The Fall of Corrupt Society
Revelation 18:1-8
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.…

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, etc. Regarding, as I do, this book as a record of visions which its author had in Patmos, at a period when the most stupendous events were occurring around him, the only practical use that can be made of them is to illustrate and impress those moral principles that are trite to man as man, the world over and the ages through. It appears absurd and useless, and an utter waste of labour, to attempt (which most expositors have done and are doing) an interpretation of a dream containing, as it generally does, objects that are grotesque, unnatural, and monstrous. Albeit it is most rational and practically valuable to employ it to set forth and impress the eternal realities of the spirit world. Our subject is the final fall of corrupt society. "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (ver. 2). Babylon here represents society. it is a city. It is not the private residence of an individual, isolated from all others, but congeries of houses for the dwelling of a community. Because man is a gregarious animal and sympathetic, he lives, for the most part, in communities. A community may be as small as a family, as vast as a city, or as wide as an empire. It may be barbaric or civilized, civil or religious, or a combination of both. But Babylon not only represents society, but corrupt society. The moral character of the population was an outrage on all the laws of true morality and genuine religion. Human society was not only corrupt in Babylon, but it is corrupt in all its sections throughout the world. What an old Hebrew writer says of the Jewish nation, is true, more or less, of all society. "From the sole of the foot to the crown of the head there is no soundness... but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores." Morally, all society is Babylonianized. In this Babylon - this corrupt society even as it exists here in Christendom - we have all the evils and the vices that were found in pagan Rome. The distinction between pagan Rome and papal Rome is purely fictitious. What cardinal sins find you in the former that were not embodied in the history of the latter? "Is fallen, is fallen:" what in the history of Divine truth will be in fact and form millions of ages hence is now in spirit and reality. Hence "Babylon is fallen." The following remarks are suggested concerning the fall of Babylon, this fall of corrupt society.

I. IT IS DIVINELY PROCLAIMED. Who proclaims it? A Divine angel, a minister from the Eternal. "After these things I saw another angel come [coming] down from [out of] heaven, having great power [authority]; and the earth was lightened with his glory" (ver. 1). "After these things." After the stupendous events recorded in former visions, this mighty angel, clad with authority and corruscating in splendour, comes down from the eternal heavens of reality, and proclaims with a loud voice this fall of moral Babylon. The ultimate fall of all that is morally corrupt in human communities is not a matter of speculation and mere probability; it is absolutely inevitable. Wrong cannot stand forever; though, like the colossal image in Daniel, it may be constructed of gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, and be associated with the splendours of empire, yet its "feet are of clay," and it must sooner or later tumble to pieces. Head of gold, but feet of clay! It is not a fixed star in the immeasurable expanse of space, but a mere meteor, brilliant and swift for a moment, then black and still forever. As there is a law of disintegration in the material universe, that so separates the hugest mountains that they ultimately disappear, so there is in the moral a law of retribution, which will ultimately break into pieces the world of corrupt society. Babylon must fail.

II. IT IS MANIFESTLY DESERVED. The description here given reveals such a condition of moral foulness and wickedness as not only to merit but to demand this doom. "Is become the [a] habitation of devils, and the [a] hold of every foul [unclean] spirit, and a cage [a hold] of every unclean and hateful bird (ver. 2). As in the ruins of old cities, the cormorant, the screech owl, the vulture, and other hideous creatures are found, so in this moral Babylon are found the most horrible and detestable of all existences. The utter extermination, or rather extinction, of such objects is urgently required. But this is not all. Mark its appalling wickedness. "For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication [For by the wine of the wrath of her fornication all the nations are fallen], and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through [by] the abundance [power] of her delicacies [wantonness]" (ver. 3). "Reference here is not," says an expositor, "made to earthly but to spiritual wares - indulgences, idolatries, superstitions, and worldly compromises." Does not such a corrupt society, such a moral Babylon, justly deserve this miserable ending? "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The seeds of ruin lie in every evil principle, and are found in the moral heart of men. These seeds must break into fruits of rankling poison sooner or later.

III. IT IS A REASON FOR QUITTING IT. "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people [Come forth, my people, out of her], that ye be not partakers [have no fellowship] of [with] her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (ver. 4). As the house is falling, let the tenants quit and save their lives; the city is about breaking into flames, therefore escape to the mountains. This voice from heaven suggests:

1. The possibility of good men, living in this corrupt society - this moral Babylon. "Come out of her, my people." Good men are found living and working in the midst of a "wicked and perverse generation." There were a few men in corrupt Sardis who "walked with God." The depravities of our contemporaries and neighbours are no justification for our defects. They should rather warn us against the wrong, and stimulate us to the right.

2. That good men, unless they quit this corrupt society, will be involved in its guilt and fate. "That ye be not partakers of her sins." The exodus here demanded is not, of course, bodily, but spiritual; not from places, but from principles; not from persons, but from characters; from the corrupt spirit of places and persons. "Come out from among them, anti be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." Unless you do so you will be tainted with their impurity and afflicted with their plagues.

IV. IT IS A DEVELOPMENT OF RETRIBUTION. "For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities, Reward her [render unto her] even as she rewarded you [rendered], and double unto her double [the double] according to her works" (vers. 5, 6). "The idea is of a great heap firmly fastened, and towering, like another Babel, as far as heaven (comp. 2 Chronicles 28:9; Ezra 9:6). The idea is more than that of the cry of sin reaching heaven, as in the case of Sodom (Genesis 18:20, 21); the sins themselves, many and imperial, have touched the face of heaven. God hath remembered her. Sometimes the oppressed have thought that God hath forgotten the voice of the enemy; but the long suffering of the Lord is salvation. The same voice which bids the people of God come forth summons the agents of vengeance. Many Old Testament parallels will suggest themselves (Jeremiah 51:18; Psalm 79:12; Psalm 137:8; Isaiah 40:2). The 'double' must not be taken to mean 'double her sins.' Her sins are themselves called double, and her judgment is according to her sins. She is double stained in wickedness, and the law of retribution fiercely works in her. The cup of her luxuriousness becomes the cup of vengeance. The flowery path has led to the broad gate and the great fire (Bishop of Ripen). The ruin comes, then, not as a casual event, nor as a positive infliction, but as the result of the eternal law of retribution: a law silent in its operations, resistless in its force, and inevitable in its issues. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." This law of moral causation links sin to misery as indissolubly as attraction links planets to the sun. "As you stood some stormy day upon a sea cliff, and marked the giant billow rise from the deep to rush on with foaming crest, and throw itself thundering on the trembling shore, did you ever fancy that you could stay its course, and hurl it back to the depths of ocean? Did you ever stand beneath the leaden, lowering cloud, and mark the lightning's leap as it shot and flashed, dazzling athwart the gloom, and think that you could grasp the bolt, and change its path? Still more foolish and vain his thought, who fancies that he can arrest or turn aside the purpose of God, saying, 'What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?' 'Let us break his bands asunder, and cast away his cords from us.' Break his bands asunder! How he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh!"

V. IT INVOLVES AN OVERWHELMING CATASTROPHE. "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day [in one day shall her plagues], death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth [which judged] her" (ver 8). "She thought herself strong," says a modern expositor. "She forgot the strength of the Almighty. Her plagues were fourfold, as though from every quarter her trouble came. Death, for her scorn of the prospect of widowhood; mourning, for her inordinate revelling; famine, for her abundance; and fire, the punishment of her fornication." When full judgment comes upon a corrupt community, the horrors involved not only transcend description, but even imagination. What is lost? Friendship gives way to fiendish battlings; peace gives way to furious storms; hope gives way to black despair and terrible apprehensions; liberty gives way to a crushing thraldom, in which every faculty of the soul is bound in chains of darkness. All the lights of the soul are quenched, and the whole heavens are mantled in a starless midnight.

CONCLUSION. Mark well, brother, and study deeply the final fall of corrupt society. Every corrupt soul is in truth a moral Babylon that "is fallen, is fallen." "Fallen" from whither? From some local height? From some Himalayan apex to a fathomless dungeon, or from some worldly pinnacle? From a mansion to a cot, from a princeling to a pauper? Such falls are not vital. Change of place does not necessarily affect the highest interests of the soul. "The mind is its own place." Nor change of circumstances. In truth, a descension from the highest affluence to the lowest indigence may conduce to its true elevation. The fall is from virtue to vice, from truth to error, from liberty to thraldom, from sunshine to midnight, from the Divine to the devilish. What more terrible sentence can be pronounced on a soul than "It is fallen, it is fallen"? Will it continue to fall forever? Is there no hand to arrest the descent, and to lift it to the heights from whence it has fallen? "The hand of mercy is not shortened, that it cannot save." On the pages of ecclesiastical history, of sacred biography, and of our own memory, we read of souls that have fallen low, but have been raised again. They have been able to appropriate the language of an old Hebrew writer, and say, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

"Thy mercy, Lord, is like the morning sun,
Whose beams undo what sable night hath done;
Or, like a stream, the current of whose course,
Restrained awhile, runs with a swifter three.
Oh! let me glow beneath those sacred beams,
And bathe me in those silver streams.
To thee alone my sorrows shall appeal -
Hath earth a wound too hard for Heaven to heal?

(Quarles.) D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

WEB: After these things, I saw another angel coming down out of the sky, having great authority. The earth was illuminated with his glory.

The Fall of Corrupt Society
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