Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” – Revelation 18:21-24
Angels tossing millstones into the sea? Clearly this angel is different than the delicate looking winged creatures of popular culture. Also different than the bumbling Clarence in it’s a wonderful life.
This angel is more like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jason Momoa grabbing a boulder the size of a millstone, weighing perhaps a ton or more, and tossing it into the sea.
Apparently this boulder is intended to be a metaphor for the “great city” that is collapsing in ruin and fire that is visible for miles out to sea. If this passage is prophetic then we can add inundation by the sea to the list.
Changes in the elevation of the Earth’s surface after earthquakes is part of the dynamic equilibrium that exists on earth. The balance of great forces as tectonic plates move around the earth at a timescale we have difficulty perceiving and sometimes understanding.
My sense is that the spiritual sea that surrounds us, and where God resides, is a bit like the moving tectonic plates. Changes and movements can be both sudden and surreal like an earthquake and slow and steady like the plate movement. The judgement being described here for the “great city” is clearly a sudden earth event with dire earthly consequences like death, injury, fire, damage to buildings, etc. I think it also represents the end result of thousands of years of spiritual slipping that culminates in this spiritual squall.
All the activities that this city is used to engaging in will cease as a result of the seismic and spiritual shift that is to come. Although this destruction seems to be a discrete future event at a specific geographic location I wonder if it intended to be understood more broadly to represent the passing away of our earthly existence. We will all be submerged in a spiritual sea at some point.
It sounds like the spiritual submersion to come can be a grace-filled dismount and river crossing or it can be a frantic drowning as we seek to hold onto all the things we imagine we need to take with us. The difference may be how much luggage we are hauling along.
Prayer: God prepare our hearts and spirits for the transition to come.