Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 18:10
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AR 769. Verse 10. And standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, that great city Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour is thy judgment come, signifies their fear of punishments, and then grievous lamentation, that this religious persuasion, so fortified, could be so suddenly and completely overturned, and that they could perish. "To stand afar off for the fear of torment" signifies a state as yet remote from the state of those who are in condemnation, because they are in fear of torment, as will be explained in what follows. "Woe, woe," signifies grievous lamentation. That "woe" signifies lamentation over calamity, unhappiness, and condemnation, may be seen above (n. 416); hence "woe, woe" signifies grievous lamentation. By "the great city Babylon" that religious persuasion is signified; here as above (n. 751), Babylon as a woman or harlot, because "her torment" is spoken of. By "mighty city" is signified the religious persuasion so fortified. By "in one hour is thy judgment come" is signified that it could be so suddenly overturned, and that they could perish. "In one hour" signifies so suddenly; and by "judgment" is signified its overthrow and the destruction of those who committed whoredom and lived luxuriously with the harlot, who are here treated of. That they perished by the Last Judgment may be seen in the small work on The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed, published at London, 1758. These things are said respecting that destruction. The reason that "they stood afar off for fear of her torment" signifies a state as yet remote from the state of those who are in condemnation, because in fear of the torment, is because by "afar off" is not meant remoteness of space, but remoteness of state, when one is in fear of punishments; for as long as a man is in a state of fear, he sees, weighs, and laments. Remoteness of state, which is remoteness in the spiritual sense, is also signified by "afar off" elsewhere in the Word, as in these passages:--

Hear, ye that are afar off, what I will do; and ye that are near, know my might (Isa. 33:13).

Am I God that is near, and not a God afar off? (Jer. 23:23).

He found grace in the wilderness, Israel said, Jehovah hath appeared unto me from afar (Jer. 31:2, 3).

Bring My sons from afar (Isa. 43:6).

Hear, ye people, from afar (Isa. 49:1, 2).

Peoples and nations that come from a land afar off (Isa. 5:26; Jer. 4:16; 6:15; Zech. 6:15);

where by "nations and peoples from afar" are meant those more remote from the truths and goods of the church. In common speech also relatives are said to be near, and those more remote in relationship are said to be distant.

AR 770. That religious persuasion is called "a mighty city," because it had fortified itself strongly: for it had fortified itself not only by the multitude of the nations and peoples who acknowledge it, but by many other things also; as by a great number of monasteries, and by the armies of monks there (this is said, because they call the ministry their military service); by possessions of wealth without any measure or satiety; also by the tribunal of the inquisition; besides by threats and terrors, especially of purgatory, into which everyone is said to come; by the extinction of the light of the Gospel, and thence blindness in spiritual things, which is effected by prohibitions and inhibitions of the reading of the Word; by masses spoken in a language unknown to the common people; by various external sanctities; by impressing the worship of the dead and of images upon the common people, who are kept in ignorance concerning God; and by various splendid things in externals; that by these things they may be in a corporeal faith concerning the sanctity of all the things in that religious persuasion. Hence it is that it is altogether unknown what lies hidden within that religious persuasion, when yet it is altogether as described above in these words:--

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and inwrought with gold and precious stone and pearl, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and uncleanness of her whoredom (Apoc. 17:4).

But howsoever much Babylon had so fortified herself, and in like manner in the spiritual world, see below (n. 772), still she was altogether destroyed at the day of the Last Judgment. Of her devastation it is thus prophesied in Jeremiah:--

If Babel should ascend to heaven, and if she should fortify the height of her strength, from Me shall the wasters come (Jer. 51:53).

The mighty men of Babel sit in their fortifications; her power is given to oblivion; they have set her fortifications on fire, her bars are broken; the city is taken from its extremity. The wall also of Babel is fallen (Jer. 51:30, 31, 44).

Suddenly hath Babel fallen and is broken down; howl over her, take balm for her grief, peradventure she may be healed (Jer. 51:8).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info