Reward her double
"Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her:" (Rev. 18:6)
Who does the rewarding?
In the preceding sentence, Christ called His people to come out (cf. John 10:1-18). He continues by telling them to reward the wicked religious system. So the persecuted ones are to cause the double reward – the plagues that will punish it and those who have continued to support it. This seems a little strange because God has told us, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay. . . ." (Rom. 12:19).
To resolve this apparent conflict, consider the rewarding by the righteous to be indirect. They reveal Christ and clarify the evil character of the end-time religious power. This opens the door to the punishment by clarifying God's justice. The call to come out to is given just before the close of probation. During the time of the call, the symbolic river Euphrates is dried up so that the kings of the East may enter to liberate God's faithful people from the spiritual city of Babylon (Rev. 16:12). It is the climax of the third angel's message — the time of the loud cry of our present chapter. So we may reasonably see the payment of Babylon, the prostitute, here as helping the world see her evil nature. God's true people have been the victims of the wicked woman (Rev. 18:24). Their prayers for justice move the arm of omnipotence (Psalm 119:126; cf. Rev. 19:15).
God is just even in punishing the wicked. Why then would the reward for the prostitute be double? I believe it is because her sin is double. You may recall Jesus' statement about mistreatment of any of His faithful ones. "And the King [Christ] shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40). Sin against those who have accepted Jesus' invitation to be His brothers is also sin against Him. Again we see that the double punishment is right.
Another explanation takes into account that the wicked who promote false religion at the end of time and are destroyed by the sword of Christ's mouth (Rev. 19:15) are punished again along with the wicked of all time before the great white throne at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:11pu).
Jeremiah writes that "as she hath done, do to her" with no mention of doubling (Jer. 50:15).
Babylon is the false Jerusalem which we see with a double reward in Isaiah (Isa. 40:2).
"Reward her . . . according to her works." God measures carefully.
"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. 7:12)
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Matt. 16:27) Also Luke 12:47, 48; 2 Cor. 5:10.
This brings up a question. Would our loving heavenly Father punish the wicked through the ceaseless ages of eternity? Any cherished sin can separate us from God (Isa. 59:1, 2). I think of my grandfather who was always kind and thoughtful as far as I know, but who refused salvation. I cannot expect to see him in heaven. Is it fair for him to suffer endlessly? The reward for evil is given according to what was done. When we look closely, we find that the final punishment of the wicked which we call hell, will not last through eternity (Rev. 14:11). From our text we may understand that the false religious system with those who support her are rewarded double "according to her works" — not less than deserved and not more.
Glory and pride of the mighty kingdom
"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously [in luxury], so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 18:7, 8).
Why the sudden terrible trouble?
First because she has glorified herself. The message of the first of the
three angels of chapter 14 clarifies the core of the issue of the end-time,
It is the divine call to faithfulness which the prostitute opposes and
by deception turns to her own glory. The angel had said, "fear God and
give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him
that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
(Rev. 14:6). As I discuss in connection with the passage in chapter 14,
I believe that the voice of that angel has been speaking for over 150 years.
Soon the three-part coalition of Lady Babylon will make her boasts, then
quickly mature and fall.
I'm a queen; I'm not a widow
Beside the woman on the beast, identified as Babylon, we see two other players in verse 3. These are the kings of the earth and the merchants. The woman claims to be the queen of heaven, the wife of king Jesus Christ, yet she has joined herself to the kings of the earth in an adulterous, church-state relationship. She claims Christ as her provider, yet her luxuriant desires are supplied by the merchants of the earth. See Jer. 7:18 and context. Also Amos 9:10.
The woman is "that great city Babylon." In chapter 17 we saw her sitting as a queen on many waters which represent people (verse 1) and she reigns over the kings of the earth (verse 18).
The mighty kingdom falls
"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously [in luxury], so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues [Rev. 18:4] come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire [Rev. 17:16] for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 18, 7, 8).
Plagues in one
We may understand the "one day" for the woman's plagues to refer to the "day of the Lord" or the sudden change from glory to punishment which is often described in the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament. Although the Old Testament texts likely had near-future applications, the more significant fulfillment's will be the calamities and punishment at the end of human history as we know it. This is at the coming of Christ. The plagues for Lady Babylon in our present chapter cause her complete end. Thus her violent destruction is the same event as the day of the Lord. "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand." (Joel. 2:1).
Although we will see another surge of rebellion at the end of the thousand years, the evil woman as spiritual Babylon will be the final apostate religious power claiming to be the true church of Christ. This is clear from our chapter.
Here is the verse in our chapter describing the finality of Babylon's reign. "And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." (verse 21). Notice how Peter describes the day of the Lord.
"Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. . . . . The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:6-10)
Let's look at part of the description of the day of the Lord in Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:2-11). You may wish to read other Bible descriptions, too.
Dear friend, we dare not consider these passages of Scripture as merely prophetic scare tactics or theoretical symbolism. As Peter said, our loving Lord does not want us to perish. But if we cling to our sin, excusing it as unavoidable, we will be destroyed with it. Let's read more from Peter's discussion.
"Seeing then that all these
things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all
holy conversation [behavior] and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto
the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be
dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless
we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein
dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such
things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot,
and blameless." (2 Peter 3:11-14). Please notice that the Lord does not
make us spotless (free from sin) and blameless (forgiven) at His coming,
He finds us that way r14f.
Now is the time for preparation.
Death, mourning, and famine - and burned
We saw the misery threatened under the power of the beast from the earth. 1317c. Earlier, during the time of the apostate church of the middle ages, there was more. And burned with fire as the prostitute daughter of the high priest le2109, 1716, je5125.
Strong is the
We are reminded of the mighty angel whom we saw in chapter 10. The word "strong" here and "mighty" in chapter 10 represent the same Greek word Rev. 10:1. The Lord who came down to announce the opening of the preadvent judgment now closes it. The judgment that identifies the redeemed also condemns the false religion backed by Satan. At the beginning of the next chapter we read: "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." (Rev. 19:1, 2).
Learn more from Isaiah 47.
God's city, Jerusalem, apostatized
and was captured by Babylon. A city is an assembly of people (Isa.
62:12). when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, the people who were
not killed or scattered were carried to Babylon.
In Revelation 18 we may see that the city that had been God's people fell and became Babylon. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah we find calls to come out of historic Babylon. Some did and they formed a "new" Jerusalem. Thus we have the motif for the fallen Babylon in this chapter followed in the next by the New Jerusalem coming down from God.
In the chart below we can see the development of Rebellion under Zedekiah. The other columns do not all seem to be in precise 1-2-3 order but the aspects of rebellion are worth considering.
||Zedekiah . . . did evil||Devils||Kings committed fornication||Judgment came||Reward her according to iniquities||I sit a queen||Death|
||Chief of priests. . . transgressed||Every foul spirit||Merchants waxed rich||Riches came to nothing||Double according to works||Am no widow||Mourning|
||People transgressed||Every unclean and hateful bird||All nations have drunk wine||Made desolate||Double in her cup||Shall see no sorrow||Famine|