Bible Lessons on the Book of Revelation: The Fall of the Dragon’s Allies, Lesson XVIII – Part 1

After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold at every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird. For by the wine of the wrath of her fornication all the nations are fallen; and the king, of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth waxed rich by the power of her wantonness. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached even unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Render unto her even as she rendered, and double unto her the double according to her works: in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her double. How much soever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so forth give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning. Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her. And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great day, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no man buyeth their merchandise any more; merchandise at gold, and silver’, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet; and all thyine wood, and every vessel at ivory, and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle, and sheep; and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men. And the fruits which thy soul lusted after are gone from thee, and all things that were dainty and sumptuous are perished from thee, and men shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning; saying, Woe, woe, the great city, she that was arrayed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stone and pearl! for in one hour so great riches is made desolate. And every shipmaster, and every one that saileth any whither, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by the sea, stood afar off, and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like the great city? And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her. And a strong angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers and minstrels and flute-players and trumpeters shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft, shall be found any more at all in thee; and the voice of a mill shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a lamp shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the princes of the earth; for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of the prophets and of saints, and of all that have been slain upon the earth. Revelation 18

Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 207–213


A lengthy portion for one lesson! I agree. It is, however, all one very vivid scene. Hence, in order to derive the full benefit from it one should try to see it as a unit. It is not a chronological account as, for example, Revelation 20.

For the purpose of ease of memorization and proper organization this one unforgettable action-drama may be viewed under the following heads, in which the prominent word in the first begins with the letter A, in the second with the letter B, in the third with the letter C and in the fourth with the letter D. Remember, therefore, these verbs: Announces, Beseeches, Cries, Dramatizes.


Now just what does Babylon’s fall indicate? In order to answer that question it must be borne in mind that in the Bible one predicted event is frequently the type of another, which, accordingly, in the same prophecy is by implication also being predicted. Thus, for example, the gospel-age, heralded so beautifully in Isaiah 11, is a type of conditions in the new heaven and earth. Thus also the return from Babylonian exile is a type of deliverance from the house of bondage unto sin. And thus the destruction of Jerusalem predicted by our Lord in Matthew 24 is clearly a prophecy of the end of the world (see Matt. 24: 29) .

So also the fall of Babylon—that is, the fall at any time of the world-empire as center of seduction, whether that empire be Old Babylonia, Assyria, New Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greco-Macedonia. Rome, etc.—is, in turn, a prediction of the final collapse of the entire wicked world, with all its seductive pleasures and treasures, at the moment of Christ’s glorious return. Hence, when anyone asks, “Does chapter 18 have in mind the fall of ancient Babylon?” the answer is, “Yes, that is certainly in the background.” If the question be, “Does the chapter refer to the fall of Rome, that is, as center not now of persecution but of seduction,” the answer is, ‘“Yes.” And if a person wants to know whether the final downfall of every center of enticement at the great consummation of all things in the day of days is here portrayed he should be told that that is exactly the meaning.

Notice then this mighty angel who illumines the entire earth with his brilliance. Hear him as he shouts as loudly as even he is able to shout, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great,” and indicates its utter desolation and the reason for its fall.


Says the voice, “Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins,” etc. The remainder of the brief paragraph shows us that Babylon receives just retribution for her terrible sins, especially the sin of self-glorification.

That word fellowship (in the clause, “that ye have no fellowship with her sins”) is very instructive. In my Commentary on Philippians I devote several pages to this concept (in connection with Phil. 1:5). The Lord wants us to have fellowship, indeed. But this fellowship should be with God and with his people. Those who live in fellowship with the wicked world, giving heed to its allurements and enticements, will perish with the world. In More Than Conquerors I have pointed out that God’s earnest admonition that his people leave Babylon is found on the pages of both Old and New Testament, and I have also shown what this implies.


The “kings’—influential men in any realm—lament because they have yielded to Babylon’s allurements.

The “merchants” mourn loudly because all that used to delight their hearts is suddenly destroyed, and “no one buys their merchandise any more.” That merchandise is then described in great and vivid detail. Read verses 11–17a, and see for this and also for the wail of the navigators the detailed interpretation in More Than Conquerors. The emphasis falls on the completeness of Babylon’s fall, its utter desolation. Here it is well for us to stop and meditate a moment. Let each person ask himself this question, “If the world and its riches and pleasures is the real treasure of my heart, then what will it be for me if by and by all this is suddenly destroyed, and I have nothing at all, nothing but eternal despair?” Let it be remembered that the purpose of these Lessons or Outlines is not merely to fill the mind with ideas but also and even chiefly to impress the heart and life so that God may be glorified. I know of no better commentary on the main lesson of Revelation 18:9–20 than the parable of The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). Note especially its closing words, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”


The angel by hurling this great millstone into the sea, burying it in the ocean-floor so deeply that it can never be retrieved, stresses the irrevocable character of this fall. This is followed immediately by the sixfold “No more at all” and the re-emphasis upon Babylon’s great guilt as the cause of it all.



1. In connection with verse 6, is double retribution just?

2. Of what other Scriptural passage (it is in the Old Testament) does “I sit as queen” remind you?

3. Is the slave-trade condemned in this chapter?

4. Do the kings, merchants, and navigators pity Babylon or themselves?

5. Explain verse 20.

6. Is it all right for our children to specialize in “the Dramatic Arts”? This in connection with verse 21.

7. W hat are the main practical lessons of this chapter?