Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 16: Study on Revelationby Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
"And there will no longer be a curse. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him."
"And there will no longer be a curse." This guarantees that there will be no more committing of sins in the new heaven and new earth. The work of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will be over. Before Adam committed sin in the paradise, his conscience was not functioning, but in the new heaven and new earth, everyone will have a conscience which will be able to distinguish between good and evil. Also the devil shall be no more.
Hence, there shall be no more curse because:
(1) The curse on the world came from the angels' committing of sins. In eternity, however, the angels will no longer rule; we will be ruling instead.
(2) There is no mention of animals being in the new heaven and new earth, because the snake was used by the devil.
(3) Besides the tree of life, there is no mention of any other plant being in the new heaven and new earth. This is because the wine from the vine caused Lot to be drunk, bringing a curse to a certain part of humanity.
"And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it." Seven times in this book the relationship between the Lord Jesus and the new city is mentioned and is based on the name of the Lamb (21:9, 14, 22, 23, 27; 22:1, 3).
"His slaves" are the same as those mentioned in 1:1. They include not only us who are saved, but also all the prophets and saints in the Old Testament age. "Will serve Him" here does not mean to serve as laborers, but to serve as priests. Revelation 20:6 says that the overcomers will be priests and kings in the millennium. Since there will be no more sin in eternity, neither will there be priests as there were in the millennium. Therefore, priests are not explicitly mentioned here. Nevertheless, there will still be many ways to serve God. This indicates that we will not be lazy in eternity. In the millennium, only the overcomers can be priests; but in eternity all who are saved will serve God.
"And they will see His face, and His name will be on their forehead."
"And they will see His face." To continually see God is a special privilege. Fallen men are forever kept away from the Lord's face and from the glory of His strength (2 Thes. 1:9). In the Old Testament, Moses was the only one allowed to see even the back of God (Exo. 33:18-23). In the millennium, only the overcomers can see God's face (Heb. 12:14), but in the new city, all those who are saved will see God's face and will draw near to Him.
Revelation 22:3 speaks "of God and of the Lamb," but verse 4 says only "His face." This shows that the Lord and the Father are one. The Father and the Son are distinct but not separate. "And His name will be on their forehead." During the millennium the one hundred and forty-four thousand alone have His name on their foreheads (14:1). Now all the saved ones have His name on their foreheads.
"And night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them; and they will reign forever and ever."
At this time, there will be no need for either the natural light or the man-made light because the Lord God Himself will shine on them. "And they will reign forever and ever." This is the second thing the believers will do in eternity (the first being to serve God). In the millennium, only the overcomers will be kings and only for a thousand years. Now, however, all who are saved will be kings for eternity.
Some famous expositors say that Revelation 21:9—22:5 does not refer to the scene in the new heaven and new earth but, rather, describes the millennium. The reason for their interpretation is that according to 22:2, which says that "the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations," there will still be sickness and, therefore, death on earth. Hence, this would refer to the millennial kingdom. However, they may be proved wrong by the following reasons:
(1) According to 21:2 the New Jerusalem comes down only after the former heaven and earth have passed away (v. 1). Before the old earth passes away, the New Jerusalem cannot come down, because the New Jerusalem cannot come down upon the old earth.
(2) According to 21:2 and 10, the Jerusalem here is new, and it comes down out of heaven from God. But during the millennium, the old Jerusalem will still be on the earth. Should the New Jerusalem come down at that time, then would there not be two Jerusalems on earth? The New Jerusalem cannot come down before the old Jerusalem passes away.
(3) In 21:1 and 2, John first sees the new heaven and new earth, and then he sees the New Jerusalem. How can one say that the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth is in the kingdom? Some would then say that though 21:1-8 does refer to the new heaven and new earth, Revelation 21:9—22:5 refers back to the scene of the New Jerusalem in the millennial kingdom. But both 21:2 and 10 clearly say that the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven from God. Therefore, we see that the New Jerusalem in verse 10 is the same city as in verse 2.
(4) Since 21:5 says that all things are made new, how can the New Jerusalem be something that was in the millennial kingdom before everything is made new?
(5) The people in 21:8 are cast into the lake of fire after the millennial kingdom and after being judged. The new city stands in opposition to the lake of fire. How then can one say that the new city comes first, whereas these people are cast into the lake of fire after the millennium?
(6) "And I saw no temple in it" (21:22), but we know there will be a temple during the millennium. Ezekiel 40:48 clearly tells how the temple will look in the millennial kingdom.
(7) "The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it" (21:23), but we know that the Bible states that during the millennium "the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days" (Isa. 30:26). How can we say that the New Jerusalem descends during the millennium?
(8) In 21:24 and 26 there is the word "into." This word proves that men may come into the city. But during the millennium the city is suspended in the air; therefore, men of flesh and blood cannot enter into it.
(9) The Lamb's book of life (21:27) appears after the millennium (20:15). How can those whose names are recorded in the Lamb's book of life, which appears only after the millennium, go in and out of the city during the millennium?
(10) There will be no more curse in the new heaven and new earth (22:3), but in the millennium such curses as sickness, pain, death, and so forth will still exist. How then can we say that Revelation 21:9—22:5 describes the millennium?
(11) Revelation 22:3 speaks of "the throne of God and of the Lamb." During the millennium there is only the throne of the Lord Jesus on earth, not the "throne of God and of the Lamb." Hence, how can one say that Revelation 21:9—22:5 describes the things in the millennium?
(12) According to 22:1-3, the throne of God and of the Lamb is in the center of the new city. Nevertheless, Ezekiel says that the glory of God fills the Holy of Holies (43:5; 44:4). If the New Jerusalem does indeed descend during the millennium, will the center of man's worship then be the new city, or will it be the Holy of Holies? Where will God dwell?
Our conclusion is that Revelation 6:1—21:8 covers the prophetic part of this book; Revelation 21:9—22:5 speaks about the New Jerusalem; and Revelation 22:6-21 is not the main body of prophecy but, rather, the epilogue of this book.
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