THE REVEALING SPIRIT
I was in spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. (Rev. 1:10)
Immediately I was in spirit; and behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting. (4:2)
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon the many waters...And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (17:1, 3)
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (21:9-10)
Please pay attention to the fact that the four passages quoted above say that the writer was “in spirit.” We must know that the visions or revelations in the book of Revelation are shown in these four times of being “in spirit.” The first time the apostle John was in spirit, he saw the seven golden lampstands and the Lord who walks in the midst of them. This is the vision in the first three chapters of Revelation. The second time, he saw a throne in heaven out of which the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls were executed. This is the vision of the throne, which is in chapters 4 through 16. The third time, he saw Babylon the harlot, which is in chapters 17 and 18 and which includes also chapters 19 and 20. The fourth time, he saw the New Jerusalem. This is in chapters 21 and 22. Revelation can be divided into four sections, covering four great visions, all of which were seen by John in spirit. Therefore, today if we want to understand these four visions in Revelation, we cannot merely read about them in our mind; instead, we must exercise to turn to our spirit. In Revelation we see that the indwelling Spirit is the revealing Spirit.
THE SPEAKING SPIRIT
To the messenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands...He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:1, 7a)
Each of the seven epistles in Revelation 2 and 3 begins by saying that it is the Lord who speaks and ends by saying that everyone who has an ear should hear what the Spirit says to the churches. This tells us that the Lord’s speaking is the Spirit’s speaking, and it also tells us that whatever the Lord speaks must be spoken again by the Spirit. At the beginning of each of the seven epistles it is the Lord speaking to a particular church, but at the end it is the Spirit speaking to the churches. The Lord’s word at the beginning is to a certain local church, but later when the people from all the ages read it, it becomes the Spirit’s speaking to all the churches. Whatever the Lord speaks is recorded in the Bible, but when you and I read it, the Spirit still must speak it. (This Spirit refers to the Spirit who is mingled with us.) This matter proves firstly that the Lord’s speaking is the Spirit’s speaking and that the Spirit’s speaking is the Lord’s speaking. Secondly, it proves that although the Lord’s word was already spoken to a certain local church, today when the churches want to hear His word, there is still the need for the Spirit to speak it. This tells us that the Spirit we have within us is not only the revealing Spirit, the vision-imparting Spirit, but also the speaking Spirit.
THE ADMINISTRATING SPIRIT
Now let us look at the third aspect. The beginning of chapter 4 says that there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne was God. Then verse 5 says,
Out of the throne come forth lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
The seven Spirits are the seven lamps of fire.
I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders a Lamb standing as having just been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (5:6)
It says here that the seven Spirits of God are the seven eyes of the Lamb. The seven Spirits are the seven lamps and the seven eyes; this is truly difficult to understand. Are there really seven Spirits of God? No, there are not. Then why is the Spirit of God called the seven Spirits? In the past the expositors of the Bible told us that seven is the number of completion. This is correct. For example, the first time the Bible mentions the number seven is after God did the work of creation in six days, when He rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). The Bible also says that “a righteous man falls seven times and rises up again” (Prov. 24:16) and “seven times a day I praise You” (Psa. 119:164). These passages have the meaning of completion. However, in the book of Revelation seven denotes not only completion but, even more, God’s administration.
The book of Revelation covers mainly four major topics: the first major topic is the seven golden lampstands, the second major topic is the seven seals, the third major topic is the seven trumpets, and the fourth major topic is the seven bowls. Revelation speaks mainly about these four sevens. The seven golden lampstands are the churches. Apart from the churches there are the seven seals which speak of God’s judgments throughout the ages. The seven trumpets include the seven bowls, which are God’s final judgments. Therefore, the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls are all God’s judgment, and God’s judgment is His administration. Not only so, even the seven golden lampstands, that is, even the churches, are God’s administration. When God carries out His will in the universe, that is His administration. Some people say that the book of Revelation is a book about judgment. They are right because the Lord is first in the midst of the lampstands judging the seven churches; then later through the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls, He judges the world. However, you should remember that the judgment of God is the procedure by which He carries out His will, so these judgments are all God’s administration. Thus, in the book of Revelation, the number seven denotes administration more than it denotes completion.
Now we have found the meaning of the seven Spirits. In the book of Revelation the Spirit of God is called the seven Spirits because in this book the Spirit of God is the administrating Spirit. He has been sent out into all the world to administrate, to execute, the will of God. With respect to the throne of God, He is the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne and shining on the entire universe. With respect to the Lord Jesus, He is the seven eyes of the Lamb of God. The eyes are for moving. Every time you want to do something, you first move your eyes; without your eyes, you cannot move. Chapter 1 clearly says that when the Lord Jesus judges the churches, His eyes are like a flame of fire. These eyes as a fiery flame are the lamps of fire.
You see that there is a throne in heaven, and the One who is upon the throne is God. From the throne seven lamps of fire shine forth. These seven lamps of fire are the seven Spirits of God, and these seven Spirits of God are the seven eyes of the Lamb. Thus, you see that the One on the throne and the Lamb are one. If this were not the case, how could the seven lamps of fire on the throne become the seven eyes of the Lamb? When you read chapter 22, you notice that it refers to “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (v. 1b). That throne is not plural but singular. There are two on the throne, but the throne is one. How can two be sitting on one throne? It is possible because God is in the Lamb. Chapter 21 says that God is the light of the city, and the Lamb is the lamp (v. 23). We know that the light is inside the lamp. This proves that God is in the Lamb. Therefore, They are sitting on one throne.
With regard to the seven lamps before the throne, they are the seven eyes of the Lamb, and these seven eyes are the seven Spirits. In other words, they are God’s coming forth and the Lamb’s coming forth. These seven eyes are the expression and manifestation of the Lamb, just as your eyes are your expression and manifestation. Thus, here in Revelation it is God on the throne in the Lamb coming forth in His Spirit to execute His will for His administration in the universe. He is not hidden as in the past; He has shined forth. God’s administration in the church is His coming forth, and God’s administration in the universe is also His coming forth. God’s using seven seals to judge the world is His coming forth, His using seven trumpets to judge the world is His coming forth, and His using seven bowls to judge the world is also His coming forth. God’s administration is God’s coming forth. God’s way of coming forth is to shine with the lamps of fire. This shining in Revelation is not so much for giving grace but for observing, searching, and judging.
Brothers and sisters, you should never think that the Lord’s shining today is to give you grace. No! Even in the age of God’s grace, He is here observing you. God does not wait until the age of grace is over to judge us in a future age. Even in the church the manifestation of the Lord Jesus is for the carrying out of His judgment. His eyes are as a flame of fire, and out of His mouth proceeds a sharp sword rather than words of grace. Before, in the Gospel of John, the words that came out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus were words of grace. But here in the book of Revelation, the words coming out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus are not words of grace but words of judgment. His two feet are like shining bronze, as having been fired in a furnace. He has been tried and judged in all kinds of hardships, and now He comes to observe and judge. This is why John, who could lie on the Lord’s breast in the Gospel of John, fell flat on the ground when he saw Him. At this time He is not the dear and lovely Lord; rather, He is the awesome and dreadful Lord. He is here shining, examining, and judging to execute God’s will. This is His administration.
Dear brothers and sisters, nothing of the flesh, of the world, or of sin can stand the shining of the seven Spirits as the seven lamps before the throne and as the seven eyes of the Lamb. This shining is a burning. Whatever He shines on, whatever He searches, is judged and burned by Him. Even today the indwelling Spirit in us is sometimes this kind of shining, searching, judging Spirit. This indwelling Spirit is not only the Spirit of life, the Spirit of sonship, the building Spirit, the transforming Spirit, the Spirit for our living, and the Spirit of the Body, all of which are aspects on the sweet side. Eventually, He is also the judging Spirit, the administrating Spirit, who is in us and among us, shining over us, searching us, judging us, and burning us. We need the grace-giving Spirit, and we also need the judging Spirit. We need the Spirit as the living water flowing in us, but we also need the Spirit as fire shining, searching, judging, and burning in us. This is the seven Spirits in Revelation.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)