Revelation 18:5
For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
BabylonR. Green.Revelation 18:1-8
National RuinT. De Witt Talmage.Revelation 18:1-8
The Degenerate ChurchW. Milligan, D D.Revelation 18:1-8
The Fall of Corrupt SocietyD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 18:1-8
The Fall of Corrupt SocietyD. Thomas Revelation 18:1-8
The Habitation of DemonsWm. M'Kay.Revelation 18:1-8
The Influence of the Apostate BabylonG. S. Rowe.Revelation 18:1-8
The Overthrow of WickednessS. Conway, B. A.Revelation 18:1-8
The Rule of RetributionHomilistRevelation 18:1-8
The Overthrow of WickednessS. Conway Revelation 18:1-24

Come out of her, my people. This is not the sole similar warning which Scripture contains. Cf. the warning to Lot to come out of Sodom; the warning to Israel to come away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, etc.; the warning to God's people (Jeremiah 51:45) to come away from Babylon, the old literal Babylon: "My people, go ye out of her, and deliver ye every man his soul." And now we have the same warning concerning the Babylon told of in this chapter. Inquire, therefore -


1. Not ancient Babylon. For we have here not history, but prophecy, Nor did the ancient Babylon answer in all respects to the description here given. It was never a mercantile city.

2. Nor, exclusively, the Rome of St. John's day. For, again, the resemblance is lacking in many important particulars, though unquestionably present in others. And although there was a destruction of Rome, more than one such, during the awful days of Nero and the wild anarchy of his immediate successors - and, no doubt, these facts formed the groundwork of the description here given - still, what happened then does by no means fill up the language used here. And the large space given to the mercantile and maritime greatness of this city has never been applicable to Rome.

3. Nor the Rome destroyed by the Goths. When she fell she had long ceased to be "drunk with the blood of God's saints." Nor was she then the great city of the world. Constantinople had taken that place.

4. Nor papal Rome. She oftentimes in her history presents a hideous resemblance to the city told of here. This feature and that are frightfully like. But nothing but the blindest bigotry can assert that St. John would have drawn the picture he has if papal Rome had been in his mind.

5. Nor is it London; though, if there be any city in the world that answers to the Babylon of St. John, London is, far and away, that city. For where, more than in London, will you find a city that doth more glorify itself (ver. 7); or spends more in wanton luxury; or that is more self confident, thinking, if not saying, "I am a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow"? Or where is there a city that has wider connections with the whole world, so that all the merchants of the earth look to her; for she it is who more than any other is the buyer of their goods? And what city has a vaster multitude of bodies and souls (ver. 13) given up and enslaved to minister to her luxury, her lust, her wealth? Is she not "clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls," because she is possessed of "so great riches"? And see the forest of masts in her river and docks; and the throng of shipmasters and sailors and them that trade by sea. And if "the beast" meant, as it did, the ungodly world spirit, embodied now here, now there, but which always and everywhere, though in varied form, "makes war with the Lamb," and is essentially antichristian, - if such beast sustained the Babylon of this chapter, what else sustains the metropolis of our land? But though all this may well cause much searching of heart to ourselves, we do not for a moment think that Babylon is London. No; that Babylon is:

6. Every nation, city, community, or person who shall become in God's sight what Babylon, was. Be like Babylon, and you are Babylon. Her doom is yours, and her final fate yours also. For the law of God is, "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the vultures," etc. (Matthew 24:28). For this is -

II. THE LAW THAT THEY EXEMPLIFY. Our Lord had been telling of Divine judgments coming, and his disciples had wanted to know to whom he referred, and when, and where. And our Lord's answer is the declaration of this law. And, like so many of our Lord's sayings, it is vividly symbolic in form. It appeals to the imagination and uses it that the mind may be more impressed. Often had his hearers seen such incident as that told of in this law. "For in the lands of the East, when a wild beast falls in the desert, or a beast of burden on the highway, there is for a time no stir in the heavens. But far above human ken the vulture is floating, poised on his wings and looking downward. His eye soon detects the motionless thing, for he hunts by an eyesight unequalled in power among all living things, and like a stone he drops through miles of air. Others floating in the same upper region see their brother's descent, and know its meaning. One dark speck after another grows swiftly upon the horizon, and in a few moments fifty vultures are around the carrion. Now, this illustrates, and with astonishing point and sharpness, the suddenness, the usefulness, and the necessity, of judgment. There is no delay if utter corruption has set in. Inevitable, swift, unerring, as the vultures' descent on the carcase, is the judgment coming of the Son of man to corrupt communities and to corrupt men" (S. Brooke). Given the body, the bird will not be far off. The city told of here was such a carcase, and the vulture swoop is what the chapter describes. And there have been, are, and will be, many fulfilments of this law. Sodom and Gomorrah; the Canaanites; the first fall of Jerusalem; Babylon; Persia; Jerusalem's second and last fall; Rome by the Goths; papal Rome at the Reformation; the French Revolution; etc.; - all these and many others reveal the working of the same law. But no doubt Rome was most of all in St. John's mind, and of her fall his thoughts were full.

"Rome shall perish - write that word
In the blood that she hath spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
Deep in ruin as in guilt." And it is as true of individuals as of communities. See that blear-eyed, ragged, shivering, and every way disreputable looking wretch, that is reeling out of the ginshop, and as he staggers along poisoning the air with his foul breath and yet fouler words - what a wreck the man is! Health gone and character; home, and friends, and livelihood, and all that made life worth having; and life itself going likewise. The vultures of judgment have plucked him well nigh bare, and they are at their deadly work still. Go into the wards of hospitals, the cells of prisons, the asylums for lunatics, in convict yards, or mounting the steps of the scaffold on which they are to die, - in all such places you may see wretched men and women in whom is fulfilled the law, of the operation of which this chapter tells. Note, therefore -


1. As to the first of these, how may we come out, etc.?

(1) Sometimes we must literally do this. As Lot from Sodom; as the Christians from Jerusalem; as Paul did from the synagogues. But very often we cannot leave where we are. Then we must obey this word by seeing to it

(2) "that we be not partakers of her sins." Come out professedly and avowedly in confession of Christ. Come out from the company, the pleasures, the habits, of the ungodly place in which your lot may be cast. And especially

(3) come out unto Christ (cf. Hebrews 13:13, "Let us go forth therefore unto him"). Consecration to him will be a real obedience to this word.

2. And this is needful. How little we fear the judgments of God on sin! We do not see the vultures, and therefore think the carcase will be let alone. If it be some present, seen, peril that, threatens the lives of men, how eager then are we to warn and save! A short while ago the Marjelen See, that is formed by the melting of one part of the great Aletsch Glacier, suddenly burst through its icy barriers. The whole volume of waters began pouring down beneath the glacier, along the rapid descent of its sloping floor, towards the edge of the gorge over which they would plunge in leap after leap down to the Rhone valley far beneath. A village lies at the foot of the gorge where the glacier stream pours itself into the Rhone. That village was now in awful peril. The people who lived near the See telegraphed instantly - for the hotel hard by had a telegraph station - to the village the tidings of what had occurred, that they might, if possible, escape. Happily the Rhone was very low and shallow at the time, and so the immense rush of waters that suddenly poured in was able to get away without much damage accruing to the people on its banks. That peril was believed in, and endeavour made to save those exposed to it. But the judgment of God against sinful nations and people - who realizes or fully believes that? Who flees from the wrath to come? And yet, if there be one atom of truth in God's Word, and in all history, that wrath will come on every sinful soul. God give us to really believe this! - S.C.

A mighty angel took up a stone.
Observe here —

1. Babylon's utter destruction represented by the type and sign of a millstone cast into the sea: like a millstone she had ground and oppressed the Church of God; and now, like a millstone thrown into the sea, she sinks into the pit of destruction. Almighty God, by this symbol, signified to St. John that Babylon's ruin should be violent, irrecoverable, and irreparable; she falls never to rise more. The casting of a stone into the sea was anciently the emblem of everlasting forgetfulness.

2. The amplification of Babylon's ruin particularised in several instances.(1) That nothing should ever more be found in her that belonged to pleasure or delight; no voice of harpers, musicians, or trumpeters.(2) Nothing which belonged to profit or trading, no artificers and craftsmen.(3) Nothing belonging to food, no noise of a millstone for grinding corn and making provision for bread.(4) Nothing to relieve against the darkness and terror of the night, as the light of a candle.(5) No means for the propagation of mankind by marriage — the voice of the bride and the bridegroom shall be heard no more. All which expressions do imply extreme destruction and utter desolation, intimating that Babylon shall be a place utterly abandoned and forsaken.

3. A threefold cause assigned for all this, to wit —(1) Damnable covetousness: her merchants were the great ones of the earth. Her sinful way of merchandising, by dealing in spiritual commodities, seems here to be pointed at; her making merchandise of the souls of men, as we have it (ver. 13).(2) Her bewitching idolatry, called here sorceries, whereby she enticed people to join with her in her superstitious worship.(3) Her cruelty and bloodshed; in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.But how can the blood shed by others be laid to her charge?

1. Because the doctrines which caused their blood to be shed were with her.

2. Because her jurisdiction gave commission to slay the saints which were slain in other kingdoms.

3. Because by the influence of her example at home much blood had been shed abroad. God will charge upon others, as he did upon Babylon, not only the sin which they have acted, but all the sins which they have been necessary unto.

(W. Burkitt, M. A.)

I. A symbolisation of its NATURE. 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. The great city Babylon is in every unrenewed soul.

II. A symbolisation of its OVERTHROW. The moral evil of the world is to be destroyed; it is not to exist for ever.

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 has been 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. 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.


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