b. The Oracles of Doom: Rome's Allies, 18: 1-20
(Also this section includes: c. The Stone: Destruction of Municipal Rome, 18:21-24)
All through this section the main thing in the writer's mind is the fall of Rome.
He views it from different points and repeats for emphasis.
Much of chapter 18 is Old Testament language in regard to the ancient city of Babylon.
In John's day it had already been fulfilled.
It is used here to picture the destruction of the Babylon of the New Testament, Rome.
The first angel in the vision announces the fall of Babylon because of her spiritual fornication.
This includes a statement of the way the merchants of the world had capitalized
on her wantonness and fornication and had thus become her allies in evil.
A subsequent paragraph will show their own doom in connection with that of the Empire.
A second voice issued a call to God's people to come out from association with this wanton woman,
to have no fellowship with her sins lest some of her plagues (strokes) fall upon them.
They are assured that her sins have reached to high heaven and God has taken notice of them.
Now (verse 6) she is going to receive punishment in like kind and in proportion to her sin.
She has boasted about herself.
She has been full of pride.
She has said, "I shall never have occasion to mourn."
Now she is to receive double punishment for all her evil.
In " one hour" -- very quickly -- plagues, famine, mourning, and death come
to visit her, and she shall be utterly consumed.
This is a picture of her destruction, but how about her allies?
They are pictured as standing in two groups to mourn over her.
Rome was built upon two things: territorial conquest and trade expansion.
Thus do the two groups mourn because they go down with her.
First, the kings of the earth mourn because of her fall.
These are her allies who, coming under her power, entered into her spiritual fornications and evil.
They turn aside to weep and wail because of such sudden destruction to the great city.
Second, the merchants of the earth lament over her destruction because now
they have no market for their merchandise.
There are about 30 articles of trade mentioned here.
To create such a business the merchants have entered into the evil of the Empire.
Now they fall with her.
Nothing can be economically good if it is morally bad.
The same fate awaits any nation guilty of the same sin.
The merchants and the mariners who carry their wares stand far off, cast dust on their heads,
and weep over such destruction of the city.
The burning of Rome under Nero was a small matter compared to God's wrath against
the entire Empire and allies.
Doom comes to all.
The curtain falls on the second triumph of the pageant.
It is a desolate scene but one of rejoicing to the Christians as they see another indication
of God's power and their certain rescue.
c. The Stone: Destruction of Municipal Rome, 18: 21-24
The third triumph pictures graphically the destruction of municipal Rome.
First, the Empire, then the allies, now with one blow the imperial city falls.
Repetition is used for emphasis and assurance.
The Christians needed plenty of both.
A strong angel lifted a huge stone and cast it into the sea and stated that that illustrated
the way Rome would fall and be found no more.
Then he pictured the cessation of the three major things in Roman life:
Amusement life (verse 22) shall cease.
There shall be no more the sound of music: harper, minstrel, flute-player, or trumpeter.
Business life (verse 22) shall cease.
No craftsman of any kind shall be found.
The voice of the mill shall be heard no more.
Home life (verse 23) shall cease.
There shall be no more the light of festive lamp or the voice of bride and bridegroom.
With the destruction of these three, Rome, the great city, is destroyed.
Nothing was to be found in her except the blood of the martyrs which was the cause of her destruction.
She was destroyed.
The blood of the martyrs stands as an eternal testimony against Rome and to the loyalty of the Christians.
Those who oppose this method of interpretation point out the fact that Rome still stands.
That is true, but it is not the persecuting Rome of John's day.
A combination of many things brought an end to that Rome long ago.
The Christian movement which that Rome tried to stamp out still stands and will stand
when all other " Romes" have fallen to decay even as that ancient Rome fell.
Next: d. The Rejoicing Saints, 19: 1-10