“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.” (Isaiah 52:11)
Speaking of the return of the His people from captivity in Babylon, the Lord here admonishes His people not to be contaminated with the ungodly influences of the pagan world around them. He does not want them to adopt their practices, or learn their ungodly ways.
But the word also applies to US as God’s people today. We too live as aliens in a foreign land (I Peter 1:1). But we have an even higher privilege than those God addressed originally in Isaiah 52. As God’s people in Jesus Christ, we do not merely “carry” the holy vessels of the Lord, we ARE the holy vessels of the Lord. As I Corinthians 6 reminds us, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit! Therefore, we should be careful lest we adopt the ungodly practices of the world around us.
Let us be clear: Christianity is NOT merely a religion of “don’t do this; don’t touch that.” It is about a relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. But that does not mean that there are not things in this world we need to avoid, which can hinder that relationship, and harm our witness to other people.
Unfortunately, many of God’s people have become absorbed into the culture around them, instead of maintaining their difference from it. Some even hail this absorption as a GOOD thing, believing that it somehow allows them to be better witnesses and ministers in the culture. But this is not the direction God’s word gives us here. Notice how many admonitions this one verse gives to be different from the culture: “depart” (used twice); “go out”; “touch nothing unclean”; “go out”; “purify.” God makes it very clear that He does not want His people to be contaminated by compromise with the ungodly practices of the world around them. He doesn’t want us to “fit in” to the world around us, but to be different.
Many of us as God’s people today would do well to heed the warning He gives here to His people, regarding some particular area of our lives: “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.”