1 Peter 5:13-14 (HCSB)
The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
When Peter sent his first letter of encouragement, “To the temporary residents dispersed, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” (1 Peter 1:1a, HCSB) he closed it by referring to where they all lived as “Babylon.” He said this to make a point. He was reminding them that they were still exiles, even though they were “…chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:1b-2, HCSB) To the hearer of the letter, Peter’s closing would have triggered thoughts of their ancestors’ Babylonian captivity, making sense of why he had earlier in the letter fostered the following advice…
1 Peter 2:13-17 (HCSB)
Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.
Why do I say that this?
There is an interesting parallel here to what Jeremiah had written to the exiles who were relegated to live in Babylon 600+ years earlier…
Jeremiah 29:4-7 (HCSB)
This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.”
In both cases, God’s people were basically told to continue to live normally, as responsible representatives of Him, despite being exiled in Babylon. They were called to “live as free people” because they were “God’s slaves,” (not Babylonian slaves) who were to… “Pray to the LORD on its [Babylon’s] behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.” In these parallel situations, the exiles were never called to rebel against Babylon, but to be good foreigners there, trusting in God to get them through that time of alienation.
The same is true for us. We also live in “Babylon.” We are also “exiles.” It is why we see this same theme in Paul’s writings as well, in his encouragement to the brethren…
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (HCSB)
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Romans 13:1-7 (HCSB)
Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.
Philippians 3:20 (HCSB)
…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Responding to Babylon
One day, Babylon will be no more…
Revelation 18:21 (HCSB)
Then a mighty angel picked up a stone like a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying:
In this way, Babylon the great city
will be thrown down violently
and never be found again.
Until then, we must…
“Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.”
Making sure that…
“…petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
“…our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
That, is how we are to respond to Babylon.
Godspeed, to the brethren!