OTHER REVELATIONS IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION
All that we have spoken concerns how Revelation corresponds to the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments. We have talked about how Revelation and all the other prophecies in the Bible confirm one another. Revelation, however, does not only repeat what has been said in the past or declare again what was spoken of by the prophets before. In Revelation there are many new areas which have not been revealed or touched before. Although it includes some messages preached by the prophets before, it expounds and develops them. In the foregoing paragraphs we mainly spoke concerning Antichrist, proving how the prophecies concerning him correspond with previous prophecies.
Now we can see the miraculous judgment of God in Revelation. The Bible always says that real miracles, not the false ones, are the characteristic of the last days. In those days, "great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11). "And I [God] will show wonders in heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord comes" (Acts 2:19-20). Revelation speaks of how God performs all these miracles. God made a covenant with the house of Jacob to do marvels. This covenant will be fulfilled in the third section of Revelation. Jehovah said, "Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation" Hence, they are greater than the wonders done in Egypt. "And all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee" (Exo. 34:10). The Jews are scattered among the nations. Hence, these miracles are spread throughout the world. Revelation tells us about how God performs these miracles and saves the Jews.
The evils of the worldly people worsen day by day. A day will come when God cannot help but grace them with punishment. By then, the most gracious way of God will be His punishment to man. "Howl, for the day of Jehovah is near! / Like destruction from the Almighty, it comes. / Because of this all the hands will drop, / And every human heart will melt... / Now the day of Jehovah is coming— / Cruel and with overflowing wrath and burning anger— / To make the land a desolation; / And He will destroy its sinners off of it" (Isa. 13:6-9). Not only will we see God destroying sinners in this way, but having seen how Antichrist will perform miracles, God will also perform miracles to oppose the devil and to manifest His own Godhead. It is God who is God, not Satan. Hence Revelation speaks of sores that Satan cannot heal, earthquakes that Satan cannot stop, and resurrections and raptures that Satan cannot prevent. Satan cannot break the chain that binds his hand. He cannot compete with God to the end. The miracles in the heavens are much more powerful than the hellish wonders. What a comfort to know this!
The many things (i.e., miracles) recorded in Revelation are the direct works of God’s hand. All these things are supernatural; they are all done by God; they are all miracles. Since they are miracles they must be actual happenings. Hence, we cannot spiritualize their interpretation; they must be taken literally. In order to understand the present things, we must compare the prophecies in Revelation with the conditions of the "day of Jehovah" or the "day of the Lord" prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. What the prophets said concerning the day of the Lord is similar to the things recorded here in Revelation. Concerning this, I would like the reader to research for himself.
Other than God’s miraculous judgments on the world, which take up a major part of the third section, there is still a small portion concerning future events. These matters are related to the time after the millennium, which we do not intend to cover at this time.
THE GENERAL SKETCH OF THE THINGS TO COME
The first thing is the rapture of the overcoming believers. All those who have the cross working profoundly in their life will be raptured. Those who are saved generally but who are mingled with the world and who go along with sins will remain on the earth and will pass through the great tribulation. Only the overcoming and watchful saints will be raptured. The remaining saved believers will pass through the great tribulation until the trumpeting of the seventh trumpet. Then they will be caught up. All these relate to Christians. At that time the Roman Empire will be restored; a strong and mighty one will be her king. Satan will give to him all kinds of powers that he may perform wonders and miracles. He will call himself Christ and gain the hearts of the Jews. At that time the Jews will have returned to their land. The majority of them will be unbelievers. They will rebuild the temple and will recover the worship and sacrifice of the old times. Because they are fearful of the interfering of the powers without, they will be allied with Antichrist and be protected by him. This covenant is for seven years. To be sure, at that time there will still be a remnant who believe in God’s word and oppose this false messiah’s name. In the middle of the seven years there will be a sign in the heavens: the red dragon, Satan, will be cast to the earth. His heart will be filled with hatred against the saints of God, that is, the Jews who witness for God. He will provoke Antichrist, the emperor of Rome, to oppose them. Satan will persecute those who belong to God, and God will punish those who belong to Satan. The trumpets and bowls in Revelation are the expression of the wrath of God toward Antichrist and the world. God’s punishment of the world is with the hope that they will repent. But alas, the world is incorrigible. Antichrist, by the power of Satan, will break the covenant, stop all the sacrifices and the oblations, and will establish an idol, the overspreading of abomination, ordering the people to worship it. The false prophet will come forth to help him and persuade the people to worship the image. When the image is erected, the remnant will flee to the wilderness. Although Satan will try his best with all his plans to destroy them, God will care for them during these three and a half years. Satan, therefore, will have no way to direct his wrath. Instead, he will persecute the believers who are not yet raptured. At that time, there will be many who will be martyred. At the seventh trumpet, those saints who remain on earth, having learned obedience and being perfected because of suffering, will also be raptured. Antichrist will gather the nations to attack the Jews. This is the war of Armageddon. The Jews will flee from the city (Zech. 14:3-5). This will be the time when the seventieth week in Daniel is finished. The Lord Jesus and His saints will descend from heaven and will stand on the Mount of Olives. He will save the Israelites and will destroy those Gentiles. After this, the millennial kingdom will come. This is the general sketch of Revelation. We believers who are faithful, watchful, prepared, overcoming, and praying will not have to pass through the great tribulation but will be caught up to the heavens before all these things happen. Hence, we must first have the spirit of rapture today. We must first have the experience of rapture in spirit. It will then be realized in our body. Our spirit must be in the heavens first; our bodies will follow. May we not be entangled with the affairs of this life so that when the time comes, we will be free to go. The power of the coming age must be expressed in the life of the saints in this age. But alas, many cannot attain to this point. O Lord, be gracious to us. May the Lord guide and lead us and keep our hearts, that we would seek after the truth, that we may gain the coming light which brightens our present path, that by knowing the coming judgment we would examine ourselves today, and that by a taste of the coming heavenly joy we would be led into a spiritual fellowship with the Lord today. May we not treat the exposition of this most blessed book as a kind of mental investigation. Rather, may our life and work be changed as a result of the study of this book. Amen!
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)