Monday, 14 June 2021
standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ Revelation 18:10
This verse completes the thought of the previous verse. Taken together, they read, “The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’”
With the context understood, this verse begins with, “standing at a distance for fear of her torment.” The context explains the matter. This is speaking of “the kings of the earth.” The kings of the earth are spread around the earth. The leader of the Philippines is in the Philippines. The leader of Guatemala will be in Guatemala. And so on.
This is simply a way of expressing the terror of what is beheld. It is also another implicit reference to modern technology where such things can be seen in such a manner. More such references will follow in the verses ahead. When these “kings of the earth” see what happens to Babylon the great, they will recoil in horror, “saying, ‘Alas, alas.”
It is the Greek word already seen in Revelation, ouai. It is an interjection signifying a calling out of “woe” or “alas.” In repeating it twice, it intensifies the grief being expressed. And the grief is then stated as being directed towards “that great city Babylon.”
This great city that has existed for so long, and that has been the center of supposed worship of the true God for millennia, will fall so quickly and so completely that it will be beyond comprehension.
It would be the same as if Tokyo, Moscow, or Washington D.C. suddenly evaporated in nuclear destruction. Who would ever truly imagine it until it occurred? And in its occurring, a sense of disbelief would still exist in the minds of those who saw it. As a great emphasis, the thought is repeated, saying, “that mighty city!”
Babylon the great is a city as already noted (17:18). The terminology is explicit and is not symbolic. Not only has she been a hub of diplomacy, religious leadership, and trade, but it has endured for such a long time. And more, it has been the seat of so many military and religious leaders that it has seemed that it would never cease to be. And yet, when the suddenness and the greatness of its destruction occurs, they will cry out, “For in one hour your judgment has come.”
It seems unlikely that the destruction of Babylon will be anything short of the most significant of natural disasters, or a man-made nuclear explosion. The term “one hour” is given to show the suddenness of the matter. It will not be a long, drawn-out battle. Rather, it will be something that happens so quickly that it will seem over as soon as it begins.
Even if its destruction is due to the onslaught of an invading army, it will be such a quick, complete, and decisive battle that it will seem as if the invaders were simply a flood that overwhelmed in an instant. What is certain is that its destruction will be quick, and its effects will be total.
Life application: The kings of the earth have participated in the prosperity and apostasy of Babylon and have committed fornication with her. They now stand watching as its annihilation comes.
When someone loves another and there is a mutual respect and relationship built on truth and morality, they will do anything to protect them. This is especially true with those we are intimate with. However, when intimacy is found in a relationship of fornication, there is no desire to protect the one they have been with, only a desire for self-preservation.
These kings were certainly intimate with the harlot, having shared in her false religion and in the wealth of her position, but now those intimate relations mean nothing – because they were nothing. Rather, they were only expenditures on a whore.
This is something each person needs to truly think about. Are our religious affiliations truly out of love for the Creator, or are they made to enrich ourselves, satisfy our own needs, and find satisfaction without devotion? Are we willing to help our religious partner, even to the point of death?
In Christ, the answer will always be, “Yes” (see Philippians 1:21). But, for Babylon the great, these kings are regretting the loss of the harlotry and the many perverse pleasures they participated in with her, but they aren’t willing to step forward to help her.
Because the term “mighty” is added into their discourse, it is the sure acknowledgment that the destructing force is even mightier, and it has now shown its power. Therefore, this must logically be divine judgment upon the harlot, even if it is executed by a human agent. As amazing as it seems, the people will know – without a doubt – that this is judgment from God. The logical connection then is that Babylon the great was, and always has been, a false instrument of religious practice.
There is something actually perverse in our nature which tells us when we are following the wrong path. And yet, we are still impelled on to follow it, nonetheless. It is no different than committing adultery on our spouse or stealing from the grocery store. We know right from wrong, but often act despite this. Proof of the kings’ knowledge about Babylon the great is given in their sentiments.
As for you, stop and think through your religious affiliation. Are you in a church that is not following the commands of the Bible? Are there homosexuals in the pulpit or other church offices? Are other types of sexual immorality being overlooked? Is your pastor a male (the Bible is gender-specific) who meets the requirements of the pastoral office as are given in 1 Timothy and in Titus?
If your church isn’t following the guidelines of the Bible, then you are participating in willful disobedience of God. Through His word, God calls out to you to “Wake up” and “Come out of her, My people.” What is right and proper is to put the Lord before your own desires or allegiances. There is only one proper avenue of faith, and it is revealed in Scripture as it directs us to the obedience of our Lord JESUS.
Heavenly Father, help us to not be disobedient servants, but rather to exalt You and Your word above our personal feelings for those in our churches. Open our eyes to what is authorized by You and then open our hearts to be obedient to that knowledge. We ask this so that You will be glorified by our properly directed faith and practice. Amen.