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 the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice, he shouted, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' With a mighty voice, he shouted: 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.'" (Revelation 18.1)✞

Down from Heaven

Babylon CityIn Revelation 18, we have a form of prophetic literature standard in the Old Testament called "A Doom Song." In this case, an angel shouts out with a loud voice, the Babylon Doom Song, which foretold the destruction of the city of Rome under the pseudonym of the name "Babylon." Isaiah 21.9 also similarly prophesies a Babylon 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 pride, and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. But desert creatures will lie there. Jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap. Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, 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 great city of the Babylonians, otherwise called the "Chaldeans." In this Revelation passages, "Babylon" clearly refers to Ancient Rome, its leaders, and inhabitants.

Edom's Doom Song

Site of EdomThe Revelation doom song on Edom and Nineveh, like Isaiah's doom song, foretold their complete ruin to become haunts for every evil spirit. The prophet Isaiah's 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 measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation. Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom. All her princes will vanish away. Thorns will overrun her citadels, nettles and brambles her strongholds. She will become a haunt for jackals, a home for owls. 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 be "a wild goat." The "night hag" may refer to the "night creatures." The precise identification of the birds mentioned is uncertain in the Hebrew and Greek texts.

Nineveh Doom Song

Ancient City of 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 beams of cedar will be exposed. This is the city of revelry that 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" in that they are a grim foretelling of ruin in a mighty city. Still, at the same time, they are all considered great and passionate poetry.

An 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 illuminated angel described in Revelation as having "great authority" was given this message of doom. He comes with the very light of God upon him for "the earth was illuminated by his splendor." No doubt, John of Patmos is also reminded of another illuminated angel in the Old Testament prophecy of Ezekiel 43.1-2, where Ezekiel wrote, "Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel 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), the eminent Biblical scholar, said of this illuminated angel, "So recently he has come from the presence of God that in passing he brings a broad belt of light across the dark earth." The reference to the mighty shout, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!" reminds us of Isaiah 21.9, " '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!'"

Home for Demons

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 ruins of the temples where once their power was supreme. The wicked city of Babylon (indicating ancient Rome) contrasts with the heavenly city of the New Jerusalem. The original readers of Revelation almost certainly identified Babylon with the Ancient city of Rome, but Babylon also symbolized any system, even those today that are hostile to God.

"Babylon Doom Song"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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