THE PRINCIPLE OF THE MAN-CHILD
The Scripture says that this man-child will "shepherd all the nations with an iron rod." This is God’s purpose. The work of the church is to cause Satan to lose his power and bring in God’s kingdom. The church which God desires must have the characteristic of Abigail—that of cooperation with Christ. Since the church, however, has not attained to God’s purpose, nor does she even know God’s purpose, what can God do? He will choose a group of overcomers who will attain His purpose and fulfill His demand. This is the principle of the man-child.
There are many examples of this principle in the Bible. What was God’s purpose in choosing the people of Israel in the Old Testament time? Exodus 19 tells us that He chose them to be a kingdom of priests. What does a kingdom of priests mean? It means that the whole nation was to serve God and be His priests. However, not all of the people of Israel became priests, because they worshipped the golden calf. Instead of serving God, they worshipped an idol. Therefore, Moses charged the people of Israel, saying, "Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me" (Exo. 32:26). Then all of the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto Moses. Then Moses said to them, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor" (v. 27). The worshiping of idols is the greatest sin, so God required these men to slay their own brothers with the sword. "And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses" (v. 28). They were willing to serve God above all their human affection, so God chose them to be the priests. From that time forward, only those of the tribe of Levi were priests among all the people of Israel. The whole body of the Israelites henceforth approached God through the Levites. Originally, all of the Israelites were chosen to serve God, but they failed Him; therefore, God chose from among the whole body of failures a group of people who would stand in their place. This group of people is the overcomers.
We must remember that the Levites did not serve God for themselves, nor were they overcomers by their own selection. Much less did they claim superiority over the others. If this had happened, they would have been finished. The Levites were chosen by God to be the priests as representing the whole body of the people of Israel. What the children of Israel should have offered unto God, the children of Levi offered for them. The service of the Levites before God was counted as the service of the whole nation of Israel. Only the children of Levi were priests, but the whole nation of Israel benefited from their priesthood. In the same manner, the work of the overcomers is for the whole church. The work belongs to the overcomers, but the church receives the blessing of the work. This is the glory of the overcomers. The business is theirs, but their accomplishments bring glory to the whole church; the work is theirs, but the whole church derives the blessing.
During the time of the Judges, the people of Israel were oppressed by the Midianites and were in great desperation. Out of one of their tribes, God raised up Gideon to lead a contingent of men and chase away the enemy. The whole nation was set free because of this group. The responsibility rested on the whole nation, but some were afraid and some were slothful; therefore, a group of them went forth to the battle and brought benefit to the whole nation.
The same principle is seen when the people of Israel returned from captivity. God originally promised that after the seventy years of captivity, the people of Israel would return and be restored to the land. However, not all returned; only a minority led by Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Joshua came back to build the temple and the city of Jerusalem. But what they did counted for the whole nation of Israel. It was reckoned as the recovery and returning of the whole nation.
The principle of the overcomers is not that an individual who is especially spiritual will have a crown and glory waiting for him. This is not to say that individuals will not be rewarded with crowns and glory in that day. These they may obtain, but they are not for these; this is not their main purpose. The reason for the overcomers to be the overcomers is not to receive glory or crowns for themselves, but simply to take the position which the whole church should take and do the work for the church. Before God, the church should be in that condition which He desires; she should be responsible to Him, fulfilling the work committed to her and standing in her proper position. The church, however, has failed and is still failing today. She has not become what she was originally purposed to be; she has not done her work, taken up her responsibility, nor stood in her proper position. She has not gained the ground for God. There is only a group of people left to do that work for the church and to take up the church’s responsibility. This group is the overcomers. What they do is counted as the work of the whole church. If there are those who will be the overcomers, God’s purpose is attained and He is satisfied. This is the principle of the man-child.
The reason we are considering this matter of the man-child is because in God’s eternal purpose He needs a group of overcomers. According to history, we have to admit that the church has failed. Therefore, God is calling the overcomers to stand for the church. The man-child spoken of in this passage of Revelation refers particularly to the overcomers at the end time. Once the man-child is brought forth, he will be caught up to the throne of God. Then things will immediately happen in heaven and Satan will be cast down. God’s difficulty is removed by the rapture of the man-child; His problem is solved. It seems that once the man-child is born, God’s purpose can no longer be hindered. This is what God is calling for today; this is what interests Him today. God needs a group of people to attain His original goal.
(The Glorious Church, Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)