Babylon Doom Song
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67. Babylon Doom Song
Revelation 18.1-3

"After this, I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and his splendor illuminated the earth. With a mighty voice, he shouted, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' She has become a demons' dwelling and every impure spirit's haunt, a haunt for every unclean bird, unclean and detestable animal. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The earth's kings committed adultery with her, and the earth's merchants grew rich from her excessive luxuries.'" (Revelation 18.1)✞

Down from Heaven

Babylon CityIn Revelation 18, we have a standard form of prophetic literature in the Old Testament called "A Doom Song." In this case, an angel shouts out in a loud voice the Babylon Doom Song, which foretells Rome's destruction under the pseudonym "Babylon." Isaiah 21.9 prophesies a similar doom song, "Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: 'Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!'"

Isaiah's Doom Song

Roman BannerWe also hear this "Babylon Doom Song" in Isaiah 13.19-22. "Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the Babylonians' pride and glory, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. People will never inhabit her through all generations. No nomads will pitch their tents, and no shepherds will rest their flocks there. But desert creatures will lie there. Jackals will fill her houses. Owls will dwell, and wild goats will leap there. Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds and jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged." In every case, the "Babylon Doom Song" describes the utter destruction and devastation of the Babylonians' great city. In this Revelation passage, "Babylon" or the "Chaldeans" clearly refers back to Ancient Rome, its leaders, and inhabitants.

Edom Doom Song

EdomLike Isaiah's doom song, the Revelation doom song on Edom and Nineveh foretells their complete ruin to become haunts for every evil spirit. The prophet doom song on Edom reads in Isaiah 34.11-15, "The desert owl and screech owl will possess it; the great owl and the raven will nest there. God will stretch out over Edom, the chaos measuring line, and the desolation plumb-line. Her nobles will have nothing there to call a kingdom, for all her princes will vanish away. Thorns will overrun her citadels, nettles, and brambles her strongholds. She will become a jackal's haunt, an owl's home. Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other. There, the night creatures will also lie down and find for themselves places of rest. The owl will nest there and lay eggs. She will hatch them and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate." There are several unusual creatures mentioned here. The "satyr" may indicate "a wild goat." The "night hag" may refer to the "night creatures." The precise identification of the birds, the desert owl, the screech owl, and the great owl mentioned in Isaiah 34.11 is uncertain in the Hebrew and Greek texts. The King James version identifies the desert owl as a cormorant, the screech owl as a bittern, and the great owl simply as an owl. Other Bible versions suggest various birds and animals, like the pelican, the hawk, and the porcupine! Sometimes, rarely used are challenging to identify.

Nineveh Doom Song

Ancient NinevehA parallel doom song on Nineveh, from the prophet Zephaniah 2.13-15, begins, "He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert. Flocks and herds will lie down there, creatures of every kind. The desert owl and the screech owl will roost on her columns. Their hooting will echo through the windows. Rubble will fill the doorways; the cedar beams exposed. This city of revelry lived in safety. She said to herself, 'I am the one! And there is none besides me.' What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists." These passages from Isaiah and Zephaniah have similarities and parallels to the "Babylon Doom Song" because they are a grim foretelling of ruin in a mighty city. Still, at the same time, they are all considered influential passionate poetry.

Illuminated Angel

Glowing AngelAn illuminated angel comes down from heaven from the presence of Almighty God, and the earth shines with God's splendor. The luminous angel described in Revelation as having "great authority" was given this message of doom. He comes with God's very light upon him, for his splendor illuminated the earth. No doubt, John of Patmos is also reminded of another illuminated angel in the Old Testament prophecy of Ezekiel 43.1-2. Ezekiel writes, "Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the God of Israel's glory coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory." H. B. Swete (1835-1917), an eminent Bible scholar, said of this illuminated angel, "So recently he has come from God's presence that in passing he brings a broad belt of light across the dark earth."

Demons' Home

DeathAnother dramatic aspect of this picture is the sight of demons haunting the ruins described as "a home for demons." The pagan gods banished from their reigns inhabit the temple ruins where once their power was supreme. Babylon's wicked city (indicating ancient Rome) contrasts with the heavenly city of New Jerusalem. Revelation's original readers almost certainly identified Babylon with Rome's Ancient city, but Babylon also symbolizes any system, even those today that are hostile to God.

"What is the Babylon Doom Song?"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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