Chapter 3. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
During our last meeting, we fellowshiped about a very important topic. What was it? Do you remember? (In our last meeting we talked about God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself.) Yes; this is the topic we fellowshiped. Let Me reiterate: The topic we communicated about last time is “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself.” You haven’t forgotten, right? Is this topic important to you or not? (It’s important.) Why do you say it’s important? Which part is really important to you—God’s work? God’s disposition? Or God Himself? (They are all important.) They are all important. So, after our fellowship last time, which of these three parts are you most interested in? God’s work, God’s disposition, or God Himself—which would you most like to hear about? This is quite difficult to answer, isn’t it? (Yes, it is.) I know it’s hard for you; in your hearts, you might all be thinking that God’s disposition can be seen everywhere in His work, and that God’s disposition can be revealed at any time, any place, within His work. You believe that God’s disposition actually represents God Himself, and they are inseparable. Isn’t that what you think? (Yes.)
What we fellowshiped last time regarding God’s work does not have much bearing on the present. Those events took place a long time ago, and furthermore they are stories recorded in the Bible. However, these are tales that had to do with humans and God; they happened to people and, at the same time, had God’s participation. Back then, at the dawn of humanity, God began to express His disposition. This is self-evident. That is, as soon as God established contact with humans, He began to reveal His disposition. Whether or not people these days can see this or understand it, in general, from the moment God began His work, and as soon as humans came into being and God had contact with them, He began to reveal His disposition and express His substance. This is absolutely correct. In other words, God’s disposition, substance, and what He has and is are constantly expressed and revealed along with His work. He has never disguised, hidden, or obscured anything from humanity; rather, He continues to release His disposition without any reservation whatsoever. The things revealed by His disposition represent His will, as well as His substance. Whenever God comes in contact with humans, no matter what He has said or done, what sort of disposition He has revealed, what humans see of what God has and is, or how they perceive His substance, all these things represent God’s intentions for them. No matter how much humans can realize, understand, and comprehend, it all represents God’s will, His will toward humanity. There can be no doubt of this! God’s intentions for humanity involve demanding what sort of people they should be, how they should act and live, and how they should satisfy God’s will. Aren’t all these things inseparable from God’s substance? That is, the sort of disposition God has, and what He has and is, all is expressed at the same time that He makes demands of humans—without any falsity, pretense, packaging, or concealment. Why, though, do people fail to recognize this? Why are they never able to realize God’s will? Why are they never able to see His disposition clearly? Everything God reveals and expresses is what He has and is, bits and pieces and various aspects of God’s own true disposition; why, then, do people fail to know that thoroughly? Why can’t they see it? There is a very important reason for this. What is it? It is that ever since the world was created, humans have never treated God as God. In the beginning, whatever God did to humans, who had just been created, they merely treated Him as a companion, as someone to lean on; they did not truly have any sort of knowledge or understanding of God. That is, they did not know that what was expressed by a God such as this, this companion in their eyes, was God’s substance, nor did they know Him to be God. To put it more simply, people of the time did not recognize God, nor did they know that the heavens and earth and all things were created by God. They also did not know where God came from, let alone what He was all about. However, back then, God did not demand that they know or understand Him, know what His will was, or understand what He wanted to do; He did not make such demands, because these were the earliest times following humanity’s creation. Later on, however, God did some further things to humans and made some demands of them. He told them how to worship Him and how to offer sacrifice. These simple requests He asked of them, and only then did people begin to have a few concepts of God, know the difference between Him and humans, and understand that God was the One who created humans. Once they learned that God was God and humans were humans, a set distance formed between Him and them. On God’s part, however, He still had not required people to have a great deal of knowledge or a profound comprehension of Him. Thus, God makes various demands of humans according to each step of His work and its circumstances. What have we seen here? What sort of disposition have we seen God to have? Isn’t He quite real, with very realistic demands of humanity? Is this not the case? (It is.) Back in that era, in the earliest days, He did not do any work of conquest toward humans, nor did He do any work of perfection toward them, nor did He speak too much to them. As such, His requirements of humans were quite low. No matter what people did, how they behaved, or what offenses they committed against Him, God could still forgive them without taking anything to heart. God knew what He had done on humanity, so He knew what demands He should make of them. Is this not a realistic side of God? God has a realistic side; this does not mean His disposition is not great, or that His wisdom and almightiness are but empty words. Therefore, there is only one path for humans to know God’s disposition and God Himself: through God’s work. God constantly expresses His disposition and He continually speaks to and works on humanity so that they can know God’s disposition and what He has and is. Once they understand what He has and is and know His disposition, will they then go ahead and implore Him to reveal His real person to them? They will not dare, nor will they make such a request. Am I right? It can be said that if people understand God’s disposition and what He has and is, they will already have seen the true God Himself, and they will not again have the extravagant hope of seeing God’s real person. This will be the inevitable result.
Along with the continued progress of God’s work and His plan, and after He established the covenant of the rainbow with humans as a sign that He would never destroy the world by flood again, God’s intentions grew more and more urgently bent on gaining people who could be of one mind with Him, on obtaining people who could carry out His will on earth, and, moreover, on gaining a group of people who could witness Him, break away from the forces of darkness, and not be bound by Satan on the ground. God had yearned for such a group of people for a very long time; He had been looking forward to them ever since creation. Thus, whether in His destruction of the world by flood or in the covenant He made with humans, God’s will did not change, nor did His mood. What He wanted to do was that which He had hoped for a long time before the creation of the world: that is, to gain the people He wanted to gain among humans; a group of people who could understand His disposition, comprehend His will, and know that He was God Himself. Such a group of people can genuinely bear testimony to Him and be said to be His confidants.
Last time we also spent part of our time speaking about why God wanted to form a covenant with people, and now we will follow up by fellowshiping the next section of the Bible’s verses.
1. God Promises to Give Abraham a Son
(Gen 17:15-17) And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her: yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
(Gen 17:21-22) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
2. Abraham Offers Isaac
(Gen 22:2-3) And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.
(Gen 22:9-10) And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
You probably all listened to this story of Abraham, right? A person chosen by God after the flood destroyed the world—what was his name? (Abraham.) What sort of promise did God make to him? (He granted him a son.) When God promised him a son, what sort of limitations were there? (His wife Sarah was already ninety years old, and could not have children.) At that age, she could no longer bear children. So what did Abraham do? (He laughed.) He laughed, and what did he say to himself? (Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old?) From a human point of view, that would be impossible, correct? So, in Abraham’s opinion, could God do this thing? (No.) He thought that would be impossible. From a human standpoint it seemed quite ridiculous, right? “Look; You created humans, yet You don’t even know whether someone this old can have children or not—and You still want to give me a child. I’m too old to father one, so isn’t Your intent to grant me a son absurd? This is impossible!” Thus, Abraham fell down on the ground and laughed, thinking to himself, “It’s impossible. God must be playing a joke on me; this is such a major deal, so perhaps He is just having a chuckle and then will be done with it. This cannot possibly be real.” He did not believe it was real, right? (Right.) So, in God’s eyes, what sort of person was Abraham? (A righteous man.) Can such a person still be righteous? Surely you got that wrong, right? Where was it stated that he was a righteous man? Is it written somewhere? What has gotten you confused? Is everyone called upon by God righteous? Are they all perfect? Are they all upright people, or people who walk with God? You abide by the rules! Here God did not say. See this clearly: God did not say. God does not casually define anyone; in His heart, He has standards for measuring every person. If God hasn’t said anything, that does not mean you are a good person, nor does it mean you are good just because He has not said you are bad. Here, God has not said what sort of person Abraham is, but based on how he has expressed himself, what kind of faith does he have in God? Isn’t it a bit vague? (Yes.) Does he have a great deal of faith? (No.) No, he doesn’t. This is because his laugh and thoughts already showed who he was. Thus, when you say that he is a righteous man, you are drawing purely from your imagination and are blindly applying the rules, and doing this is wrong. You cannot label someone blindly! With regard to Abraham’s laughing and little expressions, did God see them or not? Did God know of them? (He knew.) God did know, but would He alter what He had resolved to do? (No.) That is, before God had even chosen him, and when God decided to choose this person, the matter was already done; God had already made a plan. Regardless of how man expressed himself or what he thought, God was determined to go ahead with it because He had already decided to do so. God would not arbitrarily alter His plan, nor would He change it or ruin it just because of a person’s tiny reaction or expression of ignorance. Therefore, what does it say in Genesis 17:21-22? “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.” Did God pay heed to what Abraham had thought and said? (No.) Why not? At that time, God did not demand that people possess great faith or knowledge of God, or be able to completely understand what He told them. God did not require this of them. Thus, when it came to what He had determined to do and which person He decided to choose, God was very principled. Whatever you did or however you expressed yourself, God took no note. Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) Therefore, God said, “Sarah shall bear Isaac to you at this set time in the next year,” and this is how it all came to pass. To God, this matter had already been accomplished. After making these arrangements, God left. Did anything man did, thought, or planned concern God? None of this had anything to do with God; God would continue doing the next step of His work on schedule and according to plan. This is God’s disposition. He does not force you to accept it, but nor would He abandon His plan or work, no matter what people think or how they understand it. What happened as a result? The facts were accomplished according to God’s plan, ideas, and thoughts. That is precisely what we have seen from this chapter; God caused Isaac to be born at the time He had specified. So, did man’s behavior and display hinder God’s work? Did his little faith or his notions and imagination about God affect His work? (No.) This did not happen. Now we can see that God’s management plan is not affected by anyone, anything, or any environment. Everything He has determined to do will be completed and accomplished on time and according to His plan; no one can stop Him. Furthermore, God pays no attention to some of people’s foolishness and ignorance, or even to some of the notions they might have about God. God pays no heed to them; instead, He continues doing the work He wants to do without scruple. This is His disposition. No person, matter, or object can hinder God’s chosen or obstruct Him from completing what He wishes to achieve.
Just because God granted Abraham a son does not mean that was the end of the matter; God still had His plan. What did God do to Abraham next? (He made him offer Isaac.) Making him offer Isaac would still not conform to people’s notions today, right? (Right.) In their notions, people believe the following: You granted me a son; at first I didn’t believe, but despite the impossibility of the situation, You still bestowed a son upon me. After that, though, You wanted me to offer him. This is inconceivable. However, what was God’s intention? Without making any conditions, God gave man a son, but then wanted him to offer the child unconditionally. Was this asking too much? (No, it wasn’t.) This should not be considered excessive. At the very least, from Abraham’s own point of view, he did not see it as asking too much. He had some minor thoughts about it, and felt slightly suspicious of God, but he still went ahead and made preparations to offer Isaac. What sort of thing do you see here that can prove Abraham went willingly to offer his son? What does this sentence say? After making all the preparations, Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar on the wood. He then reached for his knife with the intention of killing his son. Did God see all of this or not? (He saw.) From the beginning, when God wanted Abraham to offer Isaac, up until Abraham raised his knife to actually kill his son, God saw what was in Abraham’s heart. Regardless of his prior foolishness, ignorance, and misunderstanding of God, in that moment, his heart toward God was true; it was sincere. He was genuinely going to return Isaac—his son, whom God had granted him—to God. This was what God wanted.
From a human point of view, God does many incredible things, or things which people have a hard time comprehending. God wants to orchestrate humans; from their perspective, a lot of this orchestration is at odds with their notions and incomprehensible to them. However, despite this dissonance and incomprehensibility, Abraham was still able to obey and satisfy God’s demands. This was a trial God put him through, and a way of testing him. Therefore, only then did God truly feel reassurance and approval toward humanity—toward Abraham, His chosen one. God was sure that this person He had chosen was a leading figure who could undertake His promise and take upon himself the next step of His management plan. This might seem to have been a very minor matter, but to God it felt like a consolation; He felt the love and comfort from humanity. Thus, in the very instant Abraham lifted his knife and was about to kill Isaac, did God stop him from acting? (Yes.) God did not allow him to offer Isaac, because He had already seen the result of what He intended to do. What result was this? Was God satisfied or not? Why are you afraid to answer? It can be said that this result was to God’s satisfaction, and was what God wanted and had hoped to see. Is this real? (It’s real.) Even though God tests every individual with different methods, in various contexts, in Abraham, God saw what He wanted, because He saw that Abraham’s heart was true. This was what God wanted. A lot of times people say, “I’ve already offered this and given up that, so why is God still not satisfied with me? Why is He constantly putting me through trials? Why does He keep putting me to test?” This proves a fact: God has not seen what is in your heart; that is, He has not seen such sincerity in you as when Abraham was able to raise his knife to slay his son by his own hand and offer him to God. This is why He appears to constantly be furious with people and putting them to the test. Is this true or not? (It is true.) That’s all we’ll say on this topic for now; let’s read the next passage, “God’s Promise to Abraham.”
3. God’s Promise to Abraham
(Gen 22:16-18) By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.
Was the blessing God bestowed upon Abraham great or little? (Great.) How great was it? (Incalculably great.) There is a key word here that has escaped your attention. Abraham returned his only son—whom he cherished—to God. Here one cannot say “offered”; it should be said that Abraham returned him to God. God not only did not want his son, but He wished to grant Abraham a blessing. With what promise did God bless him? He promised that his progeny would multiply. And by how many were they to be multiplied? “… as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore…. And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.” In what sort of context were these words of God spoken? Abraham had obeyed God’s instructions and listened to Him without the slightest complaint. He had acted in accordance with what God had said, demanded, and instructed, so God bestowed this sort of promise upon him. This promise contains a key line. How did God bestow His blessing? None of you noticed this key sentence. You may have heard it, but you paid no attention to it. God said, “By myself have I sworn….” These words were uttered in this way; God was swearing by Himself while uttering these words. What do most people swear by when making an oath? (By Heaven.) They swear by Heaven; that is, they make an oath to God and swear by God, and their words are addressed to Him. God, on the other hand, was speaking to Himself; one could say He was putting His hand on His heart while speaking. That is, He addressed Himself when bestowing this promise upon Abraham. If you can, try to imagine this kind of action: When you are speaking to yourself with your hand over your heart, you know very clearly what you are saying, right? You are genuinely aware of what your words are, correct? You are speaking your words quite candidly, aren’t you? Here we can see God’s faithfulness and realness. God is honest, real, and sincere. The words He spoke and the promise He bestowed upon Abraham were in earnest; they were true. This was because while addressing Abraham, God was also speaking to Himself. He was telling Himself, “I will bestow a blessing upon Abraham so that he will have as many offspring as there are stars in the sky and grains of sand on the beach, because he obeyed My voice, and he is My chosen one.” In this moment, God has determined that the chosen people of Israel should be born to Abraham, and that He will bless Abraham’s descendants. In other words, He wants to allow Abraham’s progeny to undertake His management, and His work and what He expresses will be realized through Abraham and his descendants. Wouldn’t you say this is a blessed thing? (Yes.) This is the most blessed of things. It is not that he would enjoy a certain kind of blessing merely because his offspring would multiply; rather, God wanted to achieve His management, His commission, and His work in Abraham’s descendants. Isn’t this a big deal? (Yes.) God had already decided this. When God spoke, and while He swore that oath by Himself, He had already made this decision. This was very truthful, right? (Right.) God had already decided that from then on, He would begin to grant His efforts, the price He paid, what He has and is, and His everything—even His life—to this group of people; and starting from this group of people, He would make manifest His deeds, so that humanity could see God’s wisdom, His authority, and His power.
God was speaking to Himself as well as to Abraham. For Abraham, however, besides hearing the blessing God was bestowing, could he understand God’s other intentions? He could not. At that time, when God swore an oath by Himself, He was still lonely in His heart; He felt alone as before. There still was no one who could understand and accept what He intended or planned to do, or who could communicate on His level, or who could cooperate with Him on the work He wanted to do. Therefore, even though God had obtained Abraham, a person whom He had also blessed and who could obey His voice, in His heart God still felt sad. What did this sadness indicate? It meant that His management had only just begun, that the people He wanted to gain, the people He wished to see, and the people He loved were still very far away from Him, and that He would have to wait and be patient. For at this time, apart from God Himself, no one else knew what God needed, what He wanted to gain, and what He was hoping for. So, while He was feeling very emotional and heavy of heart, He still was planning the next step of His work.
What have you gathered from God’s promise to Abraham? After Abraham merely obeyed God’s voice, what did God do? (He bestowed a blessing.) Yes, God bestowed a blessing upon him. Though this matter may appear to be quite simple on the surface, it allows us a peek into God’s heart: God particularly, especially cherishes the submission, understanding, and sincerity people show Him. From the promise God bestowed upon Abraham we can see God’s heart: He treasures people’s submission and cherishes their sincerity toward Him. To what extent does God cherish this sort of sincerity? You might not understand how much He cherishes it, and it may be that no one can gain an understanding of God’s heart. God granted Abraham a son, and after this son grew up, God went on to ask Abraham to offer his son to Him. Abraham did everything God commanded without skipping a single step. He listened to what God said. This sincerity moved God, and was treasured by Him. To what degree did God treasure it? No one could comprehend what God said. When He spoke, no one could understand His heart, but only Abraham alone did this sort of thing. After that, in His heart, God wished there could be this kind of person to accompany Him, to treat Him with sincerity, and to show Him earnest consideration. God even hoped Abraham would be able to keep on living, and at the very least that his heart would stay alive. He wanted this kind of heart to accompany Him and to be with Him as He continued His management. No matter what God thought, though, this was only a hope, and Abraham was only a human; he could not possibly walk with God. At that time, man could only possess this tiny bit of sincerity; however, it still was not enough to make him be of one mind with God, or to allow him to become a confidant of God, to be someone who could know God, understand God, and know God’s disposition. Thus, in His heart, God still felt sad and alone. The more distressed and lonely God got, the more He needed to continue His management as soon as possible and quickly select a group of people to realize His management plan and achieve His will. Since the beginning, this has always been God’s imperative, unchanging intention. In the past, people may have completely failed to see in the Bible that God had this sort of intention; it has taken until now, this age, for them to see even just that little bit. And so some people believe that as God’s work has drawn closer to an end, perhaps He has gotten more and more urgent, but that is not actually the case. From the beginning, ever since God created humans, He has eagerly looked forward to being able to have a group of overcomers, a group who will walk with Him and who can comprehend, understand, and know God’s disposition. This intention has not changed, and today we have seen it here, right? All this I am saying right now—have you gained a bit of realization of it yet? (Yes.) Perhaps your understanding is not very profound yet, but this will come with time.
In the same period that Abraham was alive, God also destroyed a city. What was it called? (Sodom.) Lots of people know this story; am I right? (Yes.) Now let’s read the next part of scripture.
D. God Must Destroy Sodom
(Gen 18:26) And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
(Gen 18:29) And he spoke to him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it.
(Gen 18:30) And he said to him, Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it.
(Gen 18:31) And he said, Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it.
(Gen 18:32) And he said, Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it.
I selected these lines from the Bible; they are not complete from the original. If you want to read the original, you may pick up a copy of the Bible and do so. In order to save some time, I left out some of the original contents and just picked a few key passages and lines. Leaving those parts out will not impact on our fellowship today. The focus of our fellowship about all these verses and contents is not on the background of the times or what those protagonists were like; we are just talking about what God’s intentions were back then and from this what we can glean of God’s disposition. And from each of God’s actions, we should see the real God Himself. Doing so, we will have achieved our goal. These lines contain a few important words, which are those numbers. First, Jehovah said that if the city contained fifty righteous people, then He would spare all the place; that is, He would not raze that city. In reality, were there fifty righteous people? (No.) So what did Abraham say to God then? He asked what would happen if there were forty. God said that in that case, He also would not raze that city. Next, Abraham asked what would happen if there were thirty. Did God say He would raze it? (He said He wouldn’t raze it.) Correct. So, what about if there were twenty? (He said He wouldn’t raze it then, either.) What about ten? (He still wouldn’t raze it.) Were there actually ten righteous people there? (No.) Was there even one? (No.) Was there one or not? There weren’t ten, but there was one; who was it? (Lot.) Back then, in that era, there was one, but was God very stringent or exacting when it came to these numbers? (No.) No, He was not. Therefore, when man kept asking, “What about if there are forty,” “What about if there are thirty,” and so on, all the way until he asked, “What about if there are ten?” God replied, “Even if there are ten, I still will not destroy that city; I will spare it and forgive those people besides those ten as well.” God said He would not destroy the city if there were a minimum of ten, but in fact there weren’t even ten; this condition could not even be met. What did God do in the end? He was forced to raze this city to the ground, right? (Yes.) This is the truth. What did God mean when He said He would not destroy that city if it contained fifty righteous people? These numbers were not important to God; what was important was whether or not that city actually contained those righteous ones God wanted and would forgive. In fact, it did not. Therefore, for God, there was no need to hesitate further; this city had to be razed. What have you gleaned from this? Back then, God would spare a city from destruction if it contained fifty righteous people, and might even spare it if it contained ten. In other words, because of the existence of a few people who could fear and worship Him, God would exercise some forgiveness and tolerance toward humanity, or guide them through some things. That is, God places great importance on the righteous deeds of humans, on those who can worship Him, and on those who can do good deeds before Him. He values these things very much.
Since the early days in the Bible, have you ever seen God fellowshiping the truth or preaching to anyone? Apart from the stories of these figures in the Bible, what do people see God speaking mostly about? Isn’t it quite simply God telling people what to go and do? Some of them did as they were told, and some of them did not; some believed, while some did not—nothing more. Thus, back then, in God’s eyes, righteous people were those who could listen to His words and follow His instructions. It is just such a concept. Were they worthy of being called people who know God? (No.) Were they worthy of being called people who have been perfected by God? (No.) So, no matter how many righteous people there were, in God’s eyes, what sort of people were these righteous ones to God? Could they be said to be God’s confidants? (No.) This you can be certain of; they definitely were not worthy of being called God’s confidants. So what sort of people did God call them? In the Bible, up until the passages of scripture that we have just read, there are many instances in which God calls people “My servant so-and-so” or “God’s servant.” Actually, in that era, these righteous people were seen as servants by God; God’s servants—and that is what He called them. How did God feel about this form of address? Why did He call them that? Why did He call them so? When God came up with a form of address, did He have any thoughts about it in His heart? Of course He did. No matter how He addressed people, whether as “righteous ones” or “perfect ones” or “upright ones” or “servants,” God had standards. When He called people “servants,” He had identified them as ones who could receive His messenger, listen to God’s instructions, and also act in accordance with the instructions of His messenger. What deeds were they to do? They were to do and conduct the tasks God commanded them to complete on earth. Could the deeds and actions God had people conduct on earth in those days be called God’s way? They could not. Because at that time, God asked only that man do a few simple things, and nothing more—that is, He had them do this or that, only giving them a few simple instructions; and they were not worthy of being called God’s way. For God’s way was still in His heart, and had not yet begun to be expressed. He was doing His work according to His plan; by that point, He had not yet expressed His way. Therefore, God saw the righteous people He spoke of, whom we see here—whether thirty, twenty, or however many—as servants. When God’s messenger arrived, if such a servant could receive him, obey his commands, and act in accordance with his utterances, and nothing more, as long as this sort of person was inside such a city, then God would not destroy it. This sort of servant was not at all like what you would imagine—someone who listened to much of God’s way, understood many of His intentions, knew what God wanted to do, and comprehended His management plan; they had done none of these things. They could only do the things I mentioned a moment ago. Therefore, God is judicious in addressing people; He simply called them servants. Even though what is being discussed here relates to how many righteous people there were, in God’s heart, He called these people servants. So, were there actually any such servants of God in this city? Were there ten such servants? (No.) There were not; there was only Lot who received God’s messengers, and then they rescued Lot, right? These dialogues between God and Abraham might look simple, but they illustrate a very profound issue; here again is the disposition of God that should be apparent to us. The numbers are quite simple, and do not demonstrate anything, but here is God’s very important disposition, which He has continuously expressed ever since the beginning. God would not raze the city because of fifty righteous people; was that because of His mercy? Was it because of God’s love, and God’s tolerance? Did you see this aspect of God’s disposition? (Yes.) When it came down to there only being ten righteous people, and because of them God would not raze that city, was this not God’s tolerance? Was this not God’s love? (It was.) Because of God’s mercy, tolerance, and concern for these righteous people, He would not destroy their city. This was God’s tolerance. However, in the end, what did we see actually happen? When Abraham said, “Peradventure ten shall be found there,” God replied, “I will not destroy it.” After that, though, Abraham did not say anything further, because that city did not contain the ten righteous people he had mentioned. Thus, God decided to raze it. What have we seen here of God’s disposition? What sort of determination did God make? He determined that if this city did not contain ten righteous people, He must destroy it. Isn’t this an example of His wrath? (Yes.) God determined that He would surely raze that city as soon as He could not discover ten righteous people there and confirmed that they did not exist; furthermore, He had to severely punish its inhabitants because they had resisted God and become overly filthy and corrupt.
Why do we analyze this passage this way? It is because within these few simple lines, we have seen that God showed abundant mercy and became profoundly wrathful; this is His disposition. At the same time that He treasured righteous people, at the same time that He showed them compassion, tolerance, and concern, in His heart He deeply hated all of the people in that city who had been corrupted. Is this not an example of abundant mercy and profound wrath? (It is.) So what sort of method did God use to raze that city? (He used fire.) When you see something that has been aflame, or when you want to burn something away, what sort of emotion do you have toward that thing? Why do you want to burn it? Does your emotion include any anger? Does burning it away imply that you have given up on it? It carries connotations of abandonment, hate, and a desire to never see it again; this is God’s wrath. That is, God’s mercy and tolerance do indeed exist, but at the same time, when God gets angry, His holiness and righteousness show people a side of Him that cannot be offended. When people are completely able to obey God’s instructions and act in accordance with His commands, God is abundantly merciful toward them. However, when people are filled with corruption, hatred and enmity for God, God will become profoundly wrathful—and to what extent will this wrath be expressed? God’s anger will not disappear until no further evidence of their resistance and evil deeds can be seen by God or appears before God’s eyes. This means that no matter who it is, if anyone’s heart has become distant from God, and turned away from God, never to return, then regardless of how, to all appearances or in terms of their subjective desires, they wish to worship and follow and obey God in their body or in their thinking, the moment their heart turns away from Him, it draws His endless wrath. It will be such that when God shows His profound anger, having given people sufficient opportunities, His fury will unleash and there will be no way of taking it back; furthermore, He will never again grant this sort of person His mercy or tolerance. This is God’s being unoffendable. Thus, here, when God wanted to raze a city, in people’s eyes this was quite normal, because in God’s eyes a city full of sin could not survive and must not continue to exist; from this simple incident, we have seen the entirety of God’s disposition. He treats kind, beautiful, and good things with tolerance and mercy, but toward evil, sinful, and wicked things, He shows His profound fury, which can even be endless. These are the two principal and most prominent aspects of God’s disposition, and moreover, ever since the beginning, He has always revealed them. Some of you seated here may have experienced a bit of God’s mercy, but it is very rare for you to be able to experience God’s wrath. But don’t worry. God’s compassion and love can be seen in everyone, which means that God has shown abundant mercy for every individual. However, God still hasn’t yet—or, it can even be said, very rarely has—become profoundly angry with anyone or any group of people, that is, with any of you sitting here today. Why is that? It is because God’s work still has not been completed up to that point. As soon as God grows deeply angry, not a single one of you would be able to bear it or endure it. For in God’s eyes, during God’s work, in this phase, no one may or can be worthy of being called righteous by God, nor is anyone deserving of being called “a servant of God” by Him. Evidently, in this era, God has only shown abundant mercy to all of you; you have not yet seen His profound wrath. Some people, if not convinced, may go and implore God to become deeply angry with them so that they may experience whether or not God’s anger and His unoffendable disposition to man really exist. Do you dare? (No.) It’s best if you don’t.
These two aspects of God’s disposition that we have seen in this section of scripture are worthy of fellowship, aren’t they? After hearing this sort of story, have you gained a new understanding of God? (Yes.) What sort of understanding? (That He shows abundant mercy and profound wrath.) You should understand as follows; I have to say things for you, because you cannot comprehend them yourselves. It can be said that ever since creation, this final group of people get to enjoy the most of God’s grace, compassion, and love. Even though in this final stage God has done the work of judgment and chastisement and carried out His work with anger and majesty, most of the time He only uses words to complete His work, uses words to teach, and uses words to water, provide for, and feed people; God’s anger is always hidden, and His wrathful side cannot be seen. Therefore, most people think they have seen in God’s words His compassion and love, as well as God’s intolerance to offenses against Him. Most people have even appreciated the mercy and tolerance God bestows upon humanity. However, no matter how bad people’s behavior gets, or no matter how corrupt their disposition becomes, God has always been patient. His purpose in being patient is to wait for these words of His, and these years of effort paid for with blood, to bring about a result in the people He wishes to gain. This result requires time, as well as various environments. It is like how people grow up to become adults; no one becomes an adult immediately after being born, and it takes eighteen or nineteen years—or, for some people, twenty or thirty—to fully grow up. God likewise is waiting for such a time to come, and is waiting for this sort of result to arrive. In the meantime, He continuously shows His abundant mercy. Some say that some people were struck down, and that some people who showed great resistance were punished. The partial disposition of God expressed through His work on these people does not represent His entire work, correct? Actually, during this final stage of God’s work, while God is waiting, He is constantly being patient. He pays for this sort of result with His disposition and His life. You have seen this, right? (Right.) God would not disrupt His own plan without reason. He can be wrathful, and He can be merciful; these are revelations by God of two main parts of His disposition. Isn’t this quite obvious? That is, when it comes to God, right and wrong, just and unjust, and the positive and the negative are all very distinctly manifested for people to see. What God wants to do, what He likes, and what He hates can all be directly reflected in God’s disposition, and they can also be made very obvious and clear to people in God’s work. These things are neither vague nor general; rather, they are especially specific, true, and practical in how they show God’s disposition and what God has and is to every individual person. This is the true God Himself.
Are you interested in these stories recorded in the Bible? (Yes.) If I didn’t talk about them like this, would you still be interested? (No.) If I did not speak of them like this, you would be unwilling to read these stories; they are too old and too far distant from present-day humanity. Even if you were to read them, you would not be able to find anything worth seeking. Usually, elderly people are willing to read them, but young people do not want to read the Bible. And most people who have not spent a few years in religion are unfamiliar with these passages. So, I looked for a few stories that the majority of people would have heard before. Each of you knows who Adam and Eve were, right? (Right.) Even many unbelievers know about them. Most people know who Noah was, too, right? The story of Noah building the ark has been spread far and wide, so most people should know it. What about Abraham’s deeds? Quite a few people know about them, too, am I right? These stories are all considered to be classics. Most people know a little bit about what is written about the destruction of Sodom, too, correct? (Correct.) The course of events described in this written account—these events, figures, and the stories that happened around them—are all very good. However, today most people just see them as stories; they do not have much benefit for people these days in terms of helping them to know God or enter the reality of the truth. I therefore have chosen some relatively well-known stories, which could even be considered to be household tales. By sharing these verses and passages with you all, we search for the aspect of God’s disposition expressed therein. The goal is to enable each of you to see an aspect of God’s disposition in these verses. Has this been somewhat effective? (Yes.) If I had not fellowshiped these things, would any of you be able to see any aspect of God’s disposition in the stories of the Bible? (No.) You cannot, and this is a fact. That is because these stories recorded in the Bible contain very few of God’s utterances. Although God did some things, from a human point of view, they seem merely to be tales and the passage of events. God did not directly introduce His disposition and will to humans. Therefore, from a human perspective, God seems to be hidden from them. That does not mean God’s external appearance is hidden from humans; rather, it means that His disposition and will seem hidden from them. Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) After today’s fellowship, do you still feel God is truly hidden from people? What does this question mean? That is, do you still believe God’s disposition is hidden from people? (No.) See, if I put it a different way, you understand it. We have to communicate; the more the better. Communicating too little won’t do. If we use language to communicate, we will understand one another. Without communication, people will always remain very distant from God, and they will think: God brooks no offense; don’t get close to Him, otherwise we may bring down some disaster on our heads! People might believe in God, but in their hearts, they do not actually love Him, nor do they want to love Him, nor do they dare to or know how to love Him. This is because in their hearts people do not get close to God and they remain very far away from Him. Where are people’s hearts? Actually, their hearts have not moved; they are just keeping them to themselves, and have not given them to God or revealed them for God to see, even though some people often pray, “God, look upon my heart—You know what I think.” Some people even vow to allow God to look upon them, and to let God’s punishment befall them for some certain things they do. Regardless of what oaths you swear or what you declare to God, when times are crucial, or in ordinary times, your heart is closed to God. To what extent is it closed? People do not want to reveal their hearts for God to see, and God cannot see people’s true hearts. This is a bit of a contradiction, and you might see it that way. In fact, God observes the depths of people’s hearts and can see what they are thinking, what they want to do, and everything that exists in their hearts. For people, however, in their subjective consciousness they do not want to—nor have they ever planned to—hand their hearts over to God. Not only has man closed himself off to God, but there are even people who want to cover their hearts with their hands or use something to shroud their hearts from God’s view. Their purpose in not allowing God to see them is that they do not want to give their hearts to Him, nor do they ever plan to. They want to keep their hearts for themselves. The implication here is that in whatever they do or think, they wish to make their own plans and calculations, with no need of God’s participation or orchestration. Therefore, whether faced with God’s instructions, commissions, or what He demands of them, people have a choice. They each choose commissions given by God according to their individual intentions, according to their individual benefits, according to their individual states at the time, and according to their individual situations at the time. People want to use their own knowledge and insights and brains to choose what sort of path they want to take, and do not want to be supervised by God. This is what God has seen of the human heart.
What do I mean by all this? Ever since the beginning, the only ones able to engage in a dialogue with God have been humans. That is, among all living things and in all of creation, only humans have been able to have a dialogue with God. They have language, thoughts, free will, ears that can hear, and eyes that can see. Thus, God poured all of His will into humans, hoping to make them companions who could be of the same mind with Him and who could walk with Him. Therefore, ever since God began His management, He has been eagerly waiting for humans to hand their hearts over to Him so that He can equip their hearts and work people according to His will. God has always waited eagerly for such a result. So, is there any record of this sort of person in the Bible or not? That is, in the Bible, is there such a person who was able to give his or her heart to God? Prior to this age, has there ever been any such precedent? So, we’ll continue reading; have a look in the next section: Who is this figure? (Job.) In your impression, what sort of person was Job? (A person who feared God, and eschewed evil.) “Feared God, and eschewed evil”—these are the original words from the Bible. In your own words, what sort of person was Job? (A good man. A reasonable man.) In your hearts, how would you evaluate such a person? (A righteous person with humanity.) A righteous person with humanity—this is a general saying. (Job was a person of great faith. When faced with this sort of trial, while subjected to such enormous suffering, he was still able to stand this kind of testimony without complaining about God. Obviously, he not only had faith in God, but he also revered God in his heart. He was indeed a man of faith who feared God. At the same time, he was able to recognize that everything possessed by humans was bestowed upon them by God. He believed in God’s sovereignty and arrangement. It can be seen that he was the kind of person who could obey God.) Good. Someone else, please continue. (He believed God was the Master of the heavens and earth and all things. He was a man with true faith in God, and his faith in God was absolute.) What you are saying is that you have all seen Job’s faith; this is the point, right? (Yes.) That is, in your hearts, you place great importance on Job’s faith, and you admire it, too. Well, today we will have a look to see just what things Job possessed that God wanted before He would accept him like this.
1. Assessments of Job by God and in the Bible
(Job 1:1) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
(Job 1:5) And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
(Job 1:8) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
What is the focus of this section? People assessed Job as a perfect, upright, God-fearing man who eschewed evil. What was God’s assessment of him? (“There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil.”) These two assessments are the same, aren’t they? (Yes.) There is something here that shows Job’s reverence of God and how he eschewed evil. Let’s look at these three verses. In addition to the preceding and subsequent passages, let us also read Job 1:5. For now we won’t look too closely at or worry about what Job thought; instead, we’ll start by looking at how he ordinarily feared God and eschewed evil. Job manifested in that not only did he do as he ought to for the sake of fearing God and shunning evil, but he also frequently sacrificed burnt offerings before God on behalf of his sons. He had one worry: He feared that his sons, while feasting, had often “sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Isn’t that the original wording? (Yes.) So how did Job do it? Did he do it occasionally, or did he do it frequently? The text reads, “Thus did Job continually.” This line can be described thusly: Job did not go and look in on his sons occasionally or when it pleased him, nor did he confess to God through prayer when a problem arose; rather, he behaved in this manner continually. What does it mean that he frequently showed this sort of behavior? In his heart, he feared that he might offend God and that his sons and daughters might offend God. That is, this matter weighed heavy on his heart. Isn’t this true? It can be explained this way, right? (Right.) He did not just act this way on a whim or give it an occasional try; he behaved this way frequently. His motive for acting this way was that in his heart he worried and was afraid that he might offend God, that he could not satisfy God, and that his children might have offended God. This line written here tells us how this person Job typically acted before God. He acted this way often. Did his behavior and even his heart reach before God? In other words, did God frequently examine his heart? (Yes.) I’ll ask you this way: When Job showed this sort of behavior frequently, what sort of mood or intent did he carry along with it? That is, what kind of circumstance and what sort of background had enabled him to act this way? Some people say that because he was a perfect, upright man, he was able to behave this way, and that he was able to do it frequently because he was a person who wished to shun evil. Others say that it was perhaps because he had that family property, and felt that it had been hard to come by; he knew it had been bestowed upon him by God, and he was deeply afraid of sinning against God and that God might take it away from him as soon as he offended God. Are any of these various explanations true? This is very obvious; they are not. That is because Job’s greatest assets, in God’s eyes, are laid out in the following verses. What Job showed to God and what was in his heart before God while being tempted—this is the most persuasive evidence. It allows us to see that God’s assessment of him was true.
2. Satan Tempts Job for the First Time (His Livestock Is Stolen and Calamity Befalls His Children)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 1:8) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
(Job 1:12) And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Before Job, was there any record in the Bible of Satan saying anything to God? This is the first record of any dialogue between Jehovah God and Satan. Satan wanted to accuse Job and use a certain method to destroy him in order to prove that Job’s faith and reverence of God could not stand on two legs. However, what did God say? God said, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” This was God’s evaluation of Job, spoken in front of Satan; He said he was perfect and upright, God-fearing, and shunned evil. However, God made a demand of Satan: “If you subject him to any temptations, you may not harm him.” Here God acknowledges Job as a perfect, upright man, and He believes Job’s uprightness and perfection before Him are beyond doubt. Therefore, God allows Satan to go and tempt Job, but only after giving Satan a condition; He said, “You must not harm him.” What does this mean? God did not put Job’s life in Satan’s hands. In other words, Satan could tempt Job however and use whatever methods it wanted, but it was not allowed to take Job’s life. The life of humanity is in God’s hand, and whether a person lives or dies is decided by God; Satan may not make such decisions. After God spoke these words to Satan, didn’t Satan leave immediately? It could not wait to get out of there and use various methods to tempt Job. Job was soon faced with this trial, but did Job know what was going on? (He didn’t know.) He was not aware of the story unfolding behind him. However, at that time, his reverence for God and his perfection and uprightness remained immutable. He did not know what had happened in the background, nor did he know what the story was behind this trial. He simply faced this matter with a heart that feared God and eschewed evil. Did God see these things very clearly? (Yes.) On the surface, Job may have done some things that from a human point of view may be inscrutable, or may only be a little comprehendible, but what did God see? God saw man’s heart. This is because from the beginning all the way up until Job accepted the trial, his heart remained open to God. This was what gratified God the most. Next, let’s have a look at how Job handled his trial. This verifies what I just said. Please read the scriptures.
b. Job’s Reaction
(Job 1:20-21) Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
3. Satan Once More Tempts Job (Sore Boils Break Out Across Job’s Body)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 2:3) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.
(Job 2:6) And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life.
b. How Job Deals With the Trial
(Job 2:9-10) Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
(Job 3:3) Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
When reading about the attitude with which Job faced his trial, what sort of reaction do most people have? Don’t they feel rather surprised? Isn’t the trial he was put through shocking? Can this word be used to describe it? (Yes.) That means that when he was put to the trial, to an outsider, that scene was too horrible to look at. Just who was it that caused him to have to undergo this trial? (Satan.) The trial was of Satan’s making. Satan did these things with its own hand; it did them itself, with God’s permission. Did God tell Satan what methods to use when tempting Job? God did not say; He only gave His permission, as well as one condition. As such, this temptation befell Job. When it did, it hammered him ruthlessly, and was too cruel to watch! Apart from sparing Job’s life, it can be said that at this time, Satan’s abuse toward humanity and its ugly face were laid bare. Satan used this chance, the opportunity given by God’s permission, to subject Job to remorseless abuse. One can say that the degree of this devastation might be unimaginable to people in the present day, and might also be absolutely unbearable to them. Even though these lines are simple—suddenly, an entire mountain of cattle and sheep disappeared, his property vanished, and his sons and daughters perished—the facts, when they manifested, were not as simple as what is described in these lines. Rather, they were much crueler. This was the abuse and hatred with which Satan treated humanity and the people whom God had approved of. Had God not demanded that Satan refrain from harming Job, it would have undoubtedly slain him without any compunction. Isn’t this the case? Satan did not wish for anyone to worship God, nor did it want anyone who was, in God’s eyes, a righteous, perfect, and upright person to be able to continue revering God and eschewing evil. For people to fear God and shun evil meant that they were rebelling against Satan and trying to get away from it. Thus, Satan used this opportunity given by God’s permission to ruthlessly vent all of its fury and hatred upon Job. You can see how absolutely intense was the physical and psychological suffering, both external and internal, that Job was subjected to. Today, we cannot see what it was like back then; we can only use these sorts of words to describe the pain Job endured. So while Job was suffering, what was God doing? God was watching, observing, and awaiting the outcome. So, was God’s heart aching while He was watching? (Yes, it was.) So did He regret having agreed to allow Satan to go and do this thing? No, He did not regret it, because He firmly believed Job to be a perfect, upright person who revered God and eschewed evil. All He had done was to give Satan an opportunity to confirm Job’s righteousness before God, as well as a chance to expose its wickedness and despicable nature. This, furthermore, gave Job an opportunity to give testimony to the world, to Satan, and even to all of God’s followers that Job was a righteous man who feared God, eschewed evil, and was approved of by God. So actually, Job had already overcome Satan, right? (Right.) There is a line here in which Job said the most classic words. He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” This is an example of his obedient attitude. He then went on to say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” How about that? These words of his confirmed that God observes the depths of people’s hearts and can perceive their hearts. They verified that this man approved by God was righteous, and that God’s approval of him was without error. So isn’t this line testimony given by Job for God’s sake? (Yes.) Does this line not also condemn those people who do not admit there is a God and are unwilling to accept God’s orchestration? Doesn’t it condemn these people? (It does.) So, what else did Job say? When his wife advised him to “curse God, and die,” this meant, “Look at all that has happened to you; look how your God has treated you. Why are you still alive? Your God has treated you poorly, yet you keep saying blessed be the name of your God, Jehovah. Why have you been subjected to disasters when you always bless His name? You should hurry up and curse God’s name, and stop believing in Him; stop following your God.” This was when the testimony of Job that God wished to see came into being. This testimony is something that most people do not have; it is something that we have not even seen in any of the stories in the Bible. However, God had already seen it; He had simply wanted to use this opportunity to let Job confirm, for all the world to see, that God was right. What did Job say? (“Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”) The next line. (“In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”) Look how great these words are! Aren’t they weighty? (Yes.) These words are laden with importance. How significant are they? Only one fact can confirm the weight of these words; the weight of these words is that they were approved of by God in His heart, they were right, they were what was desired by God, they were the result God had been looking forward to, and they were what God wanted to hear. Even though Job had been subjected to the temptation, and his entire body was covered in boils and sores, when his suffering was at its most excruciating, and at the same time that his wife, his loved one was giving him advice, he still was able to utter such words. That is, in his heart, he believed that no matter what sort of temptations he was subjected to, no matter how great the tribulations and how much he suffered, even to the point of death, he still would never forsake God. Evidently, God occupied the place of most importance in Job’s heart; it was unique. God was his one-and-only. Thus, not only did Job not sin verbally, but in his heart, also, he would not sin and offend God or hurt God’s feelings. He did not vocalize anything that would be offensive to God; moreover, in his heart, he praised God’s name. His heart and mouth were unanimous, and this was what God loved so dearly about him. Would you say that if such a person had the slightest deviation in his knowledge or understanding of God’s disposition or will, would God make a fuss about it? Would God condemn him? God would not condemn him.
All these things Job suffered were not the doing of messengers sent by God, nor were they done by God’s own hand; they were done by Satan itself—God’s enemy—and so you can see the depths of cruelty to which Satan went. Nevertheless, in that moment Job expressed, without reserve, the knowledge, thoughts and understanding of God he normally had in his heart. This was the truth. It is possible that before he underwent the temptation, and before God had put him through the trial, if Job had said the words, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” then you would say, “This Job guy was quite hypocritical; God had already granted him so much, so of course he praised Jehovah’s name.” You might evaluate Job in this manner. However, this is not what had happened, Job’s plight was not something that people would want to go through or even watch; they would not want it to befall them, and would be too frightened to face it, and God could not even bear to see such a situation. You can see how much Job suffered back then. What did he use to ease his anguish? He had a method; he said some words. Perhaps, no one has ever considered these words important, and perhaps there are people who have paid attention to them. He said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.” By merely uttering these words, did Job offend God? (No.) Do these words have any connotations of resisting God? (No.) Do they mean Job was complaining against God? Are you too afraid to say? This line does not mean he was complaining against God; he was merely cursing the day of his own birth. That does not mean he was complaining against God. Although these words are quite simple, they are easier said than done. Since ancient times, not a single person has ever undergone these sorts of temptations; no one has had to endure what befell Job. Why can no one else bear the sort of experience Job was put through? It is because from God’s point of view, not a single person can bear this kind of responsibility or this sort of commission; no one can do what Job was able to do, let alone refuse to curse God’s name even while enduring such pain and suffering, and instead continue to praise Jehovah God and merely curse the day he or she was born with a few simple words. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) These are all facts! This was not fabricated by anyone. So, in saying this about Job, would you say that we are praising his behavior? Is there anything wrong with praising him for being a righteous man, for being able to give this sort of testimony to God and before Him? (No.) We may, right? So why do you sound like you are forcing yourselves to respond? Is there something you are unhappy about? Even God approved of Job, so why would you be unwilling to? That’s not the case; you are willing, right? (Right.)
What sort of person was Job? (A God-fearing man who eschewed evil.) Why do you keep repeating this same refrain? Don’t speak high-sounding words; speak from your hearts, and use your own words. (Job was a genuine person.) That is a bit more relevant, and they are your own words. Job was real, not fake; right? In the phrase, “a genuine person,” the word “person” is significant; it implies someone of human substance and who has what it takes to be human. What else? (He was a man pleasing to God.) That interpretation is a bit far-fetched. What else? (He was someone who truly believed in God.) (In Job’s heart, he saw God as his one-and-only.) Job saw God as the only one in his heart. This, too, is relevant. What else? Use your own words. Let Me ask you this: Whom do you like more, Adam or Job? (Job.) Why? (Because he listened to God.) Adam did not listen to God, and Job did? Actually, in Adam’s time, we can say that in his heart Adam did not have much of a concept of God, but in Job’s time, Job had a relatively accurate and intimate concept of God. Speaking about it in modern terms, seeing that Job underwent these trials or temptations, what sort of impression do we have of Job? After reading the Book of Job, you very much wanted to meet Job, didn’t you? (Yes.) You felt how blessed it would be if you could have a chat with Job and share your thoughts with him. If we could fellowship with such a person as Job about God’s disposition and about how to worship God, then our hearts would be purified. Am I right? (Yes.) If we could come in contact with such a person as Job up close, or fellowship with him face-to-face, wouldn’t that be a type of blessing? (Yes.) When you think about it, that is a kind of blessing. After pondering this, when faced with the people of today, what sort of thoughts do we have? I often think that Job was so great, and now it is a kind of extravagant hope of wanting to meet him, interact with him, and have a face-to-face chat with him. In My heart, however, the more I feel this is an extravagant hope, the more adorable I think Job is. You all feel the same, don’t you? (Yes.) So, just now, when I asked whether or not Job was a praiseworthy person, why were you afraid to say “yes”? What kinds of feelings do you have toward Job now? It is possible that you would not get along with such a person, or you might think such a person is very ordinary and unremarkable. However, once you interacted with him for a long time, you would think that he was lovable. Only then would you feel how important it is to be a lovable person, how blessed a thing that is, and how worthy and meaningful it is. A person who is able to live before God and accept everything that comes from Him—even if it is temptation, suffering, or tribulation—is, in short, someone praised by God. Such a person is lovable and is a true man; someone whom God thinks about and feels worthy of making arrangements for. He or she is someone whom God places great stock in and whom God allows to give testimony to Him in front of Satan. Such a person bears God’s commission. Would such a person carry any weight in your hearts? (Yes.) That weight in the human heart is a far cry from the weight such a person would carry in God’s heart, though, right?
When I say to you that Job was a lovable person, you might not be able to grasp the significance of that or understand the sentiment behind why I have spoken of this sort of thing. One day, however, when you have experienced trials the same as or akin to those of Job, when you have experienced tribulations, experienced trials, tribulations, and environments that God Himself has arranged for you by His own hand, and when you have become victorious over Satan and are able to give testimony to God—then you will be able to realize the significance of what I am saying. When that time comes, you might feel that you are still far inferior to Job, and you will be even more of the opinion that Job is a lovable person and someone extremely worthy of emulation. Then you will realize that it is exceedingly difficult for one who is corrupt and who lives in this era today to live up to those classic words spoken by Job. Once you appreciate how hard that is to achieve, it becomes obvious how eagerly God wants in His heart to gain this sort of human. In that moment, it will dawn on you just how extraordinary are the pains God has taken and the price He has paid, and just how precious everything is that God has done and sacrificed for humanity. After fellowshiping to this point, have we now gained an accurate understanding of Job, as well as a correct assessment of him? So after all, was Job truly a perfect, upright, God-fearing man who eschewed evil or not? (Yes, he was.) You can definitely say “yes” here, because these facts are undeniable by any man or Satan. This is the most powerful evidence; only Job was able to achieve this. This evidence, this testimony, God obtained from Job; this was the first time. Therefore, at this time, God’s heart was comforted by Job. This was the first time since creation that God had truly realized what it meant to be comforted by a human, what comfort was, and what true testimony given to Him was, which He saw and obtained. In this next section, we will also be explaining a fact.
(Job 42:2-6) I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from you. Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech you, and I will speak: I will demand of you, and declare you to me. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
(Job 9:11) See, he goes by me, and I see him not: he passes on also, but I perceive him not.
(Job 23:8-9) Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he does work, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.
Can you discern the subject of these lines? Have any of you discovered it? There is a fact here. First we must understand how Job came to know God, came to know that there is a God, and came to know that God rules the heavens and earth and all things. There is a passage here that can explain how Job knew. He said, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job had heard of God either from stories or by word of mouth, and then he confirmed God’s existence through his life experience and among all things. There is an undeniable fact here. What sort of fact? Even though Job was able to revere God and eschew evil, he had never seen God before. Wasn’t he the same as people are nowadays? He was the same as people today; he had never laid eyes on God. This implies that even though he had heard of God, he did not know where God was; this is an objective reason. Subjectively, even though he followed God, God had never appeared before him or spoken to him. Isn’t that a fact? (Yes.) God had never spoken any words to him or given him any instructions, but apart from in stories—that is, aside from “hearing of You by the hearing of the ear,” which he spoke of—Job had seen God’s existence among all things. In this way, he had begun to fear God and shun evil, and started to lead such a life; this was who Job was. Throughout his life, he continued to be unable to see or sense God’s existence. In other words, no matter how much Job revered God and eschewed evil, and no matter how diligently he maintained his own integrity, God still never revealed Himself to him. This is stated in the next two sentences. Job said, “See, he goes by me, and I see him not”; he might have felt Him or he might not have, but he could not see God. “He passes on also, but I perceive him not.” This might have been conjecture; Job imagined that God might have passed in front of him, done something, or given him some guidance, but Job did not know. That is, God comes to people when they are not paying attention, completely without their knowledge. They do not know when God will come to them or where He will come to them, because people cannot see God. For them, therefore, God seems hidden. In the next passage, Job goes on to say, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he does work, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.” In Job’s experience, God had always been hidden to him; He had never overtly revealed Himself or said anything to him in a public venue. Nevertheless, in Job’s heart, he had always believed God might be walking in front of him or might be conducting something to his right; even though Job could not see Him, he was convinced of God’s existence. Job had never seen God, but he was able to stay true to his faith. This is something no one else can do. Why can no one else do it? Because God had neither spoken to him nor appeared before him, if Job had not possessed genuine faith, he could not possibly have kept going; he could never have continued adhering to the way of revering God and eschewing evil. Isn’t this a fact? (Yes.) Thus, when you read these words spoken by Job, what sort of feeling do you get? You feel even more that Job’s uprightness and perfection, and his righteousness before God, were true; they were not a false declaration made by God, let alone an exaggeration. Although God had treated Job in the same manner as He had treated others, by not appearing before him, Job continued to maintain his integrity and believe in God. Furthermore, he made frequent burnt offerings and often came before God, deeply afraid of offending Him. The more we see that Job had never seen God, the stauncher his faith appears to have been. Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) So, would you say that he only had faith, believed, and acted this way for a day or two? (No.) No; he was the same every day for many years, and did these things very frequently. The whole time, God was secretly watching and observing him.
There is a fact here that has never been mentioned in the record of Job’s story; this is the main point of our discussion today. Even though Job had neither seen God nor heard Him speak, he kept God in his heart. What was his attitude toward God? It is made clear by what he had said previously: “blessed be the name of the LORD.” For Job, his blessing of God’s name was unconditional, and did not require any background or reasons; he was simply praising God’s name. We can see his heart in this; he had given his heart to God, and it was compatible with God. All of Job’s thoughts and plans had been left for God to arrange; his heart was not opposed to God, and he never implored God to do anything for him or hoped to be able to get something in return for worshiping God in this manner. This means that Job did not try to talk of trades with God. He was willing to suffer disasters, and he would praise Him for that. So, too, would he praise God when he gained blessings, and he never tried to strike a deal with God, nor did he make any demands or requests. All of this behavior of his, together with his thoughts,[a] reached God’s ears and arrived before God, and were seen by God as being important. Therefore, God particularly treasured such knowledge of Job, and especially cherished the fact that Job could have such a heart: At any given time and any given place, this heart was awaiting God’s instructions and tasks for him to do, and was awaiting what God wished to befall him. Job himself did not ask for anything. This is the point; this is what God wanted. Having never seen God or heard God say anything to him, give him any commands, teach him anything, instruct him of anything, provide him with anything—or, in today’s terms, having not been enlightened, guided, helped, or provided anything by God—Job was still able to have this sort of knowledge and attitude toward God. For God, this was enough; in God’s view, Job’s testimony was precious and commendable. From God’s standpoint, despite his having never seen God or heard God give him any teaching, Job’s heart and Job himself were far more important than all those people who could talk of so many profound theories and boast a lot before God, who had traveled so many miles, or who had made so many dedications, yet who possessed no real knowledge of God and no genuine reverence for God. This was what God wanted. Is this true or false? (True.) So would you say Job’s knowledge of God—whether doctrinally, literally, or theoretically—was greater than the knowledge you possess today? (No.) In fact it really was not. Back then, God did very little work and seldom spoke, which is why Job was regarded as a treasure. Job did not experience God’s work to the extent that people these days do, nor did he ever hear God speak or see His face; however, he still was able to have this sort of attitude toward God. This is something people nowadays do not possess. Therefore, back then, in that era, God said that no one on earth was as perfect and upright as Job. If back then God had already formed this sort of evaluation and drawn such a conclusion, then how much more true would it be today? Last time we communicated about a certain topic; we talked about why Job did not have as much knowledge of God—not as much theoretical or literal knowledge as people these days do—yet was still able to revere God and eschew evil. This is the reason.
Let’s have a look at people nowadays, what is their nature and substance, and what sort of attitude toward God do they have? Are they God-fearing people? (No.) Are they people who eschew evil? (No.) So if they are not people who fear God and eschew evil, then what sort of people are they? Do you know? Four words. Which four words? You might utter them frequently, but you have never used these four words to compare people nowadays with Job. Listen closely: People nowadays can be described with four words: the enemies of God. These four words have an essential aspect; it’s not that God sees people as His enemies, but rather that people see God as their enemy. First we must say that when people begin to believe in God, they all have a purpose, an intent, and an ambition. Even if they have seen God’s existence and believe in His existence, people still bring this sort of intent into their faith. Their ultimate goal and objective in believing in God is to obtain God’s blessings and anything else they want. Throughout the process of their experience, people often think, “I have given up my family and career for God, but what has God given me? I’ll have to have a look and confirm it—have I gotten anything over this period of time? I sacrificed my youth to God, but what have I gotten in return? In all this time I have expended so much, but has God given me anything or not? Have I obtained any blessings?” Or they think, “I’ve taken so many paths and undergone a great deal of suffering. In all this time, has God ever given me any blessings? Has He ever made promises to me? Or what exactly will be my end?” Everyone silently calculates like this, constantly and frequently acting and thinking this way, bringing an intention, a desire to make an exchange, and ambition into every request of God. That is, in their hearts, people are continuously testing God in order to see just what He can give them, as well as constantly arguing against God for their own ends. At the same time that they are seeking after God, people neglect to treat God as God. Rather, they always try to make deals with God; while they do this, they argue with Him. There are even some people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often grow weak, passive and slack, and are full of resentment toward God. Therefore, such a state of people shows an aspect of their substance. What substance is that? It is that humans have not at all given their hearts to God, and God has never obtained what He wants from humans. No matter how big a price God pays, no matter how much work He does, and no matter how much He provides to humans, they keep refusing to give their hearts to God. They insist on holding on to them for themselves and having the final say, and they do not want to give their hearts over to God. This is the state of present-day humans. We won’t spend too much time speaking on the matter. So, now, let us look again at Job. First of all, did he try to do a deal with God? (No.) At the time, had God told anyone about the end to come? Back then, God had not promised anyone about what sort of end they would have following their death, or given them any other promises. This was the background against which Job was able to revere God and shun evil. Do the people of today stand up to comparison with Job? They don’t; they’re in different leagues, and there’s too much of a disparity. Even though Job did not have much knowledge of God, and knew very little, he had given his heart to God. He never tried to strike a deal with God, nor did he ever have any extravagant desires or requests, nor mentioned that he wanted God to give him anything. He had not acted like that. On the contrary, he believed that Jehovah gave, and Jehovah had taken away. This was what he saw in his life and among all things. He also said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” These two lines were what he had seen and come to know in his life experience, and indicated his attitude of obedience to God. After hearing Me speak up to this point, would you say that Job, in our imagination, is a loveable person? (Yes.) So do you hope to be this sort of person or not? (We hope to.) So are you afraid of being subjected to Satan’s temptation? Will you resolve to pray for God to put you to the trial the way He did Job? You’re afraid now, aren’t you? Whoever isn’t afraid, raise your hands. You don’t even have this little bit of faith; obviously, your faith is so minuscule, so pitiful! Your faith is not even as substantial as what Job had in just one of his fingers; you do not even possess the faith that he did in a single hair. So what makes you qualified to receive God’s promise? Do you still think you have a right to ask God for this or for that? (No.) Right now you think you are not worthy, but can you have a bit of aspiration to make yourselves worthy of it? (Yes.) So who among you right now is confident enough to accept the same trials that Job was put through? Raise your hands. It’s okay; it’s okay if you raised a hand. Raising a hand this time doesn’t count; even if you raised your hand, those trials will not befall you, so relax! This was not an oath; it didn’t count. Relax; don’t be afraid.
After receiving testimony from Job following the end of his trials, God decided to gain a group or more of people just like Job. However, He resolved never again to allow Satan to hurt people by way of temptations or making a bet with God. God would no longer let Satan prey upon humans who are weak, fragile, ignorant, and foolish, nor would He allow Satan to do this same sort of thing. The temptations that Job had undergone were already enough. However, if anyone resisted or provoked God’s anger, He would hand that person’s life over to Satan; he or she might die, go insane, or fall into hell. Such a person might meet some sort of horrific end, or be cursed by God and leave His presence. This is what God promised. Because God will not hand a person’s life over to Satan lightly, those of you seated here today are safe; God will not casually give your lives to Satan. You must recognize this, because this is a promise made by God. God will not allow Satan to arbitrarily harm humans; this is the mercy God has taken on them. In God’s eyes, it was already enough that one person, Job, had been subjected to Satan’s temptation and its abuse; God would not allow Satan to do this sort of thing again. This is because humans were created by God, humans belong to God, and their lives and every aspect of humanity are controlled and orchestrated by God. Satan does not have this authority. You can understand this, right? (Yes.) Now do any of you feel confident enough to accept the same kind of trial Job was put through? Raise your hands. It’s not that hard, is it? Raising your hands should be easy. You must believe; believe that this is how this matter will be accomplished. God actually takes pity on people, whether they are weak or ignorant. God is unwilling to see them in constant suffering, toyed with and harmed by Satan. Humans were created by God, and God may treat them however He wants—but He will not permit Satan to harm, abuse, or treat them however it wants, or go so far as to use various methods to induce, guide, or mislead people. God will not allow any of it. This is God’s responsibility, and falls within the scope of His power; He will not allow Satan to intrude. You understand this, right? (Yes.) Now you feel completely relieved, right? If I have not said that, you still should have had some insights and realizations of it, right? Even though God will not allow that, if anyone angers Him, He will still hand that person over to Satan. When that happens, God will have washed His hands of that person; the person is given to Satan, even his or her life is in Satan’s hands, and the outcome will be irreversible. This, too, is clear to you, right? Thus, I urge you to be careful in your actions, and treat everything that befalls you or happens to you with caution. Do not make any sudden moves or act on impulse; do not treat God or the people, events, and things He has arranged for you depending on your hot blood or your naturalness, or according to your imaginations and notions. You must be careful not to offend God and make Him so angry or furious that He gives you to Satan. After that, He would no longer take responsibility for you, and then it would be all over for you; your fate would truly be sealed. You’ll remember this, won’t you? (Yes, we will.)
Next, let us have a look at the blessings Job received from God.
4. Jehovah Bestows Blessings Upon Job
(Job 42:7-9) And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
(Job 42:10) And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
(Job 42:12) So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
(Job 42:17) So Job died, being old and full of days.
This section is about the blessings Jehovah bestowed upon Job. While blessing him, God mentioned that Job was His servant. God still used this sort of appellation, calling Job His servant, and did not give him a higher form of address. However, this appellation is not important and did not affect how important God felt Job was. There is an important point here: Job prayed for his friends, and afterward, because of Job’s prayers, God did not deal with them for their foolishness. In other words, He refused to punish them or inflict any retribution upon them at all. What was the reason for this? It was because His servant Job’s prayers for them had reached God’s ears, and because He found Job’s prayers acceptable, He forgave them. What have we seen from this? When God blesses people, He bestows many gifts upon them. “Many” is not limited to material possessions; in addition, God gives these people authority, granting them the right to pardon others and offer sacrifices on their behalf. God will accept the sacrifices offered by these people, and He will listen to them. For Job’s sake, God forgot and overlooked what those friends of his had said. Why did He overlook their words? It was because what they said was not as right as what Job said. Here it is written, “You have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as … Job has.” What had Job said? It was what we brought up before, as well as that long list of utterances recorded in the Book of Job. Throughout this entire list of utterances, Job never complained to God once; he merely waited for the outcome and for God to make a fair evaluation of him. He was waiting. It is this waiting which is his attitude of obedience, and because of this attitude, as well as the words Job had spoken to Him, God found him acceptable. So, where was God when Job was undergoing the trials and being made to suffer? God was right by his side. Even though Job’s suffering was not alleviated the slightest by God’s being by his side, God saw what He wanted to see and heard what He wanted to hear. Therefore, everything Job said and did every step of the way reached God’s ears. God heard, and He saw. This is a fact. At that time, during that period, Job’s knowledge of God and the way he thought about God in his heart were not as concrete as what people nowadays possess, but given the background of the time, God still affirmed what Job said. That was because of Job’s behavior, and what he had expressed and revealed. This is absolutely correct. When Job underwent his trials, and after God saw the result of what Job had wanted to say in his heart and what he decided to do, God put an end to the trials. As soon as He did, did Satan dare to go and do anything anymore? (No.) Of course not. Thus, Job was delivered from this predicament, and from that moment on his trials were no more and would never happen again. Because he had already accepted his trials, and had stood firm during them, God therefore wished to bestow blessings upon him.
Had Job asked for these blessings? (No.) No, because while Job was undergoing the trials, we never saw him say anything for his own sake, such as, “I am suffering these torments, and God is observing me in secret; I must say, ‘Blessed be Jehovah God,’ so that after suffering thus I can obtain a hundredfold.” Did he ever have such an idea? (No.) He never thought this way, either. Why not? At the time, he was suffering so much he did not even have the will to live anymore; how could he think about such things? For him, all those various blessings—a few thousand head of sheep, a few thousand camels, and so on—seemed unreal, and he no longer had any need of them. What did he need? What he most needed to know, and what he most wanted to know and understand as well, were what could alleviate his pain and suffering and what Jehovah God did. Regardless, however, from Job’s behavior and the trials of his, God had seen a result; this result had satisfied God, humiliated Satan, and caused Satan to no longer make accusations about Job’s righteousness. At that point, didn’t Satan depart? (Yes.) Satan withdrew, and did not say or do anything further, so God very naturally bestowed blessings upon Job. At the time, the blessings were limited to some cattle, sheep, camels, and property, but in God’s heart, He wanted to bless Job with far more than these things. Back then, was anything recorded about what sort of eternal promises God wanted to give Job? (No.) No outcome is revealed or touched upon here, correct? No matter what importance or position Job held within God’s heart, in the end, God’s blessings were very measured and He did not announce Job’s outcome. What did this imply? Back in that era, God’s plan had not yet gotten to the stage of announcing people’s outcome; the time had not yet arrived. Therefore, God never mentioned any outcome; He merely bestowed some material blessings. Finally, Job died, being old and full of days. What does “died … full of days” mean? In an era when God had not announced what people’s end would be, God had designated how long such a person as Job would live; once he reached this longevity, God did not put him through any suffering, but rather allowed him to die naturally. This death, in God’s view, was natural and necessary; it was a normal thing, and neither a kind of judgment or condemnation. This was because while he was alive, Job had worshiped and feared God. As for what would happen after he passed away, however, God said nothing at all, nor did He draw any conclusions. God’s utterances and acts were all said and done in accordance with the stage of His work and the period in which He was working; they were all very measured. So in God’s heart, what sort of end did Job have? Had God, in His heart, come up with a conclusion? (Yes.) He most certainly had, but this was not for people to know, nor did God want or plan to tell anyone. Therefore, on the surface, Job seemed to die full of days; this was Job’s life.
Did Job’s life have value? (Yes.) Wherein lay his worth? Why is it said that he lived a life of value? From a human perspective, what was the value of his having lived? (He stood witness.) He bore a resounding testimony for God, on behalf of humanity, in front of Satan and the people of the world. This was his worth; this is from a human perspective. In God’s view, what was his value? (He was granted God’s praise.) This is one aspect of it. (He humiliated Satan.) This was Job’s value, in God’s eyes. In your opinion, does God place a lot of demands on people? (No, not many.) God does not ask for much from people. From God’s perspective, the value of Job’s life lay in the fact that while he was alive, a dialogue happened between God and Satan which led to Job having to undergo temptations. He was harmed by Satan this one time, and put through severe physical torment, but it can be said that this suffering and injury were allowed by God. By way of those trials, Job bore a resounding testimony for God in front of Satan and the people of the world. He glorified God amidst humankind and stood firm in his witness to God, and established for God, within His management work among humans, a precedent of being able to stand testimony for God while humiliating Satan. Is it okay to put it this way? (Yes.) Having set such a precedent, Job brought comfort to God’s heart; he caused God, in the middle of His eagerness, to see hope in Job as well as a result. Was this important or not? (It was important.) This was something of value, wasn’t it? (Yes.) This was very valuable indeed, because it had at least brought comfort to God’s heart and, starting with Job, had given His management plan a very good beginning, and because it had caused God to care for and love humanity even more profoundly than before.
Next, we will have a look at the work of the Age of Law.
F. The Regulations of the Age of Law
1. The Ten Commandments
2. The Principles for Building Altars
3. Regulations for the Treatment of Servants
4. Regulations for Theft and Compensation
5. Keeping the Sabbath Year and the Three Feasts
6. Regulations for the Sabbath Day
7. Regulations for Offerings
a. Burnt Offerings
b. Grain Offerings
c. Peace Offerings
d. Sin Offerings
e. Trespass Offerings
f. Regulations for Offerings by Priests (Aaron and His Sons Are Ordered to Comply)
1) Burnt Offerings by Priests
2) Grain Offerings by Priests
3) Sin Offerings by Priests
4) Trespass Offerings by Priests
5) Peace Offerings by Priests
8. Regulations for the Eating of Offerings by Priests
9. Clean and Unclean Animals (Those Which Can and Cannot Be Eaten)
10. Regulations for the Purification of Women Following Childbirth
11. Standards for the Examination of Leprosy
12. Regulations for Those Who Have Been Healed of Leprosy
13. Regulations for Cleansing Infected Houses
14. Regulations for Those Suffering From Abnormal Discharges
15. The Day of Atonement That Must Be Observed Once a Year
16. Rules for the Slaughtering of Cattle and Sheep
17. The Prohibition of Following Detestable Practices of Gentiles (Not Committing Incest, and So On)
18. Regulations That Must Be Followed by the People (“You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”)
19. The Execution of Those Who Sacrifice Their Children to Molech
20. Regulations for the Punishment of the Crime of Adultery
21. Rules That Should Be Observed by Priests (Rules for Their Everyday Behavior, Rules for the Consumption of Holy Things, Rules for Making Offerings, and So On)
22. Feasts That Should Be Observed (the Sabbath Day, Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and So On)
23. Other Regulations (Burning the Lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the Redemption of the Land, Making Vows, the Offering of Tithes, and So On)
When it comes to the work of the Age of Law, you have read all these regulations or principles, right? Don’t they span a broad set of categories? (Yes.) Some of you may have examined them carefully, and some might not have; those of you who haven’t should do so later on. The first part is about making offerings and how to build altars, right? What follows is about observing the three feasts, and then about giving offerings; it tells how many kinds of offerings there are—burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings by priests, grain offerings by priests, and various other offerings; and there are also regulations for the eating of offerings by priests. Below these are regulations people should comply with in their everyday lives. As you can see, they include regulations for those who have been healed of leprosy; God even spoke about such things as sickness, and also made rules regarding how to slaughter cattle and sheep. Back then, there were even regulations about slaughtering cattle and sheep; they were created by God, so however God wanted you to slaughter them was how you had to slaughter them. You had to listen to what God said, and He certainly had His reasons. Though it was a regulation, you certainly could not go wrong by heeding God’s word. There also were feasts and rules that had to be observed. Have a look at the last one in the list—other regulations, which included burning the lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the redemption of the land, making vows, the offering of tithes, and so on. Did these regulations touch upon a broad range of subjects? (Yes.) The first ones involved issues regarding the giving of offerings, and then there were also ones about theft and compensation, regulations for keeping the Sabbath day, and so on; they touched upon all manner of details of everyday life. This means that when the work of God’s management plan was ready to begin, He prepared many regulations for humans to follow. Their purpose was to allow people to live a normal human life on earth. This normal human life was inseparable from God. God first led people to His altar, and then led them to establish His temple and altars. After that, He taught humans how to make offerings, and then made rules about how they should live, what they should pay attention to in their lives, what they should abide by, what they should do, and what they should not do. He was quite meticulous, wasn’t He? God was especially thoughtful. He used these rules, regulations, and principles to standardize people’s behavior. Otherwise, humans would not have known what they should or shouldn’t do; they would have been like a pile of loose sand, completely unorganized and undisciplined. God started out using these simple regulations and principles to set some boundaries for humans so that they could conduct a normal life and activities in worship of God, or a normal human life; these were some details employed when God was beginning His management, and they covered a broad range of subjects. These were recorded in Leviticus, which comes after Exodus. You are welcome to have a look at them; they are just a record, a written account, of the work God did in the Age of Law.
Here we can see that God treats His work, His management, and humanity with seriousness, conscientiousness, and prudence. He does the work He must do among humans according to His steps, without the slightest discrepancy, speaking the words that He must speak without error and without leaving anything out so that they cannot ignore His intentions. No matter what humans are like in the following age, generally speaking, at the very beginning—during the Age of Law—God did some simple work like this. From His point of view, people of the time had a rather vague concept of God, the world, and humanity; it was not very clear. Even if they had some thoughts, ways of doing things, or plans in their consciousness, these were all indistinct. Humans were inseparable from God’s teachings and provisions for them. The earliest humans knew nothing at all, so God had no choice but to do it this way: Starting with the most superficial and basic principles of human survival, these regulations that were indispensable to existence. With these He began to teach people and bit by bit engrave these things into their hearts. Through them, through these regulations, He would make people gain a gradual knowledge of God, as well as a step-by-step understanding and comprehension of Him; only after that could He do the subsequent work one bit at a time. This was an essential foundation. Even though prior to His work of the Age of Law, God had spoken to Adam and Eve and their descendants about what they may or may not do, those instructions were all very simple and were not formulated into text of such systematic, specific form as regulations that were proclaimed one by one to people. That is because, back then, God’s plan had not yet advanced to that degree; He only had worked humans to this stage before He could begin speaking these regulations of the Age of Law and propagating them. This was a necessary result, as well as a necessary process. Do you understand this? (We understand.) You might see the work done in the Age of Law as having been very simple. People who look at it in today’s context might say, “These were simply regulations; they were just some principles. They were way too simple; those lines are all just like commandments and rules.” However, from among these simple rules and regulations, we can see the steps of God’s management work and His wisdom revealed in His management plan, and this must not be ignored. God knows which steps and methods to start with, as well as which methods to continue and to finish in order to obtain a group of people who can bear testimony to Him and who can be of the same mind as Him. He knows what is lacking in humans, what things they have within them and what things they don’t, what they should be possessed of, or what they should not do and what they should do. God has a very clear idea about all these things. Humans are like puppets; whatever God does, they follow Him, confused and without any understanding of God’s will. All they do is follow like that. However, there is no haziness in God’s heart about what He is to do. He does not act on impulse whenever He encounters this or that matter, but rather has a very clear, distinct plan in mind. He does the work He wants to do according to His steps and His plan. Even though He did not reveal to humans in advance what work would be done afterward, or give anyone predictions or information beforehand, He still worked according to His plan. This is exactly true. No matter what stage of work He does according to His management plan, His disposition and substance both represent Himself. This is absolutely true. No matter what age it is and no matter what stage of His work He is on, His disposition, what He has and is, what sort of people He loves, and what sort of people He hates will never change. Although we might think these principles and regulations laid out by God during the work done in the Age of Law as being very simple and superficial in today’s context, and very easy to accomplish, they still contain God’s wisdom. Regardless of how much knowledge humanity grasps, and no matter how many doctrines and mysteries they can fathom, in God’s view, they cannot leave His guidance and cannot do without God’s personal work. They also cannot do without God’s personal leadership of them. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) This is the relationship between God and humanity; they are inseparable. Whether God gives you a commandment, a regulation, or just a rule, or provides you with truth to help you understand His will, whatever He does, humans must have it; these are that which God wants to add to people by His methods and ways. All of the utterances expressed by God and the work done by God are the revelation of one aspect of His substance. They are the revelation of one aspect of His disposition and His wisdom. This cannot be ignored. Some people might still say that the work God did back in that era was so simple, and that in today’s context, it is rather basic. People who are a bit educated these days, after reading and understanding this text, might wonder how God could have done such things in the past. Weren’t these deeds a bit incomprehensible? Can this be said? (No.) The types of demands God put on humanity were based on humans, not based on God. Humans had nothing; they needed fundamental things, so God had no choice but to give fundamental things to them. By now, corruption has run deep in humanity, and they need God to provide them with even more truths; thus, God must use these truths to provide for them. They need to be judged, so God provides for them with judgment. These things are necessary. You’ve seen this, right? (Yes.) God has a purpose in everything He does, He is not afraid of being criticized, nor is He scared of any thoughts people might have of Him. He simply does His work according to His management plan, unconstrained by any person, event, or object.
Okay, that is all for today. Goodbye! (Goodbye!)
a. The original text reads “his heart.”