How can we reconcile Revelation's order to "Come out of Babylon" with Jesus' example of mingling?

Questions & Answers September 3, 2016

Q: In the book of Revelation it says, “Come out of Babylon.” But Jesus showed us that we should mingle with people. How can we understand these two directions: to come out of Babylon and to mingle with people? — Mr. Khup, from Myanmar

A: In Revelation 18 we read about an angel “coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory” (vs. 1). Then in verse 2 this angel cries “mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen’.” The angel then describes how Babylon is fallen, and in verses 4 and 5 we hear another angel urging, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

In the previous chapter, Revelation 17, we are given an even clearer description of Babylon, represented by a woman, with a name written on her forehead, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth’ (vs. 5). This woman, symbolic of an apostate Church, and the mother of all apostate churches, is “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (vs. 6).

So the urgent message in Revelation 18 is for all of God’s people to come out of Babylon—to come out of the apostate churches — and to join with God’s faithful remnant, those described in Revelation 12:17.

To “come out of Babylon” does not restrict us from mingling with people as Jesus did. In the book “The Desire of Ages,” we read a beautifully balanced description of how to do this:

“The example of Christ in linking Himself with the interests of humanity should be followed by all who preach His word, and by all who have received the gospel of His grace. We are not to renounce social communion. We should not seclude ourselves from others. In order to reach all classes, we must meet them where they are. They will seldom seek us of their own accord.

“Not alone from the pulpit are the hearts of men touched by divine truth. There is another field of labor, humbler, it may be, but fully as promising. It is found in the home of the lowly, and in the mansion of the great; at the hospitable board, and in gatherings for innocent social enjoyment.

“As disciples of Christ we shall not mingle with the world from a mere love of pleasure, to unite with them in folly. Such associations can result only in harm. We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence. Wherever we go, we are to carry Jesus with us, and to reveal to others the preciousness of our Saviour.

“But those who try to preserve their religion by hiding it within stone walls lose precious opportunities of doing good. Through the social relations, Christianity comes in contact with the world. Everyone who has received the divine illumination is to brighten the pathway of those who know not the Light of life.

“We should all become witnesses for Jesus. Social power, sanctified by the grace of Christ, must be improved in winning souls to the Saviour. Let the world see that we are not selfishly absorbed in our own interests, but that we desire others to share our blessings and privileges. Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting. Let all who profess to have found Christ, minister as He did for the benefit of men” (p. 152).