Chapter 18 is dedicated to musing over the destruction of the great city. The subject clearly to be rendered to oblivion as a power of government (v. 3, 7, 9), of commerce (v.3, and 11 – 19), society (v. 22, 23), and religion (v. 3, 5, 8, 9, 20, and 24). This city, “Babylon,” is burned in v.18. Note that in meting judgment to the harlot, God has again carried out “the avenging of his apostles and prophets” (verse 20 and 24), which has been dead center of the narrative all along. This theme is expanded and concluded in the following chapter.
Praise in Heaven for the Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the Judgment of the Beast and False Prophet.
There are three topics indicated in the description above: There is praise to God for fulfilling his promise to the martyrs (which first appears as the main theme in chapter 7:9 – 11), in the avenging of the blood of his servants here (v.1). Again, the Word of God is the conquering agent, not arms, armies or empires. During the praise we are introduced to the image of the marriage supper of the Lamb (verse 7 – 9). Millenialists make a lot more of these references than the sparse reality found in this very concise passage. First, like the rest, it is not a reference to a physical event. Second, from the language it obviously refers to the faithful who have remained righteous being rewarded in Heaven: it refers to the faithful Kingdom or Church betrothed to the Lamb (v.7, 8). The clothing they wear is “the righteous acts of the saints.”
There is no indication anywhere that this is associated with any event other than the mentioned destruction of Babylon, the beast and false prophet. Certainly, there is no textual foundation for this being some sort of an initiation right into a dreamy millennial kingdom. This is the same as “the supper of the great God” (v. 17). Both apparently are celebratory events held in Heaven to mark the downfall of Babylon (Rome) and the avenging of those martyred saints first mentioned in Chapter 5. Friends, those days are long gone from us.
Verse 11 through 21, records the remaining allusions to the battle, and the eventual destruction of the beast and his supporters. It is quite clear from the text (again) that the “Word of God” is the “two-edged sword” that destroys the beast and his supporters. This is stated repeatedly (v.13, 15, and 21). The Roman Empire fell in large part due to the influence of Christianity. Once again: For the alert reader, we must enforce that this is not a literal battle; and it is not a literal sign. None of the events in this book are by themselves literal events. The events are figurative renderings leading one to mark and identify literal events. It is called prophecy.
As recorded beginning in verse 20 the beast is now captured and destroyed. Notice the beast is taken captive “by the Word,” before he is destroyed. It is also important to note that the final judgment of Satan is/was/will be a long way off. These agents of Satan (not Satan himself), are destroyed and the Word of God is once again (and always will be), the force for destruction and victorious just as it was given to be.
So, concludes the “battle of the great day of God Almighty.” In this “battle” the two beasts are conquered, and the Empire of Rome falls to the all-conquering Word of God. The last of these mentioned took place in 476. No swordplay, no giant armies, no thousand-year kingdoms – only the overthrow of ungodliness through the spread of the Word of God. No literal armed battle here either.