Could the fate of Babylon in Revelation 18 have a dual fulfillment? I believe these predictions were fulfilled in the temporary fall of Rome in A.D. 68-69 and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Could Revelation 18 Also be Partially Fulfilled in the Death of the Beast and the Temporary Fall of Rome After the Death of Nero?: The Fall of Rome in A.D. 68-69 . . .
In June of A.D. 68, Nero Caesar committed suicide. The death of Nero triggered a civil war in Rome which threatened to collapse the empire. The fall of Rome is symbolized in the Book of Revelation as the death of the beast. Having stabbed himself in the throat, Nero represents the wounded head [i] of the beast. Because of this “fatal wound” mentioned in Revelation 13:3, the beast’s kingdom is cast into darkness and thus begins the fifth plague of Revelation 16:10. The fact that Rome, the beast, is cast into darkness during the fifth plague symbolizes the fact that the beast has been cast into the outer darkness of the Abyss, the dark underworld of the dead.[ii] The fact that the beast is dead in A.D. 68 and 69 is also implied by the fact that in Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17:8 the beast is said to come up out of the Abyss, the spiritual realm of the dead as stated above. This resurrection imagery points to the antecedent death of the beast. During this year of darkness, Rome died with Nero and the Roman Empire collapsed from the combined weight of wars to the east and west and civil war within.
The collapse of the Roman Empire in A.D. 69 is also implied in Revelation 16:19: “The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.” “The great city” in v. 19 is an ambiguous term for both Jerusalem and Rome. In A.D. 68 and 69 both Rome and Jerusalem split into three parts as a consequence of separate three-way civil wars. In Jerusalem, Jewish rebels split the city into three factions led by three aspiring Messiahs—John, Simon and Eleazar.[iii] Meanwhile in Rome, Galba, Otho and Vitellius pitted the Roman legions against each other for control of the empire. While Jerusalem and Rome were split into three parts, “the cities of the nations collapsed,” as stated in Revelation 16:19. “The cities of the nations” is Rome. The collapse of the Roman Empire is symbolically depicted as the death of the seven-headed beast as a consequence of the “fatal wound” of Revelation 13:3 in which Nero committed suicide by stabbing himself in the throat in A.D. 68. With the sixth head wounded, the Roman leviathan suffered a fatal injury, an injury with which Rome did not fully recover until the fall of Jerusalem and the rise of Vespasian when peace and order returned. See Revelation 13: A Preterist Commentary and Revelation 17: A Preterist Commentary.
Could Revelation 18 Also be Partially Fulfilled in the Death of the Beast and the Temporary Fall of Rome After the Death of Nero?: Rome Burned in A.D. 69 in Fulfillment of Revelation 18:8.
In partial fulfillment of Revelation 18:8, in A.D. 69, the year before the fall and burning of Jerusalem, Rome was also been burned with fire: “Whole towns were burnt down or buried throughout the richest part of the coast of Campania, and Rome suffered severely from fires that destroyed its most venerable temples, the very Capitol being set alight by Roman hands.”[iv] The turmoil in Rome put a halt to the war in Israel. The kings of the earth, representing Israel, mentioned in Revelation 18:9-10 would have undoubtedly mourned the catastrophes occurring in Rome in A.D. 69 since they owed their crown to Rome in fulfillment of v. 9: “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.”
The Roman Historian Tacitus then goes on to say that the Mediterranean’s “rocky islets ran with blood.”[v] The turmoil in the Italian islands and the coastal fires along “the richest part of the coast of Campania [southern coastal Italy]” would have severely affected overseas trade fulfilling the lamentation of the seafaring merchants described in Revelation 18:11-23.
Could Revelation 18 Also be Partially Fulfilled in the Death of the Beast and the Temporary Fall of Rome After the Death of Nero?: The Boulder cast into the Sea in Revelation 18:21 May Also Represent the Fall of Rome in A.D. 68-69.
The stone cast into the sea in Revelation 18:21 may also represent the fall of Rome in A.D. 68-69. The sea is the Abyss, the dark realm of the dead. See The Poetic Biblical Link Between “Sea” and “Abyss”. As explained in the commentary on Revelation 13, the beast died with Nero in A.D. 68 when civil war collapsed the empire. But the beast representing Rome did not stay dead. In Revelation 13:3, Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17:8 the beast is said to rise out of the Abyss in a symbolic resurrection representing the restoration of Roman power shortly after Vespasian seized the throne and put an end to the war in Israel and the civil war within. The casting of the millstone-sized boulder into the sea or Abyss, the underworld of the dead, in Revelation 18:21 may also represent the death of the beast at the fall of Rome in A.D. 68-69 between the death of Nero, the beast with the fatal wound of Revelation 13:3, and the rise of Vespasian, the beast whose wound had been healed of Revelation 13:3.
[i] Head is also a metaphor for a king. Biblical prophecy often has both literal and figurative fulfillment.
[ii] Job 10:19-22: “If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” This Biblical description of the underworld as a realm of darkness is also widely attested to by survivors of clinical death. The virtual consensus seems to be that there are many afterlife realms, the lowest are the darkest and gloomiest and the highest are the brightest and most beautiful.
[iii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.1.1.
[iv] Tacitus The Histories 1.2.