Read This Week: Revelation 18
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh, and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, refined flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as enslaved people. They will say, “The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.” The merchants who sold these things and gained wealth from her will stand far off. They will weep and mourn. – Revelation 18:11-15 NIV
Revelation 18 is the finality of what the previous chapter sets up – the fall of Babylon. As stated before, Babylon was a powerful empire. This section details the city’s economic, social, and political vitality and prowess. It tells of all the merchandise, clothing, food, spices, and jewelry sold and traded there. Babylon was, by all accounts, an epicenter of the ancient world. It was also a literal and figurative symbol of man’s rebellion against God and the ultimate representative of what it means to be secular. That is why the description of its fall and ultimate demise is so compelling and devastating to the beast’s mission and evil desires.
Because of Babylon’s immense status as a formidable city and as an emblem of the world and anti-God philosophy, John records the warning to followers of Jesus to get out of Babylon before its ultimate end. Verses 4-5 say: Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues; her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
This warning is a physical and spiritual alert to the believers during Babylon’s fall and a warning for all Christians across generations. It is a reminder that there is nothing the world has to offer to match life with God. No money, wealth, possession, or affluence can provide the meaning and purpose of a relationship with Christ. No status or social standing can bring the value or worth that comes with knowing you are God’s child and made in His image. No position can give one eternal salvation that comes through the blood of the Lamb.
God cautions us to get out of Babylon because it offers nothing of eternal significance for our lives, just temporal, counterfeit pleasure that will not last and will lead to destruction. The Lord makes it clear through John that what Babylon offers will disappear and vanish just like the lies of the enemy and his overtures of a better future. The fruit the world tempts with will be gone. The opulence and comfort that it promises will go away. The glory and fulfillment the world advertises will soon vanish. Only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and what is done for Him will last forever.
The words of verse 14 should always serve as a reminder of this: The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.