(Rev 18:4) 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.
“…another voice from heaven…”
This is probably the voice of Jesus Christ, because this voice has people that belong to it. All believers have been given to Christ by God as His inheritance (John 6:37, 39-40, 10:27-28; Heb 2:13.)
In addition, in the next verse this voice from heaven refers to “God” when it says, “God hath remembered her iniquities.” This gives me confidence that the voice must be that of Jesus Christ. Another clue is that this is “another voice,” i.e., not the powerful angel who shines, which we saw earlier. We can therefore also be confident of the interpretation that that previous angel, (the one that shines with a loud voice), is not Jesus Christ either, but rather some high-ranking angel.
“…saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues…”
The plagues that Mystery Babylon is about to be given refers to its destruction, a destruction that this chapter says will happen very quickly (18:10, 17, 19.)
I believe that the idea that His people need to come out of the city in order not to receive its judgments is a direct reference to the Mount of Olives being split just before the judgment of Jerusalem which allows the faithful to flee the city before the final bowl of wrath is poured out (which destroys the city of Mystery Babylon).
We see a picture of this “coming out of her” in Zechariah 14:
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” – Zec 14:4 -5
We can compare this verse with its fulfillment in Revelation 16:
“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done.’ And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” – Rev 16:17-21
So the people that He is calling out here probably were never participating in the sin of Mystery Babylon, as is sometimes implied when people use this phrase, “come out of her my people.” His people are simply being called to get out of the city because it is about to be judged for its sins – sins they probably had no part in.
(Rev 18:5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities
I have a somewhat interesting view of this idea of the fullness of sins, or the idea that sins reach to heaven. I think that a very biblical idea is that some nations have a kind of allotment or threshold of evil, particularly that of spilled innocent blood, before God judges them.
For instance, in Genesis God tells Abraham that He won’t give him his inheritance of the land of Israel yet because the current inhabitants’ (the Amorites) sin was not yet full:
“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” – Gen 15:16
We see a similar idea in Daniel when it says that the real reason that the four kingdoms which developed after Greece died out, is because they had reached their sin allotments:
“And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” – Dan 8:23
Scholars almost universally agree that this allotment or fullness of sins for nations is what Jesus was talking about when He said the following to the men of Jerusalem:
“Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” – Mat 23:31-35
It should also be remembered that the persecution the antichrist ordered at the midpoint of the seven- year period will be the worst persecution of all time (Mat 24:15-22). But in addition to this, we see that the actual killing of Old Testament prophets for Jerusalem is not over yet either. We see at least one more future instance of this occurring with the two witnesses.
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” – Rev 11:8
It’s quite possible that this event brings Jerusalem very near to its fullness of sins allotted by God, as it occurs on the very last day of the seventieth week of Daniel, just thirty days before the destruction of Jerusalem.
“…God hath remembered her iniquities…”
This should also be seen as God’s longsuffering with people and nations. He does not desire for any to perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). We see that even with Nineveh God accepted its repentance, even though He said the same thing of it: “their wickedness is come up before me.” But just like Jerusalem, God sent prophets to warn them. He gave them chance after chance and was longsuffering. God is blameless when judgment must come to people or nations.
(Rev 18:6) 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.
“Reward her even as she rewarded you…”
Jesus, the voice from heaven, is talking to His people here, saying that Mystery Babylon will be judged according to what it has done to His people.
“…and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double."
The idea of a double portion of judgment is very consistent in the Old Testament (Isa 40:2, 61:7; Jer 16:18, 17:18; Zec 9:12,) often in reference to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 16:18 is of note because, in context, this is speaking of a future double judgment, one that happens after they will be gathered back into the land after the diaspora:
“And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.” – Jer 16:18
(Rev 18:7) 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.
"How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously…”
She is exalting herself here. Revelationcommentary.org points out that Luke 14:11a says, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased….”
The Greek word rendered here “deliciously” is only used twice in the NT – here and a few verses later to describe the lifestyle of the kings of the earth as a result of their fornication with the beast and his capital city.
At this time Jerusalem will be exalted as the city above all others. It will be the epicenter of the worship of the antichrist and all that is associated with it. There will be nothing to compare this time with in history. However, this will no doubt pale in comparison to the real thing – that is, Christ’s actual rule from the temple in Zion, which the antichrist is obviously trying to imitate here.
“…for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen…”
This verse has come up many times in our study, because it’s a great picture of the fact that Mystery Babylon herself is just as deceived by the antichrist as those she entices to worship him. She says her place on top of the beast is as a queen – that is, she believes she has found her king – her long awaited Messiah. In fact, in Jewish eschatology, the title of the man they await is "the anointed king.”
“...and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”
These two ideas – that she is no widow and shall see no sorrow – are possibly references to her confidence in the beast and his ability to defend her.
It should be noted that after the antichrist rises from the dead, people say of him:
“…and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” – Rev 13:4b
The attitude that Jerusalem takes during this time is exactly the same as Babylon before its destruction, as we see in:
“Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children…” – Isa 47:8
(Rev 18:8)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.
“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day…”
This “therefore” is here to connect this verse to the previous verse, which showed the woman saying “and [I] shall see no sorrow.”
So it is contrasting her belief that she will not see any sorrow, or her perceived security with her husband the beast, with the actual fact that she will be judged in just one day. This is also why it is said later: “for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” It is saying that even though she thinks no harm can come to her or the beast, God will do it very easily.
The idea that her destruction comes suddenly is a consistent one. We see this explicitly mentioned in various ways. Phrases like “one day” or “one hour” are used to describe the suddenness of her judgment.
We know from the last bowl judgment that an earthquake will be involved in splitting the city into three parts, so this would seem to support the idea of a very quick judgment.
“…death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire…”
These things will all play some role in her destruction as well. I think that the destruction has at least two phases. The first includes whatever the “ten kings” do. It says in Rev 17:16 that they will “eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” The second phase is whatever is done to her via the last bowl judgment with the earthquake and great hail.
Words like “fire” and “burning” as well as ideas like people seeing the smoke of her burning are mentioned several times in relation to Mystery Babylon’s destruction. Because of this, I feel that fire is the primary agent of destruction, or at least it is the result of the judgment.
(Rev 18:9-10) 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. 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.
“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her…”
I have already mentioned how this shows that although the kings of the earth commit the same religious fornication with her, it is the “AND lived deliciously” part that is the reason for their mourning here. Later we will see the same lamentation coming from the merchants who also are said to have lived “deliciously” with her.
“…when they shall see the smoke of her burning…”
This phrase is more evidence that the ten kings or 10 horns, which the antichrist uses to burn Mystery Babylon, are not necessarily the “kings of the earth” mentioned. If they were the ones who burned her down, they probably would not be lamenting when they saw her burning.
“Standing afar off for the fear of her torment…”
This suggests that the city’s destruction is not something people want to get too close to for some reason. It could be as simple as the fact that it is on fire, but it could be something more significant. We just are not told.
“…saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come.’”
The kings note again the quickness of her destruction, and it happens in “one hour” they say. Again, this contrasts their previous view of its perceived might and sustainability with its lightning fast destruction. What they thought was strong was, in actuality, quite weak. They differ here from the previous similar statement made by the voice from heaven in that they do not add: “God is strong.” They only are astonished that this event has happened to Mystery Babylon.