God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I
Today we are fellowshiping about an important topic. This is a topic that has been discussed ever since the commencement of God’s work and which is of very great significance to every single person. In other words, this is an issue that everyone will encounter in the course of believing in God; it is an issue that must be encountered. It is a crucial, unavoidable issue that mankind cannot walk away from. Speaking of importance, what is the most important thing for every believer in God? Some people think that the most important thing is understanding God’s will; some believe it is most important to eat and drink more of God’s words; some feel the most important thing is to know themselves; others are of the opinion that the most important thing is knowing how to find salvation through God, how to follow God, and how to satisfy God’s will. We will put all of these issues aside for today. So what are we discussing then? The topic is God. Is this the most important topic to every person? What does this topic entail? Of course, it certainly cannot be separated from God’s disposition, God’s essence, and God’s work. So today, let us discuss “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself.”
From the time man started believing in God, they have encountered topics such as God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. When it comes to God’s work, some people will say: “God’s work is done on us; we experience it every day, so we are not unfamiliar with it.” When speaking of God’s disposition, some will say: “God’s disposition is a topic we study, explore, and focus on our entire lives, so we should be familiar with it.” As for God Himself, some will say: “God Himself is whom we follow, whom we have faith in, and the One we pursue; nor are we uninformed about Him.” God has never stopped His work since creation; throughout His work He has continued to express His disposition and used various means to express His word. At the same time, He has never stopped expressing Himself and His essence to mankind, expressing His will toward man and what He requires from man. Hence, in literal terms, no one is a stranger to these topics. To people who follow God today, however, God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself are actually all very alien. Why is this the case? As man experiences God’s work, they also come into contact with God, making them feel as though they understand God’s disposition, or have some knowledge of what it is like. Accordingly, man does not think he is a stranger to God’s work or God’s disposition. Rather, man thinks he is very familiar with God and understands much about God. But as it stands now, this understanding of God is, among many, restricted to what they have read in books, limited to personal experience, restrained by imagination, and above all, confined to facts they can see with their own eyes—all of which is far removed from the true God Himself. And just how far is this “far”? Perhaps man is not sure himself, or perhaps man has a slight sense, an inkling—but when it comes to God Himself, man’s understanding of Him is much too far removed from the essence of the true God Himself. This is why, for a topic like “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself,” it is imperative for us to engage in fellowship in a systematic and concrete way.
In fact, God’s disposition is open to everyone and is not hidden, because God has never consciously avoided any person and has never consciously sought to conceal Himself to prevent people from knowing Him or understanding Him. God’s disposition has always been to be open and to face each person candidly. In God’s management, God does His work, facing everyone, and His work is done on every single person. As He does this work, He is continuously revealing His disposition and continuously using His essence, what He has and what He is, to guide and to provide for every single person. In every age and at every stage, regardless of whether the circumstances are good or bad, God’s disposition is always open to each individual, and His possessions and being are always open to each individual, just as His life is constantly and unceasingly providing for and supporting mankind. Despite all of this, God’s disposition remains hidden to some. Why? Because even though these people live within God’s work and follow God, they have never sought to understand God nor wanted to get to know God, let alone get closer to God. To these people, understanding God’s disposition portends that their end is nigh; it means they are about to be judged and condemned by God’s disposition. Therefore, they have never desired to understand God or His disposition, nor ever coveted a deeper understanding or knowledge of God’s will. They do not seek to comprehend God’s will through conscious cooperation—they just forever enjoy and never tire of doing the things they want to do; believe in the God they want to believe in; believe in the God that exists only in their imaginations, the God that exists only in their notions; and believe in a God that is inseparable from them in their daily lives. When it comes to the true God Himself, they are completely dismissive and have no desire to understand Him or to pay heed to Him, and still less wish to grow closer to Him. They are only using the words God expresses to adorn themselves, to package themselves. To them, this already makes them successful believers and people with faith in God inside their hearts. In their hearts, they are guided by their imaginations, their notions, and even their personal definitions of God. The true God Himself, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to do with them. Because, were they to understand the true God Himself, understand God’s true disposition, and understand what God has and is, it would mean that their actions, their faith, and their pursuits would be condemned. That is why they are loath to understand God’s essence and are loath and unwilling to actively seek or pray to better understand God, better know God’s will, and better understand God’s disposition. They would rather God be something made up, something hollow and vague. They would rather God be someone who is exactly as they have imagined Him, someone who can be at their beck and call, inexhaustible in supply and always available. When they want to enjoy God’s grace, they ask God to be that grace. When they need God’s blessing, they ask God to be that blessing. When faced with adversity, they ask God to embolden them, to be their rear shield. These people’s knowledge of God is stuck within the ambit of grace and blessing. Their understanding of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself is also merely restricted to their imaginings and letters and doctrines. But there are some people who are eager to understand God’s disposition, want to genuinely see God Himself, and truly understand God’s disposition and what He has and is. These people are in pursuit of the reality of truth and of salvation by God, and seek to receive conquest, salvation, and perfection by God. They use their hearts to read God’s word, use their hearts to appreciate every situation and every person, event, and thing God has arranged for them, and they pray and seek with sincerity. What they want to know most is God’s will, and to understand most is God’s true disposition and essence, that they may no longer offend God and, through their experiences, may see more of God’s loveliness and His true side. It is also so that a genuinely real God will exist inside their hearts, and so that God will have a place in their hearts, such that they will no longer be living amidst imaginings, notions, or vagueness. For these people, the reason they have a pressing desire to understand God’s disposition and His essence is because God’s disposition and essence are needed by mankind from moment to moment in the course of their experience; it is His disposition and essence that supply life throughout one’s lifetime. Once they understand God’s disposition, they will be able to better revere God, better cooperate with God’s work, and be more considerate toward God’s will and do their duty to the best of their abilities. Such are the attitudes toward God’s disposition held by two types of people. The first type does not want to understand God’s disposition. Even though they say they want to understand God’s disposition, get to know God Himself, see what God has and is, and genuinely appreciate God’s will, deep down they would rather that God not exist. It is because this type of people consistently disobeys and resists God; they fight God for position in their own hearts and often doubt or even deny God’s existence. They do not want to let God’s disposition or the real God Himself occupy their hearts. They only want to satisfy their own desires, imaginings, and ambitions. So, these people may believe in God, follow God, and may also give up their families and jobs for Him, but they do not desist from their evil ways. Some even steal or squander offerings, or curse God in private, while others might use their positions to repeatedly testify about themselves, aggrandize themselves, and compete with God for people and status. They use various methods and measures to make people worship them, constantly trying to win people over and control them. Some even intentionally mislead people into thinking that they are God so that they can be treated like God. They would never tell someone that they have been corrupted—that they too are corrupt and arrogant, not to worship them, and that no matter how well they do, it is all due to God’s exaltation and that they are doing what they ought to, anyway. Why do they not say these things? Because they are deeply afraid of losing their place in people’s hearts. This is why such people never exalt God and never bear witness to God, as they have never tried to understand God. Can they know God without understanding Him? Impossible! Thus, while the words in the topic “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself” may be simple, they have different meanings to each person. For someone who often disobeys God, resists God, and is hostile toward God, the words portend condemnation; whereas someone who pursues the reality of the truth and often comes before God to seek God’s will will take to such words as a fish to water. So there are those among you who, when they hear talk of God’s disposition and God’s work, start to get a headache, their hearts grow full of resistance, and they become extremely uncomfortable. But there are others among you who feel that the topic is exactly what they need, because it is so beneficial to them. It is something that cannot be missing from their life experience; it is the crux of the crux, the foundation of faith in God, and something mankind cannot abandon. For all of you, this topic might seem both near and far, unknown yet familiar. But no matter what, this is a topic that everyone must listen to, must know, and must understand. No matter how you deal with it, no matter how you look upon it, or how you understand it, the importance of this topic cannot be ignored.
God has been doing His work ever since He created mankind. At the start, it was a very simple work, but despite its simplicity, it contained expressions of God’s essence and disposition. While God’s work has now been elevated, and this work on every person who follows Him has become prodigious and concrete, with great expression of His word, God’s person throughout has been hidden from mankind. Although He has been incarnated twice, from the time of the biblical accounts to modern days, who has ever seen God’s real person? Based on your understanding, has anyone ever seen God’s real person? No. No one has seen God’s real person, meaning no one has ever seen God’s true self. This is something that everyone agrees on. That is to say, God’s real person, or God’s Spirit, is concealed from all of humanity, including Adam and Eve, whom He created, and including the righteous Job, whom He accepted. None of them saw God’s real person. But why does God knowingly mask His real person? Some people say: “God is afraid of scaring people.” Others say: “God hides His real person because man is too small and God is too great; humans may not see Him, or else they will die.” There are also those who say: “God is busy managing His work every day, and He might not have time to appear so that others may see Him.” No matter what you believe, I have a conclusion here. What is that conclusion? It is that God simply does not want people to see His real person. Staying hidden from humanity is something God does deliberately. In other words, it is God’s intent for people to not see His real person. This should be clear to all by now. If God has never revealed His person to anyone, then do you think God’s person exists? (He exists.) Of course He does. The existence of God’s person is beyond all doubt. But as for how great God’s person is or what He looks like, are these questions mankind should investigate? No. The answer is negative. If God’s person is not a topic we should be exploring, then what is? (God’s disposition.) (God’s work.) Before we begin fellowshiping about the official topic, however, let us return to what we were discussing a moment ago: Why has God never revealed His person to mankind? Why does God intentionally hide His person from mankind? There is only one reason, and that is: Although man, whom God created, has experienced thousands of years of His work, there is not a single person who knows God’s work, God’s disposition, and God’s essence. Such people, in God’s eyes, are in opposition to Him, and God would not show Himself to people who are hostile toward Him. This is the sole reason God has never revealed His person to mankind and why He deliberately shields His person from humanity. Is the importance of knowing God’s disposition now clear to you?
Since the existence of God’s management, He has always been fully dedicated to carrying out His work. Despite veiling His person from man, He has always been by man’s side, doing work on man, expressing His disposition, guiding all of humanity with His essence, and doing His work on every single person through His might, His wisdom, and His authority, thus bringing into being the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and today’s Age of Kingdom. Though God conceals His person from man, His disposition, His being and possessions, and His will toward mankind are unreservedly revealed to man for man to see and experience. In other words, though human beings cannot see or touch God, the disposition and essence of God encountered by humanity are absolutely expressions of God Himself. Is that not the truth? Regardless of the way or angle of approach God chooses for His work, He always treats people through His true identity, does the work incumbent upon Him, and says the words He is bound to say. No matter what position God speaks from—He could be standing in the third heaven, or standing in the flesh, or even as an ordinary person—He always speaks to man with all His heart and all His mind, without any deception or concealment. When He carries out His work, God expresses His word and His disposition, and expresses what He has and is, without any reservation whatsoever. He guides mankind with His life and His being and possessions. This is how man lived through the Age of Law—the cradle era of humanity—under the guidance of the “unseeable and untouchable” God.
God became flesh for the first time after the Age of Law—an incarnation that lasted thirty-three and a half years. For a human being, is thirty-three and a half years a long time? (It is not long.) Since the lifespan of a human being is usually much longer than thirty-something years, this is not a very long time for a man. But for God incarnate, these thirty-three and a half years were long indeed. He became a person—an ordinary person who took on God’s work and commission. This meant that He had to assume work an ordinary person cannot handle, while also enduring suffering that ordinary people cannot withstand. The amount of suffering endured by the Lord Jesus during the Age of Grace, from the start of His work to when He was nailed to the cross, may not be something that people of today could have witnessed in person, but can you not at least get an idea of it through the stories in the Bible? Irrespective of how many details there are in these recorded facts, all in all, God’s work during this period was full of hardship and suffering. For a corrupted human, thirty-three and a half years is not a long time; a little suffering is a small matter. But for the holy, unblemished God, who had to bear all of mankind’s sins, and eat, sleep, and live with sinners, this pain was unbelievably great. He is the Creator, the Sovereign of all things and the Ruler of everything, yet when He came into the world, He had to endure the oppression and cruelty of corrupted humans. In order to complete His work and rescue humanity from the sea of misery, He had to be condemned by man and bear the sins of all mankind. The extent of the suffering He went through cannot possibly be fathomed nor appreciated by ordinary people. What does this suffering represent? It represents God’s devotion to humankind. It stands for the humiliation He suffered and the price He paid for man’s salvation, to redeem their sins, and to complete this stage of His work. It also means that man would be redeemed from the cross by God. This is a price paid in blood, in life, and a price no created being could afford. It is because He has God’s essence and possesses what God has and is that He could bear this kind of suffering and do this type of work. This is something no being created by Him could have done in His stead. This is the work of God during the Age of Grace and a revelation of His disposition. Does this reveal anything about what God has and is? Is it worth mankind getting to know? In that age, though man did not see God’s person, they received God’s sin offering and were redeemed from the cross by God. Mankind may not be unfamiliar with the work God did during the Age of Grace, but is anyone familiar with the disposition and will expressed by God during this period? Man merely knows about details of God’s work during different ages and through various channels, or knows of stories related to God that took place at the same time God was carrying out His work. These details and stories are at most just some information or legends about God and have nothing to do with God’s disposition and essence. So no matter how many stories people know about God, it does not mean that they have a deep understanding and knowledge of God’s disposition or His essence. As in the Age of Law, though people in the Age of Grace had experienced an immediate and intimate encounter with God in the flesh, their knowledge of God’s disposition and God’s essence was virtually non-existent.
In the Age of Kingdom, God became flesh once more, in the same way He did the first time. During this period of work, God still unreservedly expresses His word, does the work He is bound to do, and expresses what He has and is. At the same time, He continues to endure and tolerate man’s disobedience and ignorance. Does God not continuously reveal His disposition and express His will during this period of work, too? Therefore, from the creation of man until now, God’s disposition, His being and possessions, and His will have always been open to every person. God has never deliberately hidden His essence, His disposition, or His will. It is just that mankind does not care about what God is doing, what His will is—that is why man has such a pitiful understanding of God. In other words, while God conceals His person, He is also standing by mankind at every moment, openly projecting His will, disposition, and essence at all times. In a sense, God’s person is also open to people, but due to man’s blindness and disobedience, they are never able to see God’s appearance. So if that is the case, then should understanding God’s disposition and God Himself not be easy for everyone? That is a very difficult question to answer, isn’t it? You can say it is easy, but while some people seek to know God, they cannot really get to know Him or get a clear understanding of Him—it is always hazy and vague. But if you say it is not easy, that is not correct either. Having been the subject of God’s work for so long, everyone should, through their experiences, have had genuine dealings with God. They should at least have sensed God to some extent in their hearts or have had a spiritual brushing with God, and they should at least have had some perceptive awareness of God’s disposition or gained some understanding of Him. From the time man began to follow God until now, mankind has received far too much, but due to all sorts of reasons—man’s poor caliber, ignorance, rebelliousness, and various intentions—mankind has also lost too much of it. Has God not already given mankind enough? Though God hides His person from humanity, He supplies humans with what He has and is, and His life; humanity’s knowledge of God should not only be what it is now. That is why I think it is necessary to further fellowship with you about the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. The purpose is so that the thousands of years of care and consideration God has vested in man do not end in vain, and so that mankind can genuinely understand and appreciate God’s will toward them. It is so people can advance to a new stage in their knowledge of God. It will also return God to His true place in people’s hearts; that is, do Him justice.
To understand God’s disposition and God Himself, you have to start small. But start small from where? To begin, I have selected some chapters from the Bible. The information below contains Bible verses, all of which are related to the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. I specifically found these excerpts as reference materials to help you know God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. By sharing them, we will be able to see what kind of disposition God has revealed through His past work and which aspects of His essence are unknown to man. These chapters may be old, but the topic we are fellowshiping about is something new that people do not have and have never heard of. Some of you might find it inconceivable—is bringing up Adam and Eve and going back to Noah not retracing the same steps again? No matter what you think, these chapters are very beneficial to fellowship about this topic and can act as the teaching texts or first-hand materials for today’s fellowship. By the time I finish this fellowship, you will understand My intentions behind choosing these chapters. Those who have read the Bible before may have read these few verses, but might not truly understand them. First, let us briefly review them, then go through each one in detail in our fellowshiping.
Adam and Eve are mankind’s ancestors. If we are to mention characters from the Bible, then we must start with the two of them. Next is Noah, mankind’s second ancestor. Who is the third character? (Abraham.) Do you all know Abraham’s story? Some of you may know it, but for others it may not be very clear. Who is the fourth character? Who is mentioned in the story of the destruction of Sodom? (Lot.) But Lot is not referenced here. Who does it refer to? (Abraham.) The main thing mentioned in the story of Abraham is what Jehovah God had said. Do you see it? Who is the fifth character? (Job.) Does God not mention a lot of Job’s story during this current stage of His work? Then do you care very much about this story? If you do care very much, have you read Job’s story in the Bible carefully? Do you know what things Job said, and what things he did? To those of you who have read it the most, how many times have you read it? Do you read it often? Sisters from Hong Kong, please tell us. (I read it a couple of times before when we were in the Age of Grace.) You have not read it again since? That is lamentable. Let Me tell you: During this stage of God’s work He mentioned Job many times, which is a reflection of His intentions. That He mentioned Job many times but did not arouse your attention is a testament to a fact: You have no interest in being people who are good and people who fear God and shun evil. This is because you are satisfied with just having a rough idea about the story of Job cited by God. You are content with merely understanding the story itself, but you do not care about and do not try to understand the details of who Job is and the purpose behind why God refers to Job on so many occasions. If such a person praised by God does not interest you, then what exactly are you paying attention to? If you do not care about or try to understand such an important person God has mentioned, what might that say about your attitude toward God’s word? Would that not be deplorable? Would it not prove that most of you do not engage in practical things or pursue the truth? If you do pursue the truth, you will pay the requisite attention to the people whom God approves of and the characters’ stories God has spoken of. Regardless of whether you can live up to them or find their stories palpable, you will quickly go and read about them, try to comprehend them, find ways to follow their example, and do what you can to the best of your ability. This is how someone longing for the truth ought to act. But the fact is, most of you sitting here have never read the story of Job—and that is quite telling.
Let us return to the topic I was just discussing. In this part of Scripture, which concerns the Old Testament Age of Law, I have opted to focus on certain stories about highly representative characters most people who have read the Bible will be familiar with. Anyone who reads the stories about these characters will be able to feel that the work God has done on them and the words God has spoken to them are equally tangible and accessible to people today. When you read these stories, the records from the Bible, you will be able to better understand how God went about His work and treated people during those times in history. But the reason I have decided to discuss these chapters today is not so you try to focus on the stories themselves or the characters in them. Rather, it is so you can—through these characters’ stories—come to see God’s deeds and His disposition. This will enable you to more easily get to know and understand God, see the real side of Him; it will dispel your speculations and notions about Him, and help steer you away from faith beset by vagueness. Unless you have a solid foundation, trying to make sense of God’s disposition and getting to know God Himself can often lead to a sense of helplessness, powerlessness, and uncertainty of where to even begin. This is what spurred Me to develop a method and approach which could help you better understand God, more authentically appreciate God’s will, get to know God’s disposition and God Himself, and let you genuinely feel God’s existence and appreciate His will toward mankind. Will this not be to all of your benefit? Now when you revisit these stories and parts of Scripture, what do you feel inside your hearts? Do you think the parts of Scripture I picked out are superfluous? I must reemphasize what I just told you: The aim of having you read these characters’ stories is to help you see how God does His work on people and better understand His attitude toward mankind. What will help you reach this understanding? Understanding the work that God has done in the past, and relating it to the work God is doing right now—this will help you understand His myriad aspects. These myriad aspects are real and must be known and understood by all who wish to get to know God.
Let us start with the story of Adam and Eve, beginning with a quote from Scripture.
A. Adam and Eve
1. God’s Command to Adam
Gen 2:15–17 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
What do you gather from these verses? How does this part of Scripture make you feel? Why have I decided to talk about God’s Command to Adam? Does each of you now have an image of God and Adam in your mind? You can try to imagine: If you were the one in that scene, deep down, what do you think God would be like? How does thinking about this make you feel? This is a moving and heartwarming picture. Though there is only God and man in it, the intimacy between them fills you with a sense of admiration: God’s overflowing love is freely bestowed upon man and surrounds man; man is innocent and pure, unencumbered and carefree, blissfully living under God’s eye; God shows concern for man, while man lives under God’s protection and blessing; every single thing man does and says is inextricably linked to and inseparable from God.
This can be called God’s first command to man after creating him. What does this command convey? It conveys God’s will, but also His worries for mankind. This is God’s first command, and it is also the first time God expresses worry for man. That is to say, God has felt a responsibility toward man since the moment He created him. What is His responsibility? He has to protect man, to look after man. He hopes man can trust and obey His words. This is also God’s first expectation of man. It is with this expectation that God says the following: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” These simple words represent God’s will. They also reveal that, in His heart, God has begun to show concern for man. Among all things, only Adam was made in God’s image; Adam was the only living thing with God’s breath of life; he could walk with God, converse with God. That is why God gave him this command. God made it very plain in His command what man can and cannot do.
In these few simple words, we see God’s heart. But what kind of heart shows itself? Is there love in God’s heart? Is there concern? In these verses, God’s love and concern can not only be appreciated, but also intimately felt. Would you not agree? After hearing Me say this, do you still think these are just a few simple words? They are not so simple after all, are they? Were you aware of this before? If God personally told you these few words, how would you feel inside? If you were not a humane person, if your heart were ice cold, then you would not feel a thing, you would not appreciate God’s love, and you would not try to understand God’s heart. But as a person with a conscience and sense of humanity, you would feel differently. You would feel warmth, you would feel cared for and loved, and you would feel happiness. Is that not right? When you feel these things, how will you act toward God? Would you feel attached to God? Would you love and respect God from the bottom of your heart? Would your heart grow closer to God? You can see from this just how important God’s love is to man. But what is even more crucial is man’s appreciation for and comprehension of God’s love. In fact, does God not say a lot of similar things during this stage of His work? Are there people today who appreciate God’s heart? Can you appreciate the will of God I just spoke of? You cannot really appreciate God’s will when it is this concrete, tangible, and real. That is why I say you do not have real knowledge and understanding of God. Is this not true? But let us leave it at that for now.
2. God Creates Eve
Gen 2:18–20 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Gen 2:22–23 And the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
There is one key line in this part of Scripture: “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” So, who gave all living creatures their names? It was Adam, not God. This line tells mankind a fact: God gave man intelligence when He created him. That is to say, man’s intelligence came from God. This is a certainty. But why? After God created Adam, did Adam go to school? Did he know how to read? After God made various living creatures, did Adam recognize all of these creatures? Did God tell him what their names were? Of course, God also did not teach him how to come up with the names of these creatures. That is the truth! How, then, did Adam know how to give these living creatures their names and what kind of names to give them? This is related to the question of what God added to Adam when He created him. The facts prove that when God created man, He added His intelligence to him. This is a key point, so listen carefully. There is also another key point that you should understand: After Adam gave these living creatures their names, these names became set in God’s vocabulary. Why do I mention this? Because this also involves God’s disposition, and this is a point I must expound on further.
God created man, breathed life into him, and also gave him some of His intelligence, His abilities, and what He has and is. After God gave man all of these things, man was able to do some things independently and think on his own. If what man comes up with and does is good in the eyes of God, then God accepts it and does not interfere. If what man does is right, God will let it stand. So, what does the phrase “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” indicate? It indicates that God did not see fit to alter any of the names given to the various living creatures. Whatever name Adam called a creature, God would say “So it is,” affirming the creature’s name. Did God express any opinion on the matter? No, He certainly did not. So, what do you gather from this? God gave man intelligence and man used his God-given intelligence to do things. If what man does is positive in the eyes of God, then it is affirmed, acknowledged, and accepted by God without any judgment or criticism. This is something no person or evil spirit, or Satan, can do. Do you see a revelation of God’s disposition here? Would a human being, a corrupted person, or Satan permit anyone else to do something in their name, right under their nose? Of course not! Would they fight over this position with that other person or other force that is different from them? Of course they would! If it were a corrupted person or Satan who was with Adam at that time, they would have certainly repudiated what Adam was doing. To prove that they have the ability to think independently and have their own unique insights, they would have absolutely denied everything Adam did: “You want to call it this? Well, I’m not going to call it this, I’m going to call it that; you called it Tom but I’m going to call it Harry. I have to show how clever I am.” What kind of nature is this? Is it not wildly arrogant? And what of God? Does He have such a disposition? Did God have any unusual objections to what Adam was doing? The answer is unequivocally no! Of the disposition God reveals, there is not the slightest hint of argumentativeness, arrogance, or self-righteousness. That much is clear here. This may appear to be a minor point, but if you do not understand God’s essence, if your heart does not try to figure out how God acts and what God’s attitude is, then you will not know God’s disposition or see the expression and revelation of God’s disposition. Is that not so? Do you agree with what I just explained to you? In response to Adam’s actions, God did not grandiosely proclaim, “You have done well, you have done right, and I concur!” In His heart, however, God approved, appreciated, and applauded what Adam did. This was the first thing since creation that man had done for God at His instruction. It was something man did in God’s stead and on God’s behalf. In God’s eyes, this arose out of the intelligence He bestowed upon man. God saw it as a good thing, a positive thing. What Adam did at that time was the first manifestation of God’s intelligence in man. It was a fine manifestation from God’s point of view. What I want to tell you here is that God’s aim in imparting to man something of what He has and is and of His intelligence was so that mankind could be the living creature that manifests Him. For such a living creature to act on His behalf was precisely what God had been longing to see.
3. God Makes Coats of Skins for Adam and Eve
Gen 3:20–21 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Let us take a look at this third passage, which states that there is indeed meaning behind the name Adam gave Eve. This shows that after being created, Adam had his own thoughts and understood many things. But for now, we are not going to study or explore what he understood or how much he understood, because that is not My main aim in discussing the third passage. So, what is the main point I want to highlight? Let us take a look at the line, “To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” If we do not discuss this line of Scripture in our fellowship today, you might never realize the deeper implications of these words. First, let Me give some clues. Imagine, if you will, the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve living in it. God goes to visit them, but they hide because they are naked. God cannot see them, and after He calls out to them, they say, “We dare not see You for our bodies are naked.” They do not dare to see God because they are naked. So, what does Jehovah God do for them? The original text says: “To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” From this, do you understand what God used to make their clothes? God used animal skins to make their clothes. That is to say, God made coats of fur for man to wear as clothing. These were the first pieces of clothing God made for man. A fur coat is a luxurious item by today’s standards and not something everyone can afford to wear. If someone asks you: “What was the first piece of clothing worn by our ancestors?” You can answer: “It was a fur coat.” “Who made this fur coat?” You can then respond: “God made it!” That is the main point here: This clothing was made by God. Is that not something worth discussing? After hearing My description, has an image emerged in your mind? You should have at least a rough outline. The point of telling you this today is not so you know what man’s first piece of clothing was. What, then, is the point? The point is not the fur coat, but how people come to know—as revealed by God in what He did here—His disposition, what He has, and what He is.
“To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” In this scene, what kind of role do we see God assume when He is with Adam and Eve? In what way does God manifest Himself, in this world with only two human beings? Does He manifest Himself in the role of God? Brothers and sisters from Hong Kong, please answer. (In the role of a parent.) Brothers and sisters from South Korea, what kind of role do you think God appears as? (Head of the family.) Brothers and sisters from Taiwan, what do you think? (The role of someone in Adam and Eve’s family, the role of a family member.) Some of you think God appears as a family member of Adam and Eve, while some say God appears as the head of the family and others say as a parent. All of these are very appropriate. But do you see what I am getting at? God created these two people and treated them as His companions. As their only family, God looked after their lives and took care of their food, clothing and shelter needs. Here, God appears as a parent of Adam and Eve. While God does this, man does not see how lofty God is; he does not see God’s supremacy, His mystery, and especially not His wrath or majesty. All he sees is God’s humbleness, His affection, His concern for man and His responsibility and care for him. The attitude and way in which God treated Adam and Eve is akin to how parents show concern for their children. It is also like the way parents love, look after, and care for their own sons and daughters—real, visible, and tangible. Instead of elevating Himself to a high and mighty position, God personally used skins to make clothing for man. It does not matter whether this fur coat was used to cover their modesty or to shield them from the cold. What matters is that this clothing for covering man’s body was personally made by God with His own hands. Rather than simply thinking the clothing into existence or using some other miraculous means, as people might imagine God would do, God legitimately did something that man would have thought God would not and should not do. This might seem like a trivial thing—some people might not even think it is worth mentioning—but it allows any follower of God who was beset with vague conceptions about Him to gain an insight into His genuineness and loveliness, and to see His faithfulness and humbleness. It makes insufferably arrogant people who think they are high and mighty bow their conceited heads in shame in the face of God’s genuineness and humbleness. Here, God’s genuineness and humbleness further enables people to see how lovable He is. By contrast, the “immense” God, “lovable” God, and “omnipotent” God people hold in their hearts has become trifling and ugly, and crumbles at the slightest touch. When you see this verse and hear this story, do you look down upon God because He did such a thing? Some people might, but others will have the opposite reaction. They will think God is genuine and lovable, and it is precisely God’s genuineness and loveliness that moves them. The more they see the real side of God, the more they can appreciate the true existence of God’s love, the importance of God in their hearts, and how He stands beside them at every moment.
Now, let us relate our discussion back to the present. If God could do these various little things for the people He created at the very beginning, even things that people would never dare think of or expect, then could God do such things for people today? Some say, “Yes!” Why is that? Because God’s essence is not feigned, and His loveliness is not feigned. God’s essence truly exists and is not something added on by others, and certainly not something that changes with different times, places, and eras. God’s genuineness and loveliness can truly be brought out only by doing something people think is unremarkable and insignificant—something so trifling that people would not even think He would ever do it. God is not pretentious. There is no exaggeration, disguise, pride, or arrogance in His disposition and essence. He never boasts, but instead loves, shows concern for, looks after, and leads, with faithfulness and sincerity, the human beings He created. No matter how little people may appreciate, feel, or see what God does, He most certainly is doing it. Would knowing that God has such an essence affect people’s love for Him? Would it influence their fear of God? I hope when you understand the real side of God, you will grow even closer to Him and be able to more truly appreciate His love and care for mankind, as well as be able to give your heart to God and be delivered from suspicions and doubts about Him. God is quietly doing everything for man, doing it all silently through His sincerity, faithfulness, and love. But He never has any apprehensions or regrets over anything He does, nor does He ever need anyone to repay Him in any way or have intentions of ever obtaining anything from mankind. The only purpose of everything He has ever done is so He can receive mankind’s true faith and love. And with that, I will end the first topic here.
Have these discussions helped you? How helpful have they been? (We have more understanding and knowledge of God’s love.) (This method of fellowship can help us in the future to better appreciate God’s word, to comprehend the emotions He had and the meanings behind the things He said when He said them, and to sense what He felt at the time.) Are any of you more keenly aware of God’s actual existence after reading these words? Do you feel God’s existence is no longer hollow or vague? Once you have this feeling, can you sense that God is right beside you? Perhaps the sensation is not obvious right now or you might not be able to feel it just yet. But one day, when you truly have a deep appreciation and real knowledge of God’s disposition and essence in your heart, you will sense that God is right by your side—you just had never genuinely accepted God into your heart. And that is the truth!
What do you think of this approach to fellowship? Are you able to keep up? Do you think this type of fellowship about the topic of God’s work and God’s disposition is very heavy? How do you feel? (Very good, excited.) What made you feel good? Why were you excited? (It was like returning to the Garden of Eden, back to being by God’s side.) “God’s disposition” is actually a rather unfamiliar topic for people, because what you usually imagine, and what you read in books or hear in fellowships, tends to make you feel a bit like a blind man touching an elephant—you are just feeling around with your hands, but you cannot actually visualize anything. Blindly fumbling around cannot give you even a rough understanding of God, let alone a clear concept of Him; it only further provokes your imagination, preventing you from precisely defining what God’s disposition and essence are, and the uncertainties arising from your imagination will invariably fill your heart with doubts. When you cannot be certain about something but still try to understand it, there will always be contradictions and conflict in your heart, and even a sense of disturbance, leaving you disoriented and confused. Is it not an agonizing thing to want to seek God, to know God, and see Him clearly, but never seem to be able to find the answers? Of course, these words are only targeted at those who desire to seek to fearfully revere and satisfy God. For people who do not pay any attention to such things, this actually does not matter, because what they hope for most is that the realness and existence of God are merely a legend or fantasy, so they can do whatever they want, so they can be the biggest and the most important, so they can commit evil deeds without regard for consequences, so they will not have to face punishment or bear any responsibility, and so that even the things that God says about evildoers will not apply to them. These people are not willing to comprehend God’s disposition. They are sick and tired of trying to know God and everything about Him. They would prefer that God does not exist. These people oppose God, and they are among those who will be cast out.
Next, we will discuss the story of Noah and how it relates to the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself.
What do you see God doing to Noah in this part of the scriptures? Perhaps everyone sitting here knows something about it from reading the scriptures: God made Noah build the ark, then God destroyed the world with a flood. God had Noah build the ark to save his family of eight, which allowed them to survive and become the ancestors for the next generation of mankind. Let us now turn to Scripture.
1. God Intends to Destroy the World With a Flood and Instructs Noah to Build an Ark
Gen 6:9–14 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make you an ark of gopher wood; rooms shall you make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch.
Gen 6:18–22 But with you will I establish My covenant; and you shall come into the ark, you, and your sons, and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shall you bring into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come to you, to keep them alive. And take you to you of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to you; and it shall be for food for you, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Do you now have a general understanding of who Noah was after reading these two passages? What kind of person was Noah? The original text is: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.” According to the understanding of modern people, what kind of a person was a “just man” back in those days? A just man should be a perfect man. Do you know whether this perfect man was perfect in the eyes of man, or perfect in the eyes of God? Without a doubt, this perfect man was a perfect man in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of man. This is for certain! This is because man is blind and cannot see, and only God looks upon the entire earth and every single person, and only God knew that Noah was a perfect man. Therefore, God’s plan to destroy the world with a flood began from the moment He called upon Noah.
In that age, God intended to call upon Noah to do something very important. Why did this task have to be done? Because God had a plan in His heart at that moment. His plan was to destroy the world with a flood. Why would He destroy the world? As it says here: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” What do you gather from the phrase “the earth was filled with violence”? It was a phenomenon on earth wherein the world and its people had become corrupt to the extreme; hence, “the earth was filled with violence.” In today’s parlance, “filled with violence” would mean that everything is out of kilter. To man, it meant that all semblance of order was lost in every facet of life, and that everything had become chaotic and unmanageable. In God’s eyes, it meant that the people of the world had become too corrupt. But corrupt to what extent? Corrupt to the extent that God could no longer bear to look upon or be patient with them. Corrupt to the extent that God intended to destroy them. When God resolved to destroy the world, He planned to find someone to build an ark. God chose Noah to perform this task; that is, He had Noah build an ark. Why did He choose Noah? In God’s eyes, Noah was a righteous man; no matter what God instructed him to do, Noah did so accordingly. That is to say, Noah was willing to do whatever God told him to do. God wanted to find someone like this to work with Him, to complete what He had entrusted—to complete His work on earth. Back then, was there another person apart from Noah who could complete such a task? Certainly not! Noah was the only candidate, the only person who could complete what God entrusted, and so God chose him. But are God’s limits and standards for saving people the same now as they were then? The answer is, there is definitely a difference! And why do I ask this? Noah was the only man righteous in God’s eyes during that time, which implies that neither his wife nor any of his sons or daughters-in-law were righteous people, but God still spared them because of Noah. God did not place demands on them the way He does now, and instead kept all eight members of Noah’s family alive. They received God’s blessing because of Noah’s righteousness. Without Noah, none of them could have completed what God had entrusted. Therefore, Noah was the only person who was supposed to survive that destruction of the world, and the others were just collateral beneficiaries. This shows that, in the era before God officially commenced His management work, the principles and standards with which He treated people and asked of them were relatively relaxed. To the people of today, the way God treated Noah’s family of eight appears to lack “fairness.” But compared to the great volume of work He now does on people and the great amount of His word He now conveys, God’s treatment of Noah’s family of eight was merely a work principle given the background of His work at the time. By comparison, did Noah’s family of eight receive more from God, or do the people of today?
That Noah was called upon is a simple fact, but the main point of what we are talking about—God’s disposition, His will, and His essence in this record—is not so simple. To understand these several aspects of God, we must first understand the kind of person God desires to call upon, and through this, understand His disposition, will, and essence. This is crucial. So in God’s eyes, just what kind of a person is this man He calls upon? This must be a person who can listen to His words and who can follow His instructions. At the same time, this must also be a person with a sense of responsibility, someone who will carry out God’s word by treating it as the responsibility and duty they are bound to fulfill. Then does this person need to be someone who knows God? No. Back in that time, Noah had not heard much of God’s teachings or experienced any of God’s work. Therefore, Noah had very little knowledge of God. Although it is recorded here that Noah walked with God, did he ever see God’s person? The answer is definitely no! Because in those days, only God’s messengers came among people. While they could represent God in saying and doing things, they were merely conveying God’s will and His intentions. God’s person was not revealed to man face-to-face. In this part of the scriptures, all we basically see is what Noah had to do and what God’s instructions to him were. So what was the essence expressed by God here? Everything God does is planned with precision. When He sees a thing or a situation occurring, in His eyes there is a standard to measure it with, and this standard determines whether He launches a plan to deal with it or what approach to take in dealing with this thing or situation. He is not indifferent or lacking in feelings toward everything. It is actually the complete opposite. There is a verse here stating what God said to Noah: “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” When God said this, did He mean He was destroying only humans? No! God said He was going to destroy all living things of flesh. Why did God want destruction? There is another revelation of God’s disposition here; in God’s eyes, there is a limit to His patience toward man’s corruption, toward the filthiness, violence, and disobedience of all flesh. What is His limit? It is as God said: “God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” What does the phrase “for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth” mean? It means any living things, including those who followed God, those who called on the name of God, those who once made burnt offerings to God, those who verbally acknowledged God and even praised God—once their behavior was full of corruption and reached God’s eyes, He would have to destroy them. That was God’s limit. So to what extent did God remain patient with man and the corruption of all flesh? To the extent that all people, whether followers of God or unbelievers, were not walking the right path. To the extent that man was not just morally corrupt and full of evil, but where there was no one who believed in God’s existence, let alone anyone who believed that the world is ruled by God and that God can bring people light and the right path. To the extent that man despised God’s existence and did not permit God to exist. Once man’s corruption reached this point, God could stand it no longer. What would replace it? The coming of God’s wrath and God’s punishment. Was that not a partial revelation of God’s disposition? In this current age, are there no men who are righteous in the eyes of God? Are there no men who are perfect in the eyes of God? Is this age one in which the behavior of all flesh on earth is corrupt in the eyes of God? In this day and age, are all people of flesh—apart from those God wants to make complete, and those who can follow God and accept His salvation—not challenging the limit of God’s patience? Is everything that happens beside you—what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears, and personally experience every day in this world—not full of violence? In God’s eyes, should such a world, such an age, not be ended? Though the background of the current age is completely different from the background of Noah’s time, the feelings and wrath God has toward man’s corruption remain exactly the same. God is able to be patient because of His work, but in light of the circumstances and conditions, in God’s eyes this world should have been destroyed long ago. The circumstances are far beyond what they were when the world was destroyed by flood. But what is the difference? This is also the thing that saddens God’s heart the most, and perhaps something none of you can appreciate.
When He destroyed the world by flood, God was able to call upon Noah to build an ark and do some of the preparation work. God could call upon one man—Noah—to do these series of things for Him. But in this current age, God does not have anybody to call upon. Why is that? Every single person sitting here probably understands and knows the reason very well. Do you need Me to spell it out? Saying it out loud might make you lose face and get everybody upset. Some people might say: “Although we are not righteous people and we are not perfect people in the eyes of God, if God were to instruct us to do something, we would still be capable of doing it. Before, when He said a catastrophic disaster was coming, we started preparing food and items that would be needed in a disaster. Wasn’t all of this done in accordance with God’s demands? Weren’t we really cooperating with God’s work? Can’t these things we did be compared to what Noah did? Isn’t doing what we did true obedience? Weren’t we following God’s instructions? Didn’t we do what God said because we have faith in God’s words? Then why is God still sad? Why does God say He has no one to call upon?” Is there any difference between your actions and those of Noah’s? What is the difference? (Preparing food today for the disaster was our own intention.) (Our actions cannot amount to being “righteous,” whereas Noah was a righteous man in God’s eyes.) What you said is not too far off. What Noah did was essentially different to what people are doing now. When Noah did as God instructed, he did not know what God’s intentions were. He did not know what God wanted to accomplish. God had only given him a command and instructed him to do something, and without much explanation, Noah went ahead and did it. He did not try to secretly figure out God’s intentions, nor did he resist God or show insincerity. He just went and did it accordingly with a pure and simple heart. Whatever God had him do, he did, and obeying and listening to God’s word underpinned his belief in what he did. That was how straightforwardly and simply he dealt with what God entrusted. His essence—the essence of his actions was obedience, not second-guessing, not resisting, and moreover, not thinking of his own personal interests or his gains and losses. Further, when God said He would destroy the world with a flood, Noah did not ask when or ask what would become of things, and he certainly did not ask God how He was going to destroy the world. He simply did as God instructed. However God wanted it to be made and made with what, he did exactly as God asked and also commenced action immediately. He acted according to God’s instructions with an attitude of wanting to satisfy God. Was he doing it to help himself avoid the disaster? No. Did he ask God how much longer it would be before the world was to be destroyed? He did not. Did he ask God or did he know how long it would take to build the ark? He did not know that either. He simply obeyed, listened, and acted accordingly. The people of now are not the same: As soon as a bit of information is leaked through God’s word, as soon as people sense a mere rustle of leaves in the wind, they immediately spring into action, no matter what and regardless of the price, to prepare what they will eat, drink, and use in the aftermath, even planning their escape routes for when the disaster strikes. Even more interesting is that, at this key moment, human brains are very good at “getting the job done.” Under circumstances where God has not given any instructions, man can plan for everything very appropriately. You could use the word “perfect” to describe such plans. As for what God says, what God’s intentions are, or what God wants, no one cares and no one tries to appreciate it. Is that not the biggest difference between the people of today and Noah?
In this record of Noah’s story, do you see a part of God’s disposition? There is a limit to God’s patience toward man’s corruption, filthiness, and violence. When He reaches that limit, He will no longer be patient and will instead begin His new management and new plan, start to do what He has to do, reveal His deeds and the other side of His disposition. This action of His is not to demonstrate that He must never be offended by man or that He is full of authority and wrath, and it is not to show that He can destroy humanity. It is that His disposition and His holy essence can no longer allow or have the patience for this kind of humanity to live before Him, to live under His dominion. That is to say, when all of mankind is against Him, when there is no one He can save on the whole earth, He will no longer have patience for such a humanity and will, without any misgiving, carry out His plan—to destroy this kind of humanity. Such an act by God is determined by His disposition. This is a necessary consequence, and a consequence that every created being under God’s dominion must bear. Does this not show that in this current age, God cannot wait to complete His plan and save the people He wants to save? Under these circumstances, what does God care about the most? Not how those who do not follow Him at all or those who oppose Him anyway treat Him or resist Him, or how mankind is slandering Him. He only cares about whether those who follow Him, the objects of His salvation in His management plan, have been made complete by Him, whether they have become worthy of His satisfaction. As for the people other than those who follow Him, He merely occasionally provides a bit of punishment to express His wrath. For example: tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. At the same time, He is also strongly protecting and looking after those who follow Him and are about to be saved by Him. God’s disposition is this: On the one hand, He can have extreme patience and tolerance toward the people He intends to make complete, and He can wait for them for as long as He possibly can; on the other hand, God passionately hates and loathes the Satan-type of people who do not follow Him and oppose Him. Although He does not care whether these Satan-types follow Him or worship Him, He still detests them while having patience for them in His heart, and as He determines the ending of these Satan-types, He is also waiting for the arrival of the steps of His management plan.
Let us look at the next passage.
2. God’s Blessing to Noah After the Flood
Gen 9:1–6 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, and on every fowl of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.
What do you see from this passage? Why did I choose these verses? Why did I not select an excerpt about Noah and his family’s life on the ark? Because that information does not have much connection to the topic we are communicating today. What we are focusing on is God’s disposition. If you want to know about those details, then you can pick up the Bible to have a read yourselves. We will not talk about that here. The main thing we are talking about today is about how to know God’s actions.
After Noah accepted God’s instructions and built the ark and lived through the days in which God used a flood to destroy the world, his whole family of eight survived. Apart from Noah’s family of eight, all of mankind was destroyed, and all living things on earth were destroyed. To Noah, God gave blessings, and said some things to him and his sons. These things were what God was bestowing upon him and also God’s blessing upon him. This is the blessing and promise God gives to someone who can listen to Him and accept His instructions, and is also the way God rewards people. That is to say, regardless of whether Noah was a perfect man or a righteous man in God’s eyes, and regardless of how much he knew about God, in short, Noah and his three sons all listened to God’s words, cooperated with God’s work, and did what they were supposed to do in accordance with God’s instructions. As a result, they preserved humans and various kinds of living things for God in the wake of the destruction of the world by flood, making a great contribution to the next step of God’s management plan. Because of everything he had done, God blessed him. Maybe for the people of today, what Noah did was not even worth mentioning. Some might even think: “Noah did not do anything; God had made up His mind to spare him, so he was definitely going to be spared. His survival was not due to his own accomplishments. This is what God wanted to make happen, because man is passive.” But that is not what God was thinking. To God, no matter whether a person is great or insignificant, as long as they can listen to Him, obey His instructions and what He entrusts, and can cooperate with His work, His will, and His plan, so that His will and His plan can be accomplished smoothly, then that conduct is worthy of His remembrance and of receiving His blessing. God treasures such people, and He cherishes their actions and their love and affection for Him. This is God’s attitude. So why did God bless Noah? Because this is how God treats such actions and the obedience of man.
In regard to God’s blessing of Noah, some people will say: “If man listens to God and satisfies God, then God should bless man. Doesn’t that go without saying?” Can we say that? Some people say: “No.” Why can we not say that? Some people say: “Man is not worthy of enjoying God’s blessing.” That is not entirely right. Because when a person accepts what God entrusts to them, God has a standard for judging whether their actions are good or bad and whether the person has obeyed, and whether the person has satisfied God’s will and whether what they do meets that standard. What God cares about is the person’s heart, not their actions on the surface. It is not the case that God should bless someone as long as they do something, regardless of how they do it. This is a misunderstanding people have about God. God looks not just at the end result of things, but places more emphasis on how a person’s heart is and how a person’s attitude is during the development of things, and He looks at whether there is obedience, consideration, and the desire to satisfy God in their heart. How much did Noah know about God at the time? Was it as much as the doctrines you know now? In terms of aspects of the truth such as concepts and knowledge of God, did he receive as much watering and shepherding as you? No, he did not! But there is one fact that is undeniable: In the consciousness, minds, and even the depths of the hearts of the people of today, their concepts of and attitudes toward God are vague and ambiguous. You could even say that a portion of people hold a negative attitude toward God’s existence. But in Noah’s heart and his consciousness, God’s existence was absolute and beyond the slightest doubt, and thus his obedience to God was unadulterated and could stand the test. His heart was pure and open toward God. He did not need too much knowledge of doctrines to convince himself to follow every word of God, nor did he need a lot of facts to prove God’s existence in order to be able to accept what God entrusted him with and to be capable of doing whatever God had him do. This is the essential difference between Noah and the people of today. It is also the true definition of precisely what a perfect man is in God’s eyes. What God wants is people like Noah. He is the type of person God praises and is also precisely the kind of person God blesses. Have you received any enlightenment from this? People look at people from the outside, while what God looks at is people’s hearts and their essence. God does not allow anyone to have any half-heartedness or doubts toward Him, nor does He permit people to suspect or test Him in any way. Hence, even though the people of today are face to face with God’s word—you could even say face to face with God—due to something deep inside their hearts, the existence of their corrupt essence, and their hostile attitude toward Him, people have been obstructed from having a true belief in God and blocked from being obedient to Him. Because of this, it is very difficult for them to obtain the same blessing that God bestowed upon Noah.
Next, let us take a look at this part of the scriptures about how God used the rainbow as a symbol of His covenant with man.
3. God Uses the Rainbow as a Symbol of His Covenant With Man
Gen 9:11–13 And I will establish My covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
Most people know what a rainbow is and have heard of some stories related to rainbows. As for the story about the rainbow in the Bible, some people believe it and some treat it as legend, while others do not believe it at all. No matter what, all of the events that happened in relation to the rainbow were the work of God and took place in the process of God’s management of man. These events have been recorded exactly in the Bible. These records do not tell us what mood God was in at the time or the intentions behind these words God said. Moreover, no one can appreciate what God was feeling when He said them. However, God’s state of mind regarding this entire event is revealed between the lines of the text. It is as though His thoughts at the time leap off the page through each word and phrase of God’s word.
God’s thoughts are what people should be concerned about and what they should be trying to get to know the most. This is because God’s thoughts are inextricably related to man’s understanding of God, and man’s understanding of God is an indispensable link to man’s entry into life. So, what was God thinking at the time when these events happened?
Originally, God created a humanity that in His eyes was very good and close to Him, but they were destroyed by flood after rebelling against Him. Did it hurt God that such a humanity just instantly vanished like that? Of course it hurt! So what was His expression of this pain? How was it recorded in the Bible? It was recorded in the Bible in these words: “And I will establish My covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” This simple sentence reveals God’s thoughts. This destruction of the world pained Him very much. In man’s words, He was very sad. We can imagine: How did the earth that was once full of life look like after being destroyed by the flood? What did the earth, that was once full of human beings, look like at that time? No human habitation, no living creatures, water everywhere and utter devastation on the surface of the water. Was such a scene God’s original intention when He created the world? Of course not! God’s original intention was to see life all across the land, to see the human beings He created worshiping Him, not just for Noah to be the only one worshiping Him or the only one who could answer His call to complete what was entrusted to him. When humanity disappeared, God saw not what He had originally intended but the complete opposite. How could His heart not be in pain? So when He was revealing His disposition and expressing His emotions, God made a decision. What kind of a decision did He make? To make a bow in the cloud (that is, the rainbows that we see) as a covenant with man, a promise that God would not destroy mankind with a flood again. At the same time, it was also to tell people that God had destroyed the world with a flood, so that mankind would forever remember why God would do such a thing.
Was the destruction of the world at that time something God wanted? It was definitely not what God wanted. We might be able to imagine a small part of the pitiful sight of the earth after the destruction of the world, but we cannot come close to imagining what the scene was like at the time in God’s eyes. We can say that, whether it is the people of now or then, nobody is able to imagine or appreciate what God was feeling when He saw that scene, that image of the world following its destruction by flood. God was forced to do this by man’s disobedience, but the pain suffered by God’s heart from this destruction of the world by flood is a reality no one can fathom or appreciate. That is why God made a covenant with mankind, through which He aimed to tell people to remember that God once did something like this, and to swear to them that God would never destroy the world in such a way again. In this covenant we see God’s heart—we see that God’s heart was in pain when He destroyed this humanity. In the language of man, when God destroyed mankind and saw mankind disappearing, His heart was weeping and bleeding. Is that not the best way to describe it? These words are used by humans to illustrate human emotions, but since man’s language is too lacking, using them to describe God’s feelings and emotions does not seem too bad to Me, and nor are they too excessive. At least it gives you a very vivid, very apt understanding of what God’s mood was like at the time. What will you think of now when you see a rainbow again? At least you will remember how God was once in sorrow over destroying the world by flood. You will remember how, even though God hated this world and despised this humanity, when He destroyed the human beings He created with His own hands, His heart was hurting, struggling to let go, feeling reluctant, and finding it hard to bear. His only comfort was in Noah’s family of eight. It was Noah’s cooperation that made His painstaking efforts of creating all things not be in vain. At a time when God was suffering, this was the only thing that could make up for His pain. From that point, God placed all of His expectations of humanity on Noah’s family, hoping they could live under His blessings and not His curse, hoping that they would never see God destroy the world with a flood again, and also hoping that they would not be destroyed.
What part of God’s disposition should we learn about from this? God had despised man because man was hostile to Him, but in His heart, His care, concern, and mercy for humanity remained unchanged. Even when He destroyed mankind, His heart remained unchanged. When humanity was full of corruption and disobedient toward God to a grievous extent, God had to destroy this humanity, because of His disposition and His essence, and in accordance with His principles. But because of God’s essence, He still pitied mankind, and even wanted to use various ways to redeem mankind so they could continue to live. Man, however, opposed God, continued to disobey God, and refused to accept God’s salvation; that is, refused to accept His good intentions. No matter how God called to them, reminded them, supplied them, helped them, or tolerated them, man did not understand or appreciate it, nor did they pay attention. In His pain, God still did not forget to grant man His maximum tolerance, waiting for man to reverse course. After He reached His limit, He did what He had to do without any hesitation. In other words, there was a specific time period and process from the moment God planned to destroy mankind to the start of His work in destroying mankind. This process existed for the purpose of enabling man to reverse course, and this was the last chance God gave to man. So what did God do in this period before destroying mankind? God did a significant amount of reminding and exhorting work. No matter how much pain and sorrow God’s heart was in, He continued to vest His care, concern, and abundant mercy in humanity. What do we see from this? Undoubtedly, we see that God’s love for mankind is real and not something He merely pays lip service to. It is actual, tangible and appreciable, not feigned, adulterated, deceitful or pretentious. God never uses any deception or creates false images to make people see that He is lovable. He never uses false testimony to let people see His loveliness, or to flaunt His loveliness and holiness. Are these aspects of God’s disposition not worthy of man’s love? Are they not worth worshiping? Are they not worth cherishing? At this point, I want to ask you: After hearing these words, do you think God’s greatness is merely empty words on a sheet of paper? Is God’s loveliness just empty words? No! Certainly not! God’s supremacy, greatness, holiness, tolerance, love, and so forth—every detail of every one of the various aspects of God’s disposition and essence find practical expression every time He does His work, are embodied in His will toward man, and are also fulfilled and reflected in every person. Regardless of whether you have felt it before, God is caring for every person in every possible way, using His sincere heart, wisdom, and various methods to warm each person’s heart, and awaken each person’s spirit. This is an indisputable fact. No matter how many people are sitting here, each person has had different experiences of and feelings toward God’s tolerance, patience, and loveliness. These experiences of God and these feelings or perception of Him—in short, all of these positive things are from God. So by integrating everyone’s experiences and knowledge of God and combining them with our readings of these Bible passages today, do you now have a more real and proper understanding of God?
After reading this story and understanding some of God’s disposition revealed through this event, what kind of new knowledge do you have of God? Has it given you a deeper understanding of God and His heart? Do you feel different now when you revisit Noah’s story? In your opinion, was it unnecessary to fellowship these Bible verses? Now that we have fellowshiped them, do you think it was unnecessary? It surely was necessary! Even though what we read is a story, it is a true record of the work God has done. My aim was not to enable you to comprehend the details of these stories or this character, nor was it so you can go study this character, and certainly not so you will go back and study the Bible again. Do you understand? So have these stories aided in your knowledge of God? What has this story added to your understanding of God? Tell us, brothers and sisters from Hong Kong. (We saw that God’s love is something none of us corrupt humans possess.) Tell us, brothers and sisters from South Korea. (God’s love for man is real. God’s love for man carries His disposition and carries His greatness, holiness, supremacy, and His tolerance. It is worth us trying to gain a deeper understanding of it.) (Through the fellowshiping just then, on the one hand, I can see God’s righteous and holy disposition, and I can also see the concern God has for mankind, God’s mercy toward mankind, and that everything God does and every thought and idea He has reveals His love and concern for humanity.) (My understanding in the past was that God used a flood to destroy the world because mankind had become evil to a grievous extent, and it was as though God destroyed this humanity because He loathed them. It was only after God talked about Noah’s story today and said that God’s heart was bleeding that I realize that God was actually reluctant to let go of this humanity. It was only because mankind was too disobedient that God had no choice but to destroy them. In fact, God’s heart at this time was very sad. From this, I can see in God’s disposition His care and concern for mankind. This is something I didn’t know before.) Very good! You can go next. (I was very affected after listening. I’ve read the Bible in the past, but I’ve never had an experience like today where God directly dissects these things so we can get to know Him. For God to take us along like this to get to see the Bible enabled me to know that God’s essence before man’s corruption was love and care for mankind. From the time man became corrupted to these current last days, even though God has a righteous disposition, His love and care remain unchanged. This shows that the essence of God’s love, from creation until now, regardless of whether man is corrupted, never changes.) (Today I saw that God’s essence will not alter due to a change in time or the location of His work. I also saw that, no matter if God is creating the world or destroying it after man becomes corrupted, everything He does has meaning and contains His disposition. I therefore saw that God’s love is infinite and immeasurable, and I also saw, as the other brothers and sisters mentioned, God’s care and mercy toward mankind when He destroyed the world.) (These were things I indeed did not know about before. After listening today, I feel that God is truly credible, truly trustworthy, worth believing in, and that He indeed exists. I can genuinely appreciate in my heart that God’s disposition and love is really this concrete. This is a feeling I have after listening today.) Excellent! It seems you have all taken what you have heard to heart.
Have you noticed something from all Bible verses, including all of the Bible stories we fellowshiped about today? Has God ever used His own language to express His own thoughts or explain His love and care for humanity? Is there a record of Him using plain language to state how much He is concerned for or loves mankind? No. Is that not right? There are so many among you who have read the Bible or books other than the Bible. Have any of you seen such words? The answer is definitely no! That is, in the records of the Bible, including God’s words or the documenting of His work, God has never in any era or any period used His own methods to describe His feelings or express His love and care for mankind, nor has God ever used speech or any actions to convey His feelings and emotions—is that not a fact? Why do I say that? Why do I have to mention this? It is because this also embodies God’s loveliness and His disposition.
God created mankind; regardless of whether they have been corrupted or whether they follow Him, God treats human beings as His most cherished loved ones—or as human beings would say, the people dearest to Him—and not as His playthings. Although God says He is the Creator and that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a slight difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly providing for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about or tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition. This is why, regardless of whether it is in the Bible or any other books, we never find God expressing His thoughts, and we never find God describing or declaring to humans, with the aim of making mankind be grateful toward Him or praise Him, why He does these things, or why He cares so much for mankind. Even when He is hurt, when His heart is in extreme pain, He never forgets His responsibility toward mankind or His concern for mankind; all while He bears this hurt and pain alone in silence. To the contrary, God continues to provide for mankind as He has always done. Even though mankind often praises God or bears witness to Him, none of this behavior is demanded by God. This is because God never intends for any of the good things He does for mankind to be exchanged for gratitude or to be paid back. On the other hand, those who can fear God and shun evil, those who can truly follow God, listen to Him and are loyal to Him, and those who can obey Him—these are the people who will often receive God’s blessings, and God will bestow such blessings without reservation. Moreover, the blessings people receive from God are often beyond their imagination, and also beyond anything human beings can justify through what they have done or what price they have paid. When mankind is enjoying God’s blessings, does anyone care about what God is doing? Does anyone show any concern for how God is feeling? Does anyone try to appreciate God’s pain? The answer is an emphatic no! Can any human being, including Noah, appreciate the pain God was feeling at that moment? Can anyone appreciate why God would establish such a covenant? They cannot! Mankind does not appreciate God’s pain not because they cannot understand God’s pain, and not because of the gap between God and man or the difference in their status; rather, it is because mankind does not care at all about any of God’s feelings. Mankind thinks God is independent—that God does not need people to care about Him, to understand Him or show Him consideration. God is God, so He has no pain, no emotions; He will not be sad, He does not feel sorrow, He does not even cry. God is God, so He does not need any emotional expressions and He does not need any emotional comfort. If, under certain circumstances, He does need these things, then He can cope alone and will not require any assistance from mankind. Conversely, it is the weak, immature humans who need God’s consolation, provision, encouragement, and even for Him to comfort their emotions at all times and all places. Such things lurk deep inside the hearts of mankind: Man is the weak one; they need God to look after them in every way, they deserve all the care they receive from God, and they should demand from God whatever they feel should be theirs. God is the strong one; He has everything, and He ought to be mankind’s guardian and bestower of blessings. Since He is already God, He is omnipotent and does not ever need anything from mankind.
As man does not pay attention to any of God’s revelations, he has never felt God’s sorrow, pain, or joy. But conversely, God knows all of man’s expressions like the palm of His hand. God supplies everyone’s needs at all times and in all places, observing each person’s changing thoughts and thus comforting and exhorting them, and guiding and illuminating them. In terms of all the things God has done on mankind and all of the prices He has paid because of them, can people find a passage in the Bible or from anything God has said until now that clearly states that God will demand something from man? No! To the contrary, no matter how people ignore God’s thinking, He still repeatedly leads mankind, repeatedly provides for mankind and helps them, to enable them to follow God’s way so they can attain the beautiful destination He has prepared for them. When it comes to God, what He has and is, His grace, His mercy, and all His rewards, will be bestowed without reservation upon those who love and follow Him. But He never reveals to any person the pain He has suffered or His state of mind, and He never complains about anyone not being considerate toward Him or not knowing His will. He simply bears all of this in silence, waiting for the day mankind will be able to understand.
Why do I say these things here? What do you see from the things I have said? There is something in God’s essence and disposition that is all too easy to overlook, something that is only possessed by God and not by any person, including those others think of as great people, good people, or the God of their imagination. What is this thing? It is God’s selflessness. When speaking of selflessness, you might think you are also very selfless, because when it comes to your children, you never bargain or haggle with them, or you think you are also very selfless when it comes to your parents. No matter what you think, at least you have a concept of the word “selfless” and think of it as a positive word, and that being a selfless person is very noble. When you are selfless, you esteem yourself highly. But there is no one who can see God’s selflessness in all things, among people, events, and objects, and in His work. Why is this the case? Because man is too selfish! Why do I say that? Mankind lives in a material world. You may follow God, but you never see or appreciate how God provides for you, loves you, and shows concern for you. So what do you see? You see your blood relatives who love you or dote on you. You see the things that are beneficial to your flesh, you care about the people and things you love. This is man’s so-called selflessness. Such “selfless” people, however, are never concerned about the God that gives life to them. In contrast to that of God, man’s selflessness becomes selfish and despicable. The selflessness man believes in is empty and unrealistic, adulterated, incompatible with God, and unrelated to God. Man’s selflessness is for himself, while God’s selflessness is a true revelation of His essence. It is precisely due to God’s selflessness that man is constantly provided for by Him. You might not be too deeply affected by this topic I am talking about today and are merely nodding in approval, but when you try to appreciate God’s heart in your heart, you will unwittingly discover this: Among all the people, matters, and things you can sense in this world, only God’s selflessness is real and concrete, because only God’s love for you is unconditional and unblemished. Apart from God, anyone else’s so-called unselfishness is feigned, superficial, inauthentic; it has a purpose, certain intentions, carries a tradeoff, and cannot stand to be tested. You could even say that it is filthy and contemptible. Are you in agreement with these words?
I know you are very unfamiliar with these topics and need a bit of time for them to sink in before you can truly understand. The more unfamiliar you are with these issues and topics, the more it proves that these topics are missing in your heart. If I were never to mention these topics, would any among you know anything about them? I believe you would never get to know them. That is for certain. No matter how much you can comprehend or understand, these topics I speak of are, in short, what people most lack and what they should know about the most. These topics are very important for everyone—they are precious and they are life, and they are things you must possess for the road ahead. Without these words as guidance, without your understanding of God’s disposition and essence, you will always carry a question mark when it comes to God. How can you believe in God properly if you do not even understand Him? You know nothing of God’s emotions, His will, His state of mind, what He is thinking, what makes Him sad, and what makes Him happy, so how can you be considerate toward God’s heart?
Whenever God is upset, He faces a mankind that does not pay any attention to Him at all, a mankind that follows Him and claims to love Him but completely neglects His feelings. How can His heart not hurt? In God’s management work, He sincerely carries out His work on and speaks to each person, and He faces them without reservation or concealment; but conversely, every person who follows Him is closed off toward Him, and no one is willing to actively get closer to Him, understand His heart, or pay attention to His feelings. Even those who want to become God’s intimates do not want to get close to Him, to be considerate toward His heart, or try to understand Him. When God is joyful and happy, there is no one to share His happiness. When God is misunderstood by people, there is no one to comfort His wounded heart. When His heart is hurting, there is not a single person willing to let Him confide in them. Over these thousands of years of God’s management work, there have been none who understand God’s emotions, none who comprehend or appreciate them, let alone any who could stand beside God to share in His joys and sorrows. God is lonely. He is lonely! God is lonely not just because corrupted mankind opposes Him, but more because those who seek to be spiritual, those who seek to know God and understand Him, and even those who are willing to expend their entire lives for Him, also do not know His thoughts or understand His disposition and His emotions.
At the end of Noah’s story, we see that God used an unusual method to express His feelings at the time. It was a very special method: to make a covenant with man which declared the end of God’s destruction of the world with the flood. On the surface, making a covenant may seem like a very ordinary thing. It is nothing more than using words to bind two parties and prevent them from violating their agreement, so as to protect both of their interests. In form, it is a very ordinary thing, but from the motivations behind and intent of God in doing this thing, it is a true revelation of God’s disposition and state of mind. If you just put these words aside and ignore them, if I never tell you the truth of things, then humanity will really never know God’s thinking. Perhaps in your imagination God was smiling when He made this covenant, or perhaps His expression was serious, but regardless of what most ordinary expression people imagine God to have had, no one would have been able to see God’s heart or His pain, let alone His loneliness. No one can make God trust them or be worthy of God’s trust, or be someone He can express His thoughts or confide His pain to. That is why God had no choice but to do such a thing. On the surface, God did an easy thing in bidding farewell to humanity as it was, settling the issue of the past and bringing to a perfect end His destruction of the world by flood. However, God buried the pain from this moment deep inside His heart. At a time when God did not have anyone to confide in, He made a covenant with mankind, telling them that He would not destroy the world with a flood again. When a rainbow appeared, it was to remind people that such a thing had happened and to warn them to refrain from evil. Even in such a painful state, God did not forget about mankind and still showed so much concern for them. Is this not God’s love and unselfishness? But what do people think of when they are suffering? Is this not the time they need God the most? At times like this, people always drag God over so He can comfort them. No matter when, God will never let people down, and He will always enable people to get out of their predicaments and live in the light. Although God so provides for mankind, in man’s heart God is nothing more than a soothing pill, a comfort tonic. When God is suffering, when His heart is wounded, having a created being or any person keep Him company or comfort Him would undoubtedly be just an extravagant wish for God. Man never pays attention to God’s feelings, so God never asks nor expects there to be someone who can comfort Him. He merely uses His own methods to express His mood. People do not think it is a great hardship for God to go through some suffering, but only when you truly try to understand God, when you can genuinely appreciate God’s earnest intentions in everything He does, can you feel God’s greatness and His selflessness. Even though God made a covenant with mankind using the rainbow, He never told anyone why He did this—why He established this covenant—meaning He never told anybody His real thoughts. This is because there is no one who can comprehend the depth of the love God has for the mankind He created with His own hands, and there is also no one who can appreciate just how much pain His heart suffered when He destroyed humanity. Therefore, even if He were to tell people how He felt, they would be unable to undertake this trust. Despite being in pain, He still continues with the next step of His work. God always gives His best side and the best things to mankind while quietly bearing all the suffering Himself. God never openly discloses these sufferings. Instead, He endures them and waits in silence. God’s endurance is not cold, numb, or helpless, nor is it a sign of weakness. Rather, God’s love and essence have always been selfless. This is a natural revelation of His essence and disposition, and a genuine embodiment of God’s identity as the true Creator.
Having said that, some might misinterpret what I mean, and think, “Was describing God’s feelings in such detail, with so much sensationalism, intended to make people feel sorry for God?” Is that the intention here? (No.) The only purpose of Me saying these things is to make you know God better, to understand His myriad aspects, understand His emotions, to appreciate that God’s essence and disposition are, concretely and bit by bit, expressed through His work, as opposed to being depicted through man’s empty words, their letters and doctrines, or their imaginations. That is to say, God and God’s essence actually exist—they are not paintings, not imaginings, not constructed by man, and certainly not fabricated by man. Do you recognize this now? If you do recognize it, then My words today have achieved their goal.
We discussed three topics today. I trust that everyone has gained a lot from our fellowship on these three topics. I can say definitely that, through these three topics, the thoughts of God I described or the disposition and essence of God I mentioned have transformed people’s imaginings and understanding of God, even transformed everyone’s belief in God, and moreover, transformed the image of the God admired by everyone in their hearts. No matter what, I hope what you have learned about God’s disposition in these two sections of the Bible is beneficial to you, and I hope after you return you will try to ponder it more. Today’s meeting concludes here. Goodbye!
November 4, 2013