Basics in Revelation 18:1-4
Excerpted from WWN1(99)
Key representations in these verses are "another angel," "Babylon," "all nations ... kings ... and merchants," "another voice," and "my people." First some questions that need to be resolved and/or addressed:
Are we to interpret the symbolism of "another angel" in the same way that we interpret the first three "angels" of Revelation 14?
Are "voice" and "my people" interrelated? The previous "voice" is "the great voice out of the temple, from the throne" (16:19). Could this be the "voice" of Jesus? If so, is this the call of Jesus so that for those who respond He will make His final intercession (atonement)?
At what point in time have all nations, with their rulers and "the great men of the earth"(18:23), drunk of the cup offered them by the woman" with whom they have committed fornication?
It is obvious in context that the "Babylon" of Revelation 18:2 is the woman of Revelation 17:5. This means simply that the understanding of Revelation 18 is closely related and cannot be separated from an understanding of the events prophetically portrayed in the 17th Chapter. Further, it needs to be recognized that "Babylon" is not, and never has been "my people." The reverse corollary is also true; neither are "my people" Babylonians. However, these verses indicate that "my people" are in Babylon, else why are they called out of Babylon? The Greek text emphasizes twice the come out - Ἐξέλθατε, ὁ λαός μου, ἐξ αὐτῆς - "Come out, the people of me, out of her."
This symbolism and the Greek emphasis connects this verse to two Scriptural comparisons, one of typology, the other the parable of Matthew 25. First typology:
The northern Kingdom of Israel was carried into captivity by Assyria. Two centuries later, when Babylon had succeeded to the dominion of Assyria, Judah was carried into captivity. These captivities were the result of the professed people of Jehovah giving themselves over to the idolatrous practices of paganism. Babylon was used of God to punish His people. Scripture refers to Nebuchadnezzar as God's "servant" in this judgment on Judah (Jer 43:10), but nowhere are the people of Babylon referred to as "my people." Interestingly, also, is the fact that when Judah returned from captivity, there is no mention of a "mixed multitude" coming from Babylon with them, as in the days when Israel came out of Egypt (Ex. 12:38). It was the same "my people" returning from captivity who were carried into captivity, not a multitude of Babylonian "converts."
The type and antitype can be carried a step further. The returned captives were to rebuild the temple of the Lord with "the prophets of God helping them" (Ezra 5:2). One of the prophets cited is Haggai. He stated the design of Heaven for this restored "house of God." He quoted God as declaring - "I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and Iwill fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts" (2:7). The promise was carried a step further. The words of the Lord of hosts read - "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, ... and in this place will I give peace" (v. 9).
[Beyond the simple application of type and antitype,
there is much spiritual food for thought which can be developed
Now to the parable of the Ten Virgins: The same Greek word is used in Matthew 25 and Revelation 18 - εξερχομαι- whether it be the aroist (past) and present tense as in Matthew 25, or the imperative as in Rev. 18:4. The emphasis is to come "out" of the state they are in at the time of the call from "a voice." In the parable, all ten virgins are sound asleep; in Revelation, "my people" are in captivity in Babylon. The "awakening" in the parable caused separation among the "virgins." The separation was basically involved with "light" and the oil which produced that "light." The "call out" of "my people" from Babylon in the 18th Chapter of Revelation is a call to break from the captivity in which they find themselves. As in the type, all that went into captivity to Babylon did not return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the temple of God. In fact it was only a small remnant (Haggai 1:14).
There is one distinct difference between the type and antitype in regard to the captivity experienced. Judah was forced into captivity against its will; modern Israel deliberately placed themselves in captivity to modern Babylon. The facts of our own church history dare not be overlooked, even though today, the control of the Church is rapidly passing to the hands of those who did not live through the decades of change but rather either accepted a changed message or else grew up in the church that had already altered its doctrinal commitment.
The fifth and sixth decades of the 20th Century marked the "golden age of Adventist Evangelism." In the very center of this time period came the call to re-examine our "Kadesh-barnea" experience of 1888. The review of certain doctrinal positions (not all) at the 1952 Bible Conference and the proclamation that at this Conference, the great truth of "righteousness by faith" was given "with far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference" left the Church feeling "good," except for one point! Seventh-day Adventism was still considered a "cult" in the Evangelical world. Within three years of the Bible Conference, the Enemy offered the leadership of the Church many of whom had affirmed their faith in the basic doctrines of the Church at the Bible Conference - an opportunity to shed the stigma of being considered a "cult." They "bought" it and went into "captivity" to Babylon. The SDA-Evangelical Conferences of 1955-56 mark basic compromises in key doctrinal positions which had made true Adventism unique. What occurred at these conferences was stated clearly by the Evangelicals - Barnhouse and Martin - in Barnhouse's publication - Eternity. Twenty years later, T. E. Unruh, who chaired this "captivity" gave the Adventist viewpoint in Adventist Heritage. [Facsimile copies of these reports are online (Cf. “The Seventh-day Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956” on this website.)]
Today, those who proclaim themselves as "historic" Adventists are merely travelling the same path that led to the original captivity. The 1952 Bible Conference reiterated faith in doctrinal fundamentals without following the counsel given in connection with the 1888 Message of Righteousness by Faith. In 1892, the Messenger of the Lord had clearly called for a "learning" and an "unlearning" process so that the "truth" committed to our trust might be "pure, unadulterated truth." (R&H, July 26, 1892; Testimonies to Ministers, p. 65) In the same year - 1892 - the same Messenger warned: "Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God." (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34)
The call today is simply to "come out" of the captivity in which the leadership has placed the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and rebuild the broken down "temple of truth." The promise is sure that to such a temple "the Desire of all nations" will come the second time without sin unto salvation. To accept this call of "the voice" in Revelation 18 means the separation of the "virgins," the ones to whom the sacred trust of truth was given. The one is a response to the other.