In the middle of a vision showing the destruction of the antichrists capital city, John hears a voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.... The voice obviously belongs to God and while His words are first of all addressed to believers living in the final days of tribulation, they apply just as certainly to believers living in any generation, including our own. The message is clear: Here is where the worlds system ends up... hostile to God and justly punished for its evil deeds, so dont live by the standards of the world around you or youll receive the same judgment. But this warning, as clear as it is, still leaves us with a lot of questions. Does God want us to physically pack up and move into isolated religious communities? Or, if were to remain in the middle of society, what parts of it must we leave? And since theres no rule book telling us exactly what we can and cant do for each culture on earth well need principles to guide us decision by decisionbecause coming out of Babylon is really a process of numerous decisions made each day. As we make these decisions well find it takes much courage and determination to stay out of Babylon for a lifetime.
A. Overview of Chapters 17 and 18
The kings and merchants of the earth will love the antichrists kingdom because it will prosper them economically, but here is how his capital city looks to God:
1) (17:1-5) It is a prostitute who has stolen the hearts of billions of people away from God.
2) (17:5-7) It is the final expression of an ancient spirit (Babylon) which has manifested itself numerous times over the course of history.
3) (17:8-13) The antichrist will be a reincarnation (in person or in spirit; Mt 17:10-12) of one of the first five antichrists. His world-wide empire will center around a ten-nation confederacy which will be the seventh and final major manifestation of the antichrist spirit as recorded in the Bible.
Nimrod (Ge 10:8-12; 11:1-9)
Babylon (Da 7:4)
Medo/Persia (Da 7:5)
Greece (Da 7:6; 8:1-27)
Antiochus Epiphanes (Da 11:21-45)
Rome (Da 9:26, the people of the prince who is to come...)
A reincarnation of one of the previous kings (Da 9:26, the prince who is to come): a different human (an eighth); same spirit (one of the seven)
4) (17:14) A systematic genocide will culminate in a religious war against Jesus and His followers.
5) (17:16, 17) After the wine press (Rev 14:20) at Meggido (Rev 16:16-21) which follows an attack on Jerusalem (Joel 3:1-17; Zec 14:1-15) God will cause the antichrists armies to attack each other (Eze 38:21; Hag 2:22; Zec 14:13) including mercilessly destroying their own capital city.
6) (18:4-8) The world system which will culminate in the antichrists empire is doomed. Realizing this, believers should separate themselves from the world so they wont be judged along with it. They must stay loyal to Christ regardless of the persecution which may result.
7) (18:9-19) The destruction of the antichrists government will devastate the worlds economy. The antichrist will bring great prosperity to the earth. Kings and merchants will grieve its fall.
8) (18:20-19:5) But the violent destruction of this empire is cause for rejoicing among Gods people because it is the justice due them for the genocide they have experienced.
B. What does Jesus mean when He tells us to come out of the world?
1) (Jn 15:18) There is a world system which doesnt know God, hates Jesus and will hate His followers
2) (Jn 17:14-16) We are not called to isolate ourselves from society, but to live as missionaries in the world.
3) (1Jn 2:15-17) We must be careful with what we love (craving, coveting, competing)
C. How do we live in a culture without being absorbed by it?
Every culture has good things, reasonably harmless things and evil things in it. Discerning which is the first and foremost step. Then comes a lifetime of daily decisions to not follow the evil of that culture but be conformed to heavens culture.
1) We become confirmed to heavens culture by reading the Bible, worshipping and listening to the Spirit.
When I read the Bible, everyday matters look different to me (Ro 12:2).
When I worship, the Spirit tests my heart and calls me to surrender over and over again (Ro 12:1).
When I sin (or am about to sin) the Holy Spirit grieves within me (Eph 4:30).
2) We maintain an eternal perspective on life.
The Lord teaches me to number my days that I may present to Him a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:12; Php 3:12-14).
I remember that nothing I do or think is hidden from the Lord (Ps 139:1-6).
I remember that when this world ends I will be judged by Jesus Christ not the trend-setters in our culture (2Co 5:10).
I keep my eyes on the prize (Php 3:12-14) by allowing the Holy Spirit to remind me over and over again.
3) We regularly invest in our personal and spiritual health realizing we must stay awake and not be absorbed by the culture in which we live.
I am a missionary in a foreign culture (Abraham, He 11:9).
Im in a long distance race (cross country, Tour de France) so I must build into my life routines which refresh my body, mind and spirit for a lifetime.
4) We determine to hear Gods plan for each stage of our lives.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord... (Ps 37:23).
Where there is no vision (prophetic revelation) the people are unrestrained (Pr 29:18).
Understanding the purpose of where I am and what I am doing changes my attitude dramatically. I can endure much hardship and temptation when I understand why.
Coming out of Babylon is like running a marathon race. It requires a lifetime of daily chores. How is this possible? It doesnt happen by accident. It takes wisdom and courage. But because God is with us we can run and not grow weary, we can walk and not faint... (Isa 40:31).
1) Name one thing you do differently from the culture around you because youre a Christian (e.g. way you dress, movies youll see, parties youll attend, way you vote, where you give money...).
2) In 1John 2:16 John defines the world as the lust of the flesh (craving), the lust of the eyes (coveting) and the boastful pride of life (competing, comparing). Describe an area where the world has tried to draw you into its culture. How did you find victory over this temptation?