18:2 Babylon the great. Even though Revelation 17 and 18 have the same city in view, she is no longer called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,” since her ecclesiastical aspects have been destroyed (Revelation 17:16-18). At this point, approximately at the middle of the seven-year tribulation, all the ornate religious and cultural trappings of “the great whore” will have been destroyed by the ten-kingdom federation, and the beast will reign supreme in his great commercial and political capital, now called simply “Babylon the great.” This could not have referred to Babylon as it appeared in John’s day. Even though Babylon still existed as a viable city at that time, there was little indication (except via many of its ruins) that it had ever been a city that could be called “great.” At this point, the religions of the world, even in their final syncretistic New Age aspect, will have lost all their prestige and power; the beast and his false prophet will have total control.
18:2 hateful bird. The ancient prophecies of Isaiah 13:19-22, fulfilled in part during the church age, will finally be completely fulfilled, although Babylon’s status as a habitation of “wild beasts” and “hateful birds” will only endure for a brief period before it finally vanishes forever. Though many commentators have thought that the past precursive fulfillment of this prophecy was its ultimate fulfillment, this belief encounters several fatal flaws. The latter is to be consummated only during the ultimate “day of the LORD” (Isaiah 13:6,9-10); Babylon has never yet become as barren “as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40); it has never been completely devoid of human inhabitants (Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 51:62); its fall was not accompanied by either terrestrial or celestial catastrophes (Isaiah 13:10,13); and it has never been thrown “into the midst of Euphrates” (Jeremiah 51:63). All these calamities therefore must overtake it after its future restoration to even greater opulence and power under the beast than it ever had in the past.