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Revelation 18 Mourning for Babylon

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Mourning for Babylon

In Revelation 18 (NIV) the royalty is mourning for Babylon. They are mourning for the commerce that is no longer available.

This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references I mention.

If you do not have a Bible, I recommend or search for an online Bible.

In Revelation 18 (NIV) the royalty is mourning for Babylon. They are mourning for the commerce that is no longer available.

Revelation 18:9-20

9. “This mourning echoes Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre (Ezekiel 27). Both passages mention monarchs, merchants, and mariners; both passages contain long lists of goods that will no longer be sold.” (Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 331)

“We see that the kings of the earth love commercial Babylon because of the revenue she brought to their coffers.” [KJV] (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 1040)

Also, the kings of the earth committed adultery with her.

The kings had lived deliciously with her. [KJV]

They shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, [KJV]

10. Terrified at her torment [KJV]

They realize that “the same fate” will happen to them. (Easley, 331)

They do not want to get too close, fearing they will be next.

“Their dirge includes three elements that will be picked up and repeated later in the wailing of the merchants and mariners.” (Easley, 331)

First is the double exclamation: Woe! Woe! [NIV] (Revelation 8:13)

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, [NIV]

The second element of the lament is the direct address to Babylon: O great city.” [NIV]

You mighty city of Babylon!

The third element in their song is the reference to the suddenness of destruction:

In one hour your doom has come! [NIV]

It was sudden.

Not Buying

11. I do not know about the rest of the world but in the United States, during the pandemic of 2020 the business hours and the customers ability to see their products was greatly lessened.

For no man buyeth their merchandise any more: [KJV]

I think this is just a prelude to what is coming.

On-line shopping is taking the place of what is called brick and mortar stores.

It may be happening in your hometown too.

People want to purchase their products, but they are not able too.

Both McGee (1040) and Easley (332) give a good list of the cargo no one buys.

Both give a more detailed description of the goods in their respective books.

This list is from verses 12 and 13.



Precious stones

“These precious metals are not inherently evil, for they will be found in New Jerusalem, 21:18-23.” (Easley, 332)


Fine linen (“Will later symbolize righteous deeds.” (Easley, 332)
Scarlet cloth


Citron wood
Costly wood

Interior decorator’s shop




(“That three items listed—gold, myrrh, frankincense—were presented to the infant Jesus shows that none of these items is inherently evil.” Easley, 333)

Food store

(McGee calls this “the liquor department and the pastry center.” [1040])

Olive oil
Fine flour

(“Except for ‘fine flour’ these were standard foodstuffs used by all people.” [Easley, 333])

Animal sale barn

Cattle “These are beasts of burden, used to draw carts or plow fields.” (Easley, 333)

“These items reflect prosperity and wealth.” (Easley, 333)

Slave Market

Bodies “Throughout Scripture God reveals himself as a just Judge who will render justice to the downtrodden.” (Easley, 333)
Souls of men
“Slave traders weren’t dealing with just bodies but with infinitely valuable human souls, created in God’s image.” (Easley, 333)

“In our times, they may warn us about the vast professional sports industry and the ‘adult entertainment business.’ They dare to treat human beings merely as talented bodies to be used for a few years rather than as eternal beings that will live forever either in heaven or in hell.” (Easley, 333)

McGee writes, “Even men were bought and sold, including their souls. I think this is becoming more and more true today where great corporations have men on the payroll who are there almost like slaves.” (1041)

Gone Forever

14. “In one hour wealth so great is laid desolate.” (McGee, 1041)

“They will be gone forever as God bankrupts the system. …These items will never be found again.” (MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2000], 188)

15. “The merchants grief is not for the loss of the city but for their loss of business.” [NIV] (Easley, 334)

They are standing far off and are terrified at her torment. [NIV]

They are watching the city and they will weep and mourn.[NIV]

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! [NIV]

Their grief is focused on the loss of wealth not the city. (Easley, 334)

Reminds me of 1 Timothy 6:10.

They are mourning for the loss of the clothing and the jewelry!

17.“In one hour wealth so great is laid desolate.” (McGee, 1041)

It happened so swiftly!

When a disaster happens, it can happen quickly.

Fire, Hurricanes, Typhoons, Earthquakes, Tornadoes can destroy cities and homes so rapidly.

“How do we see luxury of this world?

Do we see it as it really is?

Can we use it without getting it into our hearts?

How would you feel if the luxuries in your life which you have come to consider necessities suddenly went up in smoke?” (McGee, 1041)

The transportation and distribution business will be gone.

With the destruction of the city “there will be no more goods to be transported”. (MacArthur, 189)

The workers will lose their income because the city is gone.

Great City

18. While they watch the city burn

They are saying it was a great city!

Do you feel that way about your city?

Are you proud of it?

19. “Their mourning is even more elaborate than that of others, for throwing dust on their heads is intense grief—again, like the sailors of Tyre [Ezekiel 27: 30, 32). [NIV]  (Easley, 335)

and with weeping and mourning cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city. [NIV]

They express their pain but did not repent!

where all who had ships on the sea
became rich through her wealth! [NIV]

“Their trade with Babylon was so fabulous that all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth.”  [NIV] ( Easley, 335)

In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’ [NIV]

It was so short, and ruin came!

McGee asks us a question: Would it break your heart if you saw the things of this world go up in smoke? Or is your heart in heaven, fixed on Christ? It does make a lot of difference. (1041)

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.” [NIV]

“The viewpoint of heaven is entirely different.
It is the celebration of an anticipated event.
God has exonerated His name.
Judgment has come upon these things.

Just what is your heart fixed on today?

It will make a lot of difference in that day because you will either be with the mourners or you will be with the rejoicers.” (McGee, 1041)


Scripture quotations from the Holy Bible, King James Version. Public Domain

Scripture quotations taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2000
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983

Fall of Babylon                                                                 Babylon Thrown Down

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