Mystery Babylon Study – Part 8 – Rev 18:17-24
(Rev 18:17-18) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.
The suddenness of the cities destruction is expressed, here it is described as having occurred in one hour, although it is expressed as “one day” in other places in this chapter.
And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea,
A third group of onlookers, is here introduced, they are people who were on the sea for various reasons. We have already seen the kings and merchants doing basically this same thing, that is lamenting the cities destruction.
stood afar off,
This is mentioned several times, back In Rev 18:10 is seems to suggest that the reason they were standing far off is that they somehow feared they would be affected by the aftermath of the cities destruction.
And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning,
This is the part that leads some to suggest that Mystery Babylon must be a port city. But this is not necessary; all that is said is that the smoke of its burning can be seen by the ships at sea.
I would say that it is however necessary that the smoke from the burning of Mystery Babylon must be able to be seen from the sea in order to be consistent with this face value hermeneutic.
Jerusalem is only 34 miles from the Mediterranean coast, and its smoke could easily be seen from the sea. An example from modern times is that people reported being able to see the smoke and debris from the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center from 70 or more miles away.
This is a problem for those that insist that actual city of Babylon is Mystery Babylon because it is 300 miles from the nearest sea (the Persian Gulf), and a whopping 500 miles from the nearest coast of the Mediterranean. It would be impossible for this to be applied to the literal city of Babylon.
Rome, by the way is also not a port city, being about 15 miles from the coast. This does not conflict with the fact that sea merchants bring goods to it, we see sea merchants bringing goods to Jerusalem in several places, notably the 1 kings 10 passages referring to King Solomon which we have already covered in depth.
saying, What city is like unto this great city!
The sailors say this phrase that hearkens us back to the prophecies regarding the city of Tyrus or Tyre we will be talking about in depth in the next verse.
(Rev 18:19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
This verse has some striking parallels to a passage in the Old Testament which is referring to the destruction of the merchant city of Tyrus. It says in Ezekiel 27:30-31:
And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. – Eze 27:30-31
This is especially interesting in light of the other parallels between the language of the fall of Tyrus or Tyre and Mystery Babylon, Some of which we covered in previous verses.
I have found it interesting that the bible seems to go out of its way at times to refer to the destruction of Tyrus, and to the destruction of Babylon in the passages about Mystery Babylon.
For instance in the passages about the destruction of literal Babylon in Jeremiah 51 there are phrases like
O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness. – Jer 51:13
This is a clear connection to Mystery Babylon, which is said to “sit on many waters” in Revelation 17, the angel later gives us an interpretation as to what the water represent:
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. – Rev 17:15
As I was reflecting on the significance of these cities as they relate to one another, I remembered a very interesting fact. Satan is referred to as the “King of Tyre” and the “King of Babylon” in different places in scripture. When we look at those Old Testament prophecies we will see that they would start out talking about the kings of these places, but before it’s over its clear the scope of the prophecy is far too big to simply be referring to these earthly kings. Let’s look first at a prophecy concerning The King of Tyrus:
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. – Eze 28:12-17
So while this prophecy may have applied in some way to the king of Tyrus, this is clearly bigger than any earthly king, and is of course widely considered to be referring to Satan.
If you look a few verses before this Ezekiel is told to prophecy against the Prince (not the King) of Tyre. Scholars really don’t know what to do with what I am about to show you. But notice how in the passage we just looked at the King was obviously not human, it says it is a cherub, it was in the Garden of Eden, it was cast out of mountain of God, but notice how the prince ( the son of this king presumably) is described clearly as being a man. I think we will see that the prince of Tyre is a description in some ways of the Antichrist.
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. – Eze 28:1-10
The prince the son of the King of Tyrus is a human, (unlike his cherub father) that sits in the seat of God and declares himself to be God who ultimately goes into the pit…does this ring any bells? It should it is the very essence of the antichrists career. I think it’s pretty interesting that it says he will “die the deaths of the uncircumcised “ “by the hand of strangers “ The plural “deaths” could mean that he dies twice, but I would not sell this too strongly as other versions to not carry this plural “deaths” over, either way it suggest that he will be a Jew because it threatens him with the death of the uncircumcised. (Author Pink agree with me on this point) Notice also that if this is true this would take this outside of the context of the city of Tyrus because we are told in Daniel this exact same information about the antichrist, and there is says quite explicitly (in Daniel 11:45) that his capital will be Jerusalem, a point that is reiterated in Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2. For further study I would recommend comparing Daniel 11:36-45 with this passage in Ezekiel 28: 1-10 you will find many interesting similarities.
The same basic pattern we see here is seen in other places in scripture, but instead of the king of Tyre, it uses the king of Babylon.
Isaiah starts off by saying:
That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! – Isa 14:4
But pretty soon the scope gets much wider than the king of Babylon;
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. – Isa 14:12-15
There is also an antichrist connection here, not just a Satan connection, often people talk about references to the “Assyrian” as a type of antichrist, they rightly point out that the Assyrian is associated with Babylon.
The bible has messages about the end times sprinkled in all kinds of places, and using all kinds of types to give us more information whether its Solomon, or the King of Tyre, or Antiochus. But it is dangerous to build doctrine on types. Especially when we have very unambiguous prophecies about the antichrist from Jesus, Paul, John in Revelation, and Daniel that are meant to be the standards to which the types are balanced.
I think that the chapter we have been looking is full of words and phrases that when compared with other scripture reveal more about the end times scenario.
(Rev 18:20) Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
We see a picture of those in heave asking to be avenged back in Revelation 6.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? – Rev 6:9-10
And in Revelation 19 we see a picture of their rejoicing.
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. – Rev 19:1-2
and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
We will study this idea in depth when we look at the last verse in this chapter about the “prophets and apostles and all those slain on the earth”, and we will see that Jesus puts the blame for all of them on the city of Jerusalem in many places but among them in Matthew 23:35 where He says:
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. – Mat 23:35
Notice he said all the righteous blood is on them, Abel was not a Jew nor a prophet, nor was he killed in Jerusalem, but his blood was on Jerusalem’s head. We will look more at the context of this verse later on. We will also see that the OT prophets were indeed killed in Jerusalem according to scripture.
(Rev 18:21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
This is the verse that is the best argument against Mystery Babylon being the eschatological city of Jerusalem. I discussed it in detail in Part 4 which was all about objections to this theory.
In question is, if Jerusalem is found no more, how then do we explain the fact that Jerusalem is very much a part of the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom?
The short answer to this question is that in the detailed layouts of the millennial kingdom given to us by Ezekiel in the last 9 chapter of his book, we are told, among other details, the physical location of the city of Jerusalem during that time. Those that attempt to map all Ezekiel’s specifications out come to various conclusions, but almost all of them agree the Jerusalem in the future, is not in the exact location of the present city. In addition the millennial Jerusalem is 9 times bigger than the current city. Also The temple is located outside the city and it alone is bigger than the current city of Jerusalem. The millennial Jerusalem sits on a high plateau, and has two rivers flowing out of its east and west sides. Basically is a different place altogether.
Some proposals for the location have been Bethlehem and Shiloh. Cameron in his paper “Zechariah in relation to Ezekiel 40-48” makes a very compelling case that the new temple complex will be located at Shechem, a theory that I think is worth serious investigation. The point is that many put the Jerusalem of the future in a different physical location, not for any theological reasons but because of careful study of Ezekiel’s millennial blueprints.
For a more detailed discussion see the section on objections.
We will take these next two verses as a set.
(Rev 18:22-23) 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: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
This is an exact match with several verses in the book of Jeremiah. All of them together are a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. One example is found in Jer 25:10
Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. – Jer 25:10
Even more interesting to me is the reason that this particular judgment would come.
About five chapters later the same prediction is made again, and it says:
For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it……Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate. – Jer 7:30, 34
Jeremiah makes it clear what he means by this phrase “house called by my name” many times. One notable example, which was later quoted by Jesus is when it says
Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. – Jer 7:11
Now consider this, we have here the meaning of the abomination which causes desolation spoken of by Daniel. We see that the land will be made desolate because they set an abomination in the temple.
This is pretty amazing
Especially when you consider our verse in Revelation 18:22-23 is referring to the aftermath of a city that does the same thing, worships the antichrist in the temple as if he was God (an abomination.)
You have the exact same punishment described here, and for the exact same crime!
(Rev 18:24) And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
the blood of prophets
The killing of Old Testament prophets are many times blamed on the city of Jerusalem. There are many sayings from Jesus on this point.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! – Mat 23:37
But just before this statement Jesus explains this more in depth.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. – Mat 23:29-35
Jeremiah tried to warn them not to kill him for this reason.
But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. – Jer 26:15
In the book of Acts an 1 Thessalonians we see this same idea being taught:
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: – Act 7:52
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: – 1Th 2:15
Jesus also tells a parable about this:
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. – Mat 21:35-38
We also are told that the last prophets sent to Jerusalem (the two witnesses) will be killed in it’s streets
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.- Rev 11:8
and of saints
There have been many persecutions in history of Christians, but the worst one of all time, one that is yet to come will have its epicenter in the city of Jerusalem according to Jesus.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. – Mat 24:15-22
Apparently when the antichrist declares himself to be God it will coincide with the order to kill saints, and considering that order will first be given in Jerusalem, it will require those who wish to escape the initial wave to flee very quickly from the area.
The saints being killed by antichrist during this persecution is referenced again and again in scripture. Here are just a few instances:
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; – Dan 7:21
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. – Rev 13:7
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. – Rev 12:17
all that were slain upon the earth.
This is an interesting phrase, this temps some to make everything in these two chapters allegorical, because obviously not everyone that was ever slain was slain in a particular city.
And that is true, but nevertheless Jesus says that Jerusalem is responsible for all the blood of the righteous.
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. – Mat 23:35
Again notice the names he gives Able the son of Adam, the first person ever slain in history! This is clearly used to emphasize that indeed he means ALL the righteous blood would be put on Jerusalem’s hands.
An interesting section of the law in Deuteronomy describes how Israel should absolve itself from innocent blood if they see it happen. After a lengthy discussion about it It concludes this way:
And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD. – Deu 21:7-9
This practice that would absolve them of innocent blood was obviously not kept.
Another interesting section is when it is described why God destroyed Jerusalem in 2kings
And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon. – 2Ki 24:2-4
This concludes our verse by verse study on Mystery Babylon. I want to take this time to say that I know that not everything I said here is correct. I am sure there are mistakes and false assumptions I have made along the way. This is a complicated study and I’m sure my views will change slightly as people critique this. Again if you would like to see the entire study in various formats, all for free go to verse by verse bible teaching .com