Come Out!

Revelation 18 forecasts the final fatal fall of an end time “Babylon.”

There have been many attempts to identify the nation, city, or system that Babylon represents. It is likely best to understand it as a reference to the entire last days world-system united under the reign of antichrist. Revelation 18 casts it as a sophisticated demonstration of consummate evil. It is what the rebellion started by Adam back in Eden finally morphs into; a last alliance of Satan and rebel-humamity.

Since nations have capitals, it is possible when judgment falls on the Babylon of Revelation 18, a specific city or region bears the brunt of God’s wrath. Verses 9-13 and 16-21 hint at that. But the rest of the passage suggests we regard Babylon as the final form of the rebellious world-system that has ever been the antithesis of God’s plan and the nemesis of His people.

The Apostle John describes this Babylon as a global commercial and cultural powerhouse, something that has shaped the thinking and habits of the entire world. Its fall prompts great celebration in heaven. It is with special interest we read verse four, “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.’”

God clarifies what He means by “coming out” of Babylon. It isn’t a physical distancing. If judgment falls on Los Angeles, it doesn’t mean moving to Phoenix. By “coming out” God means a moral and spiritual departure, so that we do not indulge in Babylon’s sin. It is a call to step out of all that makes Babylon, Babylon-ish and the object of God’s righteous wrath.

Having been saved from wrath by the blood of Christ, we ought to set ourselves apart practically and experientially from all that which Christ died for. This setting apart from sin to God is the essence of the call to be holy.

If you are invited to a feast in a rich person’s home, your attire ought to be appropriate to the occassion. Let’s say on the way there, you trip and fall into a muddy bog. You are now unfit to enter the house. But, along comes the rich man’s son who knows you’ve been invited and still wants you to attend. So he arranges a bath and provides you a new set of clothes. Are you going to walk back to the bog and hop in or make it a special point to steer clear? Of course, you are going to avoid the mud. Indeed, it is likely you will be cautious of other perils on the way to the feast.

God has invited us to the glory of eternity in heaven. On the way there, all of us fall into a muddy bog called sin. It ruined us. Jesus came to wash and make us fit for heaven. How foolish it would be to go back to the mud.

Revelations 18’s Babylon is the supreme muddy bog, the “mother of all mud-fests.” So, God tells his people to steer clear.

When? At what point in time are God’s people to “Come out of her, my people?” The context of the passage suggests the end of the Tribulation when the End Time World System is about to go down in flames, literally. The command applies to end time believers, Tribulation saints, those who come to faith in Christ after the Rapture of the Church. The primary application of the call is certainly to them. But the Babylon of Revelation 18 is just the final form of a system already well underway, a system we already witness coming together in its ultimate shape. The command to “come out” of it applies to us as well.

How do we come out of Babylon? What does it mean for us to depart it?

We find insight in the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah. Decades before their time, Babylon conquered Judah, leaving Jerusalem in ruins, and carrying God’s people into captivity. When the Persians conquered Babylon, they reversed the Babylonian policy of exile and allowed people to return to their native lands. Ezra and Nehemiah led returns from exile to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.

A loose parallel may be drawn to the modern church. While the world hasn’t conquered the church, it certainly seems to have carried God’s people away captive. That captivity is cultural rather than geographical. Some aspects of the modern Church appear more characterized by Babylon than Jerusalem.

Imagine with me what we’ll call “the Evangelical mind,” a prevailing worldview that shapes the values and priorities of the average church-going adult. Is that Evangelical mind shaped more by God’s Word or the World? While Evangelicals line up in more conservative positions on issues like abortion and LGBTQ+, what about things like their ideas on success, entertainment, honesty, integrity, loyalty. Some issues that used to be as clear and out of bounds as abortion and same-sex marriage have shifted into a “debatable” category; i.e. pornography and marijuana. God’s Word has not changed in its counsel on all these areas. But Evangelicals have because the culture has moved. It is evidence the modern Evangelical mind is far more influenced by the culture than Scripture; by Babylon than the Bible.

When Zerubbabel and Ezra led the first two returns from Babylon to Jerusalem, far more Jews remained in Babylon than made the trip. Those who stayed helped support those making the return. But they could not be bothered to uproot their now comfortable lives in the land of exile. Judah is where they belonged. They were called out of Babylon. But they stayed, cozy in captivity.

Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem with a vision to restore the city from Babylon’s ruin. It was a difficult task, and the challenges were hard. But eventually, the rubble was cleared, and the City rose from the ashes. Nehemiah is a type, a picture of the Holy Spirit. You may be interested to learn his name means, “Comfort of Yahweh” a name that suggests what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 15:26.

Our Nehemiah, the Holy Spirit, comes to us with a vision to restore us into the image of Christ, from the rubble of our rebellion and sin. We ought to partner with the Spirit in that work. Let’s heed God’s call, not to “GO out,” but to “Come out” of Babylon, TO Him.

1 thought on “Come Out!”

  1. I enjoyed the “Post” and have taught much of what was expressed here. I think that you are right on the mark, as a CC pastor I am concerned for the church. Standing on the Transforming Word of God.

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