The reaction of the traders to the loss of Babylon is very similar to the reaction of the kings (verses 9-10). John continues to describe the event as if it were the funeral of a great queen.
The world’s kings were like her lovers, who joined her in wrong sex acts. The world’s traders made themselves rich when they supplied the luxury of her palace. Now the queen is dead. Her greatness, the luxury of her life, and her evil acts have all ended. There can never be another queen like her. So the traders and the kings alike weep bitterly.
The kings felt shock because such a strong city had suddenly suffered complete defeat. It was the strength of the city that had impressed them (compare Daniel 11:38). In a single hour, that great strength had turned into complete weakness. The most powerful city in the world had suffered defeat, and nobody would ever rebuild it.
On the other hand, it was the sudden loss of the city’s wealth that caused shock to the traders. They remembered the beauty and luxury of the objects that they had sold there. That was what they considered a truly great city. Its people had bought the best and most valuable things that the traders sold. It was a place where the traders could make good profits.
Now, however, that opportunity for business had ended, and there could never be such an opportunity again. Fire that would never end was burning up the city’s valuable possessions (19:3). God’s judgement against the selfish and wicked behaviour of people was at last happening. Soon Christ’s rule on earth will begin; and then people will have to do business only in the manner that God approves of. The world will never be the same again.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.