REVELATION NEGLECTED BY MAN
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, tells about Satan being cursed by God. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, covers how Satan will be defeated in the future and how God will execute judgment upon him. The true face of Satan and his eternal destination are recorded in these two books. For this reason, Satan particularly hates these two books. He attacks the book of Genesis, saying that it does not agree with science and that the story of creation is only a myth. On the surface what he attacks is the record of creation, but in so doing he subtly hides his cursed background. With the book of Revelation, which prophesies his destiny, he resorts to a different way. He does not openly attack the book of Revelation, but he changes it to a book of "hidden instructions." He convinces the believers that this book is very difficult, profound, and hard to understand, and that even if one studies and researches it, it would just be a waste of time. For this reason, many believers read some of the other books in the Bible but do not dare to touch the book of Revelation! In this way, Satan easily covers up his coming humiliation!
We know that the book of Revelation was despised by early Christians. Not only did they despise it; they rejected it totally. We can find this out from the study of history. Today in the twentieth century, although there are a few—a very few—Christians who are willing to read this book, the majority of believers demonstrate a cold attitude toward it. Many would place it on a high shelf. The probable reason some people do not read it is that they do not even read the other books in the Bible. Naturally they would also abandon Revelation. There are others who, having no trust in the Holy Spirit, have no patience to read it. They often say, "This book is too profound and too mysterious. I cannot understand it."
In fact, there are many strong reasons why the book of Revelation is not welcomed and is even considered a stumbling block by men. In brief, besides the frustration of Satan, the contents of this book hardly leave a pleasant impression upon the worldly believers. It is concerned with the glory of the millennial kingdom and the happiness of the eternal kingdom (20:1-9; 21:1—22:5). There is glory and real joy. But those who want to enjoy this glory and joy must be "faithful unto death," "hold fast until I [the Lord] come," be "watchful," "repent," and be "zealous." Those who would gain the future world must renounce the present world. If they suffer today, they will have glory in the future. On the contrary, those who have the glory of the world now will be put to shame in the future. Many worldly believers cannot part with this world because they have been attached to it for too long. When suddenly faced with the prospect of bidding it farewell, they have difficulty cutting off the affection for it in their hearts. The more they read Revelation, the more bothered they become. Therefore, they give up reading it.
In addition, this book mostly speaks about God’s wrath and judgment (chs. 4—19). Man prefers to hear about God’s kindness and love. In their imagination God is One who never gets angry or judges people. Yet, this book tells about God’s righteousness. His wrath and judgment are not welcomed by men. Why would they read this book if they do not welcome it in their heart?
The whole book of Revelation, from beginning to end, talks about supernatural things. God does not want men to be concerned solely with things in the natural realm. God wants us to see Him face to face; He wants to deal with us in the supernatural realm. Men can tolerate supernatural stories about the past because past events and past circumstances do not have any effect on them today. But if these supernatural things will still occur in the future, would it not deal a great blow to their materialistic mind and their disbelief in signs and wonders! Moreover, if many of these things are to really happen in the future, how much should men pass their days in godliness and in glorifying God. It is a pity that many people, because they cannot tolerate the simple and direct teachings of Revelation, decide to spiritualize this book instead. They consider this book to be an allegory that does not really have historical value for the future! Alas! How the flesh is put to shame before God’s two-edged sword! Truly the heart is deceitful above all things.
Many people think that the world is getting better day by day and that all civilizations are improving. They think that the world is advancing and making progress and that there is no evidence of its degradation. To them, if the world continues to improve at the present rate, the ideal society of Christ will arrive on earth soon. What a striking contrast between Revelation and the thought of man! Revelation never considers for a moment that the world is progressing. Its testimony is that the sins of the world are increasing, that men have rejected God and His salvation to an incurable degree. God has no other way but to judge them. Even when God uses severe judgment on them, they still will not repent! This applies not only to the world but to the church also. Because the church left her first love, she was eventually vomited out by the Lord. Man’s thought today is completely different from the Word of God! Revelation is a testimony for God. It does not seek to go along with men. For this reason, it is not welcomed by men. It is pitiful that many people have lost the spirit and the testimony, as found in Revelation, which witnesses to the sin of the world.
That the real church ought to arrive at a certain standard is yet another reason that people do not like Revelation. The required standard of the church, described in chapters two and three, is really embarrassing to the believers who love the world. Today, men pay great attention to work. The top Christian is one having a great deal of outward activity. Revelation tells us, however, that all the works are in vain if one leaves his first love. The person who is truly for the Lord must be faithful unto death and must be watchful. The worldly believers, of course, find this unbearable.
The idea men have today is that all the people in the whole world will be saved eventually. Revelation opposes this. It prophesies that countless people will perish in the lake of fire forever. How can those who consider themselves kinder than God face this? People think the punishment of the sinner is just temporary and that eventually it will all go away. Revelation opposes this. It prophesies that men will suffer in the lake of fire eternally and that there will not be a day of rest for them. This book is a record filled with disasters, calamities, curses, troubles, and warnings. No wonder it is not accepted by man! In conclusion, Revelation opposes every one of man’s opinions. That is why up until now there are still very few men who study this book.
But with what a different attitude the saints who love the Lord treat this book! They receive supply from it when they are in want, support when they are discouraged, comfort when they are sad, assistance when they are weak. This book wipes away their tears, increases their faith, and revives their will. How the saints who are willing to suffer for the Lord love to read this book! They become poor and lonely for the sake of the Lord and walk on this narrow path of the cross. Although this is a suffering according to man’s view, they find comfort in this book. Truly, believers have much hope in this book! Would not the coming of the Lord Jesus give happiness to those who love to see His appearing? Although they suffer on the earth, is it not better than anything when they are raptured to the heavens? Would not the New Jerusalem, the city of gold, create in them an avid desire? Though they give up much, would they not receive much more when they become co-kings with the Lord? The suffering they have now is temporary and light. Will not the coming glory in the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom be the highest and the most matchless? Revelation is truly a blessing to the Christians!
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)