The World Mourns Babylon’s Fall

She owns a string of hotels. She owns the Empire State Building. She is a billionaire. Yet, in September 1989 Leona Mindy Rosenthal Helmsley was convicted of 33 counts of tax evasion, for which she faces the possibility of being sent to prison for 100 years. According to Time mag … More


The fall of commercial Babylon is covered in this passage. The context of chapter 18 with its many references to the kings and merchants and commerce shows that, in this setting, Babylon is viewed in her political, economic, and commercial character, rather than in her religious role (vv. 11-19). It is a place of much wealth and luxury. Because of greed, the more they had the more they wanted to hold on to it.

The angel’s message is that “Babylon the great is fallen” (v. 2). This will bring a loud protest from the earth’s political and economic powers. The kings of the world were grieved because of the lifestyle they will lose (vv. 9-10) and the merchants (vv. 11-16) and ship masters (vv. 17-19) will lament about the city’s downfall since they will no longer be able to carry on commerce with the city. All of this will happen within one hour (vv. 10, 17, 19). It is interesting to note that neither the kings, merchants or ship masters stretch out their hand to help Babylon in her last agony. They never really had any love for her; the only real interest they had was the luxury she provided, and the trade it brought to them. Babylon symbolizes the harlot and the whole godless world system that caters to the appetites of sinful men and women. It is apparent that Babylon was a place of great luxury and wealth. This differs greatly from the previous chapter which was a religious situation rather than the economic and political situation that we have here (v. 3). Slavery will return (v. 13).


This shows that when we are financially secure like the people of Babylon it is easy to become complacent and deluded by the myth of self sufficiency. Lord help me to not depend on what I have but on who you are? “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” I John 2:15-16.

Revelation 18:9-19 (English Standard Version)

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come." And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. "The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!" The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, "Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste." And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?" And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, "Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »