Robert Jeffress - The Day The Dow Jones Hits Zero
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". In recent months, we've all felt the negative effects of a rocky stock market and record unemployment. And while we're not out of the murky waters quite yet, Revelation 18 describes an even worse time when the entire world economy will completely crumble. Imagine having nothing to your name, except the clothes on your back. That's exactly what will happen the day the Dow Jones hits zero.
The coronavirus pandemic that we have been witnessing these last several months has had many painful side effects. The least of which is not the economic side effects and problems. We've seen it everywhere. Millions of jobs lost in the last several months, businesses being shuttered left and right, people's 401k retirement plans decimated. We've seen this in just a few months. You know in the period of time between February the 19th and March 22nd, just 22 trading days, the S&P stock average went down 30%. It was the fastest drop of that momentum in the history of the stock market. And although the stock market has recovered somewhat, it's still very, very unsettled.
But did you know the Bible predicts that there is a day coming when the Dow Jones and every other average will go to zero and it will never recover? In fact, every economic measure will go to zero. On one single day in history, the world economy is going to collapse, and it's that day that we're going to look at today in our study of the Book of Revelation. If you have your Bible, turn to Revelation chapter 18. Revelation 18:1-3, an announcement of judgment against Babylon, look at it with me. "After these things, I," that is John, "saw another angel," like the one who had announced the earlier destruction. "I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice saying, 'fallen, fallen is Babylon the great'".
What does John mean? What does the angel mean by Babylon? Remember in 17, it referred to a religious system, but in chapter 18, it refers to both a system and a city that was the capital of that system. When the angel announces Babylon is fallen, he's talking about the system, but he's also talking about the capital city behind that system, because over and over in this chapter, we find the description of Babylon as "That great city". The great city and system of Babylon. Now look at the appeal for believers to leave Babylon, beginning in verse four. "I heard another voice from heaven," and most likely this is the voice of God himself, "Saying, 'come out of her, my people, so that we will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues'".
Angels don't have people they can command to do certain things, so this is God saying, I want my people who are living in Babylon to come out of Babylon, not participate in her sins and receive my judgment. What were the sins? Well, there were many sins in Babylon, but the root sin that fueled this economic system was greed, the desire for more and more and more. That's what the problem here was. It was the problem of greed. Look at verse five, "For Babylon's sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities". Her sins have piled up. This is a direct allusion to Genesis chapter 11, the original founding of the city of Babel.
And remember, they built that tower as a sign of their rebellion against the true God. And they built that tower brick upon brick upon brick upon brick. That's the way sin is. Sin upon sin upon sin upon sin until we build that wall of separation between God and us. Her sins have piled up as far as heaven. I'll say more about that in a moment. So what's the remedy, verse six, for the sin? Look. "Pay her back, God, even as she has paid, and give Babylon back to her double according to her deeds. In the cup in what she has mixed, mixed twice as much for her. To the degree that she has glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree, give her torment". This is what we call in scripture, "lex talionis", the law of retribution. It's the basis of the mosaic law. It's the basis of almost every legal system in the world today, the law of retribution, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. You punish people according to their sin. You give them back not only what they deserve, but in this case, double what they deserve.
Now, I know you read this, and you say, what, now, that's kind of strange. God, don't you need to settle down a little bit? That's a little angry, isn't it? Remember what your son said? You know, "Turn the other cheek". Shouldn't we be forgiving instead of want retribution? Listen, there is a difference between vengeance and justice. When somebody offends us, we are never to seek vengeance. You know what vengeance is? It's hurting somebody else because they hurt me. And when we forgive, we give up our right for vengeance, but we can never give up our desire for justice. What is justice? Justice is the punishment God requires for my offender.
When we say: I'm going to give up vengeance, we're saying: I'm not going to try to settle the score myself. When we forgive we give up our desire for vengeance, we should never give up our desire for justice. What you see happening to Babylon is justice. It's God settling the score. Look at verse eight. "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire, for the Lord God who judges her is strong". It's going to happen in one day. This great city and system will be destroyed. You know, again, going back to ancient Babylon, there's a precedent for this.
Remember the story in Daniel chapter five, Belshazzar was the king of Babylon and they had a great banquet and there was that handwriting on the wall. And Daniel interpreted it, everybody was astounded, this mysterious hand writing something on the wall. What does it mean? And Daniel translated it for Belshazzar, "For you Belshazzar have been weighed and found deficient in God's scales, and tonight you will be destroyed by the Medes and the Persians". That night was October 12th, 539 BC. We know from history what happened. When Daniel left the king's presence that very night, the Medes and the Persians came and overtook Babylon. It happened in one day, one night. It will be the same for the future Babylon as well.
You know, we have a precedent for terrible economic calamities that occurred in one day. October 29th, 1929 is known as Black Tuesday when the stock market just about collapsed. Or even in more recent days, September 16th, 2008, our banking system just about collapsed, had it not been for the Federal Reserve loaning $85 billion to the AIG corporation. All of those are just a precursor to that final collapse that will come.
By the way, here's a great warning for anybody who puts their trust in their money, in their stocks, in their possessions. In Proverbs 23:5, Solomon, the richest man of his day, said, "Cast but a glance at riches and they fly away, for they will surely sprout wings and fly away like an eagle". Have you ever had that happen with your money? One day, you have it, the next day it just kind of flies away, it disappears. That is how transitory wealth is. It can disappear overnight.
What's the result of God's judgment? Look beginning at verse nine, the anguish over the destruction of Babylon. First of all, the anguish of the kings, verse nine, "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, 'woe, woe, the great city Babylon, the strong city. For in one hour, your judgment has come'".
You know, I think about this in terms of something we've seen in our own history. John talks about the king saw the smoke of her burning. Remember in chapter 16, we saw the earthquake that happened at the city of Babylon, and now we see a great fire on April the 18th, 1906, a great earthquake struck the city of San Francisco, California. Jack London, the novelists, noted that that earthquake caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. But the fires that resulted from that earthquake cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And I think that's what you see happening here. There's the initial earthquake in chapter 16, now here's the fire that is the result of that earthquake. There's great anguish with the 10 kings, the rulers, as they see the economic system destroyed. And then there's the anguish of the merchants themselves, those who are buying and selling goods.
Look at verse 11, "And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargo anymore". And then John list all of the things that can no longer be bought or sold. They just sit on the shelf. Haven't we seen that in these last several months? Stores closed, some stores, chains filing for bankruptcy. There's no longer any ability or desire to buy and to sell. Interestingly of those, more than a dozen things that are mentioned, verse 13 mentions slaves and human lives. There will no longer be a market for that, even though apparently there was a market for that during the Great Tribulation, slavery will be taking place.
You know, we see human trafficking even today is a tremendous problem. The state department in a recent report said 25 million human beings in the world had been bought and sold. That won't occur during the Great Tribulation in these final days. And then you see the anguish, not only of the kings and the merchants, but also of the seafarers, the sailors. Look at verse 17. "And in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste, and every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea," the cruise lines, for example, "They stood at a distance and they were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'what city is like the great city'? And they threw dust on their heads," that's a sign of mourning, "Were crying and weeping, 'woe, woe, the great city in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste'".
You know, as John describes these sailors in their ships, looking at a distance at the destruction of Babylon, every time I read that, I think of that sight from September 11th, 2001, after the attacks on the twin towers in Manhattan. Do you remember that picture? The towers were still standing, they were on fire, and remember that picture of New York harbor, all the boats that were in New York harbor, they had pushed out from Manhattan and they were watching from a distance to what was happening to that great city. Again, that is just a forerunner of what's going to happen one day. Throughout this passage is a reminder of why we shouldn't put our hope and build our affection around riches.
Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Could I ask you, where is your treasure today? What is it you really value? If it's here on earth, remember it's all going to either be destroyed or left behind when you die. But if your treasure is in heaven, nothing will ever destroy it for all eternity. Verse 20, the acclimation, finally, of praise over Babylon. God says in verse 20, "Rejoice over her, o heavens, and you saints and apostles and profits," that is all believers, "Because God has pronounced judgment for you against her".
Babylon is the system that oppressed people, but especially Christians. And that's why Christians can rejoice when God's justice is executed. Look at this, verse 21, "Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'so will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer'". When he talks about the destruction of this great city, is he talking about Babylon itself, the ancient city that's rebuilt? Maybe. Maybe he's referring to Babylon as a code like Peter does in 1 Peter 5:13 for Rome. Perhaps it's code for some other city, London, Rome, Hong Kong, perhaps New York city, but you know, whatever the city is, everybody will be amazed at how quickly that great city was destroyed.
And verse 22 says, "And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute players and trumPeters will not be heard in you any longer". There'll be no more music. "No craftsmen of any craft will be found in you any longer. The sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer". That's referring to the production of food throughout our country. And look at this, verse 23, "And the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer". There'll be no longer any light. And not only that, "The voice of the bridegroom and the bride will not be heard in you any longer, for your merchants were great men of the earth, because all of the nations were deceived by your sorcery". People won't be getting married. They either won't be able to, or they won't want to during that period of time.
Verse 24, "And in her, Babylon, was found the blood of profits and of saints and of all of those who have been slain on the earth". Remember, this economic system that is destroyed by God is the very same system that the Antichrist uses to deprive Christians of food and other things they need to survive. Remember, under this economic system, if you do not receive the Mark of the beast, you will not be able to buy or to sell. That's why he says it was in Babylon that the blood of the prophets was found. What is the sin of Babylon that God punishes? It's the sin of greed, which is really idolatry.
Listen to me, the sins of society are really the sins of the individuals who make up that society. When we talk about society's sin of racism, society's sin of lawlessness, society's sin of greed, it's easy to talk about societal sins because that takes the pressure off of us. But remember, the sins of society are the sins of the individuals in that society. The sin of greed that not only will be a part of the future Antichrist empire but as part of our economy right now, the sin of greed in America is the sin of greed of Americans and even Christians. And I'd ask you right now, what is it that you're worshiping? What is it that you have built your life and your hope and your happiness and security around? Is it in material possessions? Is it in money?
You know, the greatest antidote to the problem of greed is contentment. Being satisfied with what God has already provided. In Proverbs 30:7-9, Solomon describes what should be the prayer of every Christian when it comes to material needs. He says, "Lord, two things I've asked for you, and don't refuse me before I die. Keep deception and lies far from me. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I might not be full and deny you and say, 'who is the Lord', or that I might not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God".
Solomon's saying, when it comes from money, Lord, here's my prayer. Don't make me poor and don't make me rich. Give me just what I need, because I know myself too well. If I have too much, I'll be tempted to deny you and say, I don't need God. And if I have too little, I'll be tempted to steal and defame the name of God. Give me just what I need. Help me to be satisfied with what you've given me. That's the secret to combating greed.
I want to go back as we close to verse 10 for a moment. "Woe, woe, the great city Babylon, for in one hour your judgment has come". Remember I said that's an allusion to Genesis chapter 11 and the building of that first ancient city of Babel and the tower that they wanted to build as a sign of their rebellion against God? I want you to think about this for a moment. When they started building that tower, when they put the first brick down, God didn't destroy the tower. When they placed the second brick on top of that first brick, he didn't do a thing. God allowed them to build that tower brick after brick after brick after brick. And finally, without one word of pre-announcement, God came and visited the city of Babel and brought his resulting judgment.
That's how God does. God doesn't always judge sin in our lives immediately. For some of you listening right now, some in this worship center, you're building a life apart from God, brick by brick, sin by sin. And frankly, you're surprised God hasn't judged you yet for it. Let me give you a great word of warning from my own experience. Don't confuse God's patience with God's tolerance for sin. God is not slow about his promise, the Bible says, "He's not willing that any should come into judgment, but all should receive a knowledge of the truth". Don't confuse God's patience with God's tolerance for your sin. God's giving you time to repent, but never forget that God's judgment will eventually come. It will come suddenly and it will come completely. That's the message that comes from the story of Babylon.