You ask good questions and posit good analagous answers.
Regarding the moneychangers in the temple. This is an example of how religions become corrupt. Sacrifices were ordained by God in the Old Testament to give the people a way to show their faith in the promised sacrifice of the Messiah. IF people had faith in God's promise of eternal life to all who believe in His promise to send a Messiah/Saviour, they were to show it by offering sacrifices that represented the sacrifice of the coming Christ.
But greedy men working in and/or around the temple introduced the idea of offering "quality" animals for "more absolution or forgiveness", hence the offering for sale of animals for sale in the temple. Along with this was the idea of "convenience". "Don't offer your favorite sheep or pet lamb, buy one of our sheep, without the emotional attachment for peace of mind."
Thus, gradually the symbol became the subject and the subject was soon lost.
This led to people believing in what they do for forgiveness instead of what Jesus Christ would do.
Regarding the "merchants" in Revelation 18, your ideas are as good as any I've heard.
One thing we have to careful about is that prophecies are vague to begin with because there is no way to describe things in the future clearly with terms from the past or present. Change is so fast-paced now, that I would never venture to state emphatically anything related to prophecy except what the Bible actually says. In time we will be able to see that that was the best way it could have been worded at that time.
So, just read and keep things in the back of your mind and the Holy Spirit will be able to bring to your remembrance the things that you have read when your ability to understand is ripe.
Oh, and one bit of advice - stay away from copyrighted versions of the Bible. If it's copyrighted by man, can its claim to be the Word of God be valid? Just a thought I had to wrestle with.
"Prove all things..." I Thessalonians 5:21
Freedom is the ability to do what you want to do.
Liberty is the ability to do what you ought to do.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Corinthians 3:17
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