Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter twelve we have seen a clear vision of a universal woman bearing a man-child and confronting a great dragon. We all have been deeply impressed with this sign. In chapter thirteen we saw two beasts—Antichrist and the false prophet, both of whom collaborate with the dragon, Satan, to oppose God and to hinder the completion of God’s economy. Following this, we have more crucial matters in chapter fourteen. Here we not only see the firstfruit (vv. 1-5), but the things that follow the rapture of the firstfruit (vv. 6-13): the preaching of the eternal gospel (vv. 6-7), the fall of religious Babylon (v. 8), the warning against the worship of the beast and his image and against the mark (vv. 9-11), and the martyrdom during the great tribulation (vv. 12-13). In addition, chapter fourteen covers the harvest (vv. 14-16) and the great winepress (vv. 17-20). Chapter fourteen has four main categories: the rapture of the firstfruit; the things following the rapture of the firstfruit; the harvest, which is the reaping of the majority of the believers; and the great winepress, which is the reaping of the evil people on earth. Thus, this chapter reveals how everyone living on earth at the end time will be dealt with.
Everyone on earth falls into one of two categories: those who are the people of God and those who are not the people of God. The people of God are composed of Christians and Israelites, the God-fearing Jews. Israel is not covered in this chapter, because it was already covered in chapter seven with the vision of the sealing of the one hundred forty-four thousand chosen Israelites. This chapter unfolds God’s dealing with the Christian portion of His people. Among this part of His people, there are also two main sections: the firstfruit, those who ripen early, and the harvest, those who ripen later. Between the rapture of the firstfruit and the rapture of the harvest, four main things will occur: the preaching of the eternal gospel; the fall of Babylon the great, that is, religious Babylon, the Roman Catholic Church; the warning against the worship of the beast; and the great martyrdom during the great tribulation. After the harvest, the situation among the Christians will be cleared up. But those who are not God’s people will still be on earth. They are not considered as the wheat in God’s field, but as grapes in the evil field. These grapes will be gathered into the great winepress and trodden by the Lord Jesus (vv. 19-20). At that time the whole earth will be cleared up. Thus, chapter fourteen is a very significant chapter, revealing how the situation of everyone on earth will be dealt with. God is wise, righteous, and sovereign. By His wisdom, righteousness, and sovereignty He will deal with everyone on earth in the proper way and at the proper time. Praise Him!
What is prophesied in the Bible is simply a principle. We do not have the details. If the Lord had given us all the details of the things to come, the Bible would have thousands of pages, and we would not be able to carry it around. We thank the Lord for His wisdom. We have pointed out that all the world powers from Babylon to the coming revived Roman Empire with the ten kingdoms are represented by the huge image Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream (Dan. 2:31-33). The head signifies Babylon; the breast and arms, Medo-Persia; the belly and the thighs, Greece; and the two legs, the Roman Empire. It is a historical fact that the Roman Empire was divided into two sections signified by the legs of the image. The period indicated by the ankle is ambiguous. Presently we are living in this ambiguous period. A gap was created by the termination of the Roman Empire in A.D. 476, but during this time that gap is being filled in by the Roman Catholic Church. At the close of this long interval, the Roman Empire will be revived and consummate in the ten kingdoms signified by the ten toes of the image. According to Daniel 2, these ten kingdoms will be smashed by a stone cut without hands (vv. 34-35). This stone is Christ, who will come from the heavens to smite the entire image, including everything from Nebuchadnezzar to the last Caesar. In His wisdom God has used the image of the human body to give a clear picture of the various stages of the worldly powers. This is the way and the principle of prophecy in the Bible. In a sense, the prophecy in the Bible is very brief.
The principle is the same with respect to the rapture of God’s people. There is a difference between the rapture of the overcomers and the rapture of the majority of the believers. We have covered this matter of the rapture in messages twenty-nine and thirty. Based upon the principle of these two kinds of rapture, we come now to the firstfruit.
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