We mentioned earlier (from Revelation 16:19) that in the midst of the seventh bowl judgment, “Babylon the Great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” Here, in chapter 18, are the details of His wrath, which we call the fall of Babylon.
Just as chapter 17 contains the religious and spiritual nature of Babylon, this chapter speaks of the visible, material and commercial part of Babylon. More specifically, it speaks of the place (or city) of Babylon, which is the capitol of the world and the headquarters of the world leader—the Antichrist. This city, as we discussed earlier, is, I think, the city of Rome. I think the best way to look at this eighteenth chapter is to view it in its five parts just as it is in the text.
Verses 1-3. An angel’s description of Babylon (Rome).The angel described it as a dwelling place of demons and a prison of unclean spirits. Moreover, it is a place where kings and merchants have made immoral dealings with demons and have become wealthy on their corruption.
Verses 4-5. Here, a heavenly voice warns believers to leave the city and not participate in sinful dealings. These verses remind me of what angels said to Lot to warm him of the soon coming judgment of God on Sodom.
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. 17 When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away” (Gen. 19:15-17).
Verses 6-8. In these verses, the same heavenly voice (probably an angel) calls on God to pay her (Babylon) back (take revenge on her): to give her the same torment and mourning as she gave out to others—in her sinful deeds. And because of her pride, thinking that she will never see mourning, in one day God will bring to her plagues, pestilence, famine, and will be burned up with fire.
I’m not sure that we can know positively how Babylon will be destroyed, but here are three ideas: 1) Babylon will fall just as all other cities, as it is described in Revelation 16:19-21; 2) besides the events of the seventh bowl, there may be a nuclear strike on the city; 3) the city may be leveled by God just as Sodom was destroyed (Gen. 19:23-25).
Verses 9-19. Those who will be most affected by Babylon’s fall. These three groups of people will be the most affected by Babylon’s fall:
Kings (vs 9-10). All kings, including all political leaders, will weep and lament over Babylon—because it will mean the end of Antichrist’s empire and of their power with him. They also may be weeping over their fear of Christ’s coming and of their certain punishment (Rev. 1:7).
Merchants (vs 11-17). All the merchants of the earth (traders, suppliers, importers, exporters, retailers and shopkeepers) who are tied to the Antichrist system will weep and mourn, because no one buys their goods any more (verses 12-13). The Scriptures are not specific as to what happens to them. We can only say what the Scriptures say—from verses 14-17: the fruit you no longer have has gone from you; and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you; and men will no longer find them.…In one hour such great wealth has been laid waste” (v. 17). Hence, we may sum it up by saying this: when the new kingdom comes the old kingdom of Satan is no more. It will be “passed away,” and “laid waste.” God will make all things new.
Transporters of the cargo (vs 17-19). The bible labels this group as those who “make their living by the sea.” But I think we may understand it as all the transporters of the cargo. In that day cargo was transported mainly by ships. But today, even though the city (of Rome) is located on the sea, transportation would be by ships, planes, trains, and trucks. And this group would obviously be affected because they make their living transporting the cargo—and that would all end. And this group and all others, as the Scriptures say, will stand and cry as they see the smoke of her burning. I don’t know how literal that is, but I’m sure they all will be devastated at the quick and thorough destruction of the city and of the Antichrist’s empire.
Verses 20-24. Rejoicing over Babylon’s fall. All those in heaven will rejoice over Babylon’s fall, not because of all who will be doomed to hell, but because of God’s justice that will prevail. Hence, they will rejoice because they will hear no more music played for the devil; and because there will be no more industry to make the Antichrist rich; and because there will be no more food prepared for all who take the mark of the beast; and because there will be no more laughter and weddings for all who partake of immorality and demonism; and because there will be no more deceptions and false teaching by which the prophets and the saints were slain.