Saturday, 26 June 2021
The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. Revelation 18:22
The mighty angel just cast a stone, like a great millstone, into the sea and proclaimed the sure and sudden destruction of Babylon. With that, a list of what that means begins. It is not unlike a similar list found in Ezekiel 26 when referring to Tyre. His words begin with, “The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore.”
The word kitharódos, or harpists, is only found twice in the Bible. The first was in verse 14:2, and now this is its last use. It comes from two words signifying a harp and a singer. Thus, it is one who plays and sings to the music he plays. The word translated as harp is kithara. It is the root of our modern-day guitar.
The word translated as “musicians” is mousikos. It is someone skilled in music. The word is found only here in Scripture. It is from the same root as the word mousa, or “a muse.” One can see the root of our modern-day “music.”
The “flutists” are seen only in Matthew 9:23 and here. It signifies a flute player.
The word translated as “trumpeters” is also found only in this verse. It signifies a trumpet player.
Taken together, the list is intended to mean that there will never be music again in this city. Her ruin is complete, and the things which were pleasing to the ears, mind, and soul are taken away. The city of fun and ease will be a city of ruin.
Next, it says, “No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore.” The word is from the Greek technités. One can see the root of our modern “technician.” It signifies an artisan, a builder, a craftsman, and so on. One could think of our modern-day carpenters, plumbers, electricians, air-condition workers, and so on. Whoever provides skills that complement the ability to build or maintain an infrastructure is probably included in this thought.
Finally, the verse ends with, “and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.” In Jeremiah 25:10, it says –
“Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.”
This is probably the same thought here. The idea of the sound of a millstone is one of joy and happiness as the millers work together, passing the handle of the mill back and forth, sing, and rejoice in the product that comes forth from their efforts. The idea then is that of happy, productive labor. This will be forever removed from Babylon.
Life application: Verses 22 and 23 further describe the losses in Babylon, but there is a difference between these two verses and the preceding ones which started in verse 18:11. The earlier verses spoke about the materials and commodities which were sold, but these speak about the people who make and use those commodities. Not only are all of the riches of Babylon gone, but so are the people.
The sweet sounds of the royal palace, the exciting evenings at the opera house, the outdoor concerts of rock and roll – they are all gone from Babylon forever. Even the radio stations and internet channels have gone silent. The only sound is that of ruin.
In addition to the melodies of the musicians, the sound of craftsmen plying their trade is gone. There will be no more beats of the hammer. The tempo of industry is silenced. The potter’s wheel and the tools of the sheet-metal workers have stopped their own melodious strains, never to be heard again. Industry is gone, and the life-sounds that have accompanied them are gone too.
All of it is all gone because of the wickedness of the people. Such a great and vast system has come to ruin in a moment. People were living their lives, eating, working, and listening to music when it all suddenly ended. Such was the state of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so will be the state of Babylon the great. When God determines an end to Babylon, it will be sudden and complete.
Unlike those who lived for this life only, Hebrews speaks of those who live by faith –
“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16
What is your hope? If it is something in this life, it is temporary, perishing, and futile. But if it is in what God has promised for those who wait for Him, a better and eternal city lies ahead. The door is open for those who come to Him as He has determined. The way is made available to lead us there. It is through God’s offer of peace and reconciliation. It is through JESUS.
How pleasant are the sounds of life, O Lord. You walked among us and listened to the sounds of workmen, You smelled the wood as it was cut and the bread as it was baked. You know how our minds are filled with joy from these things. But You are right in removing them when they become our idols. Help us to remember that all things came from You, and to You alone belongs our worship and our thanks. Amen.