System Crash

System Crash

“System Crash”

(Revelation 18:1-24)

Series: Understanding The Book Of Revelation

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

First Baptist Church, Henderson KY

12-3-06 (AM)


  • Please open your Bibles to Revelation, chapter 18.

We are continuing our series of messages, verse-by-verse, through the book of Revelation and we are nearing the end of the time period known as the Great Tribulation.  You will remember from last time that chapters 17 and 18 tell us about the coming destruction of Babylon.  And we learned in chapter 17 that the name Babylon refers more to “system” than to a “city.”  Just as “Wall Street” can refer to the economy and “Hollywood” can refer to popular culture, so Babylon is used to refer to the future religious, political, and economic structure of the world, the world system in operation during the time of the Antichrist.


Now there are some who believe that the term Babylon in chapters 17 and 18 may also refer to a literal city.  Some believe it to be a future city coming out of what is present day Iraq.  Some believe it is a code-word for Rome or Jerusalem.  Any of those ideas are certainly possible, but they are also speculative, and I’ve been trying to stick with what we can know for sure as we study the book of Revelation.  We know for sure that there will be a future world system that will dominate during the reign of the Antichrist and that John refers to that world system with the term Babylon.  Whether the Antichrist operates that world system from Rome, Jerusalem, or rebuilt Babylon, we do not know.


  • Please stand in honor of the reading of the word of God. We’ll be studying the entire chapter, but I’ll read just the first couple verses to get us started this morning.


1After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!


  • Pray.




If you have worked with a computer for any length of time then you are familiar with the phrase “System Crash.”  A system crash is what happens when you’re on your computer just going about your business and everything’s going fine until suddenly your computer locks-up or freezes.  Whatever image may be on the monitor is frozen and none of the buttons work.  You can try hitting the keys, or clicking the mouse, but nothing fixes the situation.  Often, if you are working on a document, you may lose all of your information.  A system crash is bad news!  There is nothing you can do except shut the computer down and hope that when it reboots, or restarts, that everything will be okay again.


What we read in chapter 18 this morning is the “System Crash” of Babylon.  People are just going about their business and everything seems fine to them until suddenly the world system locks-up and freezes.  Everything is lost.  And no man can fix the system because God is the one who shuts off the power.


Now our study of chapter 18 applies to us today because while we may not be living in the time period known as the Great Tribulation, we are living in a time where the tug and pull of the world system is strong even in our own day.  As Christians living in a fallen world, we are constantly tempted to become part of the culture around us rather than changing the culture around us.  So chapter 18 teaches us how to avoid getting caught up with the world in which we live.  The question chapter 18 answers for us is how we can avoid a “System Crash,” how we can avoid becoming so enmeshed with the world around us that people can see no difference in our lives.  There are three warnings here in chapter 18.  We must beware of 3 things.  First, we must beware of:


I.  The Seductive Attraction of the World System (1-8)


The world system in which you and I live is seductive.  It is attractive.  If we’re not careful, we can become so integrated in the culture around us that we lose our Christian identity, our Christian influence, and our Christian joy.


In verses 1-8, we read about the coming crash of the world system.


1After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!


The angel speaks to John about the coming destruction of the Babylonian world system.  He speaks as though it has already occurred: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.”  He says that this future world system “has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!”  And why has this world system crashed?


3 “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”


Here again we have this imagery we read about in chapter 17.  Compromising our beliefs in Christ and intermingling with other religions and belief systems is akin to spiritual prostitution.  The Bible says that all the nations and leaders are guilty of “practicing religion in the red-light district.”  Now listen to a message for God’s people:


4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.


A voice speaking for God says, “Come out of her, my people.”  That is, “Don’t share in the sins of the great harlot known as Babylon.  Don’t get enmeshed in the ways of the world.  Come out of her, children of God.”  See how dangerous it is to get caught up with worldly ways:


5 “For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

6 “Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.

7 “In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’

8 “Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.


Look again at verse 4, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’”


The voice from heaven says, “Come out of her, my people,” because it is so easy for God’s people to become part of the world rather than changing the world.  And the danger of becoming part of the world, the Bible says, is to “share in her sins” and “receive of her plagues.”


This is why the biblical imagery is so powerful.  I don’t know any man who would volunteer up front to lose his wife, lose his family, and lose his career over a quick, romantic fling with another woman.  I don’t know any woman who would volunteer up front to lose her husband, or family, or career over a quick, romantic fling with another man.  No one thinking in his or her right mind would ever trade everything they have for a quick, cheap, dirty affair.  But it doesn’t happen that way, does it?  It happens slowly, gradually, over time.  A person starts thinking wrong thoughts, flirting, dreaming, plotting, planning, and then one day, a person finds himself having done something he never ever dreamed he ever would have done and all is lost.


That’s the danger of living in this world.  Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The Living Bible has, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”


It really doesn’t matter how many times you go to church, how many times you’ve read the Bible, how many verses you’ve memorized, how frequently you pray, if you’re allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold.  To what degree you are being seduced by the world?  How much time do you spend doing worldly things and why are you doing those things?  This is not meant to be a rant upon recreational activities, games, sports, parties, and entertainment.  This is just a question for self-examination: How much time do you spend doing worldly things and why are you doing those things?  Is it because they give you a greater satisfaction than the things of God, whether those things are attending the worship services of the church, sharing Jesus with lost people, or reading God’s word?  Could it be that the world is squeezing you into its mold?


Are you more concerned with what your upscale friends and acquaintances think about you than what God thinks about you?  Are you measuring success by the number of awards or achievements you or your kids have earned because that’s what the Jones’s are doing and because that’s what the world deems important?  It may be the world is squeezing you into its mold.  Do you have to weigh a certain weight or dress a certain way or look a certain look because that’s the standard set by the world?  It may be the world is squeezing you into its mold.  Beware of the seductive attraction of the world.  Don’t try to find meaning and contentment in the things that are secondary to the things of God.  Secondly, beware of:


II.  The SelfAbsorption of the World System (9-20)


9 ” The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,

10 “standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’


So here we have world leaders standing at a distance, looking at the destruction of the world system.  The Bible says that they “weep and lament” for her, but it is not a godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  They weep and lament because it means the end of the things they loved for themselves.  They are absorbed with themselves and they are losing all of the stuff that made them happy.  We are reading something of an economic crash to the world system like the stock market has never seen:


11 “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:

12 “merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble;

13 “and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.


That last phrase seems to underscore the depth of depravity in this future world system.  It is so bad that people lament that no one will even buy their “bodies and souls.”  This is a generation of people caught up with themselves.  The Bible continues to speak of the coming crash of this world system:


14 “The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all.

15 “The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 “and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!


Again, I want you to note the self-centered, self-absorption of those living during the time of Tribulation.  They are not mourning because Babylon is destroyed for their sin.  They do not have a sorrow that leads to repentance.  They are more concerned with what they have lost.  It’s all about them, a very me-centered way of living.


I heard about a fellow recently that was so self-absorbed, so caught up with himself, that he asked his girlfriend to return a picture of himself that he had sent her.  She had gone away to South Africa on a year-long training course and he just couldn’t stand not getting all the attention anymore so he sent her a “Dear Jane” letter.  It read:


“Dear Jane, I can no longer continue our relationship.  The distance between us is too great.  I must admit that I have dated twice since you’ve been gone and I just don’t think it’s fair to either one of us.  Please return the picture of me that I sent you.  Love, John.”

Well, Jane was hurt, but she thought of a great way to get back at her self-absorbed former boyfriend.  She asked her friends and colleagues for any snapshots they could spare of their boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, brothers, uncles or cousins.  And she took all of those pictures, near 60 of them, and the picture of her self-absorbed ex-boyfriend, too, and put them all in a big envelope with this note:


“Dear John, I’m sorry, but I can’t quite remember who you are.  Please take your picture from the pile and send the rest back to me.”  That’s one way to deal with self-absorption!


The Bible continues to describe the self-absorbed ways of the people alive during the fall of Babylon, during the coming economic earthquake of the Tribulation:


17 ‘For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance

18 “and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’  19 “They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’

20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”


There is weeping on earth among the unbelievers, but rejoicing in heaven as God has avenged the faithful martyrs for Christ.


What incredible self-absorption!  Here are a people witnessing the destruction of the world system and rather than thinking about the One True God, they can only think of themselves.  They can only think of their material loss of possessions.

What would you do if you lost all your stuff?  How spiritual would you be if you lost your home, or your cars, or other things deeply important to you?  Someone said, “You don’t really know what you have in Jesus until Jesus is all you have.”  Let me say that again: You don’t really know what you have in Jesus until Jesus is all you have.  But when Jesus is all you have, listen: You have everything you need!


Beware of the seductive attraction of the world system, the self-absorption of the world system.  Thirdly, beware of:


III.  The Sudden Annihilation of the World System (21-24)


We’ve already read how quickly the annihilation of this future world system will occur.  The phrases “one day” and “one hour” refer to a quick, sudden judgment.  Verse 8 says, “one day.”  Verse 10 says it will happen in “one hour,” verse 17, “one hour,” verse 19, “one hour.”


The sudden annihilation of the future world system is depicted symbolically in verse 21:


21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.


The sudden annihilation of the world system.  It will happen quickly.  And it will happen completely.  The mighty angel says that Babylon “shall not be found anymore.”  That word “anymore” occurs 6 times in verses 21-23.  It refers to the utter destruction and annihilation that will suddenly befall Babylon, this future world system.


22 “The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.

23 “The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.

24 “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”


The time will come when God turns out the lights and all of those who lived in rebellion and opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ will face the judgment of our returning Lord.


Conclusion / Invitation:


We began our study this morning talking about how a “System Crash” occurs when we’re operating a computer.  As many of you know, there is a delightful feature on many computers known as “System Restore.”  This feature, “System Restore,” allows us to get our computers running the way they were before things got all messed up.  You know, God is kind of working that way with the future world events.  This whole world system will eventually shut down.  The system will crash.  And then God will run a “System Restore.”  The Lord Jesus Christ will return and God will set up a new heaven and a new earth and will restore this world back to the order He designed for it.


And God works that way in your individual life, too.  Because of the fall, because of sin, we’ve all experienced a “System Crash.”  God created us in His own image, but because of sin in our lives, the image is marred.  It’s imperfect.  We do things we shouldn’t, we think things we shouldn’t, and we don’t do the things we should.  How can we get the image of God restored in our lives?  How can we get “up and running” again, the way God wants?  There is only one way and His name is Jesus Christ.  Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we achieve the restoration God has designed for us.  1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  How can we do the will of God?  Only through Jesus Christ.  Only through Christ may we be saved from the effects of sin.

  • Stand for prayer.

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