(4) Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
After the message of the Angel is made known (18:1-3), John records that he hears another voice from heaven. We are not given any clues as to the identity of the speaker, but this new messenger will provide the narration for the rest of the chapter.
“Come out of her, my people.” The first point of the new messenger is a call for the faithful to “come out” of Jerusalem. This verse is in keeping with the symbolic figure of the fallen Babylon. Notice the resemblance of these words to the fall of ancient Babylon,
“Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every one save his life from the fierce anger of the LORD!” (Jeremiah 51:45)
This theme is repeated in Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6, 50; and Paul makes use of this idea when he spoke to the church at Corinth of their identity as the true temple of God, saying,
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17).
In consideration of these scriptures, it appears that this is not a call to physically evacuate the area, although that also happened (Matthew 24:16), but this is a call to spiritual “come out” and separate yourselves from them. This is manifested in the stated cause, “lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.” God is calling the faithful to remain separate from the old covenant people; and to not take part in their sinful ways. The fact that this is also the theme of the book of Hebrews is a telling sign that the brethren in the first century tended to blur the lines. Therefore, amid the visions of the punishment of God upon the old adulterer, he reminds the new bride to separate yourself from her, and not be influenced to follow her path, “lest you share in her plagues.”
(5) for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
The last verse was a reference from Jeremiah 51, and the theme continues in this verse with another reference from that chapter.
“…Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies.” (Jeremiah 51:9).
The picture of sins piling up even to the heavens is a multi-sided figure; it shows the incredible amount of sin which the people have committed, it speaks of the longsuffering patience of God in dealing with his people, and it shows the justice of God, for not one of their sins are missing, he “has remembered” them all.