The Woeful Story of the World System

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: World System; Worldliness;

The woeful story of the world system began thousands of years ago (Genesis 10-11), but let me hasten to say it will come to an end (Revelation 17-19). Dr. Charles R. Swindoll explains, “The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: ‘If it feels good, do it.’ The world is ruthless and relentless as it works overtime to communicate this fortune-fame-power-pleasure syndrome.”1

The woeful story of the world system is in three parts.

I. First, note the birth of the world system.

The Book of Genesis is known as “the seed plot of the Bible.” If you deny the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, you will miss the origin of the world system.  The birth of a nation in this case is also is the birth of a notion. Babylon is synonymous with the world system. The world system is an ideology proposed and promoted by Nimrod. Genesis 10:8-11 reads, “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.’ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah.” 1 Chronicles 1:8-10 reads, “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabtecha. The sons of Raama were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth.” Micah 5:6 reads, “They shall waste with the sword the land of Assyria, And the land of Nimrod at its entrances; Thus He shall deliver us from the Assyrian, When he comes into our land And when he treads within our borders.”

A. Note its contempt for God.

Historian, Flavius Josephus (37-100), explains, “Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God.”2 Nimrod rebelliously refused to give God the respect and reverence due to Him. Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) warns, “God will not honor that man who retains honor for himself.”3 Dr. Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) preached a sermon titled, “Nimrod” and in another place shared the following:

“His name is Nimrod, It means ‘the rebel,’ and is evidently meant to designate the nature of the man. He was the first specimen of giant tyranny after the flood. His Defiance of Jehovah was perpetrated in wickedness and ambition under the very eye of Jehovah. Nimrod’s assumptions were religious as well as political. Nimrod presented himself not only for obedience but also for worship. His awful greatness was of ambitious rebellion, apostasy and defiance of Jehovah. And as it was Babel that was the beginning of his empire, so is ‘Babylon the great’ its consummation and close.”4

B. Note its conflict with God.

John William Bramhall (1899-2001)5 explains, “The world system under Satan is building its civilization without God.”6 Remember Satan is “. . . the god of this age. . .” [or the god of this world system] (2 Corinthians 4:4). James 4:4 reads, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Harry Lancaster explains, “As the people increased in number, the Way of Jehovah was corrupted and a principal figure in those days was Nimrod, the grandson of Ham described as a mighty hunter before Jehovah. The word ‘before’ used in this sense means, ‘totally antagonistic to Jehovah.’”7

C. Note its confederacy against God.

Genesis 11:1-11 reads, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” Steven R. Cook explains, “It is the epitome of worldliness to have discussions and devise plans which exclude God, and then use His resources independently of His wishes. This is what happened at the Tower of Babel, in which godless men used divinely given language and earthly material to build a tower to heaven in order to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:1-9). Those who built the Tower of Babel were intelligent, religious, and hardworking, but they excluded God from their plans and operated against His will, so God disrupted their activities by confusing their language.”8

Dr. Lehman Strauss (1911-1997) writes, “Babylon was founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:8-10). Surviving a series of conflicts, it became one of the most magnificent and luxurious cities in the known world. Superbly constructed, it spread over an area of fifteen square miles, the Euphrates River flowing diagonally across the city. The famous historian Herodotus said the city was surrounded by a wall 350 feet high and 87 feet thick, wide enough for six chariots to drive abreast. Around the top of the wall were 250 watchtowers placed in strategic locations. Outside the huge wall was a large ditch, or moat, which surrounded the city and was kept filled with water from the Euphrates River. The large ditch was meant to serve as an additional protection against attacking enemies, for any attacking army would have to cross this body of water first before approaching the great wall. The cost of constructing this military defense was estimated to be in excess of one billion dollars. When we consider the value of a billion dollars in those days, plus the fact that it was all built with slave labor, one can imagine something of the wonder and magnificence of this famous city.”9

II. Second, note the life of the world system.

Babylon which represents the world system reached its zenith under Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 1:1 reads, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” Now fast forward to Daniel 4:28-33, “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’ While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.’ That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” After Nebuchadnezzar praises the King of heaven his throne is given to Belshazzar, his son. Thus marking the end of the Babylonian kingdom. In fact, we do not read about it in Scripture until we come to Isaiah chapter 13. Isaiah 13:19-22 reads, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, And wild goats will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, And jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, And her days will not be prolonged.”

A. Note its approach to God.

The world system involves pagan worship, ecumenical unity, and mystery religion. There is no record in Scripture of idol worship before the Flood. Joshua 24:2 reads, “And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.’” Abraham’s father, Terah, served other gods. Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, was an idolater. Genesis 31:19 reads, “Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father’s.” The practice of idolatry can be traced to the days of Nimrod (Genesis 10-11). Babylon is the source of false religion. Dr. John F. Walvoord (1910-2002) explains, “Nimrod, who founded Babylon (Gen. 10:8-12), had a wife known as Semiramis who founded the secret religious rites of the Babylonian mysteries, according to accounts outside the Bible. Semiramis had a son with an alleged miraculous conception who was given the name Tammuz and in effect was a false fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman given to Eve (Gen. 3:15).

Various religious practices were observed in connection with this false Babylonian religion, including recognition of the mother and child as God and of creating an order of virgins who became religious prostitutes. Tammuz, according to the tradition, was killed by a wild animal and then restored to life, a satanic anticipation and counterfeit of Christ's resurrection. Scripture condemns this false religion repeatedly (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19, 25; Ezek. 8:14). The worship of Baal is related to the worship of Tammuz.”10

Looking back through the years Paul writes in Romans 1:18-25, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Referring to Revelation 16-18, Dr. Ray C. Stedman (1917-1992) writes, “If you read this passage carefully, you will see that this mystery Babylon is not any one system, institution, or denomination but rather an attitude that permeates the entire church. Whenever you find anyone acting religiously, trying to gain political power or authority, you have mystery Babylon, and it is found in all churches.”11

Someone said, “When the church feels it must become like the world to reach the world, we have not won the world, the world has won us.” Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) laments, “Christianity is so entangled with the world that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere. The world is whitewashed just enough to pass inspection by blind men posing as believers, and those same believers are everlastingly seeking to gain acceptance with the world. By mutual concessions men who call themselves Christians manage to get on with men who have for the things of God nothing but quiet contempt.”12

B. Note its approach to gold.

The world system involves phenomenal wealth, economic prosperity, and mercenary revenue. Do you remember the lyrics of that old song, “I’ve sold my soul to the company store”? Babylon and the world system prostitutes moral values for material gain.  Romans 12:1-2 reads, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

C. Note its approach to government.

The world system involves political wickedness, eccentric authority, and monarchical regency. Nimrod is known as “the first politician.” Revelation 14:8 reads, “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’” Revelation 16:18-19 reads, “And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.”

God used Babylon to cause Israel to put away her idols. The Babylonian Captivity was a time of God’s chastening of His people Israel. Psalm 137 provides a glimpse into the heart of an Israelite during this time.

III. Third, note the death of the world system.

A. There is the world system and the reality of its fall

Revelation 18:1-8 reads, “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 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! 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.’ 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. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 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. 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.’ 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.”

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “Christians in every age have had to heed the warning of 1 John 2:15-17. How easy it is to become fascinated by the things the world has to offer. Like a person taking a sip of wine, we can soon find ourselves drinking deeply and then wanting more. The world system that opposes Christ has always been with us, and we must beware of its subtle influence.

The world system satisfies the desires of the earth-dwellers who follow ‘the beast’ and reject the Lamb. But worldly things never permanently satisfy or last. The love of pleasures and possessions is but an insidious form of idolatry, demonic in its origin and destructive in its outcome.”13 Colossians 2:8-10 reads, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

B. There is the world system and the reaction to its fall

Revelation 18:9-20 and 19:1-10 reveals the reaction from earth and the reaction from heaven. 

1. Note the woe on earth—“Alas”! Revelation 18:9-20 reads, “‘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, 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.’ ‘And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 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; 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. 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. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 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! 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 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’ ‘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.’ ‘Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!’”

2. Note the worship in heaven— “Alleluia”! Revelation 19:1-10 reads, “After these things I heard] a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.’ Again they said, ‘Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen! Alleluia!’ Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!’ And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’ And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”

C. There is the world system and the readiness for its fall

Revelation 18:21-24 reads, “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 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. 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. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.’”

Note the parallel between Jeremiah 50-51 and Revelation 17 and 18. Jeremiah 51:48-49 reads, “‘Then the heavens and the earth and all that is in them Shall sing joyously over Babylon; For the plunderers shall come to her from the north,’ says the LORD. As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, So at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall.” And now you know the rest of the woeful story of the world system! Time now to choose.


Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “Slowly but inevitably, and perhaps sooner than even Christians think, the world is passing away; but the man who does God’s will abides forever. Long after this world system, with its vaunted culture, its proud philosophies, its egocentric intellectualism, and its godless materialism, has been forgotten, and long after this planet has been replaced by the new heavens and the new earth, God's faithful servants will remain—sharing the glory of God for all eternity.”14 Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) writes, “The sooner we recognize that the world system is not only unchristian and non- Christian, but thoroughly antichristian, the sooner we will take shelter in our Lord Jesus Christ.”15 Dr. Olford warns, “. . . as we live our lives here on earth, we are not obliged to look to the world system around us for direction or demands regarding how or why we should behave. We have an inerrant body of truth for ‘all matter of faith and practice’ in the Word of God. The Bible may have been banned from our schools, our homes, and even some of our pulpits today, but, thank God, not from its availability to any one who wants to know the truth.”16

Recently, I found the following unattributed clipping:

                                                 Two Kinds of Churches

Discerning Church                                      Undiscerning Church

Preaches the Word                                     Entertains the World

Seeks the Approval of God                        Seeks Praises of Men

Goal-Make Disciples                                 Goal-New Members

Addresses Spiritual Needs                        Appeals to Felt Needs

Spirit-led                                                   Man-Centered

Pursues Holiness                                    Seeks Happiness

Set Apart by Truth                                   Inclusive & Tolerant17

Beware of making an alliance with the world system and beware of holding an allegiance to the world system. Do you need to come out of the world system? What are you waiting for? What are you living for?

One day we will see the end of the woeful story of the world system.


1Charles R. Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1989), 219.

2The Works of Flavius Josephus , Book 1, Section 2, Page 46. WORDsearch Corp.

3Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Thorn in the Flesh” Sermon Notes (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

4Horatius Bonar, “Nimrod” Accessed: .

5John W. Bramhall (1899-2001) Accessed: 08/15/16 .

6J. W. Bramhall, Studies in Revelation, #13 (Revelation 18:1-19:4).

7Harry Lancaster, The Ensign Trust, Vol. 1. No.2 – June 1999 “Narrow Is the Way” Accessed: 08/17/16 .

8Steven R. Cook, The Christian Life: A Study of Biblical Spirituality (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2012), 130-131.

9Lehman Strauss, The Prophecies of Daniel (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1969), 147. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

10The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: New Testament Edition, eds., John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck “Revelation” John F. Walvoord (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), 970.

11Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring Through The Bible: A Comprehensive Guide To The Entire Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1997), 791.

12A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1950), 111.   

13Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 2, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing, 2002), 614. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

14Warren W. Wiersbe, Pause for Power: A Year in the Word (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1998), 179. Database © 2006, WORDsearch Corp.

15Stephen F. Olford, Expository Preaching Outlines – Volume 4, Week 12 “Guarded by God” Sermon Notes (1 Peter 1:1-9). Database © 2014 WORDsearch Corp.

16Stephen F. Olford, A Time for Truth: A Study of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publications, 1999), XVI. Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

17“Two Kinds of Churches” Author Unknown.

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /  / (251) 626-6210

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