BABYLON…COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE. We need this timely warning that the infamous biblical Babylon and her expansive walls still exists. We Christians are literally surrounded by her idols and mindset. Given the call of the Almighty to "Come out of her, my people!", will we listen and repent?
Babylon is referenced 280 times from Genesis to Revelation. The first use of the name was a city founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, the 3rd generation of descendants from the survivors of the flood. That means the first Babylonians were all from the same family and had first-hand accounts of God's strength and might. No doubt they worshipped and identified with God on an intimacy level we can only imagine. But over and over again, people in the Bible reasoned to do things they thought would honor God, but they ended up disobeying Him in the process.
Most likely the Tower of Babel was to be a special place of worshipping God to keep people together, rather than filling the earth like God commanded in Genesis 9:1. Indeed, Genesis 11: 4 reveals they were driven by two fundamental human concerns we still have in common with them to this very day: pride, revealed in their human desire to “make a name for ourselves”, and fear that they would end up "scattered over the whole earth".
Over centuries, Babylon became a powerful city/state, and later the capital city and namesake for one of the most powerful nations in history. Babylon is remembered for the self-aggrandizing Tower of Babylon (possibly the biblical location of the Tower of Babel), the opulent Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), and its immortalized rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, said to have built an 11-mile defensive wall outside the city, wide enough on top for chariots driven by four horses to pass each other. The civilization was so advanced that more than a thousand years before Galileo, considered the father of modern astronomy, astronomers in Babylon were using pre-calculus to track the movement of the planet Jupiter, which they revered as a god.
It's a God-thing that after Jerusalem fell, God's chosen people were exiled back to the very place their ancestors feared leaving-- Babylon. Could it be that God was going to continue to teach them a much-needed lesson about the pitfalls of their pride and fear? Could it be the very same lesson we need to learn today?
The biblical list of those captured and sent to the nation of Babylon, or were later born there while in exile, reads like the “Who’s Who” of the Old Testament. Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah were part of the Babylonian diaspora of Judah. Esther and Mordecai, as well as Nehemiah and Ezra, lived there.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were also exiled there as young men. They were given Babylonian identities. "… unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego."
Then they were appointed to high offices under the king. Their assimilation into foreign culture was gradual and comfortable for a time. To show their allegiance, the king commanded all his officials to bow down to an idol of himself. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Miraculously, they were preserved from the flames, and the king saw four men walking in the flames, "the fourth ... like a son of God".
The king’s response in Daniel 3:28-30 says it all. "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.’ Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”
So, we can see here that being in Babylon, with all its idols, was not really a problem but an opportunity to bring glory to God that might never have happened under any other circumstances.
In fact, if we look at this closely, we will see that God's point all along was NOT that they thrived in their lives, but that they never veered from their sole allegiance to the Almighty, no matter what government ruled over them and demanded.
Amidst it all, the exiled prophet Zechariah is interrupting mankind's 21st century plans with the same stern warning from the Almighty he delivered to Judah twenty-six centuries ago. He begins by noting the date on the Hebrew calendar. “On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet:” Zechariah 1:7.
The evening of January 26 on our 2022 Gregorian calendar begins the 24th day of Shebat on God's ancient calendar. It was about that time that Zechariah began to receive eight visions from God concerning the future of His chosen people, and their return to Jerusalem. It’s impossible to read these chapters in Zechariah without seeing them as promises from God for all His people, for all time. We can see that Israel, and Babylon, indeed all nations, fit into the scope of these visions. “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world…'Go throughout the earth!'” Zechariah 6:5, 7b.
In our last lesson, we received God's wisdom through Zechariah’s third vision in chapter 2. This is the only vision given to His people which appears to prepare them for the Lord’s final coming. His vision of the surveyor with a measuring line attempting to measure New Jerusalem, gives keen insight into how little we understand the Lord's plans, and how bent with pride we are to accomplish things our way. "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’" Zechariah 2:4-5. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/4779881475425337
The vision ends with these commanding prophetic words in 2:7-9 “'Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!' For this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.'"
In Revelation 18, Babylon is identified as an adulteress, making those connected with her whoring ways rich in things of the world. As we take in this sickening scenario, remember that an adulteress always has a bridegroom. Can't she be a Bride to her Bridegroom and still participate in the satisfying agenda of the world? “‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins'...Woe! Woe! O great city. O Babylon, city of power! In one hour, your doom has come.”
Is it possible that the mindset or "offspring", called "daughter" of Babylon in our focal scripture passage, is alive and well today? Remember the Tower of Babel and the 3rd generation of God-worshippers from Noah, driven by pride and fear? “Come, let us build…Let us reach to heaven.”
And how did God address these pride-filled, fearful, Babylonian worshippers? He confounded their unified understanding through their language. Today, there are 41,000 denominations and organizations in the world which claim to be Christian churches, but each one seems to be speaking a different language. Could the confounding of our denominations be God’s way of exposing our idolatrous religious aspirations to reach heaven, above our worship of Him, alone? Do we 21st century Christians have the same sinful bent to “make a name for ourselves”, and fear that we will end up "scattered over the whole earth”?
Centuries later, even though God called His chosen people out of their physical and spiritual temporary place of Babylonian exile, they had become so comfortable, they didn't want to leave, even if it meant returning to Jerusalem itself.
We desperately need this timely warning that the infamous biblical Babylon and her expansive wall still exists today. We Christians are literally surrounded by her idols and mindset, and have been influenced by her self-serving ways to the point that we have become intoxicated with her.
Jeremiah 51:7 gives a description of Babylon with seems to fit our current world situation with amazing accuracy. ‘Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.’
“BABYLON...COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE!”