Song of Lament, Song of Triumph

Chapter 18 presents the ligurgical drama from the point of view of judgment over Babylon, Rome, the idolatrous woman. The drama begins with an angel who has authority to pronounce judgment, one whose splendor made the earth bright. It is likely that the angel here is an alternate identity of the exalted Christ, who has to power to judge. The judgment is that Babylon has fallen. This signified the defeat of idolatry and blasphemy, and the victory of Christ. Babylon has become the dwelling place of the demonic, the counter-heaven that is the home of idolatry. A second angel responds to the proclamation of judgment of the angel of splendor. This second angel has a speaking part that runs from verse 4 to 19. It begins with the invitation,”Come out of her, my people.” This may indicate that the divine itself is speaking here, for the same voice calls out in verse 20, “Rejoice!” This is a message addressed to “heaven, saints and apostles and prophets.” That is, the faithful. But before this rejoicing takes place, three groups of persons representing the world are allowed their own lament. The kings of the earth, the merchants and the sea traders are lamenting the loss of the past glories of Babylon. This may mean that earth and sea, all creation that took part in idolatry and blasphemy has been judged, except the faithful who are now rejoicing. Three times the phrase “in one hour” is repeated, signifying that the judgment is swift. In verse 21, a mighty angel casts a great millstone into the sea as a symbol of the casting down of Babylon. Idolatry shall be cast down, cast into the sea, into the place of chaos and destruction. The phrase “no more” is repeated six times, indicating the severity of scope of judgment, that the destruction is so complete that no more shall Babylon arise, i.e., no more shall idolatry and blasphemy be found in the church. This part of the liturgical drama is an acting out of the story of redemption.

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