“Get Out of Her, My People”
“Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”—Rev. 18:4, 5, NW.
1. What conclusion is both logical and Scriptural?
THERE is a basic rottenness in these last days that has polluted every field of this world’s activity. Its politics is corrupt. Its commerce is oppressive. Its military is wasteful. Its religion is hypocritical. Its pleasures often lead to delinquency and immorality, and its sports to foul play and crookedness. The vast majority of the people go along with the world in its rottenness, seeing it, contributing to it, participating in it, indifferent to it, calloused to it, or cynically accepting it. For outward show many practicers of it make incensed speeches against it, but how many really rise up in wrath to stamp it out? The majority cling to this wicked old world, support it, fight for it, die for it, vote into power its corrupt rulers, and otherwise completely make themselves a part of it. They cast their lot in with this world. With it they sow to the lusts of the flesh. With it they will reap their share of its plagues. Not only is this logical and just; it is Scriptural as well.
2. How must we escape the plagues upon Babylon the great?
2 In chapter 18 of Revelation the entire world organization or system of things controlled by Satan the Devil is spoken of as “Babylon the great”. Babylon began her fall when her invisible part was hurled earthward by Christ after his enthronement A.D. 1914. (Rev. 12:1-12) At Armageddon the fall of the invisible demon hordes will be completed and will land them in the abyss, and the visible realm of Satan will suffer complete destruction. (Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-3) But some will escape the fiery judgments that consume her. How? By a later resurrection in the millennial reign of Christ? Not according to the record: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God who judged her is strong.”—Rev. 18:4, 5, 8, NW.
3. What are the plagues? So what logically follows?
3 Her plagues are destruction, fiery and final. The Babylonish organization will never be resurrected or raised up from her destructive baptism of fire. If this is her plague, and if those who remain in her share it, how can we contend that those individuals undergoing fire baptism with her will rise in the resurrection of mankind? We cannot do so Scripturally. The plain statement is that the fate of individuals remaining within the organization is the same as that of the organization itself. If the individuals return, the organization will; but if the organization does not, neither will the individuals once within it. The way to salvation is flight now, before its fall: “Get out of her!” Israelite captives in ancient Babylon were instructed to flee that wicked system: “Away! away! go out thence; touch nothing unclean! Go out of the midst of her; keep yourselves pure, you who bear the vessels of the LORD!” “Go out of the midst of her, O my people! Save everyone his life from the fierce anger of the LORD.” (Isa. 52:11; Jer. 51:45, AT) Revelation 18:4 shows the same instruction holds true at the time of greater Babylon’s fall.
4. In contrast with a human view, what is the correct view on release of Babylon’s prisoners?
4 Most persons view things from the human standpoint, and for that reason attach too much importance to the salvation of creatures. That is only a secondary purpose for the release of Babylon’s prisoners. Jehovah’s view of matters is what counts, and it shows the primary reason for the release: “I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.” (Ezek. 36:22-24, AS) On different occasions in the wilderness Jehovah was going to destroy Israel, but Moses pleaded with Jehovah and prevailed upon him to spare them. On what grounds? The salvation of creatures? No, but for the sake of Jehovah’s great name. (Ex. 32:9-14; Num. 14:11-24; 16:44-50; Deut. 9:18, 26-29; Ezek. 20:9) How important to us is the salvation of grasshoppers? We are as grasshoppers in God’s sight. (Isa. 40:22) So we must make God’s thoughts our thoughts, if we are to see in clear focus and true perspective Jehovah’s destructive acts at the end of judgment periods. If we persist in tenaciously clinging to the self-centered human view that focuses on creature salvation and leaves Jehovah’s vindication in the hazy, out-of-focus background, we may find the Scriptural teaching a hard saying unwelcome to our ears, and be offended and stumbled by it.—Isa. 55:8, 9; John 6:60, 66.
5. What judgment periods are here mentioned”?
5 It is likely that for the majority of men who have lived on the earth the time of their judgment will be in the millennial reign of Christ, at the time of the resurrection of mankind and thereafter. However, long before this many persons will have had their time of judgment, as the Scriptures show that God has brought certain judgment periods upon human society at certain times, during which God held them accountable for their course of action. That they might be really accountable at such times, he caused testimony to be given that they might know the issue and make their decision, by which they would determine their destiny, independent of any inherited condemnation from Adam. One of such judgment periods was the flood of Noah’s day, prior to which Noah preached righteousness. Another was the fiery end of Sodom and Gomorrah, which cities saw warning miracles by angels and heard testimony from Lot before the rain of fire fell. In Jesus’ day it was a time of judgment and he warned certain Jewish cities of a fate like that upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and judged certain scribes and Pharisees fit for the eternal destruction of Gehenna. Our present day is also a time of judgment, and by the time Armageddon strikes all persons then living will have fixed their destiny.
DOWNPOURS OF WATER AND FIRE
6. Why consider the Noachian flood? What were the facts?
6 We can learn much about this present judgment period by considering past ones pictorial of our day. The first was the Noachian flood. Jesus declared it was a picture of the present judgment period: “Just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26, 27, NW) Why were they destroyed? Because of their corruption: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil.” Hence Jehovah determined: “I will blot the men that I have created off the face of the ground, both men and animals, reptiles, and birds of the air; for I regret that I ever made them.” Noah was to escape. Why? “Noah alone among his contemporaries was a pious and exceedingly good man; Noah walked with God.” That the destruction of the others was a final judgment executed against them is shown by Jehovah’s forceful words to Noah: “I have resolved on the extermination of all mortals; for the earth is full of wrong-doing through them; I am going to exterminate them from the earth. But with you I will make a covenant; you shall enter the ark, accompanied by your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.”—Gen. 6:5, 7, 9, 13, 18, AT.
7. How does Peter show the destructions of the flood and at Sodom were final?
7 Not only is this final destruction made sure by God’s use of the expression “exterminate” and Jesus’ use of “destroyed”, but also 2 Peter 2:5-9 (NW) establishes it: “He did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people; and by reducing the cities Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come, and he delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds—Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” Peter cited these ancient examples of cutting-off to show the fate of false prophets and false teachers in the Christian congregation, who brought in destructive sects and disowned Christ, and who thereby were “bringing speedy destruction upon themselves”. Who will contend that the destruction of such defilers of the Christian congregation is not final? The ancient destructions upon Noah’s contemporaries and Sodom and Gomorrah must be just as final, else how could they illustrate the one Peter was discussing?—2 Pet. 2:1-4, NW.
8. Why is Sodom’s case vital, and what else shows its destruction final?
8 After showing the flood typical of the present judgment period, Jesus proceeded to show Sodom and Gomorrah pictorial of it also: “Just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” (Luke 17:28-30, NW) Our previous consideration of 2 Peter 2:5-9 has shown that those destroyed by God at Sodom and Gomorrah are eternally “cut off”. Corroborating this is Jude 7, which states that these cities are “placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire”. (NW) “Everlasting fire” symbolizes the same thing as Gehenna, namely, second death. The destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah must be final, or Jude would not have used it to illustrate the fate of those defilers for whom “the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever”. (Jude 13, NW) Jude 7 shows that those ancient cities had their judgment day back there at the time of their destruction, since they are spoken of as having already undergone an execution of judgment, “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” By no wresting of scripture can this be made to mean a future resurrection for slain of the Lord. No remnant was saved from those cities, Lot and his daughters being sojourners, not natives.—Rom. 9:29, NW.
9. Why and how do some try to show Sodom’s destruction not final?
9 If those slain by the Lord at Sodom have no resurrection, then those slain by him at Armageddon will have none, for the former pictures the latter. So in their endeavor to prove their contention that not all slain at Armageddon will remain dead, some seek to show that the Sodomites destroyed by fire will return in a resurrection. They quote Ezekiel 16:53-55: “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.”
10. What fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy about the restoration of Jerusalem and her daughters?
10 The context shows that restoration after captivity, not resurrection in the millennium, is being discussed. In a miniature fulfillment came the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem after 70 years of desolation (607-537 B.C.), when Jews and Nethinim and other foreigners returned to inhabit the land. The greater restoration started in Jesus’ day and continues now. When Jesus came the Jews were in captivity to the Devil’s organization, Babylon the great. Captives of Rome politically, captives of sin, captives of false religion. But when Jesus came, preached, died, was resurrected, appeared in heaven with his sacrificial merit, provided the basis for redemption, poured out the holy spirit upon a faithful Jewish remnant who sought redemption in his name, illuminated their minds to freedom-giving truths and released them from bondage to antitypical Babylon, then they were restored to the theocratic organization of Jehovah God. For three and a half years after Pentecost the freeing message was confined to the Jews, and a remnant was restored. All this was in fulfillment of Ezekiel 16:53-55, where it speaks of the restoration of Jerusalem and her daughters.
11. When were “Samaria and her daughters” restored?
11 When persecution grew intense and believing Jewish Christians were scattered, they went everywhere preaching. The evangelist Philip went to Samaria, where Jesus had preached some time previous. Many of the Samaritans believed, more preachers were sent to them, and the holy spirit descended upon them. They were brought into God’s congregation. There, as represented in that Samaritan remnant, Ezekiel 16:53-55 was fulfilled.—John 4:39-42; Acts 8:1-25.
12. What shows how the Jews linked Sodom and dogs and Gentiles?
12 Then the gospel went to the Gentiles. The Jews thought of them as dogs. (Matt. 15:26, 27; Mark 7:27, 28) Dogs were unclean animals, viewed as sexually depraved, and linked in with sodomy: “There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of Jehovah thy God for any vow: for even both these are an abomination unto Jehovah thy God.” (Deut. 23:17, 18, AS) The female prostitute’s gain is likened to the hire of a harlot, and the male sodomist’s gain is likened to the wages of a dog. Instead of “dog” An American Translation uses “male prostitute” and Moffatt’s version uses “catamite”, which means a boy kept for unnatural purposes. These sexual depravities were flagrant in Sodom, the base sin of sodomy taking its name from that city. So all this shows how the Jews associated Sodom and dogs and Gentiles.
13. What quotation supports this view?
13 To buttress this view of matters note the following quotation from the introductory material of volume 7 of The Interpreter’s Bible, published last year. The first paragraph under “Morality”, beginning on page 80, reads: “The moral life of the pagan world was often referred to by early Christian writers whose view of the morality of the time was a stereotyped one inherited from their Jewish predecessors. Both Jewish and Christian authors agreed that the Gentiles were morally degenerate. The Old Testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah, on which the Lord had rained down fire and brimstone, represents the Hebrew attitude toward pagan wickedness, whether of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, or Romans.”
14. So how did the restoration take in “Sodom and her daughters”?
14 The apostle Peter had this view of Gentiles as being sodomic and doglike, and that is why it was so hard for him to grasp God’s purpose for him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Yet when he did understand he obeyed, and God poured out his spirit on Gentile believers, receiving them into the same restored congregation along with believing Jews and Samaritans. (Acts 10:9-48) When the faithful Jewish remnant saw uncircumcised Gentiles, whom they had previously viewed as dogs and Sodomites, restored with them they felt some shame. They had thought the Jews specially holy and that God would use only Jews to make up Messiah’s bride. Now they learn they are not so important or holy, but that God makes worthy for the Kingdom not only Samaritans but also uncircumcised Gentiles. Thus fulfillment of Ezekiel 16:53-55 was started off in early Christian times. Ezekiel did not mean literal Sodom, no more than did Isaiah when he called Israel Sodom, or did John when he wrote that Jesus died in Sodom. (Isa. 1:10; Rev. 11:8) Ezekiel used it symbolically for uncircumcised Gentiles, and when discussing restoration of the theocratic organization, not resurrection.
JUDGMENT UPON ISRAEL IN JESUS’ DAY
15. Why do some argue for a future judgment for both Sodom and the Jews of Jesus’ day?
15 Another judgment period is brought into view when those championing resurrection for exterminated Sodomites quote Jesus’ words on a certain occasion. He had reproached the unrepentant Jewish cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, which had witnessed many of his powerful works, then said: “And you, Capernaum, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Hades you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day. Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.” (Matt. 10:14, 15; 11:20-24; Luke 10:10-15, NW) From this some argue that there is a future judgment, in the millennial reign, for both Sodom and these Jewish cities.
16. What did Jesus mean when he said judgment would be more endurable for Sodom than certain Jewish cities?
16 If we take this expression to mean that, then it would contradict Jude’s statement that Sodom had already undergone the “judicial punishment of everlasting fire”. Actually, Jesus was using a form of speech construction common in Biblical times. He used a similar construction when he said: “It is easier, in fact, for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25, NW) No sane person would believe a camel could squeeze through a needle’s eye. Yet if this obviously impossible thing were said to be easier than something else, would that not powerfully emphasize the utter impossibility of the other thing? So Jesus forcefully made the point that rich ones loath to part with their wealth would not enter the kingdom. Similarly, Sodom did not endure its judgment day, had failed completely, and the Jews knew its fate was sealed. Their opinion of Sodom was the lowest possible. So when Jesus told them that it would be more endurable for utterly depraved Sodom than for these Jewish cities they got the powerful point.
17. Why would it be useless to resurrect the Jewish clergy, their Jewish followers, and their Gentile converts?
17 These Jewish cities had heard the warning and had seen powerful works; they had had their fair judgment trial and by their decision showed they were worthy of eternal destruction. (Matt. 10:5-15; Luke 10:8-12; John 12:37, NW) By witnessing miraculous cures performed by the power of the holy spirit and yet refusing to accept the message, the inhabitants of these cities were sinning against the holy spirit, which is the unforgivable sin meriting second death. They ranged themselves alongside the Pharisees who saw Jesus heal a demon-possessed man, but refused to accept this manifest operation of the holy spirit. Because of this Jesus told them they would never have forgiveness, neither in the present system of things nor in the next, the new world. Being judged adversely, unforgivable in both the old world and the new world, it would be useless to resurrect them in the millennium. Jesus pronounced judgment against them: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” If the blind religious leaders were to land there, so were their blind Jewish followers. And when the false religious leaders converted some heathen they did not bring him into the true worship that would cleanse him of his past sins against God, but merely added to his past sins the religious sinfulness and hypocrisy which they taught him, doubling his burden of guilt. Thus the proselyte became twice as much a “subject for Gehenna” as the scribes and Pharisees.—Matt. 12:22-32; 15:14; 23:15, 33, NW.
18. Why is it illogical to argue that Matthew 12:41, 42 means a resurrection for those Jews?
18 Nor is the fact that the judgment day for natural Israel was nineteen centuries ago denied by Jesus’ words: “Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but, look! something more than Solomon is here.” (Matt. 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32, NW) This does not mean the Ninevites and the queen of the south will confront the Jews of Jesus’ day in the millennium judgment period. Why that, just to condemn those Jews, and for something they did in their former existence? In the millennium persons will be judged on the basis of what they do then, not what they did in a previous existence. Yet these Jews are adversely judged and condemned because nineteen centuries ago, back in their lifetime, during their judgment period, they rejected one more than Jonah and more than Solomon, namely Messiah Christ. They have no second chance in a second judgment period, in the millennium.
19. What do those words of Jesus mean?
19 What Jesus meant was that the Jews of his day were condemned by the example of the repentant Ninevites, which example was recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures and confronted those Jews during their then judgment period. In the same way the record of the queen of the south stood up to confront the unrepentant Jews. Such Gentiles heeded mere men such as Jonah and Solomon; the covenant nation of Jews would not heed even their Messiah. Before their judgment period was over, those Jews were literally confronted by Gentiles like the Ninevites and the queen of the south, Gentiles of their day who repented and became a part of the bride of Christ. The Jews judged themselves unworthy of life. (Acts 13:44-50, NW) Abel did not have to be alive for his blood to cry out from the ground in condemnation of Cain, and his course of integrity and the record of it speaks, even though Abel is dead. (Gen. 4:10; Heb. 11:4) Similarly, the course of the Ninevites and the queen of the south, and the record of it, could rise and speak in condemnation of the Jews during their judgment period back there.
20. Why does John 12:47-49 not deny it was a judgment period for the Jews then? and why could Jesus speak of the judgment as future?
20 To argue against that time’s being a judgment period for the Jews some quote Jesus’ words: “If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him, for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word which I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day; because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself that sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak.” (John 12:47-49, NW) It was not a judgment period for the world, but it was for the Jews. Jesus did not have to judge even them. The words he spoke did, and they were not his, but God’s. They brought enlightenment and responsibility, and the Jews’ reaction to them indicated their position regarding the Messiah and their standing in judgment. (Deut. 18:18, 19; John 3:18-21; Heb. 4:12) The texts that we have considered sound as though the judgment of the Jews was future, and this one speaks of them as being judged “in the last day”. When Jesus spoke of the judgment of the Jews in his day the bulk of that period was future, it was barely starting when he spoke. The last days of it did not come until A.D. 70, nearly forty years later. Then is when the judgment period of the nation of natural Israel reached its climactic end, when Jehovah used Titus to execute the judgments that had been accumulating for the past forty years.
21. How did the Galilean cities Jesus condemned come under the execution of judgment A.D. 70?
21 Now some will object that this calamity befell only those Jews in Jerusalem, where Titus laid siege. They will ask, Wherein did judgment come against the other Jewish cities, such as those Galilean cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum that Jesus pronounced woes against? Such inquirers are unacquainted with the historical record. The Roman legions swept through Galilee with such destructiveness that Josephus writes: “Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood; nor was it exempted from any kind of misery or calamity.” More specifically, when judgment day struck Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum it was not at all endurable for those cities. They passed out of existence and no one definitely knows where they were even located, it being a debated matter. Also we must remember that the final siege of Titus against Jerusalem started at Passover time A.D. 70, and hence caught in the city with the regular inhabitants were Jews from all Palestine that still clung to the Mosaic Law in rejection of Messiah and the new covenant. Among them would be many residents of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum.
22. How was the Jewish judgment period a miniature fulfillment of Matthew 24? How is our time the major fulfillment?
22 In Jesus’ day the Jewish system of things entered its “time of the end”, particularly after his death on the stake and Jehovah’s nailing of the Law to the stake in cancellation of its power and operation. But the actual end of the temple service and its priesthood and sacrifices did not come until A.D. 70. Then was its accomplished end, though the temple service was no more effective with God immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection and ascension. That was the nation of natural Israel’s “time of the end”, and when Jerusalem’s fall came those who had not heeded Jesus’ warning to flee to the mountains had judgment executed against them, with finality. Then was accomplished a partial and miniature fulfillment of Jesus’ famous prophecy of Matthew 24. Major and complete fulfillment comes in our day, is now in progress. Satan’s world entered its “time of the end” A.D. 1914. There its license and authority to rule ended as far as Jehovah was concerned, though it remains for a time, until its accomplished end, just as did the Jewish system of things. This present satanic system is in its judgment period, and execution will come in this generation, at Armageddon. That execution of judgment against nations and individuals will be just as final as were the executions at the end of the typical judgment periods of times past, such as the Noachian flood, the rain of fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, and the destruction wrought on natural Israel A.D. 70.
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah; who swear by the name of Jehovah, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. . . . Go ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans; with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed his servant Jacob. And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out. There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked.—Isa. 48:1, 2, 20-22, AS.