In Revelation 18:4-5 God pleads with Christians concerning Babylon the Great God: ... Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
Why does God use Babylon as the example for everything to be rejected if you are striving to live a godly life?
Babylon is referred to throughout the Bible, from Genesis 10 when mankind set out to create his own governments and culture to the history of Israel’s kings. Then we read about Babylon again in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, where God decrees Babylon and all she stands for will ultimately be destroyed.
Babylon was an actual city on the banks of the Euphrates river, established about 100 years after the flood by Nimrod, the son of Cush and grandson of Noah. It was situated in Shinar, which corresponds to the location of Iraq today.
Nimrod was a mighty warrior, who fought with others for rulership and supremacy. He is the first human recorded in the Bible to be a king -- one who ruled over others. Jesus would later refer to the rule of such kings in Luke 22:25-26 as “lording it over others” rather than acting to the benefit of their subjects.
Some have speculated the name ‘Nimrod’ could mean ‘rebellious’ and is more a description of the person than a name. Others have suggested Nimrod may have been Sargon the great king of the Sumerians, but we don’t really know. In Genesis 10:9 Nimrod is described as a ‘mighty hunter before the Lord’. An alternate rendering of this phrase could be ‘against the Lord’.
Under Nimrod’s leadership what the Babylonians wrote, taught and believed seriously contradicted the Bible. In Genesis 11 we are also told the people of that time disobeyed God’s instructions to spread out and colonise after the flood. Instead they gathered together in one place and attempted to build the tower of Babel in rebellion against God.
The spirit of Babylon was the spirit dominating the whole world when Abrahan was called out of the idolatry and confusion to learn and teach about the true God. He was not called because he was righteous, but to become righteous and be the father of a nation to whom God would reveal His true character and law.
That nation was ancient Israel, but Israel and Judah failed to keep the covenant with God and rebelled --- symbolically returning to Babylon. God therefore allowed them to be conquered and enslaved by none other than Babylon! They had not resisted and overcome the “world” around them but had been overcome by it. Their story has been recorded as an example for us today. If you don’t overcome you will be overcome.
Coming out of Babylon -- overcoming the world -- is not a matter of where you are. It’s a matter of what you do and how you think. Daniel was in Babylon, but he was not of Babylon. He set a great example of not being overcome by Babylon’s ways and holding fast to the truth.
God’s desire is that we overcome the world (John 17:12-19), but we are not whisked away to a spiritual Shangri La… instead we are sent into the world. Daily acts of overcoming, even when small, can be sometimes difficult and tedious, but dedicated Christians are part of a grander scheme. We might not feel we are like Abraham being called into a new land, to live a different way… but we are! We are part of God’s plan that covers all of human history, and culminates in a glorious goal. This is what we must look forward to and strive towards.