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CITY OF THE DAMNED; CITY OF THE DEAD -
A SERMON FOR THE X-GENERATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, May 1, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird…Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:2, 4).


Dr. James O. Combs said,

Babylon, first called Babel in Genesis 11, where man instituted the first city, the first humanistic civilization with its attempt to climb up to heaven on a great tower by human effort and skill is more than either the ancient city [of Babylon] or Rome itself. It does mean the final capital of the Antichrist, but there is more. It signifies the city, the system, the civilization of this world, culminating in the anti-Christian philosophy of the end times (James O. Combs, D.Min., Rainbows From Revelation, Tribune Publishers, 1994, p. 197).

Does Babylon speak of Los Angeles? In the sense that Dr. Combs gave, yes it most certainly does. Babylon "signifies the city, the system, the civilization of this world" (ibid.). Yes, these verses do speak, in the larger sense, of Los Angeles. This is a picture of our city. Los Angeles is part of Babylon, and

"Babylon…is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Revelation 18:2).

Judgment has fallen on this city. I think that most young people recognize that intuitively. College-age and high-school-age young people that I have talked with seem to sense that something has gone wrong. They don't quite know what it is, but they sense that something is not right. And no one has expressed that more clearly than Green Day in their Grammy-nominated song, "City of the Damned." This is a song that young people are listening to on the radio all across America. Listen to the words.

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere - city of the damned
Lost children with dirty faces today
No one really seems to care
But it only confirmed that
The center of the earth is the end of the world.
    (Green Day, "City of the Damned," 2004).

And the name of the song is "City of the Damned."

That's what these young people are thinking about. A damned city. The end of the world. The city of the dead. Those are words from this popular punk rock song on the radio. I don't recommend it because it contains some raunchy words, but there's a lot of truth to it. And I think young people see that. Los Angeles

"…is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils"
    (Revelation 18:2).

L.A. is the city of the damned.

And you feel it. You go to a movie and it's a piece of junk. And you're surrounded by hundreds of people, but you still feel alone. You go to a rave or a dance. Everyone gets high on drugs. The music pounds in your head. But you still feel alone. You go home and are sick with a hangover the next day. That's what they call "having a good time" - in the city of the damned. Your family is torn apart. Your parents go in two different directions. Your little brother has his head stuck in a video game. There's nobody to talk to. Nobody cares about you. You're all alone - in the city of the damned. One young person said to me, "There's nothing." What did he mean? He meant that there's nothing, no friends - at least none that last. No home - just a TV - and a TV is no substitute for a home! "There's nothing." That boy was right! There's nothing for young people today - in the city of the damned. Los Angeles is the city of the dead. Los Angeles is the city of the damned.

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere - city of the damned.

Los Angeles

"…is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils…"
    (Revelation 18:2).

I. First, the city has fallen.

Fallen. That means it isn't the way it's supposed to be. But you knew that already, didn't you? I mean, just look at the freeways. I remember when they put them in, between about 1949 and 1963 or 4. I remember before the freeways. But when they put them in it was supposed to make everything easy and modern. No more old-fashioned streets. You could zip quickly from one place to the other - or so they said. But somehow they never got around to putting in any new ones. We have the same old freeways that were built forty to fifty years ago. It's an absolute nightmare at five o'clock every night. At 5:00 PM every night the freeways

"…become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird"
    (Revelation 18:2).

How did that happen? Well, the city has fallen. God said that twice in our text, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen…" (Revelation 18:2). Why does God say it twice? Because, in a sense, it has fallen twice. It fell the first time when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. That brought death to the whole human race. The Bible says,

"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin"
    (Romans 5:12).

That's where sin, and death came from. That's why Los Angeles became the city of the dead, the city of the damned.

But, in a sense, there was a second fall. Los Angeles was once a great center of Christianity and revival. At one time there were several old-time Methodist churches here in downtown L.A. There were great moves of revival. In 1905 people stood for hours on the street in downtown L.A., waiting for Methodist preachers to counsel them concerning salvation. This was an echo of the Welsh revival in Britain. Dr. R. A. Torrey came to downtown Los Angeles and built the great Church of the Open Door, right here on Hope Street, next door to the downtown library, up the street. Even as late as 1949 there were so many Christians in L.A. that Billy Graham held his first crusade here in 1949 - in a tent on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets, about a mile from this church.

What happened? Christians moved out of the city. Evangelism dried up. The churches became cold. The Church of the Open Door and Biola College moved out of the city to the suburbs. Los Angeles died spiritually. The Devil took over. Los Angeles

"…is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Revelation 18:2).

Now Los Angeles is the

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere - city of the damned.

And most young people like you feel it - the aching loneliness of this dying city. Community life is gone. The home is gone. The family unit is divided. Friends disappear after graduation. People don't seem to care about you. You go to a movie. There's a big crowd of people - but you still feel alone. You go to a mall. You're surrounded by hundreds of people - but you still feel alone. You go to a dance or a "rave." Everyone is dancing - but you still feel that loneliness inside. You can't seem to escape the loneliness in the

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere - city of the damned.

Isn't that right? Isn't that the way you feel? You know it! But there is a way out!

II. Second, you must escape from this doomed city.

Look again at verse four.

"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people…" (Revelation 18:4).

God says, "Come out of Babylon. Come out of this city. Come out of her, my people."

Now, that doesn't mean you should literally leave the city physically. You can't do that. No matter how far away you travel, you really can't escape from L.A. physically. The tentacles of the city stretch out to suck you in no matter how far away you go. You could move way out to Colorado - but the tentacles of L.A. will reach you - and pull you in, and destroy you. Like the tentacles of a monstrous octopus, the tentacles of L.A. will reach out to you, grab you, and pull you under. The tentacles of video, and movies, and drugs, and loneliness, and sin, reach far out from Hollywood and Vine - to the ends of the earth. You can't escape L.A. by running away!

When I was a small boy my mother took me away from it to Arizona for a few years. But L.A. reached out to pull us back. We couldn't escape from the city of the damned, the city of the dead. After we were pulled back here, I dreamed of escaping back to Arizona, or Texas, or some better place than this dirty, dark and lonely Hell-hole of a city.

But then I became a Christian. Christ flooded my life with hope and joy. I didn't need to run away from the city. The city of the dead and the damned became for me the city of God! Then I knew what God meant when He said, "Come out of her, my people" (Revelation 18:4). God meant that I should cut off my allegiance to the world and come inwardly to Christ. That's what He meant when He said, "Come out of her, my people"!

That's what Jesus meant when He said,

"I have chosen you out of the world" (John 15:19).

What did He mean? He explained it when He said,

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (John 17:15).

And then Christ said,

"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

Christ draws us out of the world. He draws us to Himself, away from the city of the damned. We are no longer citizens of Los Angeles. Our citizenship is in Heaven with Christ! But then Christ sends us back - to the city of the damned to rescue others. Christ said to God,

"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

And that's why we went out to the colleges and malls, and streets and invited you to come to church this morning. Christ sent us out onto the streets of the city of the damned to bring you into the warmth and happiness of this local church. We went out to rescue you from the city of the dead. Christ said to us,

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

And we did exactly what Christ told us to do. We went out to the city of the damned and brought you in to this house of God. And we're glad you came! You are our honored guests! Young people, thank you for coming to God's house here in this local church this morning! And our message to you is this - Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Christ will save you! We will love you and be the best friends you ever had! We will tell you about Jesus - how He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins - how He rose physically from the dead and ascended bodily back to Heaven - how He can save your soul from the punishment of sin - how you can be born again!

That's our message to you! Don't stay lost in the

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere - city of the damned.

Don't stay messed up and lonely in the city of the dead and the damned!

"Come out of her, my people" (Revelation 18:4).

Come home - to church! Come home - to Christ. Find the love and friendship you have missed right here on Hope Street. There's hope here on Hope Street! Right here in this local, New Testament Baptist church! Come on home next Sunday for more friendship and heart-warming fellowship. We want to be your friends. We want you help you find Christ and a better way of life! Come home to church tonight! Come home to church next Sunday! Amen.

Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home!
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home.
   ("Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" by Will H. Thompson, 1847-1909).

Let's stand and sing that chorus, good and loud. It's the last song on the song sheet, number 7. Sing the chorus good and loud.

Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home!
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home.


(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 17:15-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" (by Will H. Thompson, 1847-1909).



THE OUTLINE OF

CITY OF THE DAMNED; CITY OF THE DEAD -
A SERMON FOR THE X-GENERATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird…Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:2, 4).

I.   First, the city has fallen, Revelation 18:2; Romans 5:12.

II.  Second, you must escape from this doomed city, Revelation 18:4;
John 15:19; 17:15, 18; Luke 14:23.