Last time we saw in John’s context that Rome was the great prostitute seated on 7 hills (17:9) which rides on the beast, the Roman empire, which brought prosperity to the nations through the Pax Romana , but to the Christian church Rome brought much suffering. A Roman instituted king called Herod wanted Jesus killed . A Roman governor called Pontius Pilate handed Jesus over to Roman soldiers to be crucified. The apostle Paul was killed by the Romans. So were many of the apostles and Christian people. Rome, for John was a prototype of Babylon, the scourge of ancient Israel, which became the symbolic city of sinful man which stood against God and His people .
In addition to this she was a temptress. Her many seductive attractions and features were used by Satan, and the antichrist and the false prophet to seduce the kings of the earth, (17:2,5,15). But in the end, we have seen that when she has served her purposes, she will be hated and discarded. (17:16)This is what happens to a prostitute . She is loved by everyone, and then she is loved by no one . At the end of her usefulness she is thrown away.
This is now described in greater detail in the 18th Chapter, following 17:16 .
The destruction of Babylon is a part of the “7th bowl judgment” (16:17-21), which represents the final cycle of judgments in the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to John. With this judgment the wrath of God is complete. With it, the end of the world, as we know it, has come.
What about God’s people at this time? Just as God spared His people in the midst of His terrible wrath poured out upon Egypt by the 10 plagues (Exodus 7-12), so also God will spare His people from His wrath upon the earth at the end of times. His people are marked and sealed in the name of Christ. However, all those who worship the beast and who bear his mark  will bear the full fury of God’s wrath.
I want to repeat something important. The logic of the book of Revelation teaches us that the church in every age between Christ’s ascension and descension (or the second coming) goes through tribulation. This was the purpose of Revelation 2&3 – to show us the various sufferings of the church in all ages . The faithful church is kept by the power of God in all her tribulations . During the final battle at a place called “ Armageddon” (16:16), just before Christ’s second coming , the nations shall gather with the intent to destroy the people of the Lamb of God (17:14), and as they do this , the angel pours the 7th bowl of God’s wrath upon the world. Babylon, the city of man and the cities of the nations (16:19) will be judged (Ch’s 17 &18) at this time.
During this time the people of God will exist and live in their midst (as we do today!) , but those who hear the warning words will come out of her (18:4)- just as Abraham avoided the sinful cities of the plains , Sodom and Gomorrah where his nephew Lot had lived. God’s people will continue to be on earth during the time of this severe tribulation , and God keeps them in that situation as he also kept His people in the time of the 10 plagues upon Egypt.
I mention this because there is an eschatological view  that maintains that the people of God (the church) will be taken out of the world (raptured) by the Lord Jesus before the final , great tribulation after which, they say , there will be a period of seven years of great tribulation for the world. After 7 years of terrible suffering , it is said that the Jesus will return to establish His millennial kingdom (a golden era on earth), after which Satan will be freed for a short time to do more of his destructive work, after which Jesus finally defeats him and sends him into eternal hell.
However this is not the flow and logic of the Revelation to John. The Revelation certainly teaches that the church goes through tribulation at all times, BUT at all times we are assured that the Lord keeps His people. Even those who lose their lives for the sake of the gospel , are not forgotten . They are kept safe in heaven, awaiting the judgment of the wicked and resurrection of the body at Christ’s return. Judgment day occurs when Christ comes back.
What about the 1000 years – the millennial age of peace and prosperity upon the earth? The millennium certainly is not a time of peace and prosperity for those on the earth, but we can certainly say that peace and tranquility is certainly experienced by those who are now in heaven , who have entered in His promised rest ( Hebr.11:13-16;39-40 )
Why do we make this such a big issue ? Pastorally speaking this is an important point ! Jesus through John offers hope and perspective to the persecuted church in the time of His absence. He shows us that God is not indifferent to the sufferings of his people. He is pouring out temporary judgments upon the earth, and He is directing everything to a final end. In the end His people will be vindicated when all evil shall be cast into eternal hell . We have reason to believe that this knowledge not only brought tremendous comfort to John’s immediate readers but also to us who are currently looking at the state of the world and who are asking , “How long, oh Lord , how long ?” The Revelation reminds us again and again : Jesus will reign! The Lamb of God will triumph in the end!
In the closing verses of Revelation 17:15-18, John had already announced what the end of the great prostitute would be. It is ironic that the lovers of the prostitute (the kings of the earth) whom she had seduced will in the end hate her and destroy her, and then ironically again, mourn her loss.
When the news of Babylon’s destruction is announced there are two responses:
(i) Heaven’s response in Rev. 18: 1-8 & vv.20 -24
(ii) Earth’s response Rev. 18:9-19 - the lament of those who profited from the great city and who participated in her idolatry.
1. Heaven’s Response : ( Vv 1-8)
V.1, “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice : “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” The doom of Babylon was first announced in 14:8 . These are images of Jeremiah 50 &51. Israel’s prophets foretold that Babylon and other cities that oppressed the people and the work of God in this world would be destroyed by God. All these OT images are pictures of what will happen to Babylon – the sinful city of man , the abuser of God’s people at end of time. Note the angels words in vv 2-3. The city of man with all its seductions and glitter and attractions has become a haunt of demons. Her beauty is gone . She has become exposed for what she actually is – a demonic haunt !
A second voice from Heaven : vv 4- 8 : “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying : Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped up to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities .”
This is a commandment and a warning to God’s people, to flee from the city of man before God’s wrath is poured out upon her rains down upon her (see Jer 51:45ff ; Isa 52:11). John stands in the line of these prophets, as he repeats this message for his and for our present day.
Remember that we are strangers and aliens in this world (Hebr. 11:13; 1 Peter 1:1,17;2:11).
We are not at home. We live in exile in the city of man. We are pilgrims through hostile territory (John Bunyan) . We are on our way to the heavenly city whose Designer and Builder is God (Hebr.11:10). While it is true that we take our journey in this life seriously , leaving this world in a better shape than we have found it (fulfilling the cultural mandate) , we know that we are destined for this better city . Our greatest challenge is this great prostitute which continuously seeks to seduce us away from our bridegroom , the Lord Jesus Christ and from our final goal – the heavenly city. Here we are warned not to be enticed, and Jesus words need to be vivid reminders of how we need to do that ( see Matt 5:27-30). John warns us here in Revelation 18 that the city of man (Babylon) will be judged by God , and if we are involved in her sins we too shall be judged with the wicked city .
This is why the angel says in vv 6-8, “ Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds…” . Payback time will come , and it a frightening picture of what awaits those who have loved the city of man more than the city of God - who have chosen in a rather short sighted manner to live in this soul deadening luxury ( see Luke 16:19-31 – the rich man and Lazarus).
2. The response of the earth as they hear of the fall of Babylon ( Vv 9-19)
In verses 9 & 10 we read : “And the kings of the earth , who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning…” . The kings of the earth loved the prostitute because she provided them with a luxurious and lavish lifestyle . But her destruction comes fast – “ in an hour” . And now there is a vacuum – it is all gone ! All is up in smoke ! They feel a sense of dreadful loss.
And not only the kings , but also the merchants ! ( vv 11-17) … “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her , since no one buys their cargo any more…. ( Note … this included human souls – slave trading - v. 13) There’s a terrible sense of loss and a resultant emptiness here , for what do you have if you only have these things and no God ? What do you live for when your riches are gone? Do you see their dilemma ? What does your heart hope in and long for ?
The global extent of the losses becomes even more apparent in 17 b. : “And all ship masters and seafaring men , sailors, and all whose trade is on the sea stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning…” . They join the kings of the earth and the merchants in a great outpouring of grief ! “ Alas , alas, for the great city… in a single hour she has been laid waste ! ( v. 19)
Heaven rejoices ! (v.20)
Now note the response of heaven once again: v.20: “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her.” Here is your comfort ! Years of abuse will be vindicated! And so with the knowledge that heaven rejoices while the earth mourns, John now describes the tragic, but inevitable end of the great city.
V. 21 ff: “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying: So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more…” Her end is certain, the judgment upon her will be complete. Nothing will remain of her.
The lesson is clear !
· Don’t trust in that which the great prostitute has to offer !
· Remember that her beauty is false and her wealth is fake !
· Remember that all those who are enticed by her will feel a great sense of loss as the centre of their existence is ripped out under their feet .
· Christians must be vigilant and not get caught up in her schemes . Christians lead productive lives and change their world on the way to the heavenly city .
· John will make clear in chapter 19 that true riches and satisfaction can only be found in Jesus Christ. Jesus has died for His bride, purifying her from every sin, and Jesus provide her with a perfect righteousness. While the bride of the beast (the prostitute ) faces certain destruction, the bride of Christ is being prepared for a glorious feast, the marriage supper of Christ the Lamb.
What will it be for you ?
 The mark of the Lamb : Rev 7:3,4; 9:4 ; 15:2 ; These are the same whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of lifeà Rev 3:5;13:8;17:8; 20 :12 ;21:27
 The mark of the beast : Rev. 13:16-17 ; 14:9 ; 16:2 ;19:20; 20:4
 “Har Magedon” – literally means “ Mount of Assembly”
 They base this upon Revelation 20
 Genesis 1:28