Verse 17a: "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead."
It took only a turn and one glimpse of this glorious Lord Jesus to produce such an effect. This glory was extraordinary. Whose eyes could bear the sight? John once leaned on Jesus’ bosom, but because of this glory, majesty, power, and holiness, he fell at His feet as dead. When Christ comes to judge the church and the world, who will be able to bear such a sight? If John reacted so, what about others? Those unfaithful believers? The Lord’s enemy? May all saints and sinners realize the solemnity of this forthcoming judgment!
Actually, all those who see Christ now should fall as John. Most of us just look at ourselves and others and still think there is something good in us. If we see Christ, we will realize our baseness and unworthiness. Before Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus, he was preaching the word of God. Six times in chapter five, "Woe to those" is mentioned. Chapter six, verse 1 says, "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the temple." This is followed by 6:5, "Woe is me, for I am finished! / For I am a man of unclean lips, / And in the midst of a people of unclean lips I dwell; / Yet I have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts, with my eyes."
When Job was being tried, he vindicated his own righteousness to his three friends and counted himself perfect. Then he saw the Lord, and he said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6).
Daniel was a person of whom the Bible mentions no fault, but after he saw the Lord, he said, "No strength was left in me, but my color turned deathly pale; and I retained no strength...I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground" (Dan. 10:8-9). The prophet Habakkuk said, "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself" (Hab. 3:16).
If we have truly seen the glory of the Lord, the holiness of the Lord, even the Lord Himself, we will be like the saints of old. We will deeply abhor ourselves and will consider ourselves the most detestable and greatest enemy. Both manifested as well as hidden pride are caused by our failure to see Christ. At any rate, we do not know ourselves. Self-introspection may be profitable, but it is not a perfect guide. The heart is deceitful above all things; who can know it? Without the Lord, even we ourselves do not know it. If we are not under the light of the Lord, how can we see with our own light? It is when we come before the Lord to examine ourselves that we can see our real selves. Those who think they have something or who consider themselves stronger than others are this way because they are ignorant of themselves. The Lord arranges and directs everything in our lives to help us to see our own total failures. How difficult it is for us to learn this lesson! We may humble ourselves a little when we fail, but when we are filled with God’s grace and are successful in our works, it is very difficult for us to acknowledge that we are useless. How marvelous it would be if we could see the Lord Jesus all the time and unceasingly fall at His feet as dead! May the Lord’s glory and holiness cause us to abhor ourselves so that we would prostrate on the ground and commit ourselves to death. Only then will the Lord manifest Himself in our lives.
Verses 17b through 18: "And He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not fear; I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades."
The Lord’s right hand of authority and His words work together (Dan. 8:17-18; 10:9-10, 18). "He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not fear." Although He was in His glory, His love was still there! The Christ in the Gospels was expressed in this phrase, "Do not fear!" How much this word expresses the nature of the Lord!
This book speaks of things of the "great and fearful day of Jehovah." In that day, God will recompense men according to their deeds. Both the church and the world will be judged. However, there will be a group of people who know that the Lord Jesus loves them, that He shed His blood for them, and that He makes them priests and kings. Their spiritual condition will be the same as John’s, and as such they will not be afraid. On the one hand, we know that the blood of the Lord Jesus has already cleansed us, and His grace is sufficient for us. We have already been saved and have eternal life. On the other hand, although we already have the assurance of eternal life, if we are not faithful, we will be ashamed and will suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ. Therefore, it is always safe to be faithful in serving the Lord. If there is nothing between you and the Lord, then when you are weak, He will strengthen you. When you are fearful, He will comfort you. "But perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). The Lord Jesus desires to manifest Himself to us. However, we are like John. We feel that His majesty is more than His lovingkindness. It seems that the more the Lord manifests Himself, the more we dare not draw near to Him. Therefore, in His perfect love, He said to these people, "Do not fear." The question here is not what we are, but what He is. If we know Him, then we will know ourselves. The cross has already appraised us, but it is very hard for us to accept the judgment of the cross. The cross has also expressed the nature of the Lord Jesus, but we have not yet tasted such sweetness of the Lord. When the Lord appears in His glory, we will realize our own weaknesses, but more than this, we will see the greatness of His Person. This is the effect of the cross. However, the Lord’s intention is to express what He Himself is. Therefore, He said, "I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades."
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 04: The Christian (2), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)