A HIGHER STANDARD OF QUALITY
But after seventy years God came in to do a recovery work. God came in to recover the thing that was lost. In the recovery of God’s expression the scale was not so big as the original, but the quality was higher. Humanly speaking, we pay attention to the size of something, but God cares, not about the size, but about the quality. By reading Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah you could see that the returned people were deeply dealt with by God. Their spiritual morality and character were higher than those of the children of Israel before the temple was built. In a sense Solomon was not that moral; he had many concubines. That is terrible! That is a kind of unveiling of the rottenness of that king of wisdom. He was wise, but he was rotten. His morality was too low! But after the captivity, in the recovery, the character of God’s people was very much uplifted. If you considered Ezra and Nehemiah, you would have to admit that these leaders were pure and moral. Their character had a high standard. So as to quality the Lord’s recovery was higher than what had been there previously.
THE REAL THING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Old Testament began with the first Adam, and the New Testament began with the last Adam. The first Adam was Adam himself, and the last Adam is Christ. The model in the Bible began with the old man, but the real thing in the New Testament began with the new man. To say that Christ is the last Adam means that He ends the Adamic race. He was the last one of Adam’s race. The old man was ended in Christ. He is also the second Man. The second Man means a new beginning. So the model was with the first Adam as a beginning, and the real thing was with the last Adam, the second Man, as a beginning. When you open up the New Testament you have Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. You have a new beginning. Just as the first Adam began to produce to replenish the earth, so the last Adam, Christ, began to produce many members, His believers, to replenish the entire earth. With this producing Christ, God accomplished His purpose. Beginning with Pentecost, God’s temple, the church, began to be built. This time it was the real thing and not the model.
BABYLON THE GREAT
But within a short time as he had done in the Old Testament, Satan came in among the believers to do a ruining work. He ruined the Christians and lowered their Christian character. They became exactly as the children of Israel had become in the Old Testament. They became idolatrous, leaving Christ for other things. Then Satan came in and destroyed the church and carried away the believers into Babylon. This is why you have Babylon not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In Revelation 17 there is Babylon the Great, which includes Catholicism and all the Protestant denominations as the daughters. The Old Testament Babylon was just a model, and the New Testament Babylon the Great is the real thing. Of course this kind of word is offensive to Christendom. However, it is not we but the Bible which speaks of a Great Harlot and many daughters. There is surely such a word in the New Testament. So there must be the real persons. Who is that Great Harlot today? And who are the daughters of this Great Harlot? If this is not the Roman Catholic Church and all the denominations, to whom can this word be applied? Look at the situation. Is there not a great Harlot committing fornication all the time? Fornication in the Bible is that God’s people go away from God to something other than God, just as a wife might go away from her husband to someone else. The Bible tells us that the unique husband in this universe is God Himself. His people are His wife (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 31:32). Christ came as the Bridegroom to have the Bride (John 3:29).
In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul said that he had betrothed the believers as a pure virgin to Christ. At the end of the Bible, in Revelation 19 there is a wedding of God and His people. The real fornication is that God’s people would give Him up and go to something else. Catholicism has gone away from God to something else. In the same principle all the Protestant churches also have gone away from Christ the Lord to things other than Him. So in the eyes of God, Catholicism is the Great Harlot, and all the Protestant denominations and divisions are daughters of that Great Harlot.
Because of this situation there is the need of recovery. In the ancient times God’s faithful people were called out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem. That was the Old Testament recovery. Today there is also the need to come out of Babylon the Great and to come back to the proper church life.
(Concerning the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)