Revelation 18:8
Therefore shall 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.
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(8) Therefore shall her plagues come . . .—Read, For this cause in one day shall come her plagues, death and mourning . . . and with fire shall she be burnt, for strong is the Lord God who judged her. God, the mighty God, has passed sentence. She thought herself strong; she forgot the strength of the Almighty. Her plagues are four-fold, as though from every quarter her trouble came: “death for her scorn of the prospect of widowhood; mourning, for her inordinate revelling; famine, for her abundance;” and fire, the punishment of her fornication (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9). (Comp. the series of contrasts in Isaiah 3:24-26.)

THE LAMENT OF THE KINGS (Revelation 18:9-10).—(Their words of lament are given in Revelation 18:10.)

18:1-8 The downfal and destruction of the mystical Babylon are determined in the counsels of God. Another angel comes from heaven. This seems to be Christ himself, coming to destroy his enemies, and to shed abroad the light of his gospel through all nations. The wickedness of this Babylon was very great; she had forsaken the true God, and set up idols, and had drawn all sorts of men into spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury kept them in her interest. The spiritual merchandise, by which multitudes have wickedly lived in wealth, by the sins and follies of mankind, seems principally intended. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of this Babylon, but assist in her destruction. God may have a people even in Babylon. But God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually, while those that partake with wicked men in their sins, must receive of their plagues.Therefore - In consequence of her pride, arrogance, and luxury, and of the calamities that she has brought upon others.

Shall her plagues come in one day - They shall come in a time when she is living in ease and security; and they shall come at the same time - so that all these terrible judgments shall seem to be poured upon her at once.

Death - This expression, and those which follow, are designed to denote the same thing under different images. The general meaning is, that there would be utter and final destruction. It would be as if death should come and cut off the inhabitants.

And mourning - As there would be where many were cut off by death.

And famine - As if famine raged within the walls of a besieged city, or spread over a land,

And she shall be utterly burned with fire - As completely destroyed as if she were entirely burned up. The certain and complete destruction of that formidable anti-Christian power is predicted under a great variety of emphatic images. See Revelation 14:10-11; Revelation 16:17-21; Revelation 17:9, Revelation 17:16. Perhaps in this so frequent reference to a final destruction of that formidable anti-Christian power by fire, there may be more intended than merely a figurative representation of its final ruin. There is some degree of probability, at least, that Rome itself will be literally destroyed in this manner, and that it is in this way that God intends to put an end to the papal power, by destroying what has been so long the seat and the center of this authority. The extended prevalence of this belief, and the grounds for it, may be seen from the following remarks:

(1) It was an early opinion among the Jewish rabbies that Rome would be thus destroyed. Vitringa, on the Apocalypse, cites some opinions of this kind; the Jewish expectation being founded, as he says, on the passage in Isaiah 34:9, as Edom was supposed to mean Rome. "This chapter," says Kimchi, "points out the future destruction of Rome, here called Bozra, for Bozra was a great city of the Edomites." This is, indeed, worthless as a proof or an interpretation of Scripture, for it is a wholly unfounded interpretation; it is of value only as showing that somehow the Jews entertained this opinion.

(2) the same expectation was entertained among the early Christians. Thus Mr. Gibbon (vol. i. p. 263, ch. xv.), referring to the expectations of the glorious reign of the Messiah on the earth (compare the notes on Revelation 14:8), says, speaking of Rome as the mystic Babylon, and of its anticipated destruction: "A regular series was prepared (in the minds of Christians) of all the moral and physical evils which can afflict a flourishing nation; intestine discord, and the invasion of the fiercest barbarians from the unknown regions of the north; pestilence and famine, comets and eclipses, earthquakes and inundations. All these were only so many preparatory and alarming signs of the great catastrophe of Rome, when the country of the Scipios and Caesars should be consumed by a flame from heaven, and the city of the seven hills, with her palaces, her temples, and her triumphal arches, should be buried in a vast lake of fire and brimstone." So even Gregory the Great, one of the most illustrious of the Roman pontiffs, himself says, acknowledging his belief in the truth of the tradition: Roma a Gentilibus non exterminabitur; sed tempestatibus, coruscis turbinibus, ac terrae motu, in se marcescet (Dial. Isaiah 2:15).

(3) whatever may be thought of these opinions and expectations, there is "some" foundation for the opinion in the nature of the case:

(a) The region is adapted to this. "It is not Aetna, the Lipari volcanic islands, Vesuvius, that alone offer visible indications of the physical adaptedness of Italy for such a catastrophe. The great Apennine mountain-chain is mainly volcanic in its character, and the country of Rome more especially is as strikingly so almost as that of Sodom itself." Thus the mineralogist Ferber, in his "Tour in Italy," says: "The road from Rome to Ostia is all volcanic ashes until within two miles of Ostia." "From Rome to Tivoli I went on fields and hills of volcanic ashes or tufa." "A volcanic hill in an amphitheatrical form includes a part of the plain over Albano, and a flat country of volcanic ashes and hills to Rome. The ground about Rome is generally of that nature," pp. 189, 191, 200, 234.

(b) Mr. Gibbon, with his usual accuracy, as if commenting on the Apocalypse, has referred to the physical adaptedness of the soil of Rome for such an overthrow. Speaking of the anticipation of the end of the world among the early Christians, he says: "In the opinion of a general conflagration, the faith of the Christian very happily coincided with the tradition of the East, the philosophy of the Stoics, and the analogy of nature; 'and even the country, which, from religious motives, had been chosen for the origin and principal scene of the conflagration, was the best adapted for that purpose by natural and physical causes;' by its deep caverns, beds of sulphur, and numerous volcanoes, of which those of Aetna, of Vesuvius, and of Lipari, exhibit a very imperfect representation," vol. i. p. 263, ch. xv. As to the general state of Italy, in reference to volcanoes, the reader may consult, with advantage, Lyell's Geology, book ii. ch. 9-12. See also Murray's Encyclopaedia of Geography, book ii. ch. 2. Of the country around Rome it is said in that work, among other things: "The country around Rome, and also the hills on which it is built, is composed of tertiary marls, clays, and sandstones, and intermixed with a preponderating quantity of granular and lithoidal volcanic tufas. The many lakes around Rome are formed by craters of ancient volcanoes." "On the road to Rome is the Lake of Vico, formerly the Lacus Cimini, which has all the appearance of a crater."

The following extract from a recent traveler will still further confirm this representation: "I behold everywhere - in Rome, near Rome, and through the whole region from Rome to Naples - most astounding proof, not merely of the possibility, but the probability, that the whole region of central Italy will one day be destroyed by such a catastrophe (by earthquakes or volcanoes). The soil of Rome is tufa, with a volcanic subterranean action going on. At Naples the boiling sulphur is to be seen bubbling near the surface of the earth. When I drew a stick along the ground, the sulphurous smoke followed the indentation; and it would never surprise me to hear of the utter destruction of the southern peninsula of Italy. The entire country and district is volcanic. It is saturated with beds of sulphur and the substrata of destruction. It seems as certainly prepared for the flames, as the wood and coal on the hearth are prepared for the taper which shall kindle the fire to consume them. The divine hand alone seems to me to hold the element of fire in check by a miracle as great as what protected the cities of the plain, until the righteous Lot had made his escape to the mountains" (Townsend's Tour in Italy in 1850).

For strong is the Lord God who judgeth her - That is, God has ample power to bring all these calamities upon her.

8. death—on herself, though she thought herself secure even from the death of her husband.

mourning—instead of her feasting.

famine—instead of her luxurious delicacies (Re 18:3, 7).

fire—(See on [2734]Re 17:16). Literal fire may burn the literal city of Rome, which is situated in the midst of volcanic agencies. As the ground was cursed for Adam's sin, and the earth under Noah was sunk beneath the flood, and Sodom was burnt with fire, so may Rome be. But as the harlot is mystical (the whole faithless Church), the burning may be mainly mystical, symbolizing utter destruction and removal. Bengel is probably right in thinking Rome will once more rise to power. The carnal, faithless, and worldly elements in all churches, Roman, Greek, and Protestant, tend towards one common center, and prepare the way for the last form of the beast, namely, Antichrist. The Pharisees were in the main sound in creed, yet judgment fell on them as on the unsound Sadducees and half-heathenish Samaritans. So faithless and adulterous, carnal, worldly Protestant churches, will not escape for their soundness of creed.

the Lord—so B, C, Syriac, and Andreas. But A and Vulgate omit. "Strong" is the meaning of God's Hebrew name, "EL."

judgeth—But A, B, and C read the past tense (Greek, "krinas"), "who hath judged her": the prophetical past for the future: the charge in Re 18:4 to God's people to come out of her implies that the judgment was not yet actually executed.

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day; as was threatened to old Babylon, Isaiah 47:9.

In one day; that is, in a short time.

Death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; all manner of judgments, till she be fully consumed.

For strong is the Lord God who judgeth her; for she hath to do with a strong Lord: she thinks she hath secured herself from man, by interesting kings and princes in her quarrel; but it is the Lord that judgeth her, and she will find him strong enough to accomplish his word upon her.

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day,.... The seven last plagues, which will be in a very little time executed upon her, very speedily and very quickly, one after another, if not all together; and particularly the fifth vial may be respected, as well as the plagues that follow; see Isaiah 47:9

death; not the second death, which will not be till after the decisive battle at Armageddon, when the beast will be taken, and cast alive into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death; but either the pestilence, which is called so, Revelation 6:8 or rather death by the sword, war, which will be brought upon her, and in which she and her children will be slain with the sword:

mourning; for the loss of her children, the destruction of the city of Rome itself, the seat of the beast, and for the darkness of his kingdom, the inhabitants of which shall be in such pain, as to gnaw their tongues for it:

famine; which generally attends war, at least sieges; and it looks as if Rome would be besieged awhile before it is destroyed, which will produce a grievous famine in it; this is opposed to her living deliciously, as well as the two former are to her notion of sitting a queen for ever, and knowing no sorrow:

and she shall be utterly burnt with fire; the burning of Rome has been attempted several times, by different persons, and has been burnt in part, but not wholly; see Gill on Revelation 17:16 but now it will be entirely destroyed by fire; either by fire from heaven, as Sodom and Gomorrah were; or by fire breaking out of the earth, it being very manifest that there are volcanos, burning mountains, and subterraneous fires in those parts, which seem to be so many preparations in nature for the burning of that city; or rather by the ten kings, who will set fire to it; and it may be by all these ways. The Jews have a notion, that, at the coming of the Messiah, Rome will be burnt (a), as Sodom has been; you will find, say they (b), that of Sodom and of that kingdom (Rome, of which they are speaking, and which they afterwards call the fourth kingdom), it is decreed concerning them both, that they "should be burnt with fire"; of Sodom, Genesis 19:24 and of the fourth kingdom (Rome), Isaiah 34:9.

for strong is the Lord God that judgeth her; the Alexandrian copy reads, "that has judged": and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; that is, has purposed and determined her destruction, and therefore it is unavoidable; he that has resolved upon it, and foretold it, and has condemned her to it, is the Lord God Almighty; and he is able to execute the sentence determined and pronounced, and it is impossible she should escape: it may be understood of Christ the mighty God, the Judge of quick and dead; see Jeremiah 50:34.

(a) Zohar in Gen. fol. 74. 3. & in Numb. fol. 86. 1.((b) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 48. 2.

Therefore shall her plagues come in {e} one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

(e) Shortly, and at one instant.

Revelation 18:8. This drastic, ample punishment, though executed by subordinates in Revelation 17:16-17, is here (as in 5, 20) regarded on its divine side. God is strong, as well as guilty, glorious Rome (Revelation 18:10, cf. on Revelation 6:15); and his strength is manifested in the huge shocks of history, as well as in creation (Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:13). Rome’s proud disregard of all that was mutable in human conditions is visited with condign retribution. The prophet sees not a decline and fall but a sudden collapse (Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19).

8. she shall be utterly burnt with fire] So Revelation 17:16. While literally true of the city, the doom may refer to that pronounced by the Law on certain cases of foul fornication, Leviticus 21:9, &c.

for strong is the Lord God] Jeremiah 50:34.

that Judgeth] Rather, that hath judged.

Revelation 18:8. Ἰσχυρὸς, strong) אל, LXX., ἰσχυρὸς, 2 Samuel 22:32, and everywhere.

Verse 8. - Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine. This is the retribution for her boasting in ver. 7 (cf. Isaiah 47:9, "These two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day," etc.). Alford says, "death, for her scorn of the prospect of widowhood; mourning, for her inordinate revelling; famine, for her abundance" (cf. ver. 3). The description is not to be taken literally, but is typical of a sudden and overwhelming reverse, viz. that which will occur at the last judgment day (cf. the words of our Lord in Matthew 24:37-42). Some writers see here an allusion to the second, third, and fourth seals (see Revelation 6.). And she shall he utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. Who judged her; κρίνας is found in א, A, B, C, P, and others. This is the fulfilment of the predicted punishment of the harlot (Revelation 17:16). The last clause replies, as it were, to the boast in ver. 7, "I sit as a queen," etc. Revelation 18:8Therefore shall her plagues come, etc.

See Isaiah 47:8, Isaiah 47:9.

Who judgeth (ὁ κρίνων)

Read κρίνας judged.

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