Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Most Christians hold the concept that the book of Revelation is a book of Christ’s second coming. It is absolutely correct to hold this concept because Revelation does cover the second coming of Christ. However, throughout the years, Christians have not been clear about the Lord’s second coming. Due to this lack of clarity, there has been much disputing and wrangling about it. The revelation regarding Christ’s second coming is not simple; rather, it is quite complicated and has several aspects. Therefore, it has been difficult for most Christians to understand thoroughly the Lord’s coming again.
During the past century and a half, many books have been written, especially by the Brethren, about the second coming of Christ. Some of the leading teachers among the Brethren held different opinions about the Lord’s coming back, and the first division between them was the result of these different opinions. The so-called Brethren testimony was raised up in 1828 or 29 under the leadership of John Nelson Darby. Darby taught that Christ would come back before the great tribulation, while Benjamin Newton, another leading teacher, said that Christ would come back after the tribulation. Because these two great teachers held different opinions, there were many debates about this matter. Eventually, this brought about the first division among the so-called Brethren between those under the leadership of Darby and those under the leadership of Newton. I was associated with the Benjamin Newton group for seven and a half years during which time I learned all their teachings. They certainly had a strong ground for saying that the second coming of Christ would be after the great tribulation. If you read the best writings of all the great teachers during the past one hundred fifty years, you will find that some taught that Christ’s coming would be before the tribulation and others taught that it would follow the tribulation.
During the past century, the Lord raised up some careful students of the Word, such as G. H. Pember, Robert Govett, and D. M. Panton. These men discovered that Christ’s second coming is not a simple matter. They saw that, on the one hand, Christ will come back after the tribulation, but that, on the other hand, He will also come back before the tribulation. These careful students of the Bible have supplied strong proof to substantiate the correctness of this view. Christ’s coming back has at least two aspects—one before the tribulation and the other after the tribulation. Furthermore, these students of the Word also learned that the rapture of the saints will be of more than two categories. This means that some saints will be raptured before the tribulation and others after the tribulation. Do not react to such statements too hastily. I reacted that way when I was young, but eventually I was subdued and convinced. The Bible is not as simple as some think it is.
In this message, we shall consider the subject of Christ’s coming again. We thank God for all the teachers of the Word who have gone before us. We are grateful to them, and whatever we see, we see as those who are standing upon their shoulders. If we would understand the second coming of Christ, we must study the Bible and also read the books written by these great teachers. Then we shall be able to have a comprehensive view of the matter. If we do this, we shall be fully convinced that Christ’s coming has two aspects: the secret, private aspect and the open, public aspect.
In both Matthew and Revelation we see the secret aspect of Christ’s coming again. Revelation 3:3 and 16:15 both tell us that Christ will come as a thief and that we should be watchful. No thief comes openly or announces his coming. As we pointed out in a previous message, when the Lord comes as a thief, He will come to steal the precious things. In Matthew 24:40 and 41, the Lord spoke of His secret coming, saying, “Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left.” The Lord Jesus was very wise, using two brothers in the field and two sisters grinding at the mill as illustrations. Apparently the two brothers are the same and the two sisters are the same. But suddenly one of the brothers and one of the sisters are taken. After giving this illustration, the Lord said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord comes. But know this, that if the householder knew in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also, be ready, for the Son of Man comes in an hour that you think not” (vv. 42-44). As we are working, having no consciousness that Christ is coming, some of us will be raptured. Since He is coming as a thief, we must be watchful.
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