What does Revelation 18:15 mean?
ESV: The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
NIV: The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn
NASB: The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning,
CSB: The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand far off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning,
NLT: The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out,
KJV: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
Verse Commentary:
Knowing how terrible a fate Babylon experienced, the merchants who had profited from selling expensive items to her residents stay clear of Babylon as the city burns to the ground. The merchants fear that they might experience a similar judgment. So, their tears flow in torrents and their mourning reaches a high volume. Although the Scripture does not tell us every reason the merchants mourn, we can guess from these depictions what was most important to them: profit. Their main lament is over business losses and not the loss of life in the judgment on Babylon.

The apostle John offered sound counsel to his readers about establishing correct priorities. He exhorted them and us: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15–17).

If we want something that lasts throughout eternity, we ought to obey God, because the rewards of faithful service endure forever. Everything the evil world system deems important is already deteriorating and ultimately will vanish.
Verse Context:
Revelation 18:9–20 reports the reactions of kings, merchants, and seafarers to the fall of Babylon. While the fall of ''religious Babylon'' in chapter 17 was un-mourned, these men will passionately lament the demise of ''political Babylon.'' Ezekiel 26:15–21 records similar lamenting at the demise of Tyre. Realted passages such as Revelation chapter 16 described the bowl judgments directed at the beast and his kingdom. Jesus warned about the folly of building one's life on material things instead of on his Word (Matthew 6:19–24; 7:24–27). Paul and James did the same (1 Timothy 6:3–10, 17–19; James 5:1–6). Revelation 19:11–21 reveals the destructive end of the beast and his followers at the return of Jesus to the earth.
Chapter Summary:
A glorious angel announces the fall of Babylon, here used to name a dwelling place for demons and the source of corrupt commercialism. Another angel summons believers to get out of Babylon and avoid being caught up in the judgment for her sins. God is ready to punish Babylon for extensive wickedness. He promises to burn the city with fire. The kings of the earth mourn Babylon's demise, and they keep a safe distance from her as she burns. Merchants, too, weep because no one can purchase cargo from her and profit from selling her goods. Like the kings, the merchants try to put distance between themselves and Babylon for fear of sharing her destructive fate. Their mourning is intense. They throw dust on their heads, weep, mourn, and lament how quickly she fell from prominence and prosperity to a wasteful state. A mighty angel announces Babylon's doom and desolation. The city that once included renowned merchants, deceived the nations, and martyred believers, is now shattered into silence and desolation.
Chapter Context:
Revelation 18:1–8 contains a glorious angel's pronouncement of doom on Babylon. This Babylon here appears to be a literal physical city, whereas the Babylon described in chapter 17 is a corrupt religious system. The Babylon of chapter 17 was associated with a political system but was not the political power. The Babylon of chapter 18 is the center of a demonic political, commercial, and economic system. The fall of Babylon parallels what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1–29). Religious Babylon falls in the middle of the tribulation to the delight of kings. Commercial Babylon falls at the end of the tribulation, and kings lament her fall.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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