In this chapter, another angel of great authority tells of the complete and utter destruction God brings upon the “Babylon the great”, the great world city that rises up during the Tribulation as the full embodiment of a “commercial world system” in defiance of God.
v.1-3 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
It is another angel of great authority that recites the destruction of “Babylon the great” with a loud declaration. Listen how closely reminiscent it is to what the ancient prophets predicted.
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground” (Isa.21:9).
“‘For I will rise up against them,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, and offspring and posterity,’ says the Lord. ‘I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, and marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Isa.14:22-23)
“Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues; ‘They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate for ever,’ says the Lord” (Jer.50:13; 51:26)
Okay, but for us to have clarity about what the events in this chapter signify, there must be (1) an understanding that the utter destruction announced by the ancient prophets against Babylon didn’t occur during the fall of the ancient city and is yet unfulfilled, and (2) that the literal city of Babylon will exist during the Tribulation.
According to Jeremiah, God’s judgment of Babylon stated that nothing would remain of her, not even a stone to build a foundation (Jer.50:26; 51:26). And it’s true that she was overthrown and destroyed by the Medes and Persians in 539 BC but there is evidence to suggest that the prophecy has yet to be completely fulfilled. For stones from Babylon were found in a rock quarry in the 1800’s.
Moreover, beginning in 1970 Saddam Hussein spent millions rebuilding Babylon, therefore Babylon does literally exist.
In other words, dear ones, the stage is set for God to fulfill His judgment and to absolutely and utterly destroy her just as this chapter foretells (probably when the seventh bowl judgment is poured out; Rev.16:17-21).
“…the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” In the same way Babylon was shown for her apostasy in the previous chapter, here she is also indicted for luring man away from God through “commercialism”. “You cannot serve God and mammon,” Jesus said. “For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other” (Matt.6:24).
The enticements of luxury spawned by Babylon have long caused man to pursue money more than God. During the second half of the Tribulation, however, it will reach its apex when Antichrist makes Babylon his capital city and global economic center. Merchants will be lured to it for the sake of wealth in defiance of God and thus have an ungodly relationship with her.