"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. But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 52:11-12)Why were the people of Israel to flee from Babylon? Because God was about to bring His punishment upon her. God was about to punish Babylon and did not want his people to be harmed in the process. Though we live in the world, God does not want us to be entangled by the world. We are not to be so vested in the world that all our hopes, dreams, and desires are dependent upon it. This scripture reminds me of a prophetic picture from the book of Revelation.
"The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!' And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?' And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!' " (Revelation 18:15-19)
The destruction of Babylon will be a time of great rejoicing for many Christians. To know that the one who represents this present world system has been judged by God, will bring joy to those who are in Christ, but to those who love this world system, it will bring sorrow and pain. This is why the Apostle John reminds us, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) This is not to say that I don't appreciate and enjoy all that God has created, but my heart is set upon the things of Heaven rather than the things of earth. I live in the world, but I do not live for the things of the world, such as power, position, wealth, pleasures, etc, rather I live for the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1-2)
Consider your own life, are there areas where you have become entangled by the world? Are there things in the world that, if God were to come and judge them, you would be sorrowful? Are there things in the world that have captured your heart more than the things of God? If so, what are we to do? First, we are to flee from. Paul says to "flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22) And secondly, we are to flee to. Jesus said to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
When God comes to judge the world, I do not want Him to find me so connected to the world that its hard for me to leave. I do not want to be like Lot's wife who had to turn around and look back at her beloved Sodom. I want to be ready to leave whenever God calls my name.