Now we come to the moment of mourning for the world. Babylon has been judged. This mourning though is not the mourning of repentance but mourns over the loss of their sin. Even after all the show of God’s judgment mankind does not repent. They sorrow not a godly sorrow over their sins but a worldly sorrow that works death (II Cor. 7:10). There are three distinct phases of the mourning that is captured in our text: the bewailing, the weeping, and the lamenting. Consider these in the order of their description.
First, consider the bewailing. “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” The people that mourn here are identified. They are the kings of the earth. They are the ones that directly benefited from following the example of the whore. They are the ones that followed her in her fornication. They are the ones that enjoyed the pleasures of her delicacies. They are the ruling class exercising the power over the masses. They are those who like the Roman rulers sit on their balconies at the circuses enjoying their delicate lives of leisure at the expense of the sufferings of the common. They loved her pomp. There is no such thing as a classless society. Even the promise of egalitarianism and communism always end in the result of the ruling class living in leisure while the masses serve and starve. It is these that bewail the loss of Babylon. In the end of the 17th chapter they hated the whore (assuming there is not a difference between the seven heads and ten horns who persecuted and hated the woman in their end). They still mourned over her judgment. They will see the smoke of her burning and they shall bewail. We will deal with the matter of lamenting latter which has to do with the crying out and the verbal expression of grief. To bewail is just simply expressing the sorrow but it also the regret. They will know that they followed her to destruction and will regret their course. It is mirrored in the passage of Ezekiel regarding the judgment of Tyrus (which had Satan for their prince): “All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance” (Ezek. 27:35). Again, “Thus saith the Lord God to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee? Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee” (Ezek. 26:15, 16). The kings will come to regret their following of the whore. They will bewail it when they see her burning. This is related to the actual coming of Christ: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7).
The bewailing found its greatest expression in its fear. They did not stand near to her in their sorrow. There will be no solidarity of wickedness when the Son of Man comes to judge the nations. In the end they will, in the words of Barnes, not dare to approach or help her even though they long had supported her and enjoyed her doctrines and practices. They will do so because they will fear her judgment. She will be in torment. It will be torment that will be known and seen. It will be known that the same torment belongs to all that are with her. There will come a time when the rulers of the earth will be ashamed of their fornication and pomp. The bewailing found short expression also in a lamentation. For the twice fallen Babylon they cry out “Alas, Alas” to express disappointment. They thought that the end of gravy train was never going to come and now they must cry Alas. Maybe they thought she was “too big to fail.” But she has. They cried over her greatness and her might. If she fell then what will they do when the judgment of God comes. They are afraid. They are disappointed. They are week and helpless. And in the end, they see their own slippery ground in her. They cry out that her judgment came in one hour. In that same phrase they speak of “thy judgment” which speaks of their recognition that judgment was inevitable for all. If her judgment came so must theirs. The wise will keep judgment before them and realize that in a moment they may have to give an answer. These realized that truth in their bewailing a little too late.
We go on to see the weeping. “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more….” The bewailing belonged to the kings of the earth but the weeping belonged to the merchants of the earth. They will see her end through different eyes. They will mourn like the kings not in fear but in their loss of profit. I sit here as one of the strongest advocates of fee market capitalism. But, a free market that is not undergirded by a real and true sense of morality grounded in the fear of God is nothing more than the peddling of sinful pleasures. These merchants were made rich by selling the pomp of Rome or Babylon. They wept, not in fear but in simple sorrow. The judgment of God put an end to their business. In the old days of the revivals and circuit riding preachers the preaching of the gospel would close down saloons and whore houses. The preaching of the watered down gospel today does not challenge sin at all. But, the coming of Christ will put an end to the wares of sin. They will mourn over Babylon but they will mourn mostly because her fall means that their trade has ended and now “no man” will buy what they are selling “any more.” The judgment of God will ruin man’s taste for pride.
What follows is a list of the things that they sold and traded that was lost with the pomp of Babylon. The first category of their merchandise was the treasures: “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls….” Mankind loves conspicuous wealth. It is the deceitfulness of riches the chokes the word and Christ said that it is hard for those that trust in uncertain riches to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13:22, Mark 10:23). The words of James ring out: “Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days” (James 5:3). It is a world that rejects the wisdom of God that finds comfort in gold and silver (Prov. 3:14). It was said of Satan that had every precious stone as his covering and was thus led away by pride (Ezek. 28:13). Pearls do not compare with the wisdom Christ (Job 28:18). But the lost world desire the conspicuousness of pearls in their materialistic philosophies (I Tim. 2:9). We have also the conspicuous apparel: “fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet….” There is nothing in and of itself wrong with these things just as with the treasures. They become wrong when they become the sole desire, the badge of pride and pomp. Just go over the middle school and find how they use their apparel as a source of pride. Adults are no different. Fine linen and purple and scarlet are found in the tabernacle (Ex. 25). Fine linen will be the apparel of the saints (Rev. 19:8). But it is also the opulence of the harlot (Prov. 7:16). We have already talked about the purple and scarlet that were part of the pomp of the whore. So those wares were desired of the world. The world takes thought of such things. The world wants to be decked with the rare (as it was in Bible times) silk and bask in leisure and comfort. Besides the treasures and apparel, they also desire the possessions: “all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble….” Thyine wood is a precious wood that was used to adorn palaces. The Pulpit Commentary reports this: “Thyine wood is “that of the Thuya articulata, Desfont., the Callitris quadrivalvis of present botanists. This tree was much prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, on account of the beauty of its wood for various ornamental purposes. By the Romans the tree was called citrus, the wood citrum. It is a native of Barbary, and grows to the height of fifteen to twenty-five feet….” Like the rich fool who wanted to tear down his barns and build greater so vain mankind makes much of the kind of home he lives as a status symbol. They want them decked with ivory. Ivory is fit for thrones (I Kings 10:18). The term “all manner of vessels” speak of furnishings. They have the greatest home furnishings. They have solid wood flooring and marble bathrooms and brass finishing. They have re-enforced iron foundations. Only the best builds and furnishes the home. They come to believe that life does consist of the abundance of things they possess. Like the bumper sticker once said: “he that dies with the most toys wins.” Such is the spirit of consumerism. Then we have the pleasures: “cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat….” These were the expensive and refined pleasures of the few in ancient Rome. They are, again, not evil in and of themselves. Cinnamon was used in the anointing oil in the temple but was also used by the harlot to entice (Ex .30:23, Prov. 7:17). Does the heart of those that seek them seek them as a luxury to support their pride or as a sacred thing to be enjoyed in the presence of the Lord? The odours speak of expensive incense. Ointments speak of those expensive things that are applied to the body (Mark 14:3). And we need not speak directly of frankincense and its value. These are all things that delight the senses of man. Such is wine and oil which the crashing markets in the sixth chapter showed that latter day mankind cared much for (Rev. 6:6). God blasted those that were at ease in Israel “That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:6). The market ensures that those that are at ease have the oil and have their wine for their ease and pleasure. Fine flour and wheat must be had for their pallets. Only the best will do. Setting aside the treasures, the apparel, and the pleasures, we come also the symbols of status. That is for sale as well: “beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves….” Mankind loves status. They love to be able to show the things that are under their power. These are classes of living things. Job was known in his time to the greatest of the men of the east because of such possessions (Job 1). So it always has been and still remains to our day. We may have switched our beast and horses and chariots for cars and limousines but the effect is the same. We may have stopped counting sheep and beasts as the measure of greatness but we still count capital by the size of a man’s stock portfolio and liquid assets. But this merchandise also speaks of the darker side of human nature: war and conquest. What are chariots and horses but instruments of war. The traffic of war is big business even in our day; especially in our day. When the Prince of Peace comes in His judgement the trade of war is gone. What about slaves? The idea here is bodies; people are reduced to bodies of flesh, without value other than what pleasure the other can derive from them. This could translate in our day to our power over people. The amount of bodies on our payroll. It also speaks of the very real and dark slave trade that still exists in our day. Sex slavery reaches into the darkness of human depravity but it is one of the most booming businesses today. Modern man buys and sells the flesh of men and women, even small children, to be consumed upon depraved and sinful lust. When sin is judged by Christ that market and other slave markets will come to an end. Above and beyond treasures, pleasures, apparel, and status, there is also the marketing of influence: the souls of men are for sell. As the bodies of men are for sell under the term slaves so the minds and hearts of men are for sell under the term souls of men. This speaks of the exercise of political power; the ability to sway and influence the volition of the masses. This has gone on for a long time. We used to call it propaganda and then we just called it advertising. Our minds are for sell. How do you think social media companies make a profit? You use their services for free. They make a profit by selling their influence over you. They sell your information about the things that you like and the things that you follow to companies that then target you to sell those things to you. When you get on social media you are the product that is being sold. Influence over the masses is big business.
So the merchants of the earth weep because their market of pleasure and ease ends with Christ. They weep because “the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.” Mankind has gone to the market to fulfill his covetous desires and now those things are departed forever. Those fruits have rotted away. Mankind has gone to the market to seek all things that are dainty (delicate) and goodly (attractive and something to be admired – i.e. admired by others) but those are departed. Christ has judged the pomp of Babylon and now there will be no further place for pomp and the luxuries that bare up the proud in heart. The market that was patterned after the pomp of Babylon is forever closed and those things in those forms shall be found no more at all. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16, 17).Thus the merchants weep over Babylon. Don’t place your affections on those things for they will come to an end.
We have seen the bewailing and the weeping. Now let us take a closer look at the lamenting. We have already noted on the lament of the kings. Now we have a prolonged lamentation not of the kings but of the merchants and those connected with the wares of the whore. “The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing….” There is immediately a correlation between the kings and the merchants. Both the kings and the merchants directly had benefit from the whore. The kings were made rich through indulgences: they enjoyed her fornication and lived in accordance to her delicacies. So the merchants also benefited. They were made rich. They found in her the pursuit of their wealth. They found in her the philosophies and the examples on which they could package and market and convert into riches. “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24). “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). These are those that sought such and found such in her and now they are at their end. Also, like the kings, they too stood afar off for fear. Though they were made rich by her, they would not stand with her. They were fearful and that is why they lamented. They saw their own end in her. Just like the kings, they sorrowed not the sorrow of repentance but the worldly sorrow of death. They feared torment that they saw with their eyes being unfolded but they were not sorry for the sins. They were simply sorry that they could not continue to chase their riches. So they weep and wail.
So they lament. “And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.” Again, like the kings, they cried out “alas, alas” in their great regret of her fall. Like the kings they cried over her greatness. She was “too big to fail.” The merchants were concerned mostly with the externals. They lived for those external things. They wept over the fine linen that she wore. They were troubled over the fact that she wore the purple and scarlet. They bewailed the fact that she wore the gold, and precious stones, and the pearls. Those were all things that they were selling at the market listed above. They needed her like advertisers need celebrities to market their goods. Because Babylon has fallen they have lost their great example of opulence. They, like the kings, recognized the swiftness of the judgment. But, unlike the kings, they did not decry her judgment but the loss of her riches. They were materialistic. They saw the riches that were lost as being lost to no purpose; for naught which either means that the blasphemously despided the judgment of God as frivolous or they saw the gaining and losing of Babylon’s great riches as senseless (which is still blasphemous). Like the men of Sodom groping in blindness so these in the face of judgment still only cared about the riches that were lost. Covetousness makes foolish misers out of men.
The laments funneled down further to the shipmen. “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!” We saw in the trumpet judgments that a third of the shipping was destroyed. Now all of it is destroyed, in that it comes to a complete halt. The entire economy of every nation will crash. Shipping, when mentioned in the Scriptures, speaks of the trade between nations. So it is a safe assumption to say that this speaks of all who are players in world trade. There are four classes of such spoken of in the text. First, there are shipmasters: this speaks of the ownership or command of shipping. Second, there are the company in ships: that is those that are actually responsible for moving goods to one place to another. Thirdly, there are sailors those that actually work to ensure the goods are cared for. Lastly, those that trade by the sea; which would be the actual markets and distributors of the goods to the masses. They are all representative of all necessary components of the buying and selling of goods. They all, like the merchants and kings, stood afar off and cried about the greatness of that lost city. The whole world shall see her burning and will realize the loss of their sin-centered economy. Mankind cried of the beast “who is able to make war with him” and now they cry of Babylon “what city is like her?” This is the end of all the empty boasts of man.
“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.” There is a totality to the sorrow here described. Casting dust upon the head is an act of total loss when one realized that they are under God’s judgment (Lam. 2:10). It is directly prophesied by Ezekiel regarding Tyrus: “Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin. The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots. And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land; 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. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea” (Ezek. 27:27-32)? They will cast dust on their heads and cry and weep and wail. They will cry alas, alas. They will cry of that great city. They will cry over the fact that all that were involved in the economy were made rich. The whole of the world economy was made possible because of her costliness or pomp. The kings cried because her judgment. The merchants cried because of the loss of her wealth. The shippers cried because she was made desolate. Even if they could ship their goods there would be no one to buy or sell them anymore.
That brings us to the last reaction to her judgment and that is the rejoicing. Not all will weep over Babylon’s judgment but some will find rejoicing. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” It appears that this is the same voice that spoke in the fourth verse of this chapter. It is the voice of God speaking. There are two distinct commands to the people of God given by their God in this 18th chapter. The first command is to come out of Babylon before her judgment and the second is to rejoice over the judgement of Babylon after her judgment. Many cringe at the idea of rejoicing in judgment but here it is commanded by God. Note first of all the great difference here with the reaction prompted for the saints and the lamenting of the kings, merchants, and shipmen. The first have been made last and the last have been made first. The haughty hills have been brought down and the valleys have been exalted. Those who rejoiced now have been brought to sorrow and those who sorrow now are commanded to rejoice. This is not the first time that we have been directed to rejoice at the unfolding of God’s judgment (see 12:12). The reason for the rejoicing is simple: they are called to rejoice not over the suffering of others but at the justice of God who has done all things well. We are called to rejoice because God is magnified. The 96th psalm captures this moment well as it speaks of this time yet to be: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Ps. 96:11-13). It is heaven that is called to rejoice. Those who have been subject to persecution and tribulation; those who have passed through the fires of the whore in all her phases. John speaks of this company including the holy apostles that are in heaven among which at that point he will be a part. John speaks of the prophets in heaven. The term apostles and prophets which is invoked here speaks of the whole of the church which finds their foundation therein (Eph. 2:20). It also speaks of both Old and New Testament saints (II Pet. 3:2). It definitely in our text and elsewhere leads us to see all who have suffered for the sake righteousness. “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation” (Luke 11:49-51). We may not be apostles or prophets but we are connected with their legacy and if we suffer for Christ we suffer in connection with their spirit. The announcement to rejoice seems to be outside of the time of the judgment. It appears, just as the command to come out of her, meant for our encouragement. The cry of those that suffered for Christ, the souls under the altar in heaven, will be avenged (Rev. 6:10). They had patience in Christ and now the justice of God has fallen on the persecutors.
There is an example given in heaven of the how of the judgment. “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.” It immediately harkens us to words of Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Babylon. “And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah” (Jer. 51:63, 64). Jeremiah wrote his book in the time of Babylonian victory but his prophecy ended with him writing the final words on the scroll and bound it with a stone and cast it into the river. It represented to the complete and final and permanent fall of Babylon. The same act again is played out by the angel of our text. This indicates, as it did with Daniel, that the time of the sealing of the vision is over and ready to be realized. But the term millstone and its being cast (with violence as the term indicates and is in the same verse interpreted to be) in to the sea (as opposed to the river) brings another image to mind; the words of Christ Himself. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). The judgment of Babylon will be the just retribution to Babylon for its treatment of those who believe on Christ. The millstone will weigh them down and sink them to the bottom of God’s infinite judgment.
Five is the number of death and there are five dimensions of the fall of Babylon that will come to a total end and will be found no more in her. There is a tale here told about what is not found in her anymore and what would be found in her. All the things that she rejoiced in will be forever gone and what she will be left with is blood guiltiness. Consider then the five dimensions of loss. First, the party is forever over: “And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee….” Some would say that these are all instruments of festivals and amusement. Still others connect them with pagan worship. For the unbelieving, matters of worship are matters of amusement and festival. It is after all, the Roman church that gave us Mardi Gras and sin filled flesh driven festivals. None of the instruments named in and of themselves are sinful. David played the harp, he placed harpers in the modes of worship in the Old Testament, we are commanded to praise the Lord with harps, and apparently there will be harpers in heaven ( I Chr. 25:1, II Chr. 29:25, Ps. 33:2, Rev. 14:2). There were musicians at the house of the Father when the Father rejoiced over the coming home of the Prodigal (Luke 15:25). Solomon rejoiced at the sounds of the pipe in the temple (I Kings 1:40). And, the trumpet was a call to worship at the Mount of God (Ex. 19:13). When these things are used in the context of Babylon they are immediately separated from the worship of the living God. It is not necessary in our text to see these worldly amusements and diversions as evil (any more than marrying or the light of the candle). They are symbols of mirth and feasting, in the context of worldly use (Isa. 5:12, 24). They speak of the bending of the whims toward frivolity (Matt. 11:17). Even in the terms of idol worship it gives off the spirit of fun while they are bowing to their golden images (Dan. 3:5). When Israel turned away from God to worship the golden calf, it said of them that “the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” and as such they were guilty of idolatry (I Cor. 10:7). Prior to the judgment of Babylon, it was known as a place of amusement. Notice that it is not so much that music was heard but that there were those that gave themselves wholly to the profession of providing music and that with a singular voice, saying the same thing in unison. It is not pipes that were heard but pipes that were heard by pipers. It was not music but music from musicians. Is this not true of modern apostate Christianity. The sound of professionally produced music takes the place of genuine worship. Church is as much a festival than Mardi Gras. But, once the judgment of God falls upon Babylon the spirit of reveling is forever gone. Gone are the sounds of mirth. Let this be a lesson to those who believe that the party can last forever.
The second dimension of loss is the loss of progress: “and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee….” The term craft speaks of wisdom and skill applied to a certain kind of work. It is synonymous with the modern term profession or occupation or specialty. Our text speaks of “whatsoever” craft one could think of. All segments of the economy will be made to thrive in the latter days of our text and Babylon will be the center of it. In the last days knowledge and all of the applications thereof will be increased (Dan. 12:4). It will seemingly feel like progress will continue on forever. Babylon will be at the forefront of great feats of technology and science. Even now, in the face of the all the seeming craft of our day, there are those that believe in the inevitability of progress. They believe in perfectibility of human endeavors and institutions and human nature itself. It is scary when progress is preached for the same was preached by the fascists two generations ago while they were giving humanity eugenics and concentration camps. There are those believe that we will eventually create our own heaven on earth as we progress in craft. There will come a time though that the progress will cease. All manner of craft will stop in Babylon. The faith that it has in its own progress will be found to be mistaken. The thoughts and plans of Babylon will perish with them in their grave (Ps. 146:4).
The third dimension of loss for Babylon is concerning the loss of productivity: “the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee….” This mirrors the loss and desolation that was proclaimed by God through Jeremiah at the hands of Babylon: “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. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jer. 25:10, 11). The only difference is that there was going to be an end to the desolation of Israel; there will be no end to the desolation of Babylon. The sound of the millstone speaks of abundance and production of goods. The millstone answers to the production of usable goods. The millstone turns, through the labor or workers and slaves, the raw product of wheat and corn into fine flours and meal that can be used by the masses. The sound of the millstone was the sound of abundance. It means that the people will have plenty of bread and the circuses that go along with the bread. The feast days will continue as long as the sound of the millstone can be heard. Benson stated it like this: “Not only the arts that adorn life, but even those employments without which it cannot subsist, will cease from thee for ever: all which expressions denote absolute and eternal desolation. There shall be no more musicians for the entertainment of the rich and great; no more tradesmen or artificers to employ those of the middle ranks, and to furnish the conveniences of life; no more servants or slaves to grind at the mill, prepare bread, and supply the necessaries of life.” There will be no economy. There will be no jobs. There will be no production or gross domestic product. Babylon is desolate. The hierarchy of the needs of mankind is brought down to the lack of the most basic needs. It is in this context to which the King of kings will step on this earth. We have been led to believe in the last few generations that government is god and can supply all of our needs. That idea will die with Babylon and mankind again will have to look to the one true God, Jesus Christ.
The fourth dimension of loss for Babylon is concerning the loss of comfort: “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee….” Just as there was not a drop of water to cool the tongue of the rich man in hell, so Babylon will not be able to find the simplest forms of comfort. Bildad the Shuhite, spoke somewhat prophetically (though wrong in the context in which he spoke) when speaking to his friend Job about the end of the wicked, “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him” (Job 18:5, 6). Job recognized the comfortless reality of having no light when he longed for the days past when God’s “candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness…” (Job 29:3). There is a comfort to light both in the spiritual sense of the light of the knowledge and presence of God and in the physical sense in dispelling the darkness of the home and providing a sense of safety and well-being from the darkness that swallows the land. In biblical times the light of candles in the home would be welcoming to those without: “that they which come in may see the light…” (Luke 11:33). In Egypt, the people suffered the plague of darkness in which they saw nothing while light was in the dwellings of Israel (Ex. 10:23). This is the plague of Babylon now. When the fifth vial was poured out on the kingdom of the beast there was darkness mixed with tongue gnawing pain (Rev. 16:10). The absence of comfort is torment. What a terrible fate to be without comfort from this point forever. So it will be with Babylon who will know the light of the candle no more at all. Also, consider the sadder fact; what is the voice of the bride. The Spirit and the bride invite men to come to Christ for salvation (Rev. 22:17). Before the end the gospel shall be preached all over the world (Matt. 24:14). But there will come a time where the voice of the bride will be heard no more at all. The comfort and peace of the gospel will be heard no more. The opportunity to respond to Christ will be gone for all eternity.
The final dimension of loss that will come upon Babylon will be the loss of continuing joy: “and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee….” This is the continuing contrast of the limited judgment of Israel of old and the permanent judgment of her persecutor, Babylon (Jer. 25:10). All that has been said about the losses are also the exact opposite of the joys of the church who will no longer need the light of the candle for they will have the eternal light of Christ and will be forever His bride and He their bridegroom (Isa. 62:4, 5, Rev. 19:7, 9, 21:2, 9, 22:5). The experience of Babylon is the experience of phenomenal loss when seen by the light and joy enjoyed by the church and redeemed Israel. The bridegroom and bride, and the marriage that they made, represent hope and celebration of the continuing of life and the joy of the union of people and families. It says of the coming judgment of the coming of Christ that they will continue, as they did in the days of Noah, to marry and be given in marriage until the day that Christ comes (Matt. 24:38). The voice of the bride and bridegroom is the voice of joy and a voice that gives joy to all who hear it. “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (John 3:29). The loss of that occasional voice is profound. It means that Babylon will be joyless. It means that they will be hopeless.
The five dimensional loss of Babylon is summed up by three causes for the loss. The first cause is a material cause. The supply had been stopped for all these things because the merchants of Babylon “were the great men of the earth….” The supply was gone. The great men of the earth that mourned over her destruction have lost their great client and their great ally. The world trade in sin is over. The second cause is the aggravating cause: “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Not only did they corrupt world culture with their consumerism but they deceived the world with their sorcery. The word sorcery comes from the word pharmakeía which we get the modern word pharmacy. It means to use or administer medications or drugs. There is a deceptiveness to the use of mood altering substances whether that be the popular drugs like alcohol or the most powerful hallucinogens they exist to deceive the hearts of men (Prov. 20:1). They remove the inhibitions and break down the morality of mankind. They turn mankind to the worship of their favorite idol; self. They prepare mankind for dependence, first upon the substance and then upon their neighbors. The word pharmakeía also takes on the meaning of poisoning. It becomes the way that ends in death for all. Every nation and every culture that ever died did so in drunkenness and immorality. They deceived the whole world thereby and led the world into destruction. The word pharmakeía also invokes the idea of magic. The sorcerer was one that used the life of intoxication to gain followers. “Christian” Rome did this well. They got people to believe that they had power to heal and save. Simon the sorcerer bewitched the people through his sorcery into believing that he was some great worker (Acts 8:11, 12). Ultimately, his power failed in comparison with the true power of God. Thus all nations were deceived.
Outside of the material and aggravating cause of the loss of Babylon, the substantial or ultimate cause of their loss is again brought to the forefront: “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” It is an amazing truth that consumer cultures (drunken cultures) become violent killer cultures. For all the glam and veneer of good times and joy; it becomes a culture of death and hatred. They will hate God and all that represent Him. God would not allow such a culture to live; He would not allow their blood guiltiness to stand avenged. The blood in her was discovered for what it was. She killed the prophets. She killed the saints. She shed all of the blood of the innocent upon the earth. She was guilty of it all and now she is the subject of the most profound loss; loss which is never to be recovered. Those who are guilty of breaking one commandment will become guilty of all (James 2:10). The great falling away, the great apostasy, comes to a close. Those who depart from God in one instance depart from Him in all. Thus, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.