Come Out, My People

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We are living in what feels like modern day Babylon. This world, under the power of Satan (1 John 5:19), is like Babylon; full of pagan worship, blasphemy of the One True God, and so much evil. But for those who are in Christ, God calls us out of Babylon, out of the ways of the world, to follow Him and His Way (John 14:6).

God is calling His people to come out of Babylon now, just like He did in the past throughout the entire Bible. The most well-known time was after the Babylonian captivity of 70 years. 

Called Out of Captivity

First, why were God’s people in captivity in Babylon? After generations of kings in Israel and Judah who led God’s people into worshiping other gods and even sacrificing their children to these gods (Jeremiah 19:4-5), God allowed the people of Israel to be taken captive by Assyria, and then years later, the people of Judah to be taken captive by Babylon, also known as the land of Shinar and the land of the Chaldeans. This was all based on God's end of the Mosaic Covenant—they did not uphold their end of the conditional covenant so God brought upon the judgment He told them He would.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. Daniel 1:1-2

Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia.  2 Chronicles 36:15-20

At the start of the captivity, God had told Jeremiah exactly how long the captivity would last.

‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.’  Jeremiah 25:12

For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.  Jeremiah 29:10

Of course, God kept His word. God allowed the Persian empire to defeat Babylon and then He used the Persian king, Cyrus, to release His people from captivity so they could return to Him and the land of Israel.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.  Ezra 1:1-3

This is the most well-known time when God called His people out of Babylon. But it wasn’t the first time. 

Babylon in the Beginning

Babylon's origin can be traced back to Babel. In the Old Testament, the same Hebrew word (Strong’s H894) is used for both Babel and Babylon. The very first mention of this word is in the book of Genesis. After the Flood, Noah’s son Ham had a grandson named Nimrod, who started the kingdom of Babel/Babylon.

Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  Genesis 10:8-10

Genesis 11 explains more about the city of Babel in the land of Shinar.

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.  Genesis 11:1-2

The people of the land of Shinar wanted to build a city with a tower that would reach the heavens to make a name for themselves, defying God's command to fill the earth (Genesis 11:1-4). God responded by confusing their language and scattering them over the face of the earth. 

Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.  Genesis 11:9

Immediately following the account of Babel in Genesis 11, we find the genealogy of Shem, one of Noah’s other sons. From the line of Shem comes Abram, later known as Abraham, through whom the nation of Israel, and eventually the Messiah, is born. Where was Abram originally from? 

This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.  Genesis 11:27-31

Abram was from Babylon before it was called Babylon. At that time, it was known as the land of the Chaldeans which was the name also used in the verses mentioned earlier about the Babylonian captivity. So Abram, who would later become Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, was originally from Babylon. The Bible even tells us that Abram’s father, Terah, worshiped other gods (Joshua 24:2). Abram grew up in the land of Babylon in a family that worshiped other gods and then God called him out.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Genesis 12:1-3

Later, God reminded Abram that he had been called out of Babylon. 

Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”  Genesis 15:7

The people of Israel also remembered when God had called Abram/Abraham out of Babylon. Shortly after the Babylonian captivity, when the people had returned to Israel to start rebuilding the temple and Jerusalem, they praised God for calling them out of Babylon and referenced when He had done the same for Abram/Abraham.

You are the Lord God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham.  Nehemiah 9:7

Even in the New Testament, Stephen, shortly before he was stoned for his faith in Jesus, spoke about God calling Abraham out of Babylon and about the Babylonian captivity.

And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran.  Acts 7:2-4

Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’  Acts 7:42-43

The writer of the book of Hebrews also drew attention to Abraham’s faith when God called him out of Babylon.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

God called Abraham out of Babylon, He called the people of Israel and Judah out of Babylon, He called the first century Jews/Christians out of Babylon, and He is calling all of His people now to come out of Babylon. But once we’re out of Babylon, where are we to go?

Go Up to Where God’s Name Dwells

When Abram/Abraham was called out of Babylon, God had a destination for him to go to.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show youGenesis 12:1

God showed him the land of Canaan (Gen. 13). This land was where Abraham’s descendants lived until they went to Egypt during the famine of Joseph’s time (Gen. 46). This land was the Promised Land where Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness to get to (Exod. 23:20, Deut. 11:31). This land was where the people returned after the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 1). But most importantly, this land was where God chose as a dwelling place for His name.

But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.  Deuteronomy 12:5

And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there.  1 Kings 11:36

‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’  2 Chronicles 6:5-6

But if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.  Nehemiah 1:9

After coming out of Babylon, God’s people were to go to the place He choose to establish His name, Jerusalem. Today, when Jewish people leave whatever country they are living in to go live in Israel, the term used is aliyah. Aliyah is the combination of two Hebrew words: alah and yah. Alah (Strong’s H5927) means: to go up, to arise, to ascend. Yah (Strong’s H3050) is God’s name. Aliyah literally means to go to God.

When God calls us to come out of Babylon, out of the world and its evil ways, we are to go to Him, to aliyah, to go to the place He has chosen as a dwelling for His name. And where does God’s name dwell now? 

The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  John 14:17

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  1 Corinthians 3:16

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.  Revelation 3:12

We don’t have to physically go anywhere when we come out of Babylon. When God calls us out of Babylon, we need to go to Him, to the Holy Spirit living inside of all believers, to the Word—Jesus (John 1:1). We can do this through prayer, through reading His word, the Bible, being set apart and by following the Way, Jesus (John 14:6)!


Related resources

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Podcast episode 122 - Return to Him: Living in Babylon


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