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Revelation 18:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The kings of the earth - Those who copied her superstitions and adopted her idolatries.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And the kings of the earth - This verse commences the description of the lamentation over the fall of the mystical Babylon (see the Analysis of the chapter).

Who have committed fornication - That is, who have been seduced by her from the true God, and have been led into practical idolatry. See the notes on Revelation 14:8. The kings of the earth seem to be represented as among the chief mourners, because they had derived important aid from the power which was now to be reduced to ruin. As a matter of fact, the kings of Europe have owed much of their influence and power to the support which has been derived from the papacy, and when that power shall fall, there will fall much that has contributed to sustain oppressive and arbitrary governments, and that has prevented the extension of popular liberty. In fact, Europe might have been long since free, if it had not been for the support which despotic governments have derived from the papacy.

And lived deliciously with her - In the same kind of luxury and dissoluteness of manners. See Revelation 18:3, Revelation 18:7. The courts of Europe, under the papacy, have had the same general character for dissoluteness and licentiousness as Rome itself. The same views of religion produce the same effects everywhere.

Shall bewail her, and lament for her - Because their ally is destroyed, and the source of their power is taken away. The fall of the papacy will be the signal for a general overturning of the thrones of Europe.

When they shall see the smoke of her burning - When they shall see her on fire, and her smoke ascending toward heaven. See the notes on Revelation 14:11.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 675

Verse 9

A Fitting Retribution. — The infliction of the very first plague must result in a complete suspension of traffic in those articles of luxury for which Babylon is noted. And when the merchants of these things, who are to a great extent citizens of this symbolic city, and who have been made rich by their traffic in these things, suddenly find themselves and their neighbors smitten with putrefying sores, their traffic suspended, and vast stores of merchandise on hand, but none to buy them, they lift up their voices in lamentation for the fate of this great city; for if there is anything which will draw from the men of this generation a sincere cry of distress, it is that which touches their treasures. And there is a fitness in this retribution, They who but a short time before had issued a decree that the saints of God should neither buy nor sell, now find themselves put under the same restriction by a far more effectual process.DAR 675.2

The question may arise how persons involved in the same calamity can stand afar off and lament, etc.; but it must be remembered that this desolation is brought to view under a figure, and the figure is that of a city visited with destruction. Should calamity come upon a literal city, it would be natural for its inhabitants to flee from that city if they had opportunity, and standing afar off, lament its fall; and just in proportion to their terror and amazement at the evil impending, would be the distance at which they would stand from their devoted city. Now the figure the apostle uses would not be complete without a feature of this kind; and so he uses it, not to imply that people would literally flee from the symbolic city, which would be impossible, but to denote their terror and amazement at the descending judgments.DAR 675.3

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The mourners had shared Babylon's sensual pleasures, and gained by her wealth and trade. The kings of the earth, whom she flattered into idolatry, allowing them to be tyrannical over their subjects, while obedient to her; and the merchants, those who trafficked for her indulgences, pardons, and honours; these mourn. Babylon's friends partook her sinful pleasures and profits, but are not willing to share her plagues. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and that sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they do not lament for the anger of God, but for the loss of outward comforts. The magnificence and riches of the ungodly will avail them nothing, but will render the vengeance harder to be borne. The spiritual merchandise is here alluded to, when not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, to the destroying the souls of millions. Nor has this been peculiar to the Roman antichrist, and only her guilt. But let prosperous traders learn, with all their gains, to get the unsearchable riches of Christ; otherwise; even in this life, they may have to mourn that riches make to themselves wings and fly away, and that all the fruits their souls lusted after, are departed from them. Death, at any rate, will soon end their commerce, and all the riches of the ungodly will be exchanged, not only for the coffin and the worm, but for the fire that cannot be quenched.
Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 653

“Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.... 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: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 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. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, ... saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” Revelation 18:5-10. GC 653.1

“The merchants of the earth,” that have “waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies,” “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.” Revelation 18:11, 3, 15-17. GC 653.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 390

Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” GC 390.1

Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: “Come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4). GC 390.2

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Ellen G. White
Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 412

On September 1, 1902, Mrs. White wrote: LS 412.1

“Well equipped tent meetings should be held in the large cities, such as San Francisco; for not long hence these cities will suffer under the judgments of God. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them in wrath.” LS 412.2

June 20, 1903: “The judgments of God are in our land. The Lord is soon to come. In fire and flood and earthquake, He is warning the inhabitants of this earth of His soon approach. O that the people may know the time of their visitation! We have no time to lose. We must make more determined efforts to lead the people of the world to see that the day of judgment is at hand.” LS 412.3

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