GOD’S INTENTION REGARDING THE EARTH
Now let us consider the fourth key word which is mentioned in Genesis 1—earth. Why must God overrule and subdue the earth? Because on the earth is God’s enemy, Satan, the rebellious one. This enemy was in the serpent, the head of creeping things. God must defeat His enemy and subdue the rebellious earth in order to recover it for Himself.
Christians today, including many spiritual leaders, have a wrong concept. They say, “Let us not talk about the problem of the church. When we get to heaven we will be one…” But if we must wait until we are in heaven to realize oneness, if we cannot have oneness on this earth, this is a shame to God and a glory to Satan! Satan will gleefully clap his hands and say, “Look, look at all of these defeated Christians. They are just waiting to go to heaven. There isn’t any place for them on earth.” What a shame to God! In Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus prayed that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As far as God is concerned, there is no problem in heaven, but there is a real problem on this earth. God has to deal with this rebellious earth. All Christians must declare the victory now; they must give present testimony on this earth that they are one. The Church must be locally expressed on this earth. If the Church is only heavenly, then God is in disgrace. The Church expressed locally on this earth, however, is a real disgrace to Satan and glory to God. Whenever a group of saints come together, testifying that they are one in Christ, God’s enemy is put to shame. When God has such a building on this earth, victory is declared. But regardless of the situation, we know that God can never be defeated by Satan.
You may want to go to heaven and see a heavenly church life, but God is waiting and expecting to come down to this earth! In Revelation 21, the Holy Spirit tells us that the Apostle John saw a new heaven and a new earth. Many Christians are disgusted with this earth. They are hoping that some day they will be in heaven and the earth will have vanished away. But John saw not only a new heaven, he also beheld a new earth. We may not like the earth, but God does. God is going to recover this earth.
John also saw a vision of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. However, he did not see the New Jerusalem going up to heaven from this earth. This perhaps is what most Christians read into this verse in Revelation. No! John saw the one and only expression of God, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven as a testimony to the whole earth. I believe the eighth Psalm will be completely fulfilled at that time; and you and I will say, “O Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth!” Satan will then be put to shame and the earth will be completely subdued and fully recovered.
Today we can have a foretaste of that glorious coming day. Oh, we must not be defeated by the wrong concept that it is impossible to have the church life on this earth and that we must wait for heaven. We must cast these negative thoughts beneath our feet and boldly declare that the Church must be expressed on this earth today.
God’s intention then in creation is to have a corporate man in His image to express Himself, and this man is to be committed with His authority, using His dominion to subdue and recover the earth. Yet, as long as Christians are divided, there is no possibility of recovering this earth for God. What a shame that Christians are so divided! As the children of God, we must learn how to keep the unity.
The Lord Jesus, on His last night on this earth before His crucifixion, offered one prayer to God—that we all may be one that the people of this earth may know that the Lord is God’s Christ. The building up of the saints into one corporate expression of Christ is the real testimony. Oh, may we defeat the divisions! The severest test among God’s children today is this matter of unity. It will test and prove where we are. Because we are the children of God and members of Christ, there is no reason and no ground for us to be divided. We must be one and proclaim that we are one. Then we will have the basis to subdue and recover this earth and rout God’s enemy. We must do whatever we can to keep the unity. I say again, this is a real test, a real cross, a putting to death, and a burying of one’s self.
We must be clear about these two things: God’s intention in His creation is to have a corporate vessel in His image to express Himself in a corporate way, and secondly, to represent Him on this earth, having His authority. Positively, this means there is only one corporate vessel to express God. And negatively, there is only one corporate representative to deal with God’s enemy, and subdue this rebellious earth. This is not to be accomplished in heaven, but on this earth. May it be so today.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)