The last days #5: Apostasy Pt4 – Godless commerce Revelation 18
Two distinct aspects of Babylon are seen in these two chapters: harlot religion and godless enterprise/commerce.
Both are obviously connected and linked to the same evil system.
- The same name used to identify each, v2, 17:5.
- The same intoxicating influence, v3, 17:5.
The focus of Rev 18 is on the city of Babylon and its commercial influence on the earth—primarily the kingdom of Antichrist, but also global. Cp v10, 16, 18-19, 21. Babylonian apostasy which will mark the last days will have a great commercial arm that makes a profound impression on the economy of the time. Cp Zech 5:5-11.
I THE CITY AS A CENTRE OF COMMERCE.
Apostasy and prosperity often go together. They go together specially when God has given men up to their sin.
- The kings of the earth. These are the same kings as are seen in 17:12-13. But there is a difference to be seen, v19, 17:12, 16. They conspire to destroy the harlot but evidently delight in the commerce of Babylon.
- The merchants, v11, 17, 19. This city exercise a profound influence on global trade. Specially, on commercial shipping. Yet Babylon is a landlocked city! Her influence on shipping will apparently be exercised through the port of Tyre on the Mediterranean. Ezekiel 27-28 make this connection very strongly. There, very similar language is used of the final destruction of Tyre and the Antichrist is described as the prince of Tyre.
- Her commodities, v12-13. There is an obvious priority seen. Gold stands first. The souls of men are just a line item in her accounts but placed last. Life is counted cheap in Babylon’s prospectus. Trade in these things enriches the merchants of the world.
- Her grip on world trade. Every merchant of this time has a connection to Babylon, v17. Cp Rev 13:15-17.
II THE CITY WILL COLLAPSE UNDER DIVINE JUDGEMENT.
- A physical convulsion. This is what occasions the fall of the city. Cp 16:17:21. It is burned, 18:9, 18.
- Just before the appearance of Christ. Cp Dan 11:44, Jer 50:23-28. The Antichrist hears of the fall of his city in Egypt and hurries toward Jerusalem to wreak final revenge. It is at that later point that Christ appears. The wrath that destroys Babylon is not the deluge of wrath that accompanies Christ’s appearance as the Kings of the earth and merchants watch and mourn over her. They are not themselves caught up in judgement.
- Sudden, violent and permanent. It happens in one hour, v8, 10, 17, 19. It happens with violence and torment, v10, 21. This is an echo of the actions of Jeremiah 51:61-64. Babylon shall be no more, v11, 14, 22-23. Cp Is 14:23.
- She falls despite supreme confidence, v7. Her position seems unassailable. Yet God will bring her down.
- Her fall is welcomed by the people of God. Cp v20, 19:1-3. What a deliverance that event will be! It is a happy event pointed to/anticipated by the Apostles and prophets—i.e. all Scripture. God will vindicate His word in this matter.
III THE CALL FOR SEPARATION.
- Even at the end God works in mercy to save. There will be those caught up in the affairs of that city that God calls to Himself.
- A specific reference to Israel. Cp Jer 50:8, 51:6. At this point Israel as a nation is under the thrall of Antichrist. Many of her people are evidently involved in his affairs.
- A general command to all the saints. God’s will for His people is always that they distance themselves from the wickedness of apostasy. It is the only way to be safe from the wrath that will fall. Cp Eph 5:5-12, 2Cor 6:14ff. Economic advantage is a terrible lure even to God’s people to remain where they ought not. Lot is a prime example of this. How many will be like him, reluctantly dragged out at the last before Babylon falls!