THE THIRD SECTION OF REVELATION
AND OTHER PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE
The first three chapters of Revelation mainly speak of the things pertaining to the church. Their relationship to other church truths has been discussed in the foregoing paragraphs. The third section of Revelation is from chapter four to the end of the book. This section, as indicated earlier, is after the discussion of the church. Hence, it is a prophecy. In this section there are many words which cannot be understood simply by reading this book alone. Peter says, "No prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation; for no prophecy was ever borne by the will of man, but men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:20-21). "Of one’s own interpretation" in the original text is "interpreted according to the meaning of it." "It" here refers to the prophecy. This means that any portion of a prophecy cannot be interpreted according to its own context. Prophecy cannot be interpreted simply according to its own context. If it is, mistakes will be inevitable, for all the prophecies were not written by the will of man. If prophecies were written according to the will of individuals, then they could be interpreted by themselves, and there would be no need to care for other verses. However, the prophecies in the Bible are not like this. They were written by different men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, though many men wrote, the thought was one. The Holy Spirit is the Author of all the prophecies. Hence, all the prophecies can be linked together as one. If one is to understand a prophecy, he must not consider just one portion alone. Instead, he must compare it with other places and must interpret the Bible with the Bible. The principle of interpreting the Bible with the Bible is most important. Here lies the failure of many Bible interpreters. Peter considered this principle to be the "first" (2 Pet. 1:20). The violation of this principle will surely lead to confusion. It is very easy for us to arrive at an interpretation out of context. The difficult thing about interpreting the Bible is to make a certain part match the testimony of the whole Bible. Concerning the verses before us, we should compare them with other parts of the Bible so that what we obtain will not just be an idea but a proven and proper interpretation. Now we need to study several portions of the Word.
The Image in Daniel
First, let us read Daniel 2. Here we can see an image, which typifies four major Gentile kingdoms. Later, the image is smitten into pieces by a stone. This stone grows and fills the entire earth. This stone is the Lord Jesus and His kingdom, which will destroy all kingdoms on the earth and will replace them. The nations on earth will not gradually ferment to become the kingdom of God. Instead, they are raised up on earth according to their order and will suddenly be destroyed by God’s kingdom. The smiting of this stone, of course, is in the future, and we shall see the relationship between it and Revelation.
The Image of the Beast in Daniel
In Daniel 7 the prophet saw another vision which also concerns the four major Gentile nations. The only difference between this and the vision in chapter two is that in chapter two he saw a man, but here he saw a beast. In the future, the kingdom of God will come through the coming of the Son of Man. Here, it tells us more clearly that the manifestation of the beginning of God’s kingdom will be after the destruction of all the nations on earth. There will be a small horn which blasphemes God and persecutes God’s chosen people. His time will be three and a half years. At the end of this time he will be destroyed. Then the Son of Man will come to establish His kingdom. The kingdom of man and the kingdom of God do not exist on earth concurrently. It is when the former is destroyed that the latter is established.
The Seventy Weeks in Daniel
After we have considered these two chapters, we can come to chapter nine. After Daniel confessed the sins of the people, God sent Gabriel to speak to him. "Seventy weeks are apportioned for your people and for your holy city, to close the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make propitiation for iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies" (Dan. 9:24). Daniel prayed for his people and his holy city. Therefore when God answered his prayer, He mentioned only "your people" and "your holy city." Let us not be mistaken. "Your people" refers to Israel, and "your holy city" refers to Jerusalem. They do not refer to other people or to another holy city. God is saying that after seventy weeks the transgression of Israel and Jerusalem will be finished, their sins will be ended, their iniquity will be reconciled, and their everlasting righteousness will be brought in. Has this been fulfilled? Not yet. Israel is still "Loammi"—not my people (Hosea 1:9). Therefore, her recovery and reestablishment are still in the future. Before these things come to pass, this prophecy of seventy weeks cannot be fulfilled. When the Lord Jesus comes again, this prophecy will be fulfilled.
Gabriel continued speaking: "Know therefore and comprehend: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with street and trench, even in distressful times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing" (Dan. 9:25-26).
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)