Come Out of Babylon! – An urgent message to the Church today

Scriptures: Jeremiah 11 v 1 – 4a, Daniel 9 v 1 – 7a, 15, 17 – 19, Revelation 18 v 1 – 5

Background:

In Scripture there two exiles and two exodus’s. One into and out of Egypt and the other into and out of Babylon. However, these two experiences for the Israelites are very different and each teach us so much about Gods plan of salvation and restoration. The Exodus from Babylon has much to teach us what the Spirit is saying to the Churches today in this season. Let’s look at each of them.

a. The exile into Egypt and the subsequent exodus back to Palestine.

Egypt

The book of Exodus in scripture contains the story of the Jews exile into Egypt and their eventual exodus back to Palestine.

Egypt was the place of salvation from the famine that ravage the land of Israel in the 16th/17th century BC. The bible records how the brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain in Egypt and were surprised to find their long lost brother, Joseph, serving the Pharoah as chief minister.  Subsequently they were allowed to live in Egypt for the duration of the famine. However it also records that their fortunes changed when a new dynasty came to power in Egypt and the descendants of Joseph were put into slavery.

It is important to recognise that Israel did not go down into Egypt as a punishment for sin. She went there willingly during the time of famine. Egypt represents the world but God allowed her to be “in the world” until she through the hardship of slavery understood her true identity and cried to God for deliverance deciding to be “in it but not of it”. Gods plan for Israel was that she would be there for God’s purpose of firstly saving her and of secondly refining her. In Gods eternal purpose Egypt was the place chosen to birth Israel as a nation or at least their exodus from it and consequent wanderings were. It was through these experiences that a nation was formed.

1) She was saved out of Egypt when God had heard their suffering.

Exodus 3 v 7 “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concerned about their suffering so I have come down to rescue them.”

2) She was refined in Egypt and was brought out when God had completed His purposes with her.

Isaiah 48 v 10 “See I have refined you, though nor as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake I do this”.

She went down as 70 souls. She came out as a multitude of 2½ – 4 million people. She went down as one family/tribe and came out as a nation with a special relationship with God as His son.

Hosea 11 v 1 “Out of Egypt I called My Son”.

Israel went down into Egypt voluntarily but only God could get her out.

So it is with us as sinners. We chose to enter into sin (the world) and disobey Gods laws following the way of the world, our Egypt. We could not save ourselves. The shed blood of the Passover lamb in Egypt saved the Jews just as the shed blood of the Lamb of God on the cross of Calvary saved us from our enslavement to sin. We too were delivered from a kingdom of darkness and an enslavement to sin and translated into a kingdom of light. We too were redeemed by His grace.

Col 1 v 13…”Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”

However she may have got out of Egypt by the redemptive intervention of God but she could not get Egypt out of her. She was free from being enslaved to the rulers of Egypt but the invasive culture and idolatry of Egypt was embedded in her DNA and it took years of wilderness wanderings to purge her of its influence.

b. The exile into Babylon and the subsequent exodus back to Palestine

Babylon

Babylon on the other hand was the place of punishment, a place of judgement. She was sent there by God. It was not voluntary as it was with Egypt. She had been warned enough times and it came just as the prophets had declared.

Jeremiah 25 v 9 -11   “Behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

Babylon in scripture is synonymous with worldliness. Just as Israel went into Babylon many critics believe that the Church of Jesus in this day has become so influenced by the world that it could be said that she has ‘gone into Babylon’ and that God has given her over to her own lusts and desires.

Just like the Jews in Daniels time, who could not get out of Babylon until God’s appointed time so the Church has to cry out to its Head, Jesus Christ and plead for His mercy and forgiveness and request Him to send shower of refreshings and revivals that will reposition her and equip so that She can fulfil her destiny.

For Israel it was to be only after 70 year. No good after 50 or 60 years. Only at the appointed time as decreed by the prophets would God intervene.

God is a God of times and seasons.

For many years now the Church has been in Babylon. Its ways and systems have been copied from the world. It had been offered the alternative Kingdom by Satan and she had taken it. Now however the 70 years of exile are now up. The church is being called out of Babylon. and God is purifying His Church. Haggia the prophet prophesied this.

Haggai 2 v 6 “In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the seas and the dry land. I will shake all the nations and the desired of the nations shall come and I shall fill this house with Glory!” This speaks of the restoration of the House of God…the church of living stones….. “and judgement shall start at the House of the Lord first”. The true identity of the Church is the Bride and He is awakening His Bride in this season and she will be “without spot or blemish”.

Today God is shaking the world and he is shaking His Church. There is a shift going on in the spiritual realm and we witness it in the physical. The increase in earthquakes and tsunamis etc are but a shadow of what is going on in the spiritual dimension. There is a tidal wave of His Spirit approaching and the call to His Church is to get ready. To “Come out of Babylon!” and prepare for a journey.

But just like they all didn’t respond in Daniel’s time, not all will respond to the warning and the invitation. Why?….because Babylon was a place of deception.

1.Babylon a place of deception:

Babylon represents all that is worldly. It is the Kingdom of Satan and since he is the master of lies ….. “A liar”, Jesus said, “from the beginning”, his kingdom is the place of deception and fantasy.

In Daniel chapter 1 we read how a remnant of Jews, including Daniel, was chosen with others to be trained and prepared for government service in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. This King ruled the world of that day. His kingdom had dominion over 150 nations. It was the largest empire in history. Satan was offering these men of God an alternative Kingdom just like he is offering an alternative kingdom to the Church today. It is a Kingdom where compromise and political correctness govern the teaching and preaching and practice.

What an offer Neduchadnezzar made. They would have the best of everything. Prosperity, luxury, fame, power, position etc etc. He had brought a remnant of the Jews from Israel to Babylon not as a slaves but as guests. But to take it they would have to compromise his principles and assume worldly systems and methods of operation.

Satan had been around the throne of God for a long long time before he rebelled and got expelled from heaven. He could smell the anointing of God on the sons of God. He knew that Daniel and others like him were destined for greatness and  glory and wanted to divert them from their destiny and use their gifting for his own diabolical agenda. That’s what Satan has offered many men and women of God in Christ’s Church today. He sees their potential and offers them the substitute kingdom and he does this through our five senses.

The Five Senses

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”1 John 2:15-16

The five senses are taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing, and all report to the carnal mind – which is the enemy of God. These senses are what Satan uses to tempt us!

The lust of the flesh includes tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing and the longing to fulfil these appetites.

The lust of the eyes is our seeing and in the desiring of what you see.

The pride of life is to think that you are special because of who you are, what you have, what you know, or what you look like. It shows itself in our desire for fame, success and position.

The enemy uses these three things, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, to entice us to sin. Scripture shows this process at work in both the Garden of  for the first Adam and Eve and on the Mount of Temptation for Jesus the second Adam and nowadays His Eve, His Bride, the Church

In the Garden of Eden: “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit, and did eat.” Genesis 3:6 The woman, Eve, saw that the tree was good for food – the lust of the flesh.

It was pleasant to the eyes – the lust of the eyes

It was a tree to be desired to make one wise – the pride of life.

Of course you know the rest of the story! Eve was deceived Adam disobeyed. Sin came into the world, and death passed upon all men by sin…. “for that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”.

On the Mount of Temptation: When the tempter came to Jesus, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”Matthew 4:3 – the lust of the flesh.

“The devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And says to him, ‹All these things will I give thee.”Matthew 4:8-9 – the lust of the eyes.

“Then the devil takes him up into the holy city, and sits him on a pinnacle of the temple, And says to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, in case at any time you dash your foot against a stone.” Matthew 4:5-6 – the pride of life.

Through the power of the Spirit, with the Sword of the Spirit, Christ successfully resisted the temptations of the Devil and now we can too!

“For to be carnally minded (minding the things of the flesh) is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (minding the things of the flesh) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”…Romans 8:6-8

But today Satan has deceived many leaders in the Church by these three distraction and much of the Church has….’gone into Babylon’

2. Babylon a place of prosperity:

Daniel refused from the beginning to be deceived. He recognised the temptation for prosperity and so he refused the food and the lifestyle the King offered choosing rather to enjoy only that which the Lord allowed (Daniel Ch1 v 8) even though it would threaten his very life.

Satan is offering the Church the same today and She has not been as discerning nor as wise as Daniel. The prosperity movement today is an example of this and its deceptive teaching has corrupted the Church. The teaching of sowing and reaping have been distorted to the extent that it appears that we can hold God to ransom over His Word demanding prosperity for self gain. The improvement of life style becomes our aim. We have fallen into the trap of the sin of the lust of the eyes, the same temptation that Satan tempted Jesus with in the wilderness.

Many pastors and Christian leaders live like kings in splendour and luxury, their life style is mere opulence, whilst many of their brothers around the world or even in their own congregations are in poverty and the work of the Kingdom is thwarted for lack of funding. Often the situation is the same today in His Church as it was when in the OT the prophets condemned the children of God for “living in your panelled houses, while this house (the Lord’s house…the church) remains in ruin” Haggai 1 v 4

3. Babylon a place to become famous, exercise power and enjoy success

Daniel was tempted by the pride of life. He was commanded to worship the great king in order to receive favour which would accelerate his fame and promotion. But he refused to be deceived.

Many leaders today are tempted to desire fame and fortune and have corrupted themselves. They want success and are prepared to have it at any price.

Testimony.     One day the Lord told me… “There is no such thing as success in my kingdom”. He pointed out to me various Christian books that were on the market. Their title betrayed their false thinking…..’Ten ways to be a successful Pastor’ and ‘Twelve ways to increase your congregation” as if we were in the business of marketing the Kingdom of God.

Illustration     Once there was a humble Pastor who walked everywhere. Then he received had push bike and the people said “Oh Pastor is being blessed. He must be successful”. Then he arrived at church on a motorbike and the people praise him for the evidence of further success.

The next month he arrived in a car and everyone was excited. His car became a Mercedes Benz and he moved into a large house. They all said “Oh Pastor must be successful. Look at what He has. God must be favouring him!”

Remember “God looks on the heart not the outward appearance” I Sam 16 v 7

“ No!” God said to me. “I don’t want you to be successful……BUT…. I do want you to be eternally significant!

4. Babylon, a place of corruption:

A Babylonian type church will demonstrate an ‘Empire building mentality’. It will be all about the size of the congregation and the buildings. It will be about ministry ownership and control, the overt use of ministry titles (Apostles. Bishop etc etc), the Church’s name, staff cars, or bodyguards. They will only invite ‘Celebrity status’ preachers who oversee Mega churches. The quality of their Praise/worship will be good but be more concerned about that quality that its spirituality. The worship services will be more entertaining than inspiring. At the worst it will have sunk into the practice of the selling of sacred water or oil, of blessings or prophesies.

This is detestable and an abomination to God

6. Babylon, a place of confusion:

ACTUALLY the word Babylon means confusion. How interesting?

As a result of compromising their principles while in Babylon, many Jewish exiles lost their sense of identity, priority and destiny. Many of them did indeed bow the knee to the great kings Darius’s idol and lost touch with their spiritual roots as a consequence. When the time came for them to return home to Jerusalem when the 70 years were up, they found that they were too much at home in Babylon and didn’t feel the need or have the desire to make the journey.

The great commission and privilege to be amongst those who would return to rebuild the temple and restore Jerusalem meant nothing to them. How blind and insensitive could they be. After all they were the children of God, the inheritors of all the promises of God Jehovah, the only true living God, of Abraham and Isaac Jacob.

When the call came to “Come out of Babylon!” in the days of King Cyrus who was ‘God’s appointed one’, and the 70th year of captivity was up, only a few embraced  it. What a tragedy!

Recently I came across a lovely verse recoded in Jonah ch 2. It comes at the end of     Jonah’s prayer inside the whale………..

In Jonah 2 v 8  Jonah cries out…“Those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the  grace that could be theirs”

The Exodus from Babylon was a Voluntary Exodus

When Daniel rallied the exiles in Babylon to leave and return to rebuild Jerusalem only a few accepted the invitation. Just as in the days of Daniel when the first invitation came to all exiles, only a few today will respond to the call to come out of the worldly Church and build a city that is suitable for the habitation of the returning Bridegroom King.

A whole nation was in exile in Babylon for that 70 year period but only 42,360 persons came out of Babylon and accepted the call. The number was small enough and well registered enough to be documented. They came out in families scripture says and we know their family names. It is recorded in scripture in Ezra 2 v 16.

In Egypt at the first Exodus, everyone came out. 2½ – 4 million people. Here only those who volunteered came out and they came out……. to go somewhere. You come out to go somewhere. You don’t come out of somewhere with no sense of where you will go. You have to go somewhere or you sit still. They knew. They were Jerusalem bound.  They had a purpose, a calling, a destiny….to restore Jerusalem the city of God and to rebuild the temple,

Once again today, the church is being called out. It’s being called out from a corrupt Church full of worldliness and compromise and spiritual death to journey, however difficult and costly that journey might be, to a city that “Abraham saw yet knew not of”

Hebrews 11 v 8 -16

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. For he was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God”

Why get out?

Rev 18 v 5. ” Come out of her, (Babylon) My people, so you will not share her sins and so that you will not receive any of her plagues”

a. Because of the destruction of Babylon.

It is very clear in scripture that Babylon will fall and anything that is of Babylon will fall with her.

Revelation 18 v 1 – 4

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

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.

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

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.”

St Paul also warns us about the burning of all that is Babylon when he says in 1 Cor 3 v 12 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder and someone else is building on it. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold. Silver, costly stones, wood , hay or straw his work will be shone for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work”

Perhaps the most ironic choral musical composition is the Hallelujah Chorus. Every year in many European and western nations around Easter time choirs gather in churches and cathedrals to present Handles famous Oratorio based on the Hallelujah chorus recorded in Rev 19.  It is sung to rapturous applause. How ironic is that since few amongst those singing and those listening realise that they are singing about their own destruction. They are singing “Hallelujah” and rejoicing in their own destruction if it be that they have themselves not come out Babylon and are still building of wood, hay and stubble. By all means let us sing ‘hallelujah’ if we have already sought to Come Out of Babylon and have given ourselves to be both a builder and the material itself which is a part of the temple and a city not made with human hands or of natural stones but of living stones, built together by the very Spirit of God Himself. Any other material or any other building will not stand in the fires of Gods holiness and righteous judgement.

2) to rebuild Jerusalem …that holy spiritual city…who is dressed like a bride.

So…… How do we get out?   It is an individual choice.

The exodus from Egypt was corporate and compulsory if they wanted to survive.

The exodus from Babylon was singular and voluntary. It is our personal response.

We follow Daniel’s example. He made a choice. He refused the luxuries of Babylon. He rejected the offers of enticement. There was no compromise. He was ruthless and in so doing Daniel positioned himself for GRACE.

Daniel 9 v 1 – 2   Daniel sought the Lord through the scriptures. He was a God seeker and God-pleaser only and a man of the Word

Daniel 9 v 2   Daniel understood the times and seasons. He recognized what God was saying in His Word and by the Spirit for his day and aligned himself with it. He wanted to identify with the deep desires of God’s heart and with His eternal purpose. This is the Season of the Bride and of the coming Bridegroom.

Daniel 9 v 3 Daniel fasted and prayed and so birthed the prophetic word.

Daniel 9 v 5 Daniel repented …..“ We have sinned”. He confessed and took

responsibility with the people.

So…..

We come out 1) because of Babylon’s pending destruction and 2) to rebuild Jerusalem …that holy spiritual city…who is dressed like a bride. THIS IS THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT and we are both participators in the building process and the very material with which He builds it. Its a mystery indeed

But….This is our calling. This is our destiny. Of course we achieve this only in part now but then after the rapture, the wedding of the Lamb and the millennium reign, He will complete that city which will be dressed like a bride and that comes down out of heaven….for you are born in Her!

It is by our submission to that calling now that He is able to form us as part of that city, that precious bride.

Rev 21 v 1 – 2 “Then I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband”

About the author: Howard Barnes

Howard Barnes was born in England in 1944 to Salvation Army pastor parents. After secondary education he went to university and studied Theology and subsequently become a Secondary School teacher and served in several London schools as the Head of Divinity. During these years he also was a youth leader and then served as a pastor of a local church in Cornwall, England. In 2003 he retired from teaching, after 37 years’ service, to take up a position as director of an evangelistic ministry called Harvest for Christ but in 2008 he became Co-director of Time Out Mission International and more recently director of The Body and the Bride Network Ministry International (UK). These last two ministries which he co-directed with his close friend and ministry colleague, Michael Pike (Apostle), were deeply passionate about two things. 1) to see the worldwide Church discover the meaning of real unity and so fulfill the prayer of Jesus in Jn 17 v 21 and 23 ….“that they may be One even as we are One” and 2) to understand and embrace its end-time identity as the precious Bride of Christ and to prepare her for the coming Bridegroom King. These experiences have paved the way for the creation of this new ministry called The Call2Come which, while still holding to these emphasis, calls the Church to prepare Herself as His precious Bride and so position Herself to cry the prayer that only the Bride can¬ pray. It is only the “Spirit and the Bride” that can cry Come. Howard has received two honorary doctorates in recognition of his mission and reconciliation/peace work in over 70 nations around the world. He is also an official representative for Foundations for Biblical Farming (FFF) which comes out of Zimbabwe, Africa and for the World Prayer Assembly (WPA). He is a regular speaker at international church conferences and operates under an apostolic mantel. He has been married to Tricia for 50 years who was herself a music teacher, and they have two lovely married children and four beautiful grandchildren. He is both a musician and a gifted artist.