The Fall of Babylon
A Spiritual Fall
A mighty nation, such as Rome, falls in many ways. Its doom was announced in chapter 17, and now we see the actual collapse. An angel announces its fall with the power and the authority of heaven. The same words were used to announce the original fall of Babylon (Isaiah 21:9). It is a place of demons, a prison (or haunt) of every unclean and hateful spirit. Why?
The nations allied to Rome have benefitted from her immorality. They desire it and have become drunk on it. In turn, Rome has corrupted them with her ways. The kings have compromised themselves with Rome. The merchants are profiting off of her many sensual, sinful ways. Greed won out over ethics and morality.
Rome fell for the same reason that Israel fell, despite Moses’ warning (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 19-20).
A Fall Due to Pride
The original Babylon also fell due to her pride (Jeremiah 50:31-32; Isaiah 47:7-11). Pride often leads the way to downfalls (Proverbs 16:18). Pride keeps people from realize their errors and changing.
God’s people are warned not to become involved in her sins lest they fall under wrath as well. It is the same warning Jeremiah gave (Jeremiah 51:6, 45). Christians cannot mix with sin (II Corinthians 6:17). If we follow others into foolish sins, we will be destroyed along with them (Proverbs 13:20).
Rome had plenty of sin, enough to pile high to heaven, just like Babylon of old (Jeremiah 51:9) or Israel (Ezra 9:6). God declares that Rome will receive back a double dose of what she did to God’s people. In this way, she will reap what she had sown (Galatians 6:7). Again, this is just like Babylon of old (Jeremiah 50:15, 29; 51:49). Usually when we talk about receiving a double portion we are talking about the inheritance of the eldest child. In a sense, God is saying they will inherit the justice they had earned by their deeds (Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18).
The plagues from the bowls of wrath are summed up in Revelation 18:8: pestilence, sadness, famine, and fire come from God who is able to measure out strong punishment.
The Impact of Rome’s Fall
Not everyone is happy to see Rome fall. The kings of the conquered provinces benefitted from her conquests and their relationship with her. Notice they bewail her fall from afar. They liked her, but not that much. They didn’t want to be pulled down with her. These kings are astonished how fast Rom fell.
The merchants who made vast sums from her immorality are also unhappy. They cannot believe that such a wealthy city could fall so rapidly. They too morn Rome’s passing, but from afar. They also liked her, but not that much. They are not concerned for the city or her people but because its fall effects their pocketbook.
The ship masters and sailors who provided transportation for her goods are also impacted by the fall of Rome. The suddenness of Rome’s collapse is again emphasized. They grieve because it impacts their trade.
But God’s people find Rome’s fall a cause of rejoicing. The righteous rejoice to see God’s justice (Psalms 58:10-11; Proverbs 11:10).
Rome Will Fall Violently
The casting of a mill stone into the sea describes Rome’s fall (Jeremiah 51:63-64). Essentially stating that what it once was will not be recoverable. Babylon of old was abandoned (Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 50:39-42; Zephaniah 2:14-15). While Rome isn’t permanently abandoned, it will cease to be what it was. There will be
• No more entertainment
• No more business being conducted
• No more homes
• No more joy
The only thing which remains is the blood of the saints, which led to its downfall.
What Can We Learn?
Even one of God’s angels is more powerful than the mightiest nation on earth. No matter how prosperous a nation may be, it is still vulnerable to destruction. A glorious past does not guarantee a bright future. It takes only a moment for great riches to vanish and become meaningless (Luke 12:13-21, 16:19-31).
Sin plus the passage of time does not equal forgiveness. God remembers our iniquities until we wash them away. It may not happen immediately, but we will reap what we have sown. Our own worse enemy is our pride and a belief in our continuance.