There is no cry of the suffering. There is no groan of the poor. There is no complaint of the wronged. There is the gathering of all the blessings of science and art and industry. There is equality and justice and brotherhood. There is found the climax of man’s attainment, the realization of the number Six hundred sixty-six. But there is also found the very height of iniquity and godlessness. Of her we read that her sins have reached to heaven, and they have risen mountain high, so that she deceived all the nations of the earth with her sorceries, and that the blood of prophets and saints and of all that have been slain upon the earth is flowing through her streets. Her antitype, therefore, is Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked center of godlessness and luxury of old. Also there was luxury and splendor and riches and no want. But also there the voice of their iniquity cried to Jehovah Sabbaoth, so that He remembered their sins. In the pride of her wantonness and the rottenness of her luxurious living she blasphemes the name of Jehovah. She arose in wanton rebellion against the Almighty, fought against the Lamb and against His saints, and proudly manifests the emblem of the image of the beast. She is also world-controlling in her wicked luxury and godlessness.
As to the fall of this great, metropolitan city, we may remark, in the first place, that the manner of it is not definitely described in the chapter. In the first place, we may notice that this is generally the case when pictures concerning the end are held before us in the Word of God. We usually are not told in detail just exactly how the end shall be. We are informed that Christ shall come, and that He shall come with the clouds; but we are not told the details of that coming. We must be content with the facts. We are told that God’s people shall be delivered and that they shall have no part with the very final judgment of the world; but exactly how this shall take place is hidden behind the veil of symbolism. We must be satisfied with the facts. The New Jerusalem is to come down from heaven and shall have dominion over the new heaven and the new earth; but also this greatest of all events is clothed with the garb of highest symbolism, and the manner how is left in the dark. The same is true of Babylon. We are told that she shall come to her final destruction. As we have remarked in a former connection, we are also told in general outlines that the devil shall be the cause of his own destruction—a fact which is repeatedly become plain in history and which lies in the nature of, the case. He shall rouse the nations against his own kingdom, not indeed for that purpose, but to war against Jehovah. But in the meantime he shall fulfill God’s own counsel, and he shall work for his own destruction. But exactly how the devil shall do this we are not informed. Most natural it is, indeed, to assume that the satanic influence of Antichrist in the world of nations that live at the four corners of the earth shall ultimately have the result that they rise in enmity against the world of Christendom, which is really the anti-Christendom of the beast; and, thinking that they shall strike at the Lamb and His people, they shall destroy the beast. For that same reason I would take the address in verses 6 and 7 as meant not for God’s people, but rather for the nations that must execute God’s wrath upon Babylon. Outwardly it would seem to contradict this statement. For we read: “Reward her even as she rewarded you,” which evidently would be addressed to the people of God. But in the original this impression is not given. We simply read: “Render unto her even as she is rendered, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she mingled mingle unto her double. How much soever she glorified herself and waxed wanton, so much give unto her of torment and mourning.” It is true, the nations that execute this wrath of God upon Babylon will have an entirely different purpose in mind. Their purpose will undoubtedly be to strike at the power of the Lamb and His people. And this very purpose becomes their sin and their guilt. But the fact remains that through this God may execute His own will and counsel, even as through the pride and self-exaltation of Jehu, for which he was afterward rebuked and punished, God sent His punishment upon the house of Ahab. However this may be, Babylon shall fall. That is the certainty of our text and of our chapter. And this is pictured twice. In the first place, it is announced by the strong and powerful angel with great authority who comes down from heaven and shouts, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.” The certainty of her fall is indicated in the perfect tense. The angel speaks as if the city is fallen already, even though evidently that fall is still anticipated, to indicate that her doom is certain. And again, the certainty of her doom is also expressed in the repetition of the word “fallen.” Babylon shall surely fall. The certainty of that fall is so great, and the fall is SO imminent, that it is as though it had already taken place. And, in the second place, we are told of this fall of Babylon symbolically in the picture of the angel that comes down from heaven and, taking up a great millstone, casts it into the sea, explaining, “Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” And therefore we receive the information that the fall of Babylon is certain, as well as that it shall be sudden and complete and that it shall be found no more at all. The last consideration leads us to the second thought on the fall of Babylon, namely, that it shall evidently be complete and final. It shall be the last of Babylon and her anti- Christian power. She shall never be rebuilt. ‘Her utter desolation is directly pictured in the words of the mighty angel, vs. 2: “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.” So the prophet Isaiah had pictured the fall of Babylon before, a fall which was particularly fulfilled in the destruction of literal Babylon, but which shall reach its complete realization in the fall of the great antichristian power: “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.” Isaiah 13:19-22. The same is indicated in verse 8 of our chapter, were we read: “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” And lastly, this is pictured once again in verses 22 and 23 of our chapter, where the angel announces her future condition: “And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee.” In a word, it is a picture of utter desolation that is drawn before our eyes. Instead of the splendor of her appearance, she now shows the appearance of a hole of demons and evil spirits and wild and unclean beasts. Instead of the joyful light and illumination of her festive streets, there is now absolute darkness: for even the light of a candle shall shine no more. Instead of the bustle of machinery, the joyful sound of music, the glad voice of bride and bridegroom, there is now a doleful and gloomy silence. Babylon is turned into a region of death and destruction. All her glory is gone in one hour, and that forever. It is the final and complete judgment upon Babylon. She has committed fornication with the kings and princes of the world. She has made the nations drunk with the wine of her fornication. She has deceived them all with her sorceries. In her was found the blood of all the saints and prophets. She has made war with the Lamb throughout the ages. Her iniquity rises to heaven. Therefore, in one hour is her final and complete destruction come. God judges her rightly: according to what she has done she is rewarded.