millstone fall into the fathomless abysses of eternal ruin. "Shall be found no more at all." No less than six times are these words repeated. Some one has said that they toll like a funeral knell. I would rather say that they chime like a triumphant peal. Thank God, mighty and wide as is the dominion of evil in the world, I am prone to believe that it will not endure forever. All the holy prayers in the universe cry for its ruin. All holy agencies work for it, and omnipotence is pledged to its overthrow. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.