(1) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory.
John’s narration of “After this I saw” tells the reader that a new vision begins, and the angel’s more literal explanation of the harlot and the beast (17:7-18) is complete. Therefore, we are back to a fully symbolic scene, as another angel is seen coming from heaven. He is described as “having great authority.” The detail that he came down from heaven, illustrates that his great authority is none other than the authority of God. This is a powerful messenger of God.
“The earth was made bright with his glory.” This bight picture illustrates the goodness of his message. We have not heard his message yet (see 18:2-3), but by this glorious scene of light, we can conclude that it is a wonderful message for those who love the Lord. The previous chapter ended with the dark day of judgment against Jerusalem, and now we are seeing the light of God’s glory in a new day. The wicked have been judged in Jerusalem, and the saints have been avenged.
(2) And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
The angel’s message is recorded here and in the next verse. It is with a mighty voice – another illustration of his great authority – that he announces this message which came from heaven.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” It is a bright and glorious day on earth when the Lord puts away a great evil which had sorely afflicted the faithful. This is the message which has been ringing out since 14:8. The last four chapters have dealt with the subject of Jerusalem’s fall, and this chapter will conclude this section of the book.
“She has become a dwelling place for….” The language of this text is classic post-judgment language for wicked nations. And since the imagery of “Babylon” is used in this text, I will point out specifically, that this the language used of the fall of ancient Babylon,
“Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing, without inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 51:37).
Isaiah speaks similarly of Babylon’s fall (Isaiah 13:21-22), but this post-judgment language is widespread in the Old Testament. It is used of old Jerusalem and Judah (Jeremiah 9:11, 10:22; Lamentations 5:18), of Samaria (Micah 1:8), of Edom (Isaiah 34:13-15; Malachi 1:3), and of Hazor (Jeremiah 49:33). The idea portrayed in the language is the desolation which God left the wicked nation in. Jesus promised such a desolation upon Jerusalem when he spoke of “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15), i.e. literally the abomination that causes desolation. In the same discussion, Jesus said, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:28).
(3) For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
The first part of this verse is discussed in 17:2. The angel is restating the cause for Jerusalem’s downfall. She was prosecuted and charged with innumerable counts of unfaithfulness to God and the covenant which he made with her. The conditions of the covenant were clear (Deuteronomy 28), and she must pay the price for her wrongs.
“The merchants of the earth have grown rich.” Her association with other lands was not just on a few occasions, but many. So many that her gifts and payments have made others rich. This is the indictment which God stated through Ezekiel,
“Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings.” (Ezekiel 16:33).