Now that the writ of her judgment has been read now we are ready to see the judgment actualized. There is a progression as the judgment unfolds in the following five verses: we will see the warning of judgment, the measure of judgment, and then the judgment itself. First, consider the warning of judgment. The warning belongs not to Babylon but to the people of God. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” The voice speaking is not the angel that read the writ above. It is “another” voice. It finds its source from heaven which indicates that it is speaking above the angel that spoke previously. We can safely assume that the voice is divine due to the that that it speaks possessively of the people of God. The voice declares that He has a people and speaks with divine authority. The voice also speaks as distinct from God (the Father) in that He speaks of God remembering the iniquities of Babylon. This is the Word of God that was with God and was God (John 1:1). This is the same divine voice of the Lord God that walked in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8) and was identified as God (Ps. 29). The concern of our great Shepherd is for His sheep. This warning is applicable to all of us that are His people. Since Babylon will have already been destroyed and fallen the imperative here would not make sense as immediately applying to the people of God in our time. It would appear to this writer that the voice is speaking directly to John and is applicable to all who believe both in the times of John and in our time now. We know that the mystery of iniquity already is working in our time (II Thess. 2:7). The falling away is not something that will simply happen in a vacuum but will be connected with things that are present even in our day.
The warning itself finds a correlation with similar warnings regarding Babylon of old that were given by God. “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense…. My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord” (Jer. 51:7, 45). Zechariah recorded a similar warning: “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the Lord. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon” (Zech. 2:6, 7). Babylon was to and is to be rejected by the people of God. Come out of her. Her system is unfaithful to God. Her system is centered on the worship of man. Her system is leading to antichrist. Her system is the worship of self and surrounded with the promotion of pleasure and ease. Do not have fellowship with error. John said elsewhere; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17). It is incumbent upon the people of God to recognize the antichristian systems and doctrines that surround them now and come out of them. Paul clearly said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:14-18). This touches on the truths of biblical separation that should be practiced in the lives of all believers. We are to be separate from the world. We are to be separate from false doctrine. We are to be separate even from those within the church that teach doctrines contrary to those we have received in the New Testament by the authority of the apostles. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17, 18). We are not to be partakers of the sins of others (I Tim. 5:22). This is the exact statement of our Lord in our text before us. These are the basic axioms of biblical separation. We must reject the spirit that is contrary to Christ. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). I do not believe that this is simply a command to come out of the Catholic church, though it is certainly included. This is a call to come out of all systems and religions, no matter how Christian they may purport to be, that are leading to this antichristian end. We need most certainly to be people with an understanding of the times. We need people who are earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to us by Christ from those that are trying to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude: 4). The end of that system is the plagues of God. If any will partake in her sin they will partake in her judgment.
The reason why this warning is given is declared, “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” This is the same idea that was brought up in the 16th chapter when Armageddon occurred (Rev. 16:19). This continues to be the parrellel of old Babylon: “for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies” (Jer. 51:9). We note first of all that all sin is known of God, from the sin of Cain to the sin of Israel under the care of Ezra (Gen. 4:10, Ezra 9:6). The idea, though, conveyed by the phrase “reached unto heaven” carries the idea of reaching its limit with God. In the days of Abraham the iniquity of the Canaanites was not yet full. God has a limit that He will allow sin to continue because God is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish. And the idea that God has remembered her iniquities takes on the idea that God is ready to give a full account or judgment for all of her sins. God in his omniscience does not fail to remember but God does delay judgment until its proper time. Man will have to give an account for all deeds that are done. Babylon will do the same. There will come a time in which the judgment of God will be delayed no longer and all will be brought back to remembrance. Just as it was the blood of all the prophets were judged upon the generations of Israel for their rejection of Christ, so it will be with Babylon. This is why we need to come out of such systems. To remain in fellowship with such is to be on the wrong side of the justice and judgment of God. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Prov. 27:19). We know who we are by the people with which we fellowship. If we are friends with the world then we are the enemies of God (James 4:4).
We further see the measure of judgment: “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” God is still speaking. God is apparently speaking to God, which only makes sense in the Trinitarian sense. God is the one judging and rewarding sinners for their sin. And it is only God in whom man sins against; for it is His law that is transgressed. So the “you” of the first clause is also referring to God. God is speaking to God. God the Father (who above claims us as His people) is speaking to God the Son; or vice versa (though it would make far more sense for the “you” of the text to refer to Christ – i.e. the Father gives judgment to the Son – John 5:22). God says reward her as she has rewarded you. This is a just retribution, an eye for an eye. It is the law when it comes to the return of one’s injury upon the offender. Therefore this “you” of our text speaks of the injury of the world toward Christ. Christ suffered at the hands of sinners and those who are not cleansed by His blood will be guilty of His blood. The time of retributive justice will come. But, this would also include all the suffering of Christ experienced by those who are His body or church. Babylon shed the blood of the saints. As much as they did it to the least of the brethren, they did it to Christ (Matt. 25:45). There is a precious connection between the suffering of Christ and the suffering of those that belong to Christ. And this is the avenging of their blood that was promised to the martyrs under the altar in the sixth chapter. They are connected to Christ.
Not only is the retributive justice to requite injury but so also is the retributive justice in regards to theft. Three times in the sixth verse the word “double” is used. That speaks of the law in regards to theft (Ex. 22:4, 7, 9). What are the works that she did? She robbed God and now must pay back doubt. Babylon will reap what it has sown and it will reap more than what they have sown. She took that which belonged to God. Instead of giving glory to God, she glorified herself. It is an interesting parallel that as Babylon receives double for her sin so Jerusalem she received double blessings (Isa. 61:7). God is a jealous God, and rightly so, and will not allow mankind to vaunt itself against Him. She filled her cup of indulgence and sin to the brim and it will turn to judgment instead, as we already have seen, but God will pour double into that cup. Her own sins will be her double judgment. God’s wrath is doubled upon her.
The parallel between what she sowed and what she reaped continues in the seventh verse. She traded her glory and her delicious (see our discussion of delicacies above) living for torment and sorrow. She received those at the same rate that she enjoyed the former. The rich man faired sumptuously every day but in hell he was in torments (Luke 16). The Son is directed to turn that happy our into sorrow. “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god…” (Ps. 16:4). While sorrow and signing are fleeing away from those of Zion (Isa. 51:11) they will rest on Babylon. There is a great turning of the tables here. And the punishment will fit the crime. Hear what she said of herself: “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” This is what proceeded out of her wicked heart. The same things proceeded out of the heart of the wicked according to the psalmist. “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity…. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it…. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it” (Ps. 10:6, 11, 13). The wicked have always thought that they would see no judgment. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11). She is no different. This same thing was said to Babylon by Isaiah: “Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children…” (Isa. 47:8). She sees herself as a ruler and a conqueror of mankind. She sees herself as royalty in the arms of the beast that she chose over Christ and thinks that she is beyond the judgment of God. How foolish is the heart of the wicked.
That brings us to the judgment itself. “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” In one day the tables are turned. She is no queen over man. In one day she is brought into famine. In one day she is brought into the mourning of loss, an answer to her boast of never being a widow. In one day death seizes upon her; that is the eternal death which we shall later speak of in the 20th chapter. She shall be burned with fire. That is a statement of her judgment at the hands of men as we saw at the end of the 17th chapter. It also speaks of the being burned with fire unquenchable at the hands of God (Matt. 3:12). She be utterly burned. There will be no point of her existence that will not be touched by that fire yet to be. The reason for such is summed up in the epitaph that is written over her: “strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” She is no queen but one that must bow before the Almighty God that will judge all (Phil. 2:10). The judgment is actualized here. God judgeth her (i.e. God is judging her in the present tense in this text). God is not mocked. Mankind cannot stand against God.