24: The Fall of Babylon (Rev 17:1-18:24)
In 14:8 and 16:19, we saw the
pronouncement of the fall of Babylon
in connection to God’s acts of judgment and vindication. Now in chapters 17 and 18, the vision focuses
on the iniquities and destruction of Babylon,
the mother of harlots. God’s final judgments on the world is
also a judgment on the great city Babylon.
Just as she was drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs, now God will make
her drink the wine of His fierce wrath.
“These will make war with the
Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of
kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (17:14).
“And I heard another voice from
heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and
lest you receive of her plagues’” (18:4).
“Therefore her plagues will come
in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with
fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (18:8).
Did You Know…?
1. Seven mountains (17:9): “It is perhaps significant that Rome began as a network of seven hill settlements on the
left bank of the Tiber. Her designation as the
city on seven hills is commonplace among Roman writers (e.g., Virgil, Martial, Cicero).” 13/1943
2. Purple (18:12): “An expensive dye since it must be extracted
a drop at a time from the murex shellfish.” 13/1944
3. Citron wood (18:12): “An expensive dark wood from north
Africa—used for inlay work in costly furniture.” 13/1944
4. Cinnamon (18:13): “The tree grows about 9 m. (30 ft.) high
with clusters of yellow and white flowers. Its very fragrant bark yields a
golden yellow oil, which was used as one ingredient of the anointing oil (Ex.
30:23) and as perfume (Prov. 7:17).” 5/242
5. Incense (18:13): “from the latin
‘to burn,’ ‘a mixture of gums or spices and the like, used for the purpose of
producing a perfume when burned;’ or the perfume itself of the spices, etc.,
burned in worship.” 6/265
6. Frankincense (18:13): “…a large, pink-flowering tree,
producing a white gum that hardens quickly and is very aromatic when burned.
This was used in ceremonial offerings (Ex. 30:34; Lev. 2:1), as an article of
luxury (Song 3:6), and as a gift for the Christ child (Matt. 2:11).” 5/243
7. Bodies and souls of men (18:13): “Slavery as well as any
other exploitation of persons.” 1/1932
8. Throw dust on their heads (18:19): “An act of sorrow and
dismay (see Eze 27:30).” 13/1945
verses in chapter 17 indicate that the woman who sits on the beast is the great
city Babylon of
1. Describe the woman in terms of the following:
1a. Her adornment
1b. Her influence
1c. Her wickedness
2. What does it mean that the woman sits on many waters (1)?
3. How is the woman related to the beast?
4a. What are the origin, history, and
future of the beast?
4b. Is the scarlet beast the same as the
sea beast of chapter 13?
4c. Who will marvel at the beast? Why?
4d. What type of entity is the beast,
according to the angel’s explanation?
4e. Explain the phrase “that was, and is not, and will ascend out
of the bottomless pit” (8) by comparing it with 12:7-12 and Jn
5. What traits characterize the followers of the Lamb? Do these
traits describe your relationship to the Lamb?
6a. How will God bring about the woman’s
7. From your study so far, what do you think the woman might
represent in history and in today’s world? How will she be destroyed?
8. Describe the great city of Babylon in terms of the following:
8a. Her wealth
8b. Her power
8c. Her arrogance
9. Why will God judge her?
10a. Which verses suggest that the Babylon here is most
likely not referring to a particular city or nation?
10b. From your study of the chapter so far,
what do you think is the meaning of Babylon?
Compare this chapter with OT prophecies about the fall of Babylon in Isa ch. 13, 47 and Jer ch. 51. How does the historical Babylon
help us understand the spiritual Babylon
10c. What is the “fornication” that she
commits with the kings of the earth?
10d. Looking at the world today, do you see the sinfulness that
resembles the iniquity of Babylon?
11. What does it mean that Babylon
“has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a
cage for every unclean and hated bird”? (cf. Isa
13:19-22; 34:11; Jer 50:39).
12. How should we “come out of” Babylon (4)?
13. What expressions are used to depict the swiftness of Babylon’s destruction?
14a. Who are the three groups of people that
will mourn for Babylon?
14b. Why does Babylon’s fall cause such bitter weeping and
lament? What will be the consequence for those today who
have become rich because of Babylon?
14c. In what ways do the people of today
“purchase merchandise” from Babylon?
Are you also part of this merchant trading?
15. What is the repeated phrase in 21-23 that indicates the tragic
end of Babylon?
16a. How does the phrase, “by your sorcery all the nations were
deceived” tell us about the dreams that the people of the world pursue?
16b. Have you ever lost something in your life that you valued
highly? What lessons did you learn from the loss?
17. What do verses 20 and 24 tell us about what Babylon has done to God’s people?