I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:4-5 NASB
Participate – Leave Babylon behind. For that matter, leave Sodom behind too. The risen Lord calls to His people, “Come out of her.” If we don’t, we are destined to share in her plagues.
The Greek text uses a familiar word in an unfamiliar context. Sugkoinoneo is a verb that means “to participate in something with someone.” It is made up of the preposition sun and the verb koinoneo. We often think of koinonia as the fellowship of the saints, but here this verb implies there is another fellowship – a fellowship with sinners. It isn’t necessary to actually commit the sins of these wicked people. It is enough to be in their company. “Come out,” before the judgment on them also falls on you.
Paul says that same thing in Ephesians 5:11. Children of the light cannot be associated with children of darkness. “Do not participate,” says Paul. Do not share in their corruption. Paul’s advice is to expose their wickedness. He tells us that it is disgraceful to even speak of things done in secret. What Paul means is connected with a deep rabbinic principle. Participation in wickedness profanes the name of God and the rabbis taught that this sin was so heinous that it could not be forgiven. Paul is very serious indeed in his exhortation to “come out.”
It’s unlikely that any of us will object. We understand perfectly the rationale behind these warnings. But that doesn’t mean we actually do what the Scriptures tell us to do. Bolstered by a Greek worldview that claims knowing the “truth” is enough, we often allow our guilt to be expunged by the theology that says Yeshua died for my sins past, present and future. We know we need to “come out” but we say, “Not yet.” We don’t have the dose of Scriptural reality injected by the rabbis. We believe God will forgive anything.
As a result, our lives are compromised. Since we don’t have the immediate symptoms of the plague, we act like Adam. We aren’t dead yet, so we reason that the prohibition (“in that day you shall surely die”) must not be completely true. What we haven’t noticed is that we did die. Life did slip into addictive imprisonment. We aren’t whole. We lost joy. We settled for survival. And all the while the Master is calling, “Come out.” There is nothing so paralyzing as intentional blindness.
Topical Index: participate, sugkoinoneo, come out, Revelation 18:4-5, Ephesians 5:11
NOTE ON SACRIFICE: There have been a lot of good blog comments on the last two TWs regarding sacrifice and offering. Some of those comments required me to rethink the TW and I have added corrections and additions in the blog. I encourage you to read the remarks there. Just go to the web site and click on the calendar day for July 4 and July 5.