THE PEARL VERSUS THE LEAVENED MEAL
Now we must see the second matter, the other side. In the same chapter, Matthew 13, we see the Lord as a merchant willing to pay any price for a certain article. What is it He is seeking? It is not the meal (which has been leavened). He is seeking a goodly pearl. Can you leaven a pearl? Can you hide something within a pearl? Impossible. A pearl is something solid, something pure.
We all must see these two things, one on one side and one on the other. Have you seen them? Have you seen the leaven in the meal on one side, and the pearl which is so solid and pure on the other? These are two things: the leaven hidden in the meal is one, and the pearl of great price is another. With which are you standing? Are you one with the pearl, or are you one with the meal and the leaven? I do not believe that any among us would want to be so stupid as to take sides with the leavened meal. But in fact, some even of those who are reading this book are taking sides deeply within them with the leavened meal. They are arguing, or at least they are trying to argue, for the defense of this meal. They have not seen the evil nature of the corrupting leaven. Neither have they seen that the entire meal is permeated with the leaven. Opposed to the leavened meal on the other hand is something so solid and incorruptible—the pearl. It could never be damaged by the evil woman or even by her daughters. Where do we stand?
THE GREAT HARLOT
Now we go on from the first book of the New Testament to the last, from the beginning to the end. Here in the Book of Revelation two females are clearly presented. One is that evil woman again. The same woman mentioned in Matthew 13 is now in Revelation 17. The one who took the leaven and hid it in the meal in Matthew 13 is the great harlot, the mother of all harlots, in Revelation 17. She is arrayed with purple and scarlet and decked with gold, precious stones and pearls. Such an evil woman is gilded with all the materials of the New Jerusalem; yet she is filled with abominations. In outward appearance she looks like the New Jerusalem—this is her pretension. But in inward reality she is filled with all blasphemies, abominations, and filthiness. She is gilded with three categories of things—gold, precious stones, and pearls; but she is filled with another three categories of things—blasphemies, abominations, and filthiness.
In Christendom today two groups of things are put together by the enemy. On the one hand there is the gold, the precious stones, and the pearls—these are the things which God is after. But on the other hand, there are the blasphemies, the abominations, and the filthiness—these are the things God detests. Christianity combines these two groups in a dreadful mixture. The subtle thing is this: Christendom has gilded itself with the materials of the New Jerusalem. We must see through the gilding to the inward reality. We need a discerning and transparent vision, not just to judge according to appearance, but to see to the core. Apparently in Christendom there is gold, precious stones, and pearls, but actually there are blasphemies, abominations, and filthiness. These two categories are combined in one person, one woman, one evil female.
What is this? This is the leavened meal. Revelation 17 is the full development of Matthew 13. The consummation of the leavened meal is the great harlot and mother of all harlots. What is the source then of the gold, the precious stones, and the pearls? Undoubtedly, the meal. These are all constituents of the good substance, the meal. You may ask who the precious stones are in the Roman Catholic Church. Madame Guyon was certainly one, and there were many others. What is the source of the blasphemies, abominations, and filthiness? That, of course, is the leaven. We must all see that not only in the Bible, but also today in this universe on this earth, there is such an evil female gilded with all the precious materials of God’s holy city, yet filled with all the filthiness of the filthy one, the devil. I say again, such a one, such an evil woman is on this earth today. We all must be on the alert never to be involved with her. We may not be involved with her directly, but it is exceedingly easy to be involved with some of her daughters. Not only is this evil woman present on earth, but also her evil daughters. She has many daughters, some greater and some smaller. The bigger they are, the easier they are to discern; the smaller they are, the more easily you are fooled. You may be quite clear and resolute never to be involved with the Roman Catholic Church. You may also be clear never to join any of the denominations. But be careful: you may easily become involved with one of the little daughters of that great harlot. You may flirt with and eventually marry not the eldest daughter, but the youngest.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)