“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18 (NAS)
The apostle Paul, while continuing to contend for the souls of the brethren in Corinth being influenced by the false apostles among them, quotes from the prophet Isaiah.
The original content of the passage Paul cites is found in Isaiah 52:11. “Depart, depart, go out from there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the LORD.” (NAS) In the context previous to this statement by Isaiah, the prophet speaks of the people coming out of Egypt and Assyria (Isa. 52:4b, 5). A similar declaration is made earlier in the book of Isaiah exhorting the same: “Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this, send it out to the end of the earth; say, ‘The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob.’ ” (Isa. 48:20) In the more immediate context of Isaiah 52 comes the prophecy of the beautiful feet that bring good news (of which the Spirit moved the apostle Paul also to quote in his letter to the Romans), peace, happiness, redemption, salvation, and the restoration of Zion with the LORD reigning among His people (vss7-9). Motivated by these prophecies and promises, the people were to be willing recipients and participants in these events. History, however, records that not all the captives wanted to come out of Babylon after being freed. Many were hesitant- thus the urgency from the prophet by the Holy Sprit: “Depart, depart…” and “Go forth…Flee…” Unfortunately, after seventy years in Babylon, they’d made the necessary adjustments to not only survive, but assimilate into Gentile culture. Many of the original Jews who’d been carted off from their homes in Jerusalem and understood the severity of the deportation had died off. The current generation made a quick assessment of the trip across the desert to the homeland with all the associated risks and had decided it was better to stay where they were. It was easier to offer their support than make the trek. Consequently, relatively few in number were willing to be participants in the fulfilling of prophecy. How does this relate to why the Spirit moved Paul to pull this verse from the book of Isaiah and pen it in his second letter to the church at Corinth? Because Babylon is still the problem today. Not a physical city or region per se, rather a sensual system designed to pull the believer back into this world. That’s exactly the premise of what Babylon represents in the Revelation given to John. The LORD communicated through Isaiah that Babylon was a place of the profane, one they were supposed to be excited about leaving, not one where they assimilated and assessed their personal standing by how close they reflected that which surrounded them. The false apostles in Corinth were working every angle imaginable to turn the church from following the instruction of Paul (sent from heaven) by attacking him personally. Paul’s prowess and pedigree from a worldly vantage were being called into question. He just wasn’t like them! Why, he didn’t enslave the brethren, didn’t slap them down, he didn’t even charge them to hear him! Oh, he was weak in comparison to them! Through these false apostles the influence of the world was creeping back in. This brethren is the insidious undercurrent of Satan. Never underestimate the influence of the world at his disposal that he wields against the people of God. If he can get you to be more concerned about your standing in the world or among those of the world, he’s able to pull your citizenship down from heaven and back into the world, which is his lair. The false apostles were preaching another Jesus. They may have presented a good face, able to fool the brethren, but Paul, through the Spirit, calls them what they were: deceitful workers that were servants of Satan. Look, you can’t live like Babylon (the world) and fall under the sway of Babylon’s disciples and still think you’re a son or daughter to God. The Spirit says you’re not. The trek isn’t easy to heaven, however, it’s worth it. He needs your participation in fulfilling prophecy. Come out, come out, wherever you are. Heaven’s welcome mat awaits you. “We also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1) Amen.