II. The Shift of Emphasis in Revelation
Revelation 1:11 provides us with a glimpse of the proper ground of the church, that is, that there should be only one church in one city.In other words, all of the believers in a city should meet together as the one local church in that locality; the practical, visible oneness of the believers within each locality should reflect the spiritual oneness among all the believers across the earth.This is what the Lord is implying when He equates the seven local churches with seven cities in the first chapter of Revelation.However, in the second chapter of Revelation His emphasis shifts to the subject of eating the tree of life.What is the Lord implying now?Witness Lee explains that this shift in focus points us to a deeper truth concerning the local churches, that the local churches are places of eating Christ as spiritual food:
In the Book of Revelation, there is something very strange. In chapter one, the emphasis is on the churches. John wrote to the seven churches which were in Asia (1:4). The Lord Jesus told him that what he saw, he was to write in a book and send it unto the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea (1:11). Seven churches equal seven cities; therefore, unto one church means unto one city, and unto one city means unto one church. This is the emphasis in chapter one.
But in chapter two, the emphasis is changed to eating. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7). In the first of the seven epistles in this book, the promise is the promise of eating, and in the last one the promise is also of eating. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev. 3:20). Even in the middle epistle, the promise again has to do with eating. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna (Rev. 2:17). This is a special portion. It is something hidden, not like the manna in the wilderness which was so open. Here the Lord promises the overcomers the hidden manna. So the strange thing in Revelation is this: the local churches are for eating! And the more we eat, the happier we make the Lord. (41)
Witness Lee points out here that the startling change of emphasis in the Lord's speaking in Revelation 2 is that the local churches are now identified by the Lord as places for eating Christ as spiritual food. To those in the proper position, in the local church, the Lord gives to eat of Himself as the tree of life and as the hidden manna.
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