The Revelation of Hope
In this Session we will begin Revelation 18. Revelation 17 introduced us to the identity of the Mystery Babylon the Mother of Prostitutes which is Rome/Roman Empire that is animated with the spiritual realms of darkness and the dragon/devil. Revelation 17 was a wide view of the political system of Rome from the perspective of the spiritual realm.
Revelation 18 is the judgment and indictment of Rome from heavens perspective and in it, we see the angelic order announcing its destruction and the reasons for its destruction.
We will be dividing Revelation 18 into 2 Sessions and base our interpretation of Revelation 18 on the real history of the Roman Empire. As we look at the real history of the Roman Empire we can easily see the fulfillment of the prophesied destruction of Rome in precise detail as prophesied by John.
a) Verse 1 introduces us to an angel of “MEGAS EXOUSIA” who was coming down from the heaven, the dwelling place of God. Revelation is fascinating in that we see the diversity of the angelic order in all their assignments and ministries in the heavens. This particular angel was given great authority/EXOUSIA – the power of choice, the power to judge, the power to do as one pleases, royal authority – this shows us that this particular angel’s ministry was to decree and put into action the judgment of Babylon the Great, which is Rome.
b) In Chapter 17 we were given the identity of Mystery Babylon and the wide overview of her pending destruction. In Revelation 18 we get to see the specific judgment decree and the reasons for her judgment from heaven’s perspective.
c) It is interesting that it took centuries for the whole judgment to come into view. This shows us that these judgments against Rome/Roman Empire were part of a process that allowed the Church to participate in the judgment as She evangelized and over through the religious pagan Roman cults by the Gospel. Lastly, the animating spirit behind the spiritual adultery of Rome is still in the world, and even now the Church of Jesus Christ is gaining ground and having victories as the centuries pass. Eventually at the return of Jesus Christ the animating spirit of rebellion, the devil/dragon, will be completely defeated.
d) As I mentioned in previous Sessions, Babylon was synonymous with Rome. See 1 Peter 5:13, as well as Revelation 17:9 as the proof texts for this. The Early Church referred to Rome as Babylon because of the similarities of the historical Babylon and its dealings with Israel. Tertullian was one of the Early Church Fathers who held that position. Now that we have established the identity of Mystery Babylon as Rome, verse 2 begins to outline the judgment.
e) Rome had become a haunt for demons. The Greek word is KATOIKĒTĒRION – which means an abode or a habitation. The NIV translation is lacking as the second part of verse 2 says that Babylon has also become a Prison – Greek – PHYLAKĒ – of the place where captives are kept, a prison, and held under watch. Birds are also considered as symbolic of demonic activity and influence.
f) Ancient Roman society was so degenerate that the demonic realm had embedded itself so deeply into it that was judged by the Lord. In the same way, the world systems of every generation are influenced and often in agreement with the demonic values and thoughts. This introduces us to 2 theological concepts. 1 – Jesus calls the Church salt and light. One of our primary missions is to preserve society be mixing into it and influence it by godly living, etc. In ancient times salt was a used a preservative for meat. 2 – Light dispels darkness. As Jesus Christ becomes manifest in our lives, we displace darkness by our kingdom authority, spiritual gifts and the wisdom of God operating in us. This has a redemptive effect on the nations of the world. Much of our spiritual warfare is waged in the practical things that we do every day.
g) The nations that were ruled by Rome embraced her religion, government and economic system, and in that they engaged in the spiritual adultery of Emperor Worship, pagan cultism, and the luxuries of excess. h) Proverbs 15:6 Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, But trouble is in the income of the wicked. – There is a difference between the economies of God and the unjust economies of the world systems. The economies of God run on generosity, justice, and righteousness. The economies of the world systems run on tyranny, injustice and inequality.
a) We are reminded of Isaiah 52:11 – Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the articles of the LORD’s house. This verse is a charge to the Levites/Priesthood to not engage themselves in the sin that was in the land at that time. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and the Church in the First Century was being warned by this prophesy not to agree with the common culture of their day.
b) It was probably very comforting for the Early Church to hear that they were going to be avenged by the Lord for all of the persecutions, murders, humiliations, and imprisonments they suffered at the hands of the Roman authorities. Rome was going to suffer a double portion for what she did to the Christians in the First Century. On August 24, 410, Rome was sacked by the Visigoths led by Alaric I and destroyed. St. Jerome wrote, “”The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken.”
Revelation 18:7-8 a) Rome sat as a queen/Jezebel and it is the pride of cultures to build themselves up and expect no consequences for their actions. Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. 1 John 2:16 – For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
b) Alaric I sieged Rome in AD 408 and exacted the following vast amounts of wealth
from Rome; the city was forced to give the Goths 5,000 pounds of gold, 30,000 pounds of silver, 4,000 silken tunics, 3,000 hides dyed scarlet, and 3,000 pounds of pepper in exchange for lifting the siege. Later he sieged Rome 2 more times and ultimately burned it in 410. We can see clearly in history that Rome fell exactly as it was prophesied.
Revelation 18:9-10 a) It is common historical knowledge that the Roman Empire suffered economic collapse as a result of the sack in 410. The Roman economy was based fiat currency that did not have intrinsic value of itself, but represented by an amount of gold or silver that was endorsed by Rome. Much like our dollar, and the other major currencies of the world today. When Rome was emptied of her riches, their currency was worthless. Many in the Empire would have been mourning the loss of their wealth.
Revelation 18:11-13 a) In verses 11-13 we see a list of the luxuries that were traded throughout the Roman Empire. Rome held such vast amounts of regional influence. Riches and wealth from all over the whole civilized world was traded throughout the Empire. We can see this to be true by the diversity of the items on this list.
b) The most disturbing item is the bodies of men and the souls of men. The estimation of the population of slavery in the First Century was 30-50%. There is no precise demography for Ancient Rome, but these are the best estimates.
c) We see that God Almighty detests slavery and judged Rome for it. People are made in God’s image and slavery defaces and devalues God’s very own creation.
d) It is also disturbing to see that Rome somehow trafficked in the souls of men. This may refer to the influence of Emperor Worship, paganism and demon worship that was rampant in common Roman culture. It may also refer to the corrupting influence of the spirit of disobedience and rebellion inspired by the dragon, but whatever it is we can conclude it is alarming that souls of men can be trafficked by world systems.
e) As the Church, we are charged with the reformation of society. The Mystery Babylon was overthrown by the Early Church, and the Church had Christianized the whole of Europe by the Middle Ages. We are encouraged in Scripture to not only engage this warfare of influence for the nations of world by the Gospel of Love, but transcend it in Love and expand the influence of the Kingdom in every age.
Source Material: Christian-History.org Don Walker – The Beast of Revelation White Paper Josephus.org David Chilton – Days of Vengeance The Apocalypse Code – Hank Hanegraaff G. Davis Dean – The Revelation of Jesus Christ Blue Letter Bible.com
Preterist Archive.com Charles Taylor – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – The Gospel of the Kingdom Loraine Boettner – The Millenium Harold Eberle – Victorious Eschatology Holman Bible Dictionary Strongs Concordance NIV – Interlinear Greek New Testament NASB – Interlinear Greek New Testament Jonathan Welton – Raptureless George Peter Holford – The Destruction of Jerusalem Wikipedia Rapture Fever – Gary North The Prophets Dictionary – Price Vines Expository Bible Dictionary Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology