Revelation 18

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Read Revelation 18

Lament Over Fallen Babylon

18 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:

“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
    She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
For all the nations have drunk
    the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
    and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’
    so that you will not share in her sins,
    so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
    and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
    pay her back double for what she has done.
    Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torment and grief
    as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
    ‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
    I will never mourn.’
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
    death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
    for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

Threefold Woe Over Babylon’s Fall

“When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’

11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
    and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    where all who had ships on the sea
    became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens!
    Rejoice, you people of God!
    Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
    with the judgment she imposed on you.”

The Finality of Babylon’s Doom

21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:

“With such violence
    the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
    never to be found again.
22 The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters,
    will never be heard in you again.
No worker of any trade
    will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
    will never be heard in you again.
23 The light of a lamp
    will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
    will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world’s important people.
    By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
    of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

Go Deeper

Revelation 18 is a continuation of chapter 17 with a closer look at the fall of the woman, Babylon. Chapter 18 can be outlined in 5 parts: the Word, a warning, woes, worship, and the final weigh-in on evil.

Before we lean into the text, let’s consider who and what Babylon is. Babylon is both a place and a system (a mindset and attitude). Babylon serves as a metaphor for empires, domination, injustices, and idolatries. Each century has its Babylon characterized by arrogance, greed, sin, injustice, materialism, abusive power, oppression, opulence, and idolatry. Babylon’s goal is to represent and exhibit the way of the Dragon. If the Dragon is the mastermind, Babylon is the playground. Babylon stands in direct opposition to the way of the Lamb. 

The first three verses of chapter 18 announce the fall of Babylon. The word proclaiming, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” Every Babylon will rise and then fall. While it rules over the world for a time, Babylon’s days are numbered. 

Until Babylon is defeated for good, the seductions and allure of Babylonian mindset is tempting. Remember, the Dragon is out to steal, kill, and destroy anything good, anything of God. But we also can expect for Satan to be subtle and seductive in his attempts and attacks. We can hear the urgency and passion as God (through John’s hand) writes a warning in verse 6, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins.” The original reader of this passage would remember other times in Jewish history when that command and warning was given. Remember: Babylon is both a place and a mindset. In Jeremiah 51: 6, the Lord says, “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves.” The warning is given: flee.

The bulk of the chapter is spent on the agony of the earth over the fall of Babylon and the woes to Babylon (woe is an exclamation of judgment). The kings, merchants, business men, and shipmasters who have benefitted from the economic exploitation and abuse of power will be brought to ruin. They will weep and mourn. The kingdoms of man and the idolatries and injustices will crumble and fall. The chapter ends with the rejoicing and worshiping in heaven over the final weigh-in on evil. Babylon is destroyed forever. We read the words “never to be found”,”never be heard”, “never shine”, never. The ache for justice has ended. Evil is defeated. 

It’s easy to get caught up in Revelation debates over poetic language, literal and metaphorical meanings, and eschatological theories and theologies; but, when we approach Revelation as a mystery to decode or a riddle to solve, we lose the message of Revelation: Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb, has won. How will we follow the way of the Lamb faithfully in a world of Babylonian systems and attitudes? 

Revelation 18 calls us to have courage to come out of Babylon. Resist and flee the temptation and seductions of the Dragon and to follow the way of the Lamb without compromise. Have we surrendered some parts of our life to Babylon and other parts to New Jerusalem? Unsurprisingly, God gave this message to John (in 1 John 2:15-17) previously: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 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. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

John could have easily substituted the word Babylon for world. May we have the discernment, wisdom, resilience, endurance, and resistance to follow the way of the Lamb in the world of Babylon. Babylon is crumbling and the heavens are starting to roar. The white horse and his Rider are about to make an entrance!


  1. What are the consequences of God’s enemies in the end? 
  2. What characteristics of Babylon do you notice in this passage? How are they similar to the world we live in today? 
  3. Have you surrendered some parts of your life to Babylon and other parts to Jesus? What steps will you take  to “come out of Babylon?”

Keep Digging

Babylon plays a significant role throughout scripture. To dive deeper into Babylon and to understand more of the context surrounding it, check out this helpful article. 

Leave a Comment Below

Did you learn something today? Share it with our Bible Reading Plan community by commenting below.

Join the Team

Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email

4 thoughts on “Revelation 18”

  1. Wiersbe says “Are we a citizen of “Babylon” or citzens of heaven?” Can you rejoice because eyour name is written in heaven? If not, then the time has come for you to trust Jesus Christ and “get out of Babylon” and into the family of God.”
    The people here do not lament over loss of ‘Babylon’ as much as over the loss of their wealth and power. Where do we put our treasure? Matthew 6:20-22 …20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.…

    God thank You for You being my treasure. God help me to see and continue to open the eyes of my understanding to where I am not putting You first in my life. God thank You for seeing you in the glorious world of sunrises, sunsets, storms, lightining, thunder and yes even tornados. God Your hands are mighty. Thank You for being thankful every day for all that is surrounding me. God thank You for the minutes of this day that You are glorified in and through me in Jesus name amen.

  2. Ella Snodgrass

    Contrary to the mindset of Babylon centered around selfishness and greed, believers are to employ their God-given resources to advance the kingdom of God through serving, giving and sacrifice. I discovered a helpful commentary that suggested these practices to avoid an evil system:
    •People must always be more important than products.
    •Keep away from pride in your own programs, plans & successes.
    •Remember that God’s will and Word must never be compromised.
    •People must always be considered above the making of money.
    •Do what is right no matter the cost.
    •Be involved in businesses that provide worthwhile products or services—not just things that feed the world’s desires.

  3. 19 “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    where all who had ships on the sea
    became rich through her wealth!
    In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

    There are so many wonderful cities in this world today. Amazing to think of any one of them being brought to ruin in an hour! Don’t take refuge or comfort there!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.