DAN BEING REMOVED
Question: Revelation 7 recorded that a hundred and forty-four thousand were sealed. But the tribe of Dan was not included in this number. Instead, Joseph and his son Manasseh take up two tribes. What is the hidden meaning in this? Please instruct me. (Chen, Kutien)
Answer: The number one hundred and forty-four thousand does not mean that that is the only number of saved ones among Israel. These one hundred and forty-four thousand people are those related to the Lord’s administration during His reign in the millennium. Dan is not mentioned here. However, Ezekiel 48:1 says clearly that in the millennial kingdom Dan’s position will be in the north of Palestine. From this, we can see that the one hundred and forty-four thousand is not the number of saved Israelites entering the millennial kingdom. It has to mean something else. As far as the reason for Dan’s removal, the record of the Bible from Genesis 49 on reveals Dan’s apostasy and degradation. Dan’s name was removed once in the Books of Chronicles already. God removed Dan because it was a tribe of idol worshippers. It has no part in Christ’s administration. In the millennial kingdom, Dan’s position will be merely to judge its own people, as one of the tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:16). The reason Joseph and his sons occupy two tribes can be seen in 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 and Genesis 49:26.
THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
Question: When Matthew speaks of the kingdom of the heavens, is it referring to the kingdom of God or to the church? According to chapter thirteen, where the kingdom of the heavens is likened unto leaven, I feel that the kingdom of the heavens is referring to the corruption of the church. How is it? Please instruct me. (Lai, Chingliu)
Answer: The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 13:31-33, cf. Luke 13:18-21, etc.). However, the kingdom of the heavens is not the kingdom of God. (Matthew mainly speaks of the kingdom of the heavens, yet sometimes it speaks of the kingdom of God, as in 12:28, etc.) The sphere of the kingdom of God is very broad and includes the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, sometimes the kingdom of God is the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom of the heavens refers only to the saints’ exercise at present and their reigning in the future. If we want to know if within a certain passage there is a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the heavens, we have to consider the context. Neither does the kingdom of the heavens refer to the church. The church is a house (1 Tim. 3:15). The kingdom of the heavens is a kingdom. At present the saints are in both of these things. The church speaks of our position, and the kingdom of the heavens speaks of our walk. The church is a grace we have received, whereas the kingdom of the heavens is an exercise we are subject to. To enter into the kingdom of the heavens, we need to have the practical righteousness (Matt. 5:20) and to become as undefiled as little children (18:3). Therefore, the tares, the birds, the leaven, and the foul things from the sea in Matthew 13 are not the things in the kingdom of the heavens; they are those having a name only without the reality. They have not really entered into the kingdom of the heavens.
Question: The devil was a God-created angel. Because he became proud and desired to be as great as God, God drove him out of heaven into the world and cut him off from God forever. From then on, he became the devil (also called Satan), the enemy of man and of God. What I want to ask is: from what book is this matter revealed? Probably it was not man’s fabrication. Please instruct me. (Honan)
Answer: The origin of the devil, as you described it, can be found in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14:12-14. Ezekiel 28 speaks of the king of Tyre, and Isaiah 14 speaks of the king of Babylon. According to the view of the world’s best Bible expositors, these two places in the Bible do not refer only to men, because many of the things said cannot be applied to men of flesh. Satan is behind the kings of Tyre and Babylon. For a detailed explanation, please read The Christian, Issue No. 3.
GOD HAVING CREATED THE DEVIL?
Question: Since the devil was created by God, when he committed sin, would it not have been simpler for God just to destroy him? Why should he be driven to the earth to seduce men to sin, and why did God then have to prepare a way of salvation for man? Is this not too troublesome? (Honan)
Answer: God did not create the devil. What God created was a beautiful angel. The devil was created by Satan himself. It is similar to the fact that God only created Adam, but He did not create a sinner. God’s way of salvation cannot be apprehended by men. Although men have many ideas, these ideas only expose men’s foolishness. Concerning these things, many times we have only one prepared answer: "I don’t know." We should have the attitude of Deuteronomy 29:29.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)