The World laments over Babylon, Revelation Chapter 18 Verses 9-19 (NASB)

    "And the KINGS of the EARTH,
Here the expression, 'the KINGS of the EARTH', denotes leadership of religious organizations (see verse 3). It is broader than the seven kings noted in Revelation 17:9-10. In a way this is how riches/wealth are denoted (James 5:1-6).

The religious leadership by this time has become so entwined with economic needs to keep their churches, synagogues, and mosques going that they have ignored how God can supply every need. For protestant denominations, in particular, the leadership has become very good at "marketing" religious programs that are tailored to every age group. Sadly, the inner spiritual needs of the attendees often go unmet.

    *    committed acts of IMMORALITY and
Let's stay with the symbolic view for a moment. It seems implausible that religious leader would have difficulty with IMMORALITY (including the term 'acts' which gives this a strong sexual overtone), but when one considers how often religious leaders had difficulties in the past (for example, 2 Samuel 11) and in recent times the reported relationships of various religious leaders (both Protestant and Catholic), this verse is confirmed. Having done these acts, unless they repented, they are included in the list in Revelation 21:8.
    * lived SENSUOUSLY with her,
Webster's dictionary defines SENSUOUSLY as "producing or characterizing by gratification of the senses". From a symbolic viewpoint, one must ask whether the church has SENSUALIZED its appeal. This way of trying to help God perform His work isn't what John 3:16-21 is all about. Furthermore, things of God are not visual (one of the senses) (Hebrews 11:1-3) or they tasted something different (Hebrews 6:1-5-8).
    will WEEP and LAMENT over her when they see the smoke of her burning,
This is the Revelation way of saying what Jesus said in Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 24:45-51, Matthew 25:14-30, and Luke 13:22-30. One can only wonder how much of this "darkness" has invaded the church? This is a FOREVER BURNING (Revelation 19:3); hence, this must be SPIRITUAL and not PHYSICAL in nature. This is consistent with the view that the bowl judgments are almost exclusively spiritual in form.
    standing at a distance because of the FEAR of her TORMENT, saying,
The leadership of the earth suddenly experience the gnawing ache of failure and loss of control for they realize they had put their trust in material wealth and social programs. With the impending collapse of the global economic system, their FEARS are well founded because the antiChrist's government just does not have the resources (or isn't willing to share the resources -- Iraq is an example) to maintain their comfortable style of living.

Symbolically, the religious leaders have learned how to use capitalistic materialism to "grow" the church. Instead of depending upon God's vast resources, these religious leaders have devised one program/promotion after the other to grow the church. Amazingly, this was one area that really irked Jesus (John 2:13-25 and Mark 11:15-19). Many churches and denominations will collapse when the global economy collapses. And even worse, these religious leaders DID NOT TRAIN their followers how to survive in God's economic system (Matthew 19:16-21-30).

The leadership of the earth realize that the great global economic system, too, is a very fragile system. To the masses with the mark of the beast, the economic world is STRONG and will provide all their needs. They have believed the beast and the authority that he has (Revelation 13:7). Here, the leadership becomes FEARFULLY aware this global economic system could collapse; hence the WOE, WOE. Later, the merchants (verse 16) and the distribution channel operators (verse 19) realize it too.
Again, the precision of the Revelation's timing is amazing. In ONE HOUR, the collapse of all that maintains the global economies occurs. In spite of the many interconnections of the Internet, the infrastructure has been so degraded due to the seal (chapter 6), trumpet (chapter 8), and bowl (chapter 16) judgments, the technicians have not been able to keep up with the repairs. Ultimately, in ONE HOUR, all these computer systems needed for electronic funds transfers, account processing, and credit processing are silenced. Satellites above silently circle the globe. Symbolically, the religious leaders have failed to teach how Christians should live (Philippians 4:10-19-20).
    "And the MERCHANTS of the earth weep and mourn over her,
The MERCHANTS here represent the economic leadership of the world's economies, just as the KINGS (verse 9) are the leaders of the religious organizations in the nation(s). There may only be one nation by this time with the beast running everything. These MERCHANTS in the past have dealt with tariffs, regulations, disasters and such, so to have them weeping and mourning here indications that the global economy has COLLAPSED. Ironically, this global economy may have been the result of a previous collapse of the individual economies of the existing nations. The EARTH BEAST apparently is allowed to set up this global economy at that time (Revelation 13:17).

Symbolically, religious organizations have become so entwined with the global economy just to survive, they think, that they, too, see their income disappear. Their "weeping and mourning" may be even louder when they realize how faithless they were in God's providence (Matthew 6:24-33-34).
    because no one buys their CARGOES any more;
This is another way of saying that the global economy has collapsed.

Spiritually, the CARGOES are people's lives who are turned to RIGHTEOUSNESS. By this time, religious organizations have become so program driven that all they know are fund-raisers to support the LUXURIOUS THINGS listed in the next two verses. They have forgotten or maybe never learned how to operate in God's economy - Matthew 25:31-46.

Having said this, the greatest challenge of the gathering of believers today is to extricate themselves ENTIRELY from Babylon (verse 4) and the global economy. They must become like the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:45-46). (It is no coincidence that the above references are from Matthew; he was the former tax-collector-turned-disciple - Matthew 9:9-13. Matthew was one of the "economists" among the disciples.)
The CARGOES can be broken down into 8 market groups1. While they clearly have the physical groupings, they also have a spiritual/symbolic meaning. The discussion will try to show these meanings.
    CARGOES of

Physical Market Group
Symbolic Group
gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and The Investment Market
Complete Faith
Gold (1 Peter 1:3-7-9)
Silver (Psalm 66:8-10-12)
Precious Stones (Isaiah 28:9-16-22)
Pearl (Matthew 13:45-46)
fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and The Commodities Market
Royal Righteousness
Fine linen (Revelation 19:11-14-16)
Purple [cloth] (Mark 15:16-17-20)
Silk (Ezekiel 16:8-10-13-14)
Scarlet [yarn] (Leviticus 14:1-4-6-9)
every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, The [Construction] Materials Market
These materials are listed for temple construction as well as for the utensils used during temple service. The earthly temple was temporary; our "heavenly temple" is eternal. (1 Chronicles 29:1-2-9; 1 Corinthians 3:5-16-17)
13. and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and The Luxury Market
Holiness/Anointing Oil
Just as these items are luxurious in the physical world, the anointing oil and incense was/is "very holy" in God's world (Exodus 30:22-23-34-36)
wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and The Food Market
Eternal Life/Truth
The widow at Zarephath experienced first hand how these food items never run out. Furthermore, "life" was restored to her son by Elijah in whose mouth was the word of the Lord. Truth and life go together.
 (1 Kings 17:8-14-24; John 14:1-6-11)
cattle and sheep, and The Livestock Market
Fellowship (Ezekiel 34:11-16)
Sacrifices (Revelation 5:6)
cargoes of horses and chariots and The Transportation Market
Holy judgments or the Wrath of God
See Revelation 6:2; Chariots is better translated as "4 wheeled wagons" -- not clear what the symbolic meaning may be. Perhaps it means multitudes of judgments (much like the 7th seal contains the trumpet judgments and 7th trumpet contains the bowl judgments)
slaves and human lives. The Manpower Market
Persons bound by sin (slaves) and Souls
How many church-attending souls still are bound to sin because they have not heard the "words of God". It is painful to realize that, then as now, people's souls are treated like a market.  Statistics are kept on how many people attend and on how much money (tithes and offerings) is collected. (John 8:31-34-47)
  J. Allen "What the Bible Teaches - Revelation", pages 448-449
One notices that the Energy Market(s), the Information/Knowledge Market(s)s, and Homeland Protection Market(s), to name a few, are missing.  This implies that Babylon's fall will be a total collapse of the global economy with its many "high technology" innovations. Similarly, religious organization(s), still active at that time, will collapse because they have become so intertwined with and dependent upon these hi-tech gadgets. If you or your church are heavy into these technologies, be aware that they should NOT be a "necessity". All of these things will disappear in one hour (verse 19). If you are among the "saints and apostles and prophets", then you are to rejoice when this happens (verse 20) because the global economy has passed away forever (verse 21). Now the eternal economy truly can come into being (Revelation 19:1-9). Please prayerfully consider, in light of this, what you and your church's mission is!
  • the FRUIT YOU LONG FOR has gone from you, and
The FRUIT is the "good life"  that  the surviving people at this time think the global economy will bring to them. But note, this is not of the "will of God" (1 John 2:12-15-17). LONG FOR really is to be PASSIONATE or LUSTING after the world's FRUIT. It really is what drives how marketing targets consumers, and how merchants amass fortunes (or at least some present corporate management).

Symbolically, there is a kind of SPIRITUAL FRUIT all mankind longs for. Native Americans sought after the Great Spirit, orientals seek to please Buddha, moslems try to make pilgrimages to Mecca, and modern man seeks to find spiritual meaning in self fulfillment and self gratification (Isaiah 2:6-8-11). It is not clear how this spiritual FRUIT longing/seeking will be removed, but it will be removed. Probably in anticipation of the millennial period (Revelation 20:4) when there will be no need to long for spiritual FRUIT as long as Christ is the world president.
  • ALL THINGS that were LUXURIOUS and SPLENDID have passed away from you and
Oh, the lifestyles of the rich and famous are gone too. In particular, SPLENDID denotes very visible flaunting of desire and/or achievement to acquire ALL THINGS. Interestingly, much of what the world does is for SHOW (compare this to what is detestable in the SIGHT of GOD (Luke 16:14-18)).

Symbolically, the spiritual side of man, while it shouldn't, often does much in the way of SHOW too. Consider that almost any city or town you come to, the places of worship are usually very recognizable. Compare this to how "unseen" the economy of God works (Matthew 25:31-46).
    men will NO LONGER find them.
This refers back to verse 11. Sales in ALL THINGS have ceased. Rather than build inventories, manufacturers have ceased producing product. Hence ALL THINGS can NO LONGER be found.

Apparently by this time, the scriptural "seek, and you shall find" principle (Matthew 7:7-12) has been set aside. Given that this chapter (verse 21) is the forever end of Babylon (ALL THINGS), this principle, too, no longer is needed. It explains, in part also, why the whole of the spiritual side (verse 20) are to REJOICE over this termination. Babylon (and global economy with its inherent greed, lust, and all that accompanies those desires) has been martyring prophets and saints for all preceding time (verse 24). One gets the sense, though, that this chapter isn't really the end of the story; for after the millennial reign of Christ, the devil is loosed for a time (Revelation 20:8). That he is able to deceive so many among the nations indicates that the "LONGING FOR" has made a revival among the populace.
    "The MERCHANTS of THESE THINGS, who became RICH from her,
How superficial earthly RICHES are (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10-11)! The MERCHANTS were using Babylon (global economy) to pile up their RICHES on a very temporary earth (next verse, verse 21, and Revelation 21:1). They don't realize what true RICHES are and where they are stored (Matthew 19:16-21-30). It is left to the reader to determine what these RICHES are and where they are placed.

Symbolically, these MERCHANTS (leaders of religious organizations) had their priorities turned around (Mark 8:31-36-38 and verse 13). They are or will be strong on organizational skills and weak on evangelism skills.
    will stand at a distance because of the FEAR of her TORMENT,
In a sense, the MERCHANTS are fortunate to be able to stand at a distance to watch the global economy collapse. However, the fate of Babylon is the same as Sodom and Gomorrah's fate; it has no chance to survive (Isaiah 13:17-19-22 and Jeremiah 50:29-46). Yet the uncertainty of having to live without brings much FEAR with it. From this verse, it is not clear whether these MERCHANTS are watching the downfall/TORMENT of Babylon (global economy), and thus share the same fate in an economic sense as Lot's wife (Genesis 19:24-26-29).
Symbolically, religious organization leaders were so busy with THESE THINGS (plans, structures, marketing, and programs), that they forgot to prepare the souls entrusted to them for their future life. Sadly, these leaders probably participated in the TORMENTS of the 5th trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:5) while under the control of one or several of Abaddon's (Revelation 9:11) locusts (Revelation 9:3). Here, turnabout is fair play, one could say.
    weeping and mourning,
The weeping and mourning is not for the disappearance of the global economy, it's not knowing how to live without (James 5:1-6).

Symbolically, true believer's are content no matter whether they have abundance or lack (Philippians 4:10-12-20). Their organizations are focused on REVEALING JESUS CHRIST, and will do this in spite of poverty conditions, destroyed sanctuaries, or persecution. When the global economy fails,  religious organizations that made their existence dependent upon Babylon (global economy) will be found WEEPING and MOURNING. One must ask the question, "How intertwined has my church/denomination become with the harlot Babylon (verses 4 and 5)?"
    saying, 'WOE, WOE, THE GREAT CITY,
The GREAT CITY, Babylon (implied), is not being mourned because of its disappearance. But rather it is being mourned because the merchants realize that the global economy that had been so good to them financially was gone. The merchants (all of us are participants in some way or another) see their standard of living reduced to survival, and their lifestyles will become very barbaric. Since all of us are participants, the GREAT CITY really is inclusive of all cities of the world like Matthew 6:19-21 explains.
    she who was CLOTHED in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;
This description parallels that given for the harlot who is riding the scarlet beast in Revelation 17:3-4-6. However, it is only a subset of the full list of merchandise that made the merchants wealthy (Revelation 18:11-13).

While the actual physical merchandise will be affected, there is a deeper personal spiritual matter presented here. The word "CLOTHED", as opposed to naked - Revelation 3:18, is the catalyst word.  There are many types of clothing in the scriptures including the fine linen listed here to sackcloth (e.g. 2 Samuel 3:31-39). Let's focus on three types of clothing found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

First, WHITE ROBES are associated with the redeemed (and the redeemer, implied). See Revelation 1:13, Revelation 3:4, Revelation 3:18, Revelation 4:4, Revelation 6:11, and Revelation 7:13 to list a few verses. Christ's robe, while not specifically shown as white, is shown as dipped in the blood of Calvary (Revelation 19:13).

Second category is "fine linen, bright and clean". These are the garments worn by the bride to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:8) and are equated to the "righteous acts of the saints". These also are the garments worn by the 7 presence angels (Revelation 15:6). They had to be pure (righteous) to be able to pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath upon the earth.

Lastly, just plain "fine linen" denotes apparent righteousness. It embodies the common use of the term "Christian" as it is used today. In truth, "fine linen" is probably more like the clean cup in Matthew 23:25-28 and practitioners of lawlessness in Matthew 7:21-23. The merchants, thus, represent these hypocritical "Christians".

On a personal level, each of us must examine what kind of CLOTHES we are wearing. They must be "bright and clean" at a minimum. Worst of all, don't be caught NAKED ----  accept Jesus Christ right now as your Lord and Savior to get your white robe made of fine linen.

Next we have a two part discussion: the first part belongs to the merchants discussion, and the second part begins the seafaring discussion.
    for IN ONE HOUR such GREAT WEALTH has been LAID WASTE!'
Again, as we has seen before in our discussions of time, the Revelation is very precise in time, ONE HOUR. If GREAT WEALTH is the expression for the global economy, then this worldwide economy collapses in ONE HOUR. This is about the time it would take for a total global failure of the Internet, for example. Or for a rapid devaluation of currencies to ripple throughout the financial markets. What is amazing to me is the Revelation was written nearly 2000 years ago, and way before our "modern high technology" world.

Symbolically, if GREAT WEALTH are the souls of men (see verse 13), then one could say evangelism will cease. The cause is unclear. Perhaps because of the intertwining of information sources, the radio/TV/newsprint resources are shutdown due to loss of Internet or satellite feeds. Christ warns us about putting too much emphasis on material things (even to augment ministry) if that emphasis detracts from the searching for souls (Mark 8:31-38).
    And EVERY SHIPMASTER and EVERY PASSENGER and SAILOR, and as many as make their living by the SEA, stood at a distance,
During the three laments (verses 9-19), we have had kings, merchants, and now SHIPMASTERS and humans aboard the ships. Since the collapse of the global economy is what the fall of Babylon is all about, then a good argument could be made that kings = economic policies; merchants = manufacturing sector; and seafarers = service economy. Without goods from manufacturing, the distribution and support industries are idled. Likewise, the cash flow back from the service sector dwindles to a trickle and keeps manufacturing stifled. Both sink together.

Previously, in Revelation 17:15, we have seen that the harlot sits on many waters (SEA?), and that the many waters are really every living being with a soul. So from a spiritual sense (kings = religious leaders/orgs; merchants = evangelism; and seafarers = disciplerers), those people who derive income from believer discipleship will be just standing there. That is to say, the "departments of Christian education" that are a part of most religious organizations cease to function. In scripture, however, discipleship and training is a generational matter (Deuteronomy 4:1-9-14, Deuteronomy 6:1-7-9, Proverbs 22:4-6, and Ephesians 6:4). It is done in a very low tech way, by word of mouth! Of course, implied in those references, the parents and grandparents know what they are teaching about.

Sadly, the oldsters amongst us (including this author) have by and large failed to take on this responsibility and have left this process to someone else or some audio/visual CD to do. This is a partial explanation why the younger generation seems to have a poor understanding of moral bounds. They either haven't taken the time to learn morals and ethics or don't want to learn (chalk one up to the devil's deception...."you're a good person" syndrome).
    and were CRYING OUT as they saw the SMOKE of her BURNING, saying,
The service sector side of the global economy also feels the pain of the collapse. The service sector feeds off of the goods produced in the manufacturing sector. Since the manufacturing sector has the same pain (weeping and mourning as verse 15 puts it), it follows that the service sector, too, CRIES OUT at the global economy's destruction.

The use of the phrase "SMOKE of her BURNING" implies that not only is the global wealth gone but also that the very principles of free trade have been scuttled (burned). Since this is the current model for global trade, apparently this model fails. Most likely it fails due to disparities in currency valuations.

The Revelation tells about two different kinds of SMOKE. The first is good SMOKE coming from the incense in the angel's hand and is mixed with the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4). The second is the SMOKE from the bottomless pit when it is opened in the fifth trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:2). The SMOKE in this verse is like the latter SMOKE. How much greed, corruption, envy, and hatred has gone into building the global economies? Symbolically, what is the motivation behind what religious organizations do?  Are they, as supposedly the true service organization, being built in similar manner? What kind of SMOKE is coming from your church and denomination?
    'What city is like the GREAT CITY?'
While many commentaries insist that the GREAT CITY is Rome, it probably is more correct to consider the GREAT CITY to be generic of many metropolitan cities. Many cities could go back through their history and easily substitute their city's name for the GREAT CITY. For example, this would make sense for Tyre (Ezekiel 27:25-36), Chicago (after the great fire of 1871), any city after a devastating earthquake or other natural disaster, New York City after 9/11/2001, and so on.

As a side note, the reader probably has already caught how much this verse sounds like Revelation 13:3-4.  While the "whole world's" CRY at that time was a prideful praise of the sea beast as he is coming into power, this CRY sounds like deep anguish.
    "And they threw DUST ON THEIR HEADS and were CRYING OUT, weeping and mourning, saying,
This is not an expression of repentance (Job 42:1-6) but rather an expression of deep, CRYING OUT agony (Lamentations 2:1-10-13 and Job 2:11-12-13).

Dust is the material we are created from (Genesis 2:4-7-9) and ultimately we return to DUST (Ecclesiastics 3:16-20-22). Thus throwing DUST ON THEIR HEADS is a way to acknowledge that death/burial, both physical and spiritual, is near (verse 21).

Many scholars believe this event (verses 17b-19) is what the Ezekiel 27:25-36 prophesy about Tyre is all about.
    WOE, WOE, THE GREAT CITY, in which all who had ships at sea became RICH by her WEALTH, for in ONE HOUR she has been laid waste!'
The service sector has the same lament as the manufacturing sector (verse 16). Note it only takes ONE HOUR for both to collapse.

This is the last verse of the rather lengthy discussion of the global economy collapse (verses 9-19). On the surface and in the viewpoints of many commentaries, we are only witnessing the collapse from a global economy viewpoint. However, one must realize that the Revelation of Jesus Christ was written to seven churches (Revelation 1:4) and that just prior to this discussion, "my people" in verses 4 and 5 are to distance themselves from the materialistic influences of the harlot, Babylon. Looking at organized religion and Christianity, we wonder how much the playing with the harlot is taking place within these organizations? From this author's understanding, nearly all faiths have been taken in by the harlot.

That this passage (verses 9-19) is directed at religions and Christianity is confirmed in the next verse.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only