In his ‘Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) reflects on Revelation 18:1-24, and writes,
“In Revelation, Babylon is not overthrown in the battle with the Logos, although the Lamb and his followers make war against the kings subject to Babylon: it is destroyed and burned by its own adherents, who turn against it in hatred.
The world seems ripe for such self-destruction on the part of the Civitas diaboli (city of the devil), given that the Civitas terrana (earthly city), with its weapons of destruction, has fallen within the ambit of the former.
We must not be afraid to utter the harsh truth. In making his provocative claim to have reconciled the world in God, Jesus never suggested that he was creating an earthly paradise. The Kingdom of God will never be externally demonstrable (Luke 17:21); it grows, invisibly, perpendicular to world history, and the latter’s fruits are already in God’s barns.
Man responds to the provocation by attempting to manufacture the Kingdom of God on earth, with increasing means and methods of power; logically this power that resists the powerlessness of the cross is bound to destroy itself, for it bears the principle of self-annihilation within it by saying No to the claim of Christ.
And so we are brought to the following formulation, extravagent though it may seem: mankind’s self-destruction is the only foreseeable end to the world, left to itself, and the only end it deserves insofar as it prefers to hoard what is its own (that is, power, mammon) rather than to gather with Christ.
It has already decided its own fate.”