Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that the woman in Revelation 12 is not an individual woman, but a collective, universal woman symbolizing the totality of God’s people. In Genesis 3:15 the woman was local and individual; the seed, Christ, was also individual; and the serpent was a small snake. All three, the woman, the seed, and the serpent, were individual and on a small scale. But in Revelation 12 the woman is universal and collective, symbolizing all of God’s people: the patriarchs represented by the twelve stars; Israel represented by the moon; and the church, the New Testament believers, represented by the sun. In Revelation 12 the serpent has become a dragon. While the serpent creeps on earth, the dragon flies through the air. Now Satan not only moves on the earth, but is also exceedingly active in the air. The seed in this chapter is not just the individual Christ but is a corporate entity, the corporate Christ, including Christ as the Head and all His overcoming believers as the Body. Hence, the three items found in Genesis 3:15 are seen in a highly developed form in Revelation 12. In this message we need to consider the man-child and the rest of the woman’s seed.
Verse 2 says that the woman was with child, and verse 5 says that “she brought forth a son, a man-child.” The child here, being a man-child, signifies the stronger part of God’s people. Although in verse 2 this child was in the woman, the Word does not call him a baby, but a man-child. By reading and praying over this portion of the Word, we realize that man-child here does not indicate a baby. Rather, it indicates the stronger part within the woman. The woman represents the totality of God’s people. But throughout all generations there have been some stronger ones among God’s people. These are considered in the Bible as a collective unit fighting the battle for God and bringing God’s kingdom down to earth.
History proves that not everyone among God’s people is a strong one. No, only a minority of God’s people are strong ones. This was true during the time of the patriarchs. Do you not believe that during Noah’s time there were others who belonged to God besides Noah? I believe that God had hundreds of people. Noah, however, was a strong one. During the time of Israel, there were hundreds of thousands who belonged to God, but only a few of them were strong. For example, Elijah and Jeremiah were strong ones. Undoubtedly, the majority of God’s people were genuine, but they were not strong. We find the same thing in the New Testament. Although there were thousands of Christians in the early days, not that many were truly strong. Even at present there are thousands, even millions, of Christians, but not many are strong. I encourage you all to be strong.
We should not only be part of the woman, but also part of the man-child. In the Bible woman signifies the weaker one, and man signifies the stronger one (1 Pet. 3:7). The man-child, the stronger part, is within the woman, the weaker part. Although the woman is bright and universal, she is not altogether strong. Only a part within her is strong. This is true in the local churches, even here in Anaheim. Not all those in Anaheim are strong ones. Rather, I believe that in Anaheim there are more weak ones than strong ones. How about your locality? Everywhere the strong ones are few, and the weak ones are many.
There is a proverb that says that if we do not have quantity, we can never have quality. Quality comes out of quantity. Suppose God had a hundred thousand people. If one per cent of this number were strong ones, then there would be one thousand strong ones. Firstly, we have quantity, then quality. God’s way is always wise. Firstly, He gains the quantity. He calls many, but chooses few. As Matthew 22:14 says, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Although we all have come into the Lord’s recovery, we should not say that everyone in the recovery will be an overcomer. We have no warrant for saying this. We can only say that those in the recovery have a greater possibility of being overcomers. Whether or not you will be an overcomer depends upon you; it depends upon how much you share of God’s grace. How much you share of God’s grace will determine whether or not you will be a strong one among God’s people in the Lord’s recovery. I thank the Lord that we all are part of the woman, but I dare not say that we all are also part of the man-child. We must look to the Lord that we may be enriched, strengthened, and become more solid so that we might grow from the woman into her stronger part. But no matter how strong you become, do not prematurely separate yourself from the woman. If you do that, you will have a miscarriage. Be careful not to be “too strong.” If you are too strong, you will come out of the woman too soon. Stay in the woman as part of the man-child until the time of delivery has come.
How can we be the man-child? If you would be part of the man-child, you must eat more, grow more, and become stronger. To put it into practical terms, you must pray more, spend more time with the Lord, eat more of the Word, experience the Lord more, grow in life more, and have more dealings with the negative things. If others would gossip, you would not gossip. If others would not pray, you would pray more. Although you should not be separate from the woman, you should be somewhat different from others. The woman is too general. Those who are part of the man-child are somewhat particular. Many of the dear ones in the Lord’s recovery are indifferent. They have little appetite and do not like to eat very much. But if you would be in the man-child, you should not be indifferent. You must be particular, sober, and serious. You must have a good appetite and have a personal, direct moment by moment dealing with the Lord. If you are like this, then it is possible that you will be the stronger part in the Lord’s recovery, the stronger part within the woman. Whether or not you will be in the man-child depends upon how you react to God’s desire, God’s move, and God’s eternal economy. If, day and night, you cannot go on until you have given yourself wholly and thoroughly to God’s economy, then it is likely that you are a part of the man-child.
Not only the Lord’s economy but even His recovery today depends upon the stronger ones, not upon the indifferent ones. There might be thousands in the Lord’s recovery, but not all are strong ones. Praise the Lord for the strong ones. The Lord’s recovery today absolutely depends upon them. Not all those in the Lord’s recovery in the United States are strong. Some say, “Oh, I love the Lord’s recovery, but I just can’t make it.” Such a one means business and loves the Lord’s recovery, but he is not absolute. Thank the Lord for the honest and faithful ones. They are absolute, saying, “This is it! I will be absolutely for it. I don’t like to be neutral.” We should be either cold or boiling hot, but not lukewarm. If we are lukewarm, we are only good for being vomited out of the Lord’s mouth (3:16).
Firstly, the Lord’s economy is with His people represented by the woman. But the Lord’s economy cannot be carried out merely by the woman. There is the need of the strong ones. This is always the principle. We must be absolute and strong. If we would take this way, we would take it absolutely. But if we would not take it, then we would forget about it. We must not only be part of the woman, but also part of the man-child within the woman. It is not adequate simply to be in the Lord’s recovery. We have to be among that part in the Lord’s recovery which is strong. Whatever tests and trials may come, we would stand against them. You are all familiar with Brother Watchman Nee. He was imprisoned for over twenty years. During that long trial, he was daily tempted to fail. But praise the Lord that for more than twenty years he stood without changing. He was truly among the stronger part. Do not excuse yourself. Rather, you should say to yourself, “Poor self, get away. I have no heart for you and I don’t care for you. I care for the Lord and for His testimony and recovery.” We all must be absolute and strong.
If you are absolute, and strong, your appetite will be enlarged. Some think that the three messages put out each week by the ministry station are too much to digest. When I was young, I could have taken in thirty messages a week. How easy it is to take in just three messages a week. We only need to read six pages a day. However, if you do not have any appetite, even a small piece of candy would be too much for you to take in. How much we eat depends upon our hunger. Do you have a big appetite? If you do, you would like to devour the whole Bible. Three messages a week are not too much. Even three messages a day would not be excessive. Many of you have time to gossip, but you do not have time to read a few pages of the life-study messages. Are you in the man-child? If you are, then you will be hungry. Mothers know that if a child does not have a good appetite, he will not grow and be strong. If you do not eat, you cannot grow, and if you do not grow, you will not be strong. The Lord’s recovery depends upon the hungry ones. Whether or not you are part of the man-child depends upon how hungry and thirsty you are. If you are truly thirsty, you will hate gossip and nonsensical talk. You will say, “I am here to be trained, strengthened, nourished, and built up. I have neither the heart nor the time for gossip. I have no appetite for idle conversation.” If you are like this, it is a proof that with you there is the possibility of being part of the man-child. We are here for the Lord’s recovery and for nothing else. Remember that the Lord’s recovery is the practicality of His economy today. His economy can only be carried out by the man-child.
It is difficult for most Christians to understand Revelation 12. Many cannot understand who the woman is and who the rest of her seed are. You cannot apprehend this according to your natural mind. The woman is composed of all her seed. If she had one thousand children, these one thousand, put together, would equal the woman. Do not consider the woman as being separate from all her children. The woman, the mother, is her children, and the children are the woman.
This chapter is not just for the future, for it began in Genesis 3:15. Abel was a seed of the woman. As a seed of the woman, he was part of the woman and was persecuted by his brother Cain, who was part of the serpent. The serpent who damaged Eve in Genesis 3 subtly crept into Cain in Genesis 4, making him a part of the serpent. It was not Cain who murdered his brother, but, according to John 8:44, it was Satan, the serpent, who murdered Abel. In Genesis 4 we have the woman represented by Abel and the serpent represented by Cain. As we continue on through the Old Testament, we see that Elijah and Jeremiah were part of the woman and that those who opposed them were part of the serpent. The Lord Jesus certainly was the seed of the woman. In front of Him stood the seed of the serpent, the “generation of vipers” (Matt. 23:33), the Pharisees. All those who opposed the Lord Jesus were part of the serpent. When the apostle Paul was Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church and laying it waste, he was part of the serpent. But the Lord called him, and Saul became part of the woman. All the synagogues of Satan (2:9) were also part of the dragon. At the time of the New Testament, the serpent had become a great dragon. All the Jewish synagogues had become one with the serpent in persecuting the woman.
This has continued throughout all the centuries until the present time. Today, in one sense, we are the woman, but, in another sense, some of us are the man-child. Directly in front of us is the dragon. Even as I am speaking, I can see the dragon before me. Do not be afraid of him, for we have One who is stronger than he (1 John 4:4). The dragon may send forth the waters, but God will use the earth to swallow them (12:15-16). The first one to be part of the man-child was Abel. All the martyrs are also part of the man-child. As we shall see, all the dead overcoming saints are included in the man-child.
The period of the woman’s pregnancy is not nine months; rather, it is approximately six thousand years. It will last from the death of Abel until the time of the great tribulation when Satan will be one with Antichrist to persecute the believers left on earth during the great tribulation. Those Christians who will refuse to worship the image of Antichrist will be the later overcomers mentioned in Revelation 15. From the time of Abel until Revelation 15 will be about six thousand years. This is the period of the woman’s pregnancy with the man-child.
In front of the woman who is about to bear the man-child stands a serpent who has become a dragon. This subtle one has been constantly fighting to damage God’s people throughout the centuries. He has used every means to accomplish this, including both Judaism and Catholicism. In his history of martyrs, Foxe says that the Roman Catholic Church has killed more saints than the Roman Empire did. If you go to Spain, you will not have the same liberty to speak as we have in this country. If you speak out, you will probably be persecuted by the religious people. Although they would persecute you for the sake of preserving their religion, they would not realize that they are part of the great dragon. Today, this war of persecution is raging. Sometimes I am asked why we have so much opposition and why we do not receive a good name. As long as we are standing for the testimony of Jesus, there will be opposition. Satan never sleeps. Day and night, he is working to oppose and damage the Lord’s testimony. But praise the Lord that His recovery is here! The real woman is here, and within her there is the man-child.
Do not think that Revelation 12 is merely for the future. No, it began in Genesis 3:15 and has been continuing ever since. In Galatians 4:29 Paul says that those who are fleshly persecute those who are spiritual. The fleshly are one with the dragon, and the spiritual are those in the woman with the man-child. In this age and on this earth, the woman is here. Within her, there is the stronger part, the man-child. This is the reason that we experience so much opposition and fighting. This opposition is a sign that we are the woman, for if we were not the woman with the strong man-child within her, there would be no opposition. Praise the Lord for this opposition! It is an indication that we are the woman with the man-child within her.
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