THE PROPHECIES OF PAUL (2 THESSALONIANS 2:7-12)
Now we can look at another portion, which are the prophecies of Paul. We want to see how this section of the Word corresponds with the previous words. "Now we ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you be not quickly shaken in mind nor alarmed, neither by a spirit nor by word nor by a letter as if by us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or an object of worship, so that he sits in the temple of God, setting himself forth that he is God" (2 Thes. 2:1-4). This is the abomination mentioned in Daniel. In the Old Testament, "the abomination" means idol. The Lord Jesus also prophesied on this point concerning Antichrist (the man of sin, the son of perdition), how he exalted himself above all and opposed the Lord. All these things we have seen in Daniel already.
"Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I said these things to you? And now you know that which restrains, so that he might be revealed in his own time. For it is the mystery of lawlessness that is now operating, but only until the one now restraining goes out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed (whom the Lord Jesus will slay by the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of His coming)" (2 Thes. 2:5-8). This refers to the end of Antichrist. When the Lord Jesus comes again, Antichrist will be punished and destroyed. Daniel’s prophecies repeatedly speak of the second coming of the Lord to destroy the power of the nations. What he mentioned concerning the destruction of the little horn confirms the record here. The "little horn" is also destroyed by the second coming of the Lord: "The coming of whom is according to Satan’s operation in all power and signs and wonders of a lie and in all deceit of unrighteousness among those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And because of this God sends to them an operation of error that they might believe the lie, so that all who have not believed the truth but have taken pleasure in unrighteousness might be judged" (2 Thes. 2:9-12). What is this lie? "Who is the liar if not he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?" (1 John 2:22).
In this brief and short study, we can see how the prophecies in the New Testament are consistent with the prophecies in the Old Testament. They confirm each other and explain each other. Therefore, we must pay attention to Peter’s warning that "no prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20). The prophecies must not be interpreted out of context. We must look at the whole Bible and how the different portions confirm one another. Only then can we arrive at a correct understanding. Otherwise we will suffer a great loss.
We have seen how the Old and New Testament prophecies correspond and coincide with one another. Now we will return to the book of Revelation to see how it corresponds with the prophecies above. After reading Peter’s word, we all know one thing, that the prophecies in the book of Revelation surely correspond with all the previous prophecies. We cannot take Revelation out of context from the other prophecies in the Bible and give it some special interpretation. Earlier we have seen the outline of the Old and New Testament prophecies. In Revelation, except for the first and second sections (chs. 1—3) which are spoken to the church, the third section (chs. 4—22) must correspond with our previous study. Of course, Revelation, being the last book of the Bible, contains many things which are not found in the preceding books. However, as a rule, Revelation must not be of "one’s own interpretation," but must be confirmed by other portions of the Word. According to the method of interpretation given to us by the Holy Spirit, we can see that the words in the third section of Revelation truly speak of the things to come.
THE THIRD SECTION OF REVELATION
AND OTHER PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE
Now we can come back to our theme, to see how this section of Revelation and the previous prophecies confirm one another. The prophecy of the image in Daniel indicates the periods of the reign of the Gentile nations. We know that the golden head, silver breast, brass belly, iron legs—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome—have all come to pass. Only the ten toes, part of iron and part of clay, have not been manifested. The ten toes here are the ten federated nations of the to-be-restored Rome. When the time comes, the great stone from heaven (referring to the Lord Jesus) will smite them to pieces and will fill the whole earth. Similarly in Revelation we see the ten horns (Rev. 13:1) which are the ten kings (17:12), representing the last power of the nations. However, "These [the ten horns] will make war with the Lamb [the stone], and the Lamb will overcome them [smite to pieces], for He is Lord of lords and King of kings [filling the whole earth]" (17:14). How they correspond one with another!
Daniel 7 speaks of the vision of the beast, how among the ten horns grew a "little horn," how he speaks of great things, persecutes the godly saints, that is the Jews, and how he shall speak great words against the Most High and change times and laws. His time is three and a half years. When we read Revelation, we see a beast (Daniel’s little horn): how he is greater than the ten horns (17:12-13), how he speaks great things and blasphemies (13:5), how he persecutes the Jews (v. 7), how he opens his mouth in blasphemies against God (v. 6), and how power is given unto him to continue forty-two months (v. 5). Here again we have the correspondence.
Of the seventy weeks revealed to us in Daniel, sixty-nine weeks are past, and the seventieth week has not yet come. When the seventieth week comes, Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel, but after three and a half years he will break the covenant and will establish the idol, which is the abomination. Not only chapter nine of Daniel records this, but chapter eleven speaks of him who will establish this abomination, and chapter twelve also mentions it. Not only Daniel said this, but the Lord Jesus also quoted this word. Not only the Lord Jesus said this, but Paul also said that he will set himself forth that he is God. When we come to Revelation we can see how it corresponds with the previous portions of the Bible. Revelation records how the false spirit deceives the people, causing them to make an image of the beast and worship him (13:14-15, 4-8).
Daniel 9 says that in the middle of the week he will break the covenant. Hence, there is another half week remaining, which is three and a half years. This corresponds with chapters seven and twelve. He will reign in those three and a half years.
When we come back to Revelation, we see that it says the time of Antichrist is forty-two months (13:5), which is also three and a half years. It is in these three and a half years that the fierceness and idolatry of the beast will prevail. It is also in this period that Jerusalem will be trodden, that the two clothed in sackcloth will witness, that God will care for the persecuted godly saints who flee to the wilderness, and that the reigning of the nations will come to pass. All these things will happen within the three and a half years. After that in a very short moment, the reigning of the Messiah will come.
In this way, we see how the prophecies in Revelation correspond with those in Daniel of the Old Testament. Now we see how Revelation and the prophecies of the Lord Jesus correspond. In Matthew the signs of the end of the world are recorded: first, the false Christs (24:5); second, wars (vv. 6-7); third, famines (v. 7); fourth, pestilences (v. 7, KJV); fifth, martyrs (v. 9); and sixth, the signs of the sun, the moon, and the stars (v. 29). If we compare what is written in Matthew with the record of the six seals in Revelation 6, we see that there is not the slightest difference between the two books. The order of the six seals is the same as that of Matthew. Not only so, Matthew says that there will be an idol standing on the holy place. Revelation says the same thing. Matthew records the Lord’s warning to the Jews: when they see the setting up of the idol, they must flee. Revelation shows us that they will indeed flee (12:6). In Matthew it is recorded that these days will be shortened for the elect’s sake. Revelation says, the devil knows "that he has only a short time" (12:12). Matthew 24:24 records, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen." Revelation reveals that he "deceives those who dwell on the earth on account of the signs" (13:14). Matthew records that people are seeking an earthly Christ (24:26). Revelation records that people are following an earthly beast (13:3). Finally, Matthew records that the Lord comes from heaven. Revelation also records that the Lord and His armies come in glory and power from the heavens (19:11-16).
We must also pay attention to the similarity between Revelation and Paul’s prophecies. Paul said, "The man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition" (2 Thes. 2:3). In Revelation it speaks of the appearing of Antichrist (13:1). Paul says that he opposes the Lord. Revelation says he blasphemes against God (13:6). Paul says he calls himself God and is worshipped by men. Revelation says he made an image and was worshipped by men (13:14-15). Paul said he acts according to the working of Satan. Revelation says the dragon (12:9) gives him authority (13:4). Paul says he is with power and signs and wonders. Revelation says his deadly wound was healed (13:3). Paul says that the Lord Jesus will destroy him with the brightness of His coming. Revelation says that when the Lord comes again, he will be taken and thrown in the lake of fire (19:20). Now we see how the prophecies in Revelation correspond with those of the Old and New Testaments. The Lord’s words are really consistent. We know that the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old and New Testaments which we have quoted is in the coming days. Therefore, the fulfillment of the corresponding prophecies in Revelation is also in the future.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)