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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Revelation 18

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

CONTENTS

The Fall of Babylon. God's People come out from her. The Kings, and great Men, and Merchants, wail for her. The Saints of God rejoice over her.

Revelation 18:1

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

This is a very blessed and refreshing Chapter, in which we arrive at the close of the history, in that part of it, which concerns the destruction of the whore; here called Babylon. The date of this Chapter, must be under the fifth vial, and in correspondence also to the sixth trumpet, both which we are still under, though, as I before remarked, in the few general observations on the vials, that they are certainly not so distinct in their ministry, as that one hath fully exhausted all which belonged to it, before the succeeding one came to be poured out, for, frequently, through the whole that is already past, we find from their history, one runs into another, See Chapter 16 Commentary, on verse 1.(Revelation 16:1)

The several parts of this Chapter refresh the Church of God, with their blessed informations. The long prayed-for time is here come. She that deluged the earth with the blood of the saints, is now brought to her account. The Holy Ghost describes the different effects wrought upon the minds of men, in the view of her ruin. Those of states and empires, as well as the shipmasters and merchants, who profited by her delusion on the world, lament her downfall, which involves in it their own. While the Church of God, in not only that part of it yet upon earth, but the Holy Apostles and Prophets now in heaven, join in the triumphant song. Who this Messenger is, whom John saw corning down from the Church, to give the glorious tidings is not said. A very blessed account of his greatness is given, for it is said, that he lightened the earth with his glory, that is, I apprehend, not the glories of his person, but the glory of his intelligence. It could not be Christ I should suppose, because Christ is the judge of the whore, and He that will come under the seventh vial, to punish in Person, the devil, and the beast, and the false prophet together, Revelation 16:15-17.

I admire the grace of the Lord towards John, and the Church through him, that it seems to have been immediately after the vision the Lord hath favored him with, in the preceding Chapter of the whore's prosperity and pride, that this of her judgment immediately followed. So sweetly doth the Lord time his mercies to his people, that the lifting up their souls with joy, shall speedily succeed their exercises of sorrow.


Verse 2-3

(2) And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. (3) For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

The loud cry is intended to show, how extensive, as well as glorious, its blissful proclamation is. Perhaps, many of the Lord's hidden ones are supposed to be in Babylon at the time. They shall hear it and rejoice. And multitudes beyond Babylon, yea, in those islands of ours and other nations, who have been long oppressed under the secret, if not open tyranny of the whore's influence, shall hear it also. And I beg the Reader to observe, with me, how every feature describes this mystical Babylon, this Rome. It is now discovered at her fall, how like ancient Babylon in natural things, occupied only by reptiles and venomous creatures, so that no traveller can venture near it; mystical Babylon hath been in moral and spiritual things the habitation of devils from her damnable doctrines, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird, from her sinful, loose, and dissolute practices. See a striking account of ancient Babylon, in proof of the former instance, Isaiah 13:19 to the end. See also for a striking account of mystical Babylon, in proof of the latter, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.

Let the Reader observe the strong expressions of joy in the Angel's repeating his Words; Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen. Such mercies cannot be too often repeated. For although, through the protecting grace of the Lord, not a single one of the Lord's redeemed family, can the beast, and the whore, or the false prophet, or the devil, draw away, so as finally to perish, (see Revelation 13:8) yet, what persecutions and punishments, yea, temporal death, hath the inquisition of this heresy occasioned, for the many centuries in which the horrible delusion hath prevailed. Oh! who but must rejoice, in the glorious proclamation, and repeat with holy joy, and praises to the God of our salvation: Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen.

When it is said, that all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, it must be understood, as meaning those nations only, where her cursed influence and authority hath reached. Heathens and Mahometans are not included. Their delusion is from hell also, but under a different shape and character. In countries where Christianity was professed, as it was when the empire under Constantine became Christian; that is, became nominally so, in a mere outward form; there the devil, by a master-piece peculiarly his own, professed to be a Christian also; the more artfully to deceive. And this gave him an opportunity to introduce a variety of sects, which by denying the glorious truths of the Gospel in Christ's Godhead, and redemption by his blood, might as effectually lull his subjects on to ruin, as among heathens a total ignorance of Christ would accomplish the same. Let the Reader mark these things as he observes what is here said, and as he looks into the world, and if the Lord be his teacher, he will discover, that the devil hath his various ways and operations to deceive. But let the Reader still further observe, that his deceptions can go no further, than the Lord hath limited him. The Lord knoweth them that are his. And of such the Lord saith, none shall pluck them out of his hands. His Israel, his Church, his chosen are scattered. But, He will search and seek them out, from every place where they are scattered, in the cloudy and dark day. When Babylon falls, his redeemed shall be gathered out of her. When the false prophet is destroyed, Jesus will take care of his outcasts, which are now in the midst of that Moab, Isaiah 16:4. That sweet verse is a volume in point of fulness, and a whole Charter in point of security, to all the Lord's people. He shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven, Mark 13:27.


Verses 4-6

(4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (6) Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

I think it more than probable, that this voice which John heard, and which he calls another, by way of distinction from the one before, was Christ. John doth not call him an Angel. And if he had, we know that Christ is not unfrequently called the Angel of the Covenant, Malachi 3:1. But he saith he heard another voice from heaven, from the Church. And it is not unlikely that it was Christ, because Jesus dwells in Zion. And he delights to make himself known to his people. He loves to call them so. And here the voice saith my people. Everything is endearing, where we can see Jesus, and hear Jesus.

But I must particularly beg the Reader, to attend to the sweet words themselves. Come out of her, my people. May we not suppose, that whenever the fall of Rome takes place, many of God's dear ones, both already called, and some as yet uncalled, will be there. Nay, may there not be many of Jesus's own, which are then unborn in nature, and therefore must be preserved in the loins, or bowels of their natural parents for the future purpose of regeneration! Destroy it not, there is a blessing in it! Isaiah 65:8. What a subject to the imagination doth this open. And how many of the Lord's hidden ones may be found there in that day, whom that day's judgment shall minister to their conversion? How many of God's timid ones, who, though secretly taught of God, like Lot, are living in the Sodom city, grieved as his soul was, with the filthy conversation of the wicked; but from various causes there remain? Psalms 120:5; 2 Peter 2:7. In all these and numberless other cases, that our imagination cannot form the voice to come out from among her, will be heard and obeyed, for the Lord saith as to Lot, haste thee, escape thither, for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. And as it was then, so will it be in spiritual Sodom, and all similar destructions of the ungodly. It came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities, in the which Lot dwelt, Genesis 19:22-29.

The separating from everything unsuitable to the faith of a child of God, is included in what is here said, and the recompensing the evil an ungodly conduct of infidels hath imposed upon the Lord's people, is perfectly consistent with the precept of not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing. For let the Reader observe, this is not an injury of a private and personal nature. This is the Lord's cause, and of public concern to the Church. As the whore hath burnt and destroyed, robbed and murdered the saints of God, for their adherence to Christ, so all that love Christ, must give no countenance to her heresies. No favor is to be shown on any account, to the cause of the whore, though to the persons of the ignorant, in the communion of her heresy, tenderness is to be manifested, if peradventure, God should give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, to recover them out of the snare of the devil, who ore taken captive by him at his will, 2 Timothy 2:25-26.


Verse 7-8

(7) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. (8) Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

I beg the Reader to attend to what is here said, for, in my view, it throws a great light upon the events going on in the present day. Let the Reader recollect, or look back to the observations made in Revelation 17:13, after verse the 13th, and connect what is here said with those remarks. And in addition I would desire to say, that when it be considered, the late ascendency the Pontiff hath gained in those dominions, he had for a while, seemingly lost, and the strides which are still making by him and his agents, to get back to his interest certain powers, which once protested against him, and I think he will be somewhat inclined to think with me, if he be not altogether of my opinion, that Popery, before the total overthrow of it, will be more elevated than ever.

Let the Reader consider, and reconsider those two verses. She is said to be living deliciously, and to say in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow, when, in the moment, her plagues shall come upon her in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; yea, she shall be utterly burned with fire. If language conveys anything, here is great prosperity succeeded by great woe. And, what shall prevent the power of the Pope from being greater than it ever hath been. What shall come between the present indifferency in some, and the cordial affection of others, to a more extensive toleration, and by a transition then hardly perceivable, exalting the whore of Rome to her former splendor, yea, greater splendor than ever; when the loose doctrines, and looser conduct of the great mass of men, are already so ripe for it.

It is the mercy of the Lord's people, that by his grace, they are kept from all danger. And it is no less their mercy, to have come out from among her. But this scripture explained by present events, leaves in my view no question, but that this Anti-Christian heresy will have a lifting up, just before her final overthrow, in possessing again some of her long-lost territories, and be the queen, as she herself saith of them and all her dependencies in the very hour, the Lord pours out her plagues in one day, and death, everlasting mourning, famine, and fire will be her portion.


Verses 9-19

(9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, (10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. (11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: (12) The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, (13) And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. (14) And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. (15) The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, (16) And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! (17) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, (18) And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! (19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

The oftener I read this funeral lamentation of the mourners, that follow the whore to her burying; the more I am struck with astonishment, at the impudence of her deceptions, and the forbearance of the Lord. To think that such a mummery should have gulled the nations so many hundreds of years is wonderful! And indeed it would be hardly possible to reconcile it with the common sense of mankind, were it not that so many profited by the cheat. Let the Reader take notice of some of the many.

First. The kings of the earth, who have committed fornication, and lived deliciously with her. These are those who have profited by the same tricks, as the whore herself hath played off, to keep the lower order in subjection. For when confession, and penance, and the profits of all the trumpery of forms and ceremonies are done away, they as well as she, will find cause to lament that their juggling is over.

Secondly. The Merchants of the earth will mourn also at her downfall. These are not only the common traders at Rome, who take advantage of the religion of the place, to impose upon the foreigners which come to their markets, but chiefly is intended, the whore's merchants; namely, the dealers in pardons and indulgencies, who sell licences for sin, and pray people out of purgatory for money. It is said, Revelation 18:13, that their merchandize, is the souls of men. And this indeed is the chief traffic. All such must follow the funeral procession, for they will forever shut up shop, when the whore's plagues come; for as it is here said, no man buyeth her merchandize. anymore.

Thirdly. Every ship-master, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, are involved in the calamity. And well they may. For both at home and abroad, by sea and by land, wherever the whore's influence extendeth, and her priests and people find the trade profitable, the loss of it in money matters must be ruinous. So that the whore's downfall brings after it, the total overthrow of the whorish trade.

Fourthly. But one feature deserves to be noticed under all, namely, while they all bewail and lament her, it is said, that they all stood afar off. Here is a striking feature. Though sinners herd together in sin, yet in judgment, they wish to separate. No one helpeth his fellow. Like the first transgressor in the garden, they rather accuse than soften each other's crime. They stand afar off. Oh! the awful State of the ungodly.


Verse 20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

I admire this verse. It comes in with a delightful tide of joy, in the midst of the troubled waters. Here there are several sorts of persons called upon to rejoice in her destruction. First, the inhabitants of heaven, meaning the Church now in glory, who, when upon earth, felt and groaned under the oppression of the whore. They, who in another Chapter are described as under the altar in heaven crying out for her destruction, Revelation 6:10.

Secondly. The holy Apostles and Prophets, whose sacred writings the whore hath perverted, to her nefarious trade, in slaying the souls of men.

And, Thirdly. All the faithful of the Lord may be considered as included, because, all the living upon earth, cannot but rejoice that her power is gone.


Verses 21-24

(21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. (22) And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found anymore in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; (23) And the light of a candle 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 great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (24) And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The figure of a great millstone cast into the sea, is only to show the eternal and unalterable nature of the whore's destruction. She is sunk to rise no more. Neither shall the voice of bride groom or bride, or a single blessing be found anymore within her walls forever!


Verse 24

REFLECTIONS

BLESSED be the Lord! the destruction of the whore is come! One hour, when the time all along predicted arrives, is enough, and all her traffic in hunting souls, and ruining the world, is done away forever. Of what avail as all her pomp, and sitting as a queen among the nations!

Precious Lord Jesus give thy redeemed grace to hear thy love-calls, and to come out from among her! How many of thy dear ones are now hidden where the seat of the beast is! How many more, yet to be called, are found therein! Oh! bring them out, and house them in thy little Zoar, when thou makest the awful overthrow.

Methinks I would hail the Church, whoever lives to see it in the view of the blessed event. The very prospect of it is blessed. With what joy, will the redeemed welcome the day. Yea, heaven itself will take part in the felicity of it. The Apostles and Prophets, gone before, will rejoice over her, when God hath avenged his people on her. Lord! be thou eternally and everlastingly praised, in the total overthrow of thine enemies, and the salvation of thy people!

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 18:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/revelation-18.html. 1828.

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