Contemplating Babylon

Understanding Scripture

Having one’s own copy of the Bible is a wonderful privilege. But, like a gun, this amazing book can either be a source of life or an effective tool for damnation.  The Apostle Peter stated that some “wrest” the scriptures unto their own destruction.  (2 Pet. 3:16).  In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he mentions the negative effects of scriptural misinterpretation, showing that false preaching (vain babblings) undermines one’s faith and hinders spiritual growth.  (2 Tim. 2:16-19).  The Lord Jesus also emphatically declared that false doctrines void one’s worship and service to God.  He said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9).

Seeing that correct interpretation of scripture is of such great importance, one can conclude that a billion copies of the Bible are of no value if there is no one capable of proper interpretation.  Scripture informs us that, “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  (2 Pet. 1:21).  It is necessary to understand that since the Holy Ghost inspired men to formulate scripture, the Holy Ghost must assist men to decipher that which was written.

Also, the problems arising from translation should not be ignored.  We must bear in mind that our Lord’s original words were not English, and scholars translating scripture will slant their translation to justify their doctrinal persuasions.

I am often appalled at the presumption of preachers who capitalize on a knowledge of Greek in order to impress their congregations.  Isn’t it strange that the learned men in the days of Christ heard original words in its most original form uttered by the Lord, and yet failed to comprehend them because of the blindness of their hearts?  With this in mind, why would we so adamantly pursue interpretation of scripture only from a scholarly approach?  I think all interpretation of scripture should be pursued cautiously and with absolute dependence on the Holy Ghost as it guides us into truth.  False doctrines, disunity and ungodliness are results of satanic influences on man’s carnal mind.

God’s purpose for scripture is not for mere education but  to inspire godly lifestyle.  Biblical history and scriptural precepts are given to us as a challenge to godliness.  However, if holiness would be attained in our day, more is required than that which is contained in the written word.  As in the past, we, the Church of the 21st Century, need fresh manna from the Holy Ghost.  God must inspire men today, as He did in the past, to recognize the evils of this present world and then offer to His people a way of escape.  He does not expect us to live in the past but rather relate to the crisis at hand.

Scripture (the written word) provides a good foundation to stand on and great guidelines for protection, but again, I must emphasize the need for fresh Holy Ghost inspiration to enhance godly living in our day.

When a prophet of the Old Testament or an apostle of the New Testament  turned up in a city, it was not to run Bible programs or analyze sermons.  They were sent of God and had current messages for the people.  Such messages were described as the word of God and were always fresh, addressing the issues at hand.  The author of Hebrews wrote, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

Having considered all of the aforementioned thoughts, I wish to draw attention to the fact that whenever we read scripture or listen to the preached word, it would be in our best spiritual interest to examine our lives against what is presented and then make appropriate changes.   This principle of self-examination must be applied to the majority of biblical subjects in order to enhance spiritual growth.  It is amazing how we in the Body of Christ can quickly evade personal guilt by mentally redirecting godly admonitions to those outside our religious borders.  It would be sad if our process of sanctification and cleansing is impeded by a simple misconception of scripture.

With all of these thoughts in mind, I will briefly examine the concept of Babylon and endeavour to speculate on how much it involves us — God’s people, the Body of Christ.

Points to Ponder

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4).   This particular scripture emphasizes a call from God out of Heaven asking His people to come out of Babylon.   They were to refrain from partaking of her sins so as to avoid receiving of her plagues.

The questions to ask are:

  • Who makes the call: God or the Church?
  • Who are God’s people according to the entire volume of scripture?
  • Is Babylon a building, a movement or a spirit, and is there any difference between Babylon and the world?
  • Are we already partaking of her sins and, if not, why are we receiving of her plagues?
  • Is coming out of Babylon an instant action or  a continuous process?

I will endeavour to contemplate on these questions with a clear mind and an open heart, hoping that God will give us light to effect a righteous sanctification among us.

A Voice From Heaven?

For years I felt it was my responsibility to influence everyone outside of our fellowship to come out of Babylon and come on into the Body of Christ.  This mindset psychologically made me think that I was completely out of Babylon.  As a result, no personal examination was pursued on my part.  I was convinced that physically separating myself from apostate Christianity was all that was necessary to put me in the Body of Christ, separate from Babylon.

However, the scriptural type showed otherwise.  Israel’s journey out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and then into the Promised Land is a type of the Church.  The 40-year wilderness experience was intended to effect a cleansing process of God’s people.  Though they exited Egypt in a single day, it took forty years to get the spirit of Egypt out of their hearts.  Physically they were out, but spiritually they were enslaved to the Egyptian thought pattern.

Similarly, we in the Body of Christ should understand that, though we have left Babylon physically, there is still much of Babylon’s thought pattern left in us.  This will bring the judgment of God on us.

As I read Revelation 18:4, I am very much convinced that the “voice from heaven” mentioned in this verse is a plea or admonition from God telling His people to come out from under the influence of apostate religion as well as commercial and political bondage.  The call is made sometime in the future, just prior to the collapse of commerce and is not given to the Church to preach but rather for personal examination.  God admonishes His people to come out from under the influence of Babylon.

God’s People?

The entire volume of scripture refers to the core or heartbeat of the work of God as ‘God’s people’.

2 Chronicles 7:14, a popular verse among Christians states, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven…”  It should be noted that every passage of scripture such as Exodus 3:10, Isaiah 1:3, Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 5:31, Jeremiah 7:12, where the term “my people” is mentioned, always refers to the work of God.

Babylon & the World?

Though Babylon and the spirit associated with it have their origin in the Old Testament, in our day there is little difference between Babylon and world.  The spirit of the age is the spirit of Babylon, represented by an amalgamation of commerce, religion and everything that encircles civil government.   God desires His people not only to be freed from the entanglements of false religion, but also from the clutches of political and commercial Babylon.

Sins & Plagues of Babylon?

An ungodly society constantly comes under the judgment of God, for sin brings sickness, plagues and death.  Scripture is clear about the fact that partakers of  Babylon’s sins will be inheritors of the plagues associated with God’s judgment against her.  The question is: Are we the children of God spared from the diseases inflicted on society by the justice of God?  Or do we sit under the same affliction of the ungodly?  It may very well be that we are partaking of her sins, and as a result, receive of her plagues.  The reality of our afflictions is evidence of our true spiritual standing and bears greater testimony than any verbal claims of sanctification.

Coming Out?

Accepting Christ at an altar and leaving the past behind may be done instantly, but being cleansed from the deep inward workings of sin and the world takes time.  Scripture describes this process as sanctification, and for every child of God it takes a lifetime to complete this process.  The purpose of the ministry is to present to Christ a pure and glorious church.  This takes a continuous process of separation and cleansing.  It would be sad if we fail to comprehend God’s call to us to come out of Babylon simply because we are too busy redirecting His call to others, being convinced that we are already out.