Question: Since judgment begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17), and the call goes forth at some point afterwards for God’s people to come out of Babylon the Great (Jeremiah 51:45; Revelation 18:4), lest they partake of the judgments to befall her (Revelation 18:21), then in what way can we expect that Jehovah’s Witnesses will go into/be in captivity to Babylon the Great?
Answer: The 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation is where we are introduced to the prostitute called Babylon the Great. But a significant portion of those two chapters focus on the scarlet-colored beast that the harlot is mounted upon. That is an important detail to be noted.
In the 51st chapter of Jeremiah (cited in the question) as well as the 47th and 48th chapters of Isaiah, we find God’s judgment expressed against Babylon and her false gods. Interestingly, certain phrases that appear in those Hebrew prophecies were used later by John in writing Revelation. For example, through both Jeremiah and Isaiah God’s people are commanded to get out of Babylon.
What is noteworthy is that the Jews were physically captive in Babylon. Jerusalem was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar and all its inhabitants went into exile in the land of Babylonia. But the survivors and their offspring were captive to the religion of Babylon only in the sense that it appeared that Marduk and Nebo and the other babylonian deities were stronger than Jehovah, since he apparently could not protect Jerusalem. And of course, they could not practice their own religion since that required a temple and all the things associated with it. The command to flee out of her came about as a result of Cyrus overthrowing the Chaldean kingdom. And the Israelites went out as a group, just as in the exodus from Egypt a thousands years before.
So, the important point to keep in mind is that the symbolic Babylon the Great is closely associated with the eighth king – at least until the beast destroys her.
However, the Watchtower has mutilated the prophecies and obscured their meaning and thereby diminished their importance.
To demonstrate the point, the seven-headed, scarlet-colored beast, upon which the harlot rides is said to be entirely different from the seven-headed beast portrayed elsewhere in Revelation. Clearly, though, it is different only, in that, it represents the eighth king, which springs from the seven. But the Watchtower supposes that there are two symbolic seven-headed beasts that coexist.
Whereas, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the scarlet-colored beast that emerges from the abyss is the United Nations, which supposedly arose from a deathlike state when the League dissolved, the seven-headed beast from the abyss that makes war against God’s servants is said to be the Anglo-American-led beast that arises from the abyss of the sea. Since the Hebrew Scriptures refer to the sea as an abyss the Watchtower has fabricated two entirely different meanings for the very same term used in Revelation in connection with the symbolic seven-headed beast.
Besides that, the Watchtower has concocted an elaborate myth connected to the 1914-1918 period. That is supposedly when these words were accomplished: “When they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will wage war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the main street of the great city that is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also executed on the stake.”
There is no necessity for me to point out the obvious absurdity of the Watchtower’s interpretation here, since the entire 1914 teaching has been thoroughly dismantled already. But simply take note of the fact that the beast that ascends from the abyss wages war upon the two anointed witnesses and conquers them and kills them. This beast from the abyss is the eighth king. Its rising up from the abyss signifies the beast’s recovery from the sword-stroke upon one of its heads. This is a future event that portrays the crash of the Anglo-American system and the imposition of a tyrannical new world order, so-called.
Revelation progressively reveals more details, which is why the 11th chapter does not depict the beast as being scarlet in color nor does it have a the harlot sitting upon it. But once the Watchtower’s 1914 error and all the hokum attached to it is set aside, then future events come more clearly into focus.
As regards the command to “get out of her my people,” just as was the case in ancient Babylon, God’s people are going to be suppressed and ruthlessly persecuted by Satan’s kingdom. And the false religious system will be part of that oppression. And the Watchtower organization will become part of that system.
Getting out of her will coincide with the disgusting thing standing where it ought not. God’s people will get out of her by refusing the mark of the beast and getting away from whatever is left of the Watchtower then and accepting the then-ruling Kingdom of Christ.
The last subheading of Revelation – Get Out of Her My People – discusses this topic in more detail