New Defender's Study Bible Notes
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.
18:3 fornication with her. Note Jeremiah 51:7 and Revelation 17:4. This aspect of her wickedness applies mainly to her character as the “Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the earth,” with all her false evolutionary pantheistic religious systems and the ungodly practices of their cultures.
18:3 abundance of her delicacies. Ancient Babylon, beginning with Nimrod and brought to its zenith under Nebuchadnezzar, was also the mother of human covetousness and desire for wealth and luxuries. That same spirit infected many of the Jewish exiles there, as well as the trading partners of the Babylonians in other nations, and in every age and nation since, there have been some men who have been able to accumulate great wealth and even greater power than kings and emperors. Paul charged that covetousness was really idolatry (Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5), and warned that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10). Perhaps today, more so than ever in history, the real power of the nations rests in the hands of international financiers, industrial barons, shipping magnates and other men of great wealth who can manipulate governments almost like puppets. All of this wealth and power will finally be centered in Babylon the Great, after its installation as the world’s great center—not only its geographical and population center, but also its center of finance, trade, communication, culture and government. See notes on Zechariah 5:5-11.
18:4 Come out of her. Note also Jeremiah 51:45. It is a sad commentary on Christian men and women throughout history, that their avarice and desire for acceptance by the world has made them so willing to compromise with the spirit of Babylon as it was manifested in their times. Even under the terrible judgments and repeated warnings and pleas of the Lord’s witnesses during the early years of the tribulation, there will apparently be a number of new Christians choosing to live in Babylon. As always, God warns His people not to compromise with the Babylonian system, but to separate from it (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
18:7 much torment and sorrow. Babylon will experience all the plagues inflicted on of the rest of the world, in addition to more intense suffering than others under the plagues of the sixth trumpet and fifth and sixth vials (Revelation 9:14; 16:10,12).
18:7 shall see no sorrow. See Isaiah 47:1,7-8.
18:10 Alas, alas. The same word (ovai) as translated “woe” in Revelation 8:13.
18:10 one hour. Revelation 18:8 suggested Babylon’s troubles came “in one day.” Obviously the great earthquake will be catastrophic (Revelation 16:19), although it will not destroy Babylon, as it does other great cities. It will be followed some time later by an all-engulfing fire, followed by all the other plagues; the end result is the complete demolition of the city and all its activities. The kings and leaders of the nations (those not already on the way to Armageddon) will observe the terrible fire “afar off,” probably by some form of visual media, beamed all over the world.
18:21 millstone. Christ had said it would be better for a man who “shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me…that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Babylon is the greatest offender of all.
18:21 into the sea. See Jeremiah 51:41-42,63-64. This final disappearance of Babylon, possibly brought about by an aftershock of the great earthquake, may well result from a sudden fracturing or slippage of the earth’s crust, causing the entire region to drop down below sea level. This event may occur some weeks or months after the great disaster (a nuclear explosion or perhaps even fire from heaven) that left the great city in ashes. This would give time for the ancient prophecies of Babylon’s great desolation to be literally fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 13:20-22; Jeremiah 51:62; Revelation 18:2).
18:22 musicians. Revelation 18:12-13 gives insight into the former commerce of Babylon; now Revelation 18:22-23 gives a picture of her former daily life, filled with raucous and sensual music and opulent, immoral living.
18:23 light of a candle. Ever since the plague of the fifth vial (Revelation 16:10), Babylon will have been in darkness. With the drying of the Euphrates (Revelation 16:12), the city’s power plants would soon fail, and the city would have to be lit by candlelight. The city’s riotous social life would come almost to a standstill.
18:23 sorceries. See note on Revelation 9:21. The “sorceries” (Greek pharmakeia) indicate the widespread use of drugs as well as occult arts in this great New Age metropolis.
18:24 slain. Not only was Babylon (both political and ecclesiastical Babylon) the “mother of harlots,” but also the mother of persecutions. See Revelation 17:4-6. False religion and corrupt government, while demanding tolerance for themselves, have always tried to destroy true creationism and the worship of the true God, in Jesus Christ.