“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies,” Revelation 18:1-3.
The following is the introduction to an article I read in a newspaper just the other day.
“The China Evergrande Group is the second largest property developer in China by sales. It is ranked 122nd on the Fortune Global 500. It faces £221billion of debt, and one expert has claimed the company’s collapse could spark the fall of the financial system.
Speaking to the Daily Express, Dr Marco Metzler from Deutsche Marktscreening Agentur (DMSA), claimed the collapse of the Evergrande is the first domino of the eventual destruction of the world financial system. Due to the size of the property market, estimated at $55trillion (£40trillion), he claimed the collapse of China’s property market, will create a worse financial meltdown than what was seen in 2008.”
If what this man says turns out to be true and takes place, then I believe that we have a possible opportunity for a ‘rescue’ to be mounted by the one called the ‘Antichrist.
I have quoted the verses from Revelation 18 in order to show that Antichrist will, among other things, be an economic ‘whizz kid’, to use a modern idiom. The financial success that will take in those areas, over which one day he will rule, is seen in the lamentations of the merchants within his empire who howl at the destruction by God of the capital of that commercial and religious empire.
Look again at their lamentations for God repeats His description of their grief:
“Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What [city is] like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate,” Revelation 18:10-19.
Please note the variety of goods traded by these merchants! They certainly had the ‘corner of the market’ on just about every necessity of life. Indeed, we see ‘trade’ that today would be considered illegal but which under Antichrist will be declared legitimate. The merchandise will include “slaves, and souls of men.” The bodies and the very spirits of men and women will be dominated in this empire of the devil! False religion always enslaves both the bodies and souls of those under its influence and control! The “perilous times”, of which Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3:1, have been seen in the Bible’s record in only one other place. The Greek word translated ‘perilous’ appears under the English word ‘fierce’ in Matthew 8:28 where it refers to the two men in Gadara, possessed by many devils. The scene in Gadara will be multiplied and magnified many times over in the realm of the Antichrist.
There is no trading with God in eternal merchandise in this kingdom of thriving merchants! Let none of us forget to do business with God as He would have us do. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see,” Revelation 3:18.
Notice too, the extent of the grief and public mourning and grieving that follows God’s destruction of Babylon! “And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing.” The merchants are joined in their howling lamentations by many. “And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What [city is] like unto this great city!”
On land and at sea the financial loss suffered at the fall of Antichrist’s city, Babylon, is keenly felt.
Yes, Antichrist will create a commercial empire which for a short time is going to reap great success.
Now we may ask the question, ‘How will it be that he (the Antichrist, for we speak of a man not a religious system, Revelation 13:18) comes to such commercial prominence?
I cannot point to any specific portion of Scripture where that question is expressly answered. However, I might ask you to consider Daniel chapter 11, for there is recorded for our learning the events that will lead to the rise and manifestation of the Antichrist and his final days in Jerusalem. He is spoken of in verse 21. “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.”
Of this person we read in these verses:
“He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do [that] which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: [yea], and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time” verse 24.
“Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart [shall be] against the holy covenant; and he shall do [exploits], and return to his own land,” verse 28.
Repeatedly we are informed that in the turbulent days preceding the ‘enthronement’ of Antichrist, he is enriched by the wars and the plunder that results from those conflicts.
It is difficult to be able to state categorically the exact details of that revealed to us in the chapter 11 of Daniel. But if we bear in mind what chapter 12, verses 4 and 9 state, we may realise that when these events start to come to pass an understanding will be granted to God’s people.
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased,” Daniel 12:4.
“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what [shall be] the end of these [things]? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end,” Daniel 12:8-9.
As I have said, we can readily see that Antichrist is enriched by his warlike activities in the middle east prior to his final manifestation. However, the final verses of the chapter tell us clearly how his empire will come to an end.
“He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many [countries] shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, [even] Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians [shall be] at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him,” Daniel 11:41-45.
We may list the events mentioned here in their chronological order of fulfilment.
1. He will enter into the ‘glorious land’ Israel and take up a position of governance in Jerusalem. Revelation 11:2 speaks of Jerusalem being trampled down for a period of forty-two months. “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months.”
That is the time of Antichrist’s persecution of the Jews in that city and that nation, or the time of the ‘great tribulation’, commenced when he erects the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the temple there, which is yet to be built by the Jews, (Matthew 24:15, 21).
It is also the time of the ministry of the ‘two witnesses’.
“And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast (he is in power in Jerusalem) that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth (the territory of the old Roman Empire, Luke 2;1) shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” Revelation 11:3-12.
2. There Antichrist will rule and have power over the treasures of gold and of silver. It has ever been the case that in war, conquered nations are impoverished while the conquerers are enriched. In the case of conquered Germany after the first world war, the ‘Weimar Republic’ which lasted from 1919 until 1933, collapsed under its impoverishment and Hitler thus came to power, for the people were looking for a ‘saviour’ to deliver them economically.
Hitler’s economic policies appeared to put Germany on its feet and for this reason his popularity soared. The truth was that he planned to enrich Germany from the plunder obtained through the war that he always had in his mind to provoke, and thus replenish the nation’s coffers. His early success was built on ‘financial sand’!
The Nazis believed in war as the primary engine of human progress, and argued that the purpose of a country’s economy should be to enable that country to fight and win wars of expansion.
I believe that we may well see a repeat of that strategy being followed by the Antichrist as he comes to power. Out of the misery of financial ruin and depression, caused by the wars that we surely see coming, the peoples of the countries of the old Roman Empire will look for a ‘saviour’, as happened in Germany in 1933, and which brought ruin upon that deceived people. After all, the schemes and plans of the devil never change in essence!
3. While residing at Jerusalem, tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him. The tidings are of the attack upon his capital of Babylon. It lies east and north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah prophesied of that day, foreshadowing it in the events that overtook Nebuchaddnezzar. “Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in [their] holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken. One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at [one] end, And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon [is] like a threshingfloor, [it is] time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come,” Jeremiah 51:28-33.
It has delighted the Lord to give us many pictures of that great day in noteworthy events throughout history such as that which occurred in Noah’s day and also Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction (Luke 17:26-30) and to that we might add the destruction of Babylon in 539 BC.
On hearing the news, Antichrist will realise that he is too late to do anything for his city and will turn with satanic spite and hatred toward Jerusalem, bent on destroying it and wiping out the Jews.
“But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him,” Daniel 11:44-45.
Of this rage, Zechariah tells us: “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah [and] against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it,” Zechariah 12:1-3.
He, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, returns to that subject: “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south,” Zechariah 14:1-4.
Paul describes the same events in 2 Thessalonians 2. “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” verses 2-10.
The day of the merchants’ mourning begins with the news of Babylon’s destruction and will end, be silenced, by the return of Christ very shortly after the fall of Babylon.
“Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 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. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft [he be], shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
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. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” Revelation 18:20-19:6.
God is on the Throne, Christian. Let none of the disasters and the calamities and the catastrophes which are coming on this earth, cause you to despair but consider them to be but the countdown to Christ’s triumphant return.
Ivan Foster (Rtd)
1st December 2021