The kings in verse 10 and the traders in verse 16 seemed only aware of themselves and their own loss. Their sad words about Babylon seem completely selfish.
However, the seamen in verse 20 seem to have a different attitude. As seamen, they are very aware of forces greater than themselves. A king or a trader may imagine that he controls everything; but no seaman who has seen a storm at sea could ever think that.
So, the seamenís attention quickly turns to the question of who has defeated Babylon. Revelation 17:16 tells us that evil rulers destroyed that great city. However, the seamen recognise the real reason for the defeat. Babylon was Godís enemy. It was God who issued his judgement against it (14:8). That was why Babylonís defeat was so sudden and so terrible. Nothing could ever stand, not even for a moment, against the power of Godís judgement against it.
The seamen are very sad, but they bitterly tell heavenís inhabitants to be happy. The seamen consider heaven as a cruel enemy that laughs at someone elseís defeat. In the past, Godís people suffered much from Babylonís cruelty (18:24). Now, Babylonís pain gives Godís people an opportunity to be happy, the seamen say.
There is great joy in heaven at this time. However, Godís people are not laughing at Babylonís pain. You can read what they are saying in Revelation 19:1-8. They praise God, because all his judgements are right and proper. They thank him, because he has saved them from their cruel enemies. They have prepared themselves for the wonderful things that God will now do in their lives. Soon, Christís perfect government on earth will, at last, begin.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.