Jack Graham - The Collapse of the World System
Take your Bibles and turn with me to Revelation chapters 17 and 18. Today we're going to cover two chapters that are in fact together in Scripture, back to back. But remember these verse numbers and chapters originally were not a part of the original text of Scripture, but rather when John revealed this letter, revealed this passage he just gave it one step after another. And so that's what we have. And so chapter 17 and 18 has to do with the collapse of the world system, represented by Babylon, a code word in the Scripture for the world system that is without God and without Christ. And we are going to see in this passage how the end truly comes, and the end of the world as we know it. And as we have been reading through and walking through, studying through, we're actually kind of running through right now! We're at breakneck speed on the road to Armageddon, and we have uncovered thus far five indicators, five signs on the Revelation road to Armageddon and beyond. I just mention them briefly to you because they connect with the passage that we have in front of us.
The first sign is the re-gathering and the rebirth of Israel. This is the super-sign. When Israel was reconstituted as a nation, as a state government in 1948 that set the stage for end time events. And if you want to know what's happening in the world, pay attention to the Jewish world and to Israel in particular.
We've also seen the re-uniting of the Roman Empire. Now by that, when we read of the antichrist and the coming world government, it is a confederation, a uniting of nations from around the world into one world government. And we have seen in the coalescing of nations not only in the Middle East but also in Europe with the European Union, United Nations efforts, and so on. The goal of so many is to bring nations together under one umbrella. And the re-uniting of the ancient Roman Empire under a new Caesar, the antichrist is on the horizon. So when we see nations collaborating and working together as we're seeing them together. And we're for world peace and we're for world economy and all the rest that can advance the cause of our country and of a blessing to our world. Yet we know that a one world government is not God's plan. The government of our God and His Christ shall reign and rule.
Thirdly, is the reduction of America. We took time in one of our messages to point out that America is absent in the Last Days scenarios. And because of the Rapture of the Church when millions of Christians worldwide will be taken, but millions and millions of Americans like you and me, who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, will be translated immediately into the presence of the Lord. And there will be tribulation then, and judgment on the earth. But America as we have seen financially and morally and otherwise, we can see how America's role will be reduced in the Last Days. And it's concerning. We are praying for a third great awakening in America. We are praying that God would save America, and that should be the heart cry of every Christian.
Fourthly is the rise of globalism. And that's one of the things that we'll be seeing in our message today. One-world government, one-world economy, Revelation 13, the rise of the beast, along with chapter 17 and 18 of Babylon. We will see globalism whether you're speaking of technology or transportation. Just the connection now, where the nations have become neighborhoods and the globalism of the financial economic stratosphere of this country and of this world. All about globalism. That's coming.
And then the reality of war in the Middle East. And when we see the struggles of the Middle East and religious wars being fought, and the turbulence that is in the Middle East today we know that that is a sign of the End Times because that's where the action will be in the Last Days. So with that being said, chapters 17 and 18 beginning at verse 1 of the seventeenth chapter through verse 8 initially. Look at it with me: "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, and with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.' And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns".
And with that it's a symbol of the antichrist's kingdom, "seven heads, ten horns". Ten confederated, cooperating nations. "The woman was arrayed in purple", this woman sitting on the beast, "arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality". Hashtag #Idolatry. Verse 5: "And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: 'Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and earth's abominations.' And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, 'Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her'".
Alright, you want to know a secret? If I want to get my grandchildren's attention all I have to say is, "You want to hear a secret"? Okay, children, you want to hear a secret? God says here it is. "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come". What in the world is this about? Mysteries and secrets, and Babylon. The judgment of the great harlot riding on the back of the beast.
Let's start with the fact that Babylon is a code word. Babylon is a code word for the world without God, the world without Christ. Babylon represents Satan's kingdom. Just as Jerusalem, the most mentioned city in all of the Bible represents God and His kingdom forever, and Christ will rule from Jerusalem in the new heavens and the new earth, in the millennial kingdom, but Babylon is the second most mentioned city in the Scripture. We meet in verse one a woman, a scarlet woman who is riding on the back of a beast. Who is this woman called a prostitute? A harlot? And she's wearing red! She's a scarlet harlot riding on the back of a beast in this rodeo from hell. Who is she? What does she represent?
This scarlet woman represents a religious system "on the waters" it says, which represents nations and peoples. It's the idea of a religious system that is unified, very popular, even our own generation. The world without Christ wants one religion, one faith, one world, one love. It's called syncretism, which means mix it all together, all the ideas about God, all the religions, all the experiences, mix it all together, mash it all together and you get one world religion. And in the Last Days there will be finally one world religion. The beast, of course, is the antichrist and representing his world and his kingdom. The woman is a harlot. Just as the church is the true church of Jesus the Christ, the harlot, the prostitute here is the wife of Satan and his antichrist. She represents religion in its every form!
Karl Marx said... and I don't agree with hardly anything Karl Marx said, but one thing he said that I agree with is that "religion is the opiate of the people". It's like a drug to so many people. It's not real. We don't believe in the religious Christianity without Christ. Religion without Christ is like any other religion and it's worthless. And did you know that in the Last Days we're told that there will be false prophets; there will be those who do not teach the truth. It's one of the obvious signs of the Last Days. First Timothy chapter 4, verse 1 says that in the last days that many will come teaching lies in error and that will be a sign of the latter days or the Last Days.
Second Timothy chapter 3, verse 1, verse 5 says the same thing. So you shouldn't be surprised when you see in the Last Days the denial, the distortion, the delusion of biblical faith in Christianity. And the desire of people to mix it all together and absorb the church in secularism or liberalism. It's all prescribed; it's all predicted in the Bible! And this verse showing this, this beauty and the beast, these verses show us the broad appeal of this Babylonian mother of all religion. This woman, scarlet as she is, is the mother of all religions in the world. She represents all false religion, whether you're talking about liberal institutionalized, secularized Christianity, apostate Christianity or Islam, or Hindu or the cult or new age ideas, wisdom, etc, etc, etc. All forms of religion, this woman represents it.
And, of course, the source of false religion is Satan himself who is the father of lies. He's up to religion in his eyebrows! He masquerades himself as an angel of light. Satan is very involved in religion. I fact he's preaching in many pulpits today through people who are NOT preaching the truth of God's Word! So here you have it! Beauty and the beast, a scarlet woman who is appealing, alluring and attractive, sitting on the beast and supported by the antichrist! She is a high-dollar call-girl, for she is arrayed not only in scarlet, but gold and purple which are the colors of royalty, prosperity and wealth! She is a beautiful, alluring, attractive, appealing woman! World religion is like that! You know, they say that beauty is only skin deep, but that ugly cuts clean to the bone!
Well, it's true here! This woman, allured and attractive, it's like putting lipstick on a pig really when you try with a facade of religion to cover up the ugliness of sin. This woman is bad to the bone! And it turns out, the beauty IS the beast! This beastly religion which is counterfeit and phony! And this is the reason in our generation we must teach the Word of God, the testimony of Jesus! We must make sure that we know God's Word and the truth of God's Word because when those come against us with Satan's lies and traps and religion and ideas that don't measure up to Scripture! There are so many people who have kind of a free-floating religious experience, "Oh, I believe in light, oh, I believe in love, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I believe in my religion, I believe in this", but they don't have a personal faith in Christ! This is spiritual seduction and it's not comparable to Christianity in the New Testament; "the faith that is once delivered to the saints".
And the pressure is on in our generation to conform to accept all religions and all experiences and all truth as equally valued. That's the religion of the antichrist! That's the beast and the beauty, the harlot riding on the back of this beast! What we believe is not popular. The fact that we believe that God revealed Himself in Christ and Christ alone; He died for us and rose again. That's not popular; that's narrow! That's bigoted, that's so-called full of hate and discrimination. What's popular is the beauty on the beast which is bad to the bone. What's popular is world religion. But let me tell you, dear people, that we must never sacrifice truth for unity! Never!
John Stott spoke of those who are "truthless in love and those who are loveless in truth". I don't want to be either, I don't want to be truthless in love without truth! I don't want to be loveless in truth, what I believe! I want to speak the truth in love! In our commitment to you, I as your pastor and the commitment of this church is to get ourselves ready for what is to come by learning and living God's eternal Word! Not living the world's religion, but living the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ! Now verse 6 shows us something very interesting. Look in chapter 17 and verse 6. Let me show you something that needs to be noted. So this woman "who's drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus". Religion without Christ typically persecutes people it cannot tolerate.
Have you noticed the intolerance of the tolerant? The intolerance of those who say we should be tolerant of everyone? Towards those who name and claim the name of Christ. The world system will persecute Christians every single time ultimately. False religion always produces persecution and bloodshed. Look at ISIS. In the name of a religion that says its name means peace, yet it's convert or die! Convert or die! That's what religion always says! But just because something looks good on the outside, beautiful like this woman on the beast, or good on the outside, it does not mean it's true! Just because it seems so good, so nice, so sweet. "Everybody get together; let's hold hands, let's sing Kumbaya, We are the world". Just because it looks good doesn't mean it's true. Just because it feels right doesn't mean it's right. We live our lives based on the truth of the Word of God!
So the rest of chapter 17 becomes a recap of the nature of the antichrist, the biography of a beast; how the antichrist rules this world and with religion establishes a world government, his evil empire: seven kings the confederated nations of the world.. united nations of the world. And he controls them, along with his unholy relationship with world religion. But this unholy relationship will not last. Ha! This marriage is not going to make it. In the end the antichrist will throw her away and discard her because she's all used up. The antichrist in the last period of the Great Tribulation will destroy all religious expression and set himself up as to be worshiped in Jerusalem. It's called in the Bible "the abomination of desolation" when the dictator demands that he would be worshiped. Satan wants no competition and will not ultimately allow it. And in one way God uses evil to eradicate evil.
Look at verse 16 of chapter 17, for it says: "They will make her desolate", speaking of this scarlet woman, "make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire", but verse 17 says: "for God", not Satan, but God, "has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose". God's in control! God is bringing judgment and eradicating evil and He uses evil to eradicate evil! He uses the antichrist as an instrument of judgment to destroy idolatry and false religion! Amazing, isn't it? But not surprising! Chapter 18 tells us then; look at verse 1: "And after I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, 'Fallen, fallen...'"
Two times, perhaps illustrating the fall of ecclesiastical, religious Babylon and the fall of political Babylon. Fallen, fallen! Both are fallen! "'...Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, and a haunt for every unclean spirit'". The financial system collapses; the economic system of the world collapses, and that's what chapter 18 is about. When you read verses 9 and 10, for example, look at it: "The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. And they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, 'Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.'"
Think about it. All the kingdoms of this world, the powerful economic systems, all the great powers and authorities and kingdoms of this world collapse and burn just like that because the world has now become demonized, that's the first six verses, has become depraved, verses 7 and 8, and ultimately it is destroyed. And what happens in this collapse of the world system will make the Great Depression of the 1930's look like a trip to Disneyland. Because we see there is no merchandising anymore, there's no money anymore, there's no music anymore. It's just all gone. It goes up in smoke. So until then what should we do? In light of this information, in light of these facts regarding prophecy about what will happen, what are we supposed to do?
Look at verse 4 of chapter 18. It says: "Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; (And then he goes on to say,) for her sins are heaped up all the way to heaven'". It is a stench in the nostrils of a holy God, this world system. So what are we told to do? We're told to come out of the world. Not to go down with the world, but to go up with Jesus! We are to live separated lives! We're in the world but we are not of this world! Again, it doesn't mean that we don't have interests in our business. It doesn't mean that we don't have things to do that are important, but it means we're not attached, we're not allured by this world system that is on its way to judgment!
This world is a sinking ship, ruled by Satan himself, a captain who's going down! And therefore, we need to come out. Don't go down with this ship! Come out, the Scripture says, and be separate. And we, knowing these things, should be called to higher life, a better life! A life that honors Christ! A life that is onward and upward, not downward and sideways. Chapter 18 and verse 20 it says: "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her"! Then look at chapter 19, verses 1 and 2: "And after this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants.'"
As smoke goes up forever and ever. We should shout out our victory! Don't you get tired? Don't you get weary of this world and its system, its suffering, its sin, its wickedness? It's getting worse and worse. It's not getting better. And sometimes when we see all the suffering, all the pain whether it's at a personal level or community level, we see all of this craziness in our world today, and we wonder when will justice ever be served? When is that day coming when there will be peace on earth? When will, if ever, righteousness prevail? Right here. That's what we shout out about! We say, "Yes, Lord! Amen! Hallelujah! Because You have judged the world in righteousness"! And then we celebrate forever the glory and the victory that is ours. In the end we win!