During our last meeting we shared a very important topic. Do you remember what it was? Let Me repeat it. The topic of our last fellowship was: God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself. Is this an important topic to you? Which part of it is most important to you? God’s work, God’s disposition, or God Himself? Which one interests you most? Which part do you want to hear about most? I know it’s difficult for you to answer that question, because God’s disposition can be seen in every aspect of His work, and His disposition is revealed in His work always and in all places, and, in effect, represents God Himself; in God’s overall management plan, God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself are all inseparable from each other.
The content of our last fellowship about God’s work was accounts in the Bible that occurred long ago. They were all stories about man and God, and they happened to man and simultaneously involved the participation and expression of God, so these stories hold particular value and significance to knowing God. Just after He created mankind, God began to engage with man and talk to man, and His disposition began to be expressed to man. In other words, from when God first engaged with mankind He began to make public to man, without cease, His substance and what He has and is. Regardless of whether earlier people or the people of today are able to see or understand it, in short God speaks to man and works among man, revealing His disposition and expressing His substance—which is a fact, and undeniable by any person. This also means that God’s disposition, God’s substance, and what He has and is are constantly issued forth and revealed as He works and engages with man. He has never concealed or hidden anything from man, but instead makes public and releases His own disposition without holding anything back. Thus, God hopes that man can know Him and understand His disposition and substance. He does not wish for man to treat His disposition and substance as eternal mysteries, nor does He want mankind to regard God as a puzzle that can never be solved. Only when mankind knows God can man know the way forward and be able to accept God’s guidance, and only a mankind such as this can truly live under the dominion of God, and live in the light, and live amid God’s blessings.
The words and disposition issued forth and revealed by God represent His will, and they also represent His substance. When God engages with man, no matter what He says or does, or what disposition He reveals, and no matter what man sees of God’s substance and what He has and is, they all represent God’s will for man. Regardless of how much man is able to realize, comprehend or understand, it all represents God’s will—God’s will for man. This is beyond doubt! God’s will for mankind is how He requires people to be, what He requires them to do, how He requires them to live, and how He requires them to be capable of accomplishing the fulfillment of God’s will. Are these things inseparable from the substance of God? In other words, God issues forth His disposition and all that He has and is at the same time as making demands of man. There is no falsity, no pretense, no concealment, and no embellishment. Yet why is man incapable of knowing, and why has he never been able to clearly perceive the disposition of God? And why has he never realized God’s will? That which is revealed and issued forth by God is what God Himself has and is, and is every shred and facet of His true disposition—so why can’t man see? Why is man incapable of thorough knowledge? There is an important reason for this. And what is this reason? Since the time of creation, man has never treated God as God. In the earliest times, no matter what God did with regard to man, the man that had just been created, man treated Him as nothing more than a companion, as someone to be relied upon, and had no knowledge or understanding of God. Which is to say, he did not know that what was issued forth by this Being—this Being whom he relied upon and saw as his companion—was the substance of God, nor did he know that this Being was the One who rules over all things. Simply put, the people of that time didn’t recognize God at all. They didn’t know that the heavens and earth and all things had been made by Him, and they were ignorant of where He came from, and, moreover, of what He was. Of course, back then God did not require man to know Him, or comprehend Him, or understand all that He did, or be informed of His will, for these were the earliest times following mankind’s creation. When God began preparations for the work of the Age of Law, God did some things to man and also began making some demands of man, telling him how to give offerings to and worship God. Only then did man acquire a few simple ideas about God, only then did he know the difference between man and God, and that God was the One who created mankind. When man knew that God was God and man was man, there became a certain distance between him and God, yet still God did not ask that man have a great knowledge or deep understanding of Him. Thus, God makes different requirements of man based on the stages and circumstances of His work. What do you see in this? What aspect of God’s disposition do you perceive? Is God real? Are God’s requirements of man fitting? During the earliest times following God’s creation of mankind, when God had yet to carry out the work of conquest and perfection on man, and had not spoken very many words to him, He asked little of man. Regardless of what man did and how he behaved—even if he did some things that offended God—God forgave it all, and overlooked it all. Because God knew what He had given man, and knew what was within man, thus He knew the standard of requirements that He should make of man. Even though the standard of His requirements was very low at that time, this does not mean that His disposition was not great, or that His wisdom and almightiness were but empty words. For man, there is only one way to know God’s disposition and God Himself: by following the steps of the work of God’s management and salvation of mankind, and accepting the words that God speaks to mankind. Knowing what God has and is, and knowing God’s disposition, would man still ask God to show him His real person? Man will not, and dare not, for having comprehended God’s disposition and what He has and is, man will have already seen the true God Himself, and will have already seen His real person. This is the inevitable outcome.
As God’s work and plan ceaselessly progressed onward, and after God established the covenant of the rainbow with man as a sign that He would never again destroy the world using floods, God had an increasingly pressing desire to gain those who could be of one mind with Him. So, too, did He have an ever more urgent wish to gain those who were able to carry out His will on earth, and, moreover, to gain a group of people able to break free from the forces of darkness, and not be bound by Satan, and able to bear testimony to Him on earth. Gaining such a group of people was God’s long-held wish, what He had been waiting for ever since the time of creation. Thus, regardless of God’s use of floods to destroy the world, or of His covenant with man, God’s will, frame of mind, plan, and hopes all remained the same. What He wanted to do, which He had yearned for long before the time of creation, was to gain those among mankind whom He wished to gain—to gain a group of people able to comprehend and know His disposition, and understand His will, a group who were able to worship Him. Such a group of people is truly able to bear testimony to Him, and they are, it can be said, His confidants.
Today, let us continue retracing the footsteps of God and following the steps of His work, so that we might uncover the thoughts and ideas of God, and everything to do with God, all of which have been “kept in storage” for so long. Through these things we will come to know the disposition of God, understand the substance of God, we will let God into our hearts, and every one of us will slowly come closer to God, reducing our distance from God.
Part of what we talked about last time related to why God established a covenant with man. This time, we will fellowship about the passages of scripture below. Let us begin by reading the scriptures.
1. God Promises to Give Abraham a Son
(Gen 17:15-17) And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her: yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
(Gen 17:21-22) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
2. Abraham Offers Isaac
(Gen 22:2-3) And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.
(Gen 22:9-10) And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
No One Can Hinder the Work That God Resolves to Do
So, you’ve all just heard the story of Abraham. He was chosen by God after the flood destroyed the world, his name was Abraham, and when he was a hundred years old, and his wife Sarah ninety, God’s promise came to him. What promise did God make to him? God promised that which is referred to in the Scriptures: “And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her.” What was the background to God’s promise to give him a son? The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” In other words, this aged couple was too old to bear children. And what did Abraham do after God made His promise to him? He fell on his face laughing, and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old?” Abraham believed that it was impossible—which meant that he believed God’s promise to him was nothing more than a joke. From man’s perspective, this was unachievable by man, and likewise unachievable by and an impossibility for God. Perhaps, to Abraham, it was laughable: God created man, yet it turns out that He doesn’t know that someone so old is incapable of bearing children; He thinks He can allow me to bear a child, He says that He will give me a son—surely that’s impossible! And so, Abraham fell on his face and laughed, thinking to himself: Impossible—God is joking with me, this can’t be true! He did not take God’s words seriously. So, in God’s eyes, what kind of a man was Abraham? (Righteous.) Where was it stated that he was a righteous man? You think that all those whom God calls upon are righteous, and perfect, and people who walk with God. You abide by doctrine! You must see clearly that when God defines someone, He does not do so arbitrarily. Here, God did not say that Abraham was righteous. In His heart, God has standards for measuring every person. Though God did not say what kind of person Abraham was, in terms of his conduct, what kind of faith did Abraham have in God? Was it a little abstract? Or was he of great faith? No, he wasn’t! His laughter and thoughts showed who he was, so your belief that he was righteous is but a figment of your imagination, it is the blind application of doctrine, it is an irresponsible appraisal. Did God see Abraham’s laughter and his little expressions, did He know of them? God knew. But would God alter what He had resolved to do? No! When God planned and resolved that He would choose this man, the matter had already been accomplished. Neither man’s thoughts nor his conduct would in the slightest bit influence or interfere with God; God would not arbitrarily change His plan, nor would He change or upset His plan because of man’s conduct, which might even be foolish. What, then, is written in Genesis 17:21-22? “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.” God paid not the slightest attention to what Abraham thought or said. And what was the reason for His disregard? It was because, at that time, God did not ask that man be of great faith, or that he be capable of great knowledge of God, or, moreover, that he be able to understand what was done and said by God. Thus, He did not ask that man fully understand what He resolved to do, or the people He was determined to choose, or the principles of His actions, for man’s stature was simply inadequate. At that time, God regarded whatever Abraham did and however he conducted himself as normal. He did not condemn, or reprimand, but merely said: “Sarah shall bear Isaac to you at this set time in the next year.” To God, after He proclaimed these words, this matter came true step by step; in the eyes of God, that which was to be accomplished by His plan had already been achieved. And after completing the arrangements for this, God departed. What man does or thinks, what man understands, the plans of man—none of this bears any relation to God. Everything proceeds according to God’s plan, in keeping with the times and stages set by God. Such is the principle of God’s work. God does not interfere in whatever man thinks or knows, yet neither does He forgo His plan, or abandon His work, because man does not believe or understand. The facts are thus accomplished according to the plan and thoughts of God. This is precisely what we see in the Bible: God caused Isaac to be born at the time He had set. Do the facts prove that the behavior and conduct of man hindered the work of God? They did not hinder the work of God! Did man’s little faith in God, and his conceptions and imagination about God affect God’s work? No, they did not! Not in the least! God’s management plan is unaffected by any man, matter, or environment. All that He resolves to do will be completed and accomplished on time and according to His plan, and His work cannot be interfered with by any man. God pays no attention to some of man’s foolishness and ignorance, and even ignores some of man’s resistance and conceptions toward Him; instead, He does the work that He must do without scruple. This is God’s disposition, and is a reflection of His omnipotence.
The Work of God’s Management and Salvation of Mankind Begins With Abraham’s Offering of Isaac
Having given Abraham a son, the words that God had spoken to Abraham were fulfilled. This does not mean that God’s plan stopped here; on the contrary, God’s magnificent plan for the management and salvation of mankind had only just begun, and His blessing of a son to Abraham was but a prelude to His overall management plan. At that moment, who knew that God’s battle with Satan had quietly begun when Abraham offered Isaac?
God Does Not Care If Man Is Foolish—He Only Asks That Man Be True
Next, let us look at what God did to Abraham. In Genesis 22:2, God gave the following command to Abraham: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.” God’s meaning was clear: He was telling Abraham to give his only son Isaac, whom he loved, as a burnt offering. Looking at it today, is God’s command still at odds with man’s conceptions? Yes! All that God did at that time is quite contrary to the conceptions of man and incomprehensible to man. In their conceptions, people believe the following: When a man did not believe, and thought it an impossibility, God gave him a son, and after he had gained a son, God asked him to offer his son—how incredible! What did God actually intend to do? What was God’s actual purpose? He unconditionally gave Abraham a son, yet He also asked that Abraham make an unconditional offering. Was this excessive? From a third party’s standpoint, this was not only excessive but also somewhat a case of “making trouble out of nothing.” But Abraham himself did not believe that God was asking too much. Though he had some misgivings, and was a little suspicious of God, he was still prepared to make the offering. At this point, what do you see that proves Abraham was willing to offer his son? What is being said in these sentences? The original text gives the following accounts: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him” (Gen 22:3). “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Gen 22:9-10). When Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son, were his actions seen by God? They were. The entire process—from the start, when God asked that Abraham sacrifice Isaac, to when Abraham actually raised his knife to slay his son—showed God the heart of Abraham, and regardless of his former foolishness, ignorance, and misunderstanding of God, at that time Abraham’s heart for God was true, and honest, and he truly was going to return Isaac, the son given to him by God, back to God. In him, God saw obedience—the very obedience that He desired.
To man, God does much that is incomprehensible and even incredible. When God wishes to orchestrate someone, this orchestration is often at odds with man’s conceptions, and incomprehensible to him, yet it is precisely this dissonance and incomprehensibility that are God’s trial and test of man. Abraham, meanwhile, was able to demonstrate the obedience to God within himself, which was the most fundamental condition of his being able to satisfy God’s requirement. Only then, when Abraham was able to obey God’s requirement, when he offered Isaac, did God truly feel reassurance and approval toward mankind—toward Abraham, whom He had chosen. Only then was God sure that this person whom He had chosen was an indispensable leader who could undertake His promise and His subsequent management plan. Though it was but a trial and a test, God felt gratified, He felt man’s love for Him, and He felt comforted by man as never before. At the moment that Abraham lifted up his knife to slay Isaac, did God stop him? God did not let Abraham offer Isaac, for God simply had no intention of taking Isaac’s life. Thus, God stopped Abraham just in time. For God, Abraham’s obedience had already passed the test, what he did was sufficient, and God had already seen the outcome of what He intended to do. Was this outcome satisfactory to God? It can be said that this outcome was satisfactory to God, that it was what God wanted, and was what God had longed to see. Is this true? Although, in different contexts, God uses different ways of testing each person, in Abraham God saw what He wanted, He saw that Abraham’s heart was true, and that his obedience was unconditional, and it was precisely this “unconditional” that God desired. People often say, I’ve already offered this, I’ve already forgone that—why is God still not satisfied with me? Why does He keep subjecting me to trials? Why does He keep testing me? This demonstrates one fact: God has not seen your heart, and has not gained your heart. Which is to say, He has not seen such sincerity as when Abraham was able to raise his knife to slay his son by his own hand and offer him to God. He has not seen your unconditional obedience, and has not been comforted by you. It is natural, then, that God keeps trying you. Is this not true? We’ll leave it there for this topic. Next, we will read “God’s Promise to Abraham.”
3. God’s Promise to Abraham
(Gen 22:16-18) By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.
This is an unabridged account of God’s blessing to Abraham. Though brief, its content is rich: It includes the reason for, and background to, God’s gift to Abraham, and what it was that He gave to Abraham. It is also imbued with the joy and excitement with which God uttered these words, as well as the urgency of His longing to gain those who are able to listen to His words. In this, we see God’s cherishment of, and tenderness toward, those who obey His words and follow His commands. So, too, do we see the price He pays to gain people, and the care and thought He puts into gaining them. Moreover, the passage, which contains the words “By myself have I sworn,” gives us a powerful sense of the bitterness and pain borne by God, and God alone, behind the scenes of this work of His management plan. It is a thought-provoking passage, and one that held especial significance for, and had a far-reaching impact upon those who came after.
Man Gains God’s Blessings Because of His Sincerity and Obedience
Was the blessing given to Abraham by God that we read of here great? Just how great? There is one key sentence here: “And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” which shows that Abraham received blessings not given to any who came before or after. When, as asked by God, Abraham returned his only son—his beloved only son—to God (note: Here we cannot use the word “offered”; we should say he returned his son to God), not only did God not allow Abraham to offer Isaac, but He also blessed him. With what promise did He bless Abraham? The promise to multiply his offspring. And by how many were they to be multiplied? The Scriptures provide the following record: “as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” What was the context in which God uttered these words? Which is to say, how did Abraham receive God’s blessings? He received them just as God says in the Scriptures: “because you have obeyed my voice.” That is, because Abraham had followed God’s command, because he had done everything that God had said, asked and commanded without the slightest complaint, thus God made such a promise to him. There is one crucial sentence in this promise that touches upon God’s thoughts at the time. Have you seen it? You may not have paid much attention to God’s words that “By myself have I sworn.” What they mean is that, when God uttered these words, He was swearing by Himself. What do people swear by when they make an oath? They swear by Heaven, which is to say, they make an oath to God and swear by God. People might not have much of an understanding of the phenomenon by which God swore by Himself, but you’ll be able to understand when I provide you with the correct explanation. Being faced with a man who could only hear His words but not understand His heart once more made God feel lonely and at a loss. In desperation—and, it can be said, subconsciously—God did something very natural: God put His hand on His heart and addressed Himself when bestowing this promise upon Abraham, and from this man heard God say “By myself have I sworn.” Through God’s actions, you may think of yourself. When you put your hand on your heart and speak to yourself, do you have a clear idea of what you’re saying? Is your attitude sincere? Do you speak candidly, with your heart? Thus, we see here that when God spoke to Abraham, He was earnest and sincere. At the same time as speaking to and blessing Abraham, God was also speaking to Himself. He was telling Himself: I will bless Abraham, and make his progeny as numerous as the stars of heaven, and as plentiful as the sand on the sea shore, because he obeyed My words and he is the one I choose. When God said “By myself have I sworn,” God resolved that in Abraham He would produce the chosen people of Israel, after which He would lead these people forward apace with His work. That is, God would make Abraham’s descendants bear the work of God’s management, and the work of God and that expressed by God would begin with Abraham, and would continue in Abraham’s descendants, thus realizing God’s wish to save man. What say you, is this not a blessed thing? For man, there is no greater blessing than this; this, it can be said, is the most blessed thing. The blessing gained by Abraham was not the multiplication of his offspring, but God’s achievement of His management, His commission, and His work in the descendants of Abraham. This means that the blessings gained by Abraham were not temporary, but continued on as God’s management plan progressed. When God spoke, when God swore by Himself, He had already made a resolution. Was the process of this resolution true? Was it real? God resolved that, from then onward, His efforts, the price He paid, what He has and is, His everything, and even His life would be given to Abraham and the descendants of Abraham. So too did God resolve that, starting from this group of people, He would make manifest His deeds, and allow man to see His wisdom, authority, and power.
Gaining Those Who Know God and Are Able to Testify to Him Is God’s Unchanging Wish
At the same time as speaking to Himself, God also spoke to Abraham, but apart from hearing the blessings that God gave to him, was Abraham able to understand God’s true wishes in all of His words at that moment? He was not! And so, at that moment, when God swore by Himself, His heart was still lonely and sorrowful. There was still not one person able to understand or comprehend what He intended and planned. At that moment, no one—including Abraham—was able to speak to Him in confidence, much less was anyone able to cooperate with Him in doing the work that He must do. On the surface, God had gained Abraham, and had gained someone who could obey His words. But in fact, this person’s knowledge of God was barely more than nothing. Even though God had blessed Abraham, God’s heart was still not satisfied. What does it mean that God was not satisfied? It means that His management had only just begun, it means that the people He wanted to gain, the people He longed to see, the people He loved, were still distant from Him; He needed time, He needed to wait, He needed to be patient. For at that time, apart from God Himself, there was no one who knew what He needed, or what He wished to gain, or what He longed for. And so, at the same time as feeling very excited, God also felt heavy of heart. Yet He did not halt His steps, and continued to plan the next step of what He must do.
What do you see in God’s promise to Abraham? God bestowed great blessings upon Abraham simply because he listened to God’s words. Although, on the surface, this seems normal, and a matter of course, in it we see God’s heart: God especially treasures man’s obedience to Him, and cherishes man’s understanding of Him and sincerity toward Him. How much does God cherish this sincerity? You may not understand how much He cherishes it, and there may well be none who realize it. God gave Abraham a son, and when that son had grown up, God asked Abraham to offer his son to God. Abraham followed God’s command to the letter, he obeyed God’s word, and his sincerity moved God and was treasured by God. How much did God treasure it? And why did He treasure it? At a time when no one comprehended God’s words or understood His heart, Abraham did something that shook the heaven and trembled the earth, and it made God feel an unprecedented sense of satisfaction, and brought God the joy of gaining someone who was able to obey His words. This satisfaction and joy came from a creature made by God’s own hand, and was the first “sacrifice” that man had offered to God and that was most treasured by God, since man was created. God had had a hard time waiting for this sacrifice, and He treated it as the first most important gift from man, whom He had created. It showed God the first fruit of His efforts and the price He had paid, and allowed Him to see the hope in mankind. Afterward, God had an even greater yearning for a group of such people to keep Him company, to treat Him with sincerity, to care for Him with sincerity. God even hoped that Abraham would live on, for He wished to have such a heart accompany Him and be with Him as He continued in His management. No matter what God wanted, it was just a wish, just an idea—for Abraham was merely a man who was able to obey Him, and did not have the slightest understanding or knowledge of God. He was someone who fell far short of the standards of God’s requirements for man: knowing God, being able to testify to God, and being of one mind with God. And so, he could not walk with God. In Abraham’s offering of Isaac, God saw the sincerity and obedience of Abraham, and saw that he had withstood God’s test of him. Even though God accepted his sincerity and obedience, he was still unworthy of becoming God’s confidant, of becoming someone who knew God, and understood God, and was informed of God’s disposition; he was far from being of one mind with God and carrying out God’s will. And so, in His heart, God was still lonely and anxious. The more lonely and anxious God became, the more He needed to continue with His management as soon as possible, and be able to select and gain a group of people to accomplish His management plan and achieve His will as soon as possible. This was God’s eager desire, and it has remained unchanged from the very beginning until today. Ever since He created man in the beginning, God has yearned for a group of overcomers, a group that will walk with Him and are able to understand, comprehend and know His disposition. This wish of God has never changed. Regardless of how long He still has to wait, regardless of how hard the road ahead, no matter how far off the objectives He yearns for, God has never altered or given up on His expectations for man. Now that I’ve said this, do you realize something of God’s wish? Perhaps what you’ve realized isn’t very profound—but it will come gradually!
During the same period as Abraham, God also destroyed a city. This city was called Sodom. Without doubt, many people are familiar with the story of Sodom, but none are acquainted with the thoughts of God that were background to His destruction of the city.
And so today, through God’s exchanges with Abraham below, we will learn of His thoughts at that time, while also learning of His disposition. Next, let us read the following passages of scripture.
B. God Must Destroy Sodom
(Gen 18:26) And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
(Gen 18:29) And he spoke to him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it.
(Gen 18:30) And he said to him, Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it.
(Gen 18:31) And he said, Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it.
(Gen 18:32) And he said, Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it.
These are a few excerpts I have chosen from the Bible. They are not the complete, original versions. If you wish to see those, you can look them up in the Bible yourselves; to save time, I have omitted part of the original content. Here I have only selected several key passages and sentences, leaving out several sentences that have no bearing on our fellowship today. In all the passages and content we fellowship about, our focus skips over the details of the stories and man’s conduct in the stories; instead, we only speak of what God’s thoughts and ideas were at the time. In God’s thoughts and ideas, we will see the disposition of God, and from everything God did, we will see the true God Himself—and in this we will achieve our objective.
God Only Cares About Those Who Are Able to Obey His Words and Follow His Commands
The passages above contain several key words: numbers. First, Jehovah said that if He found fifty righteous within the city, then He would spare all the place, which is to say, He would not destroy the city. So were there, in fact, fifty righteous within Sodom? There were not. Soon after, what did Abraham say to God? He said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there? And God said, I will not do it. Next, Abraham said, Peradventure there shall thirty be found there? And God said, I will not do it. And peradventure twenty? I will not do it. Ten? I will not do it. Were there, in fact, ten righteous within the city? There were not ten—but there was one. And who was this one? It was Lot. At the time, there was but one righteous person in Sodom, but was God very stringent or exacting when it came to this number? No, He was not! And so when man kept asking, “What about forty?” “What about thirty?” until he got to “What about ten?” God said, “Even if there were only ten, I would not destroy the city; I would spare it, and forgive the other people besides these ten.” Ten would have been pitiable enough, but it turned out that, in fact, there was not even that number of righteous people in Sodom. You see, then, that in the eyes of God, the sin and evil of the city’s people were such that God had no choice but to destroy them. What did God mean when He said that He would not destroy the city if there were fifty righteous? These numbers were not important to God. What was important was whether or not the city contained the righteous that He wanted. If the city had but one righteous person, God would not allow them to come to harm due to His destruction of the city. What this means is that, regardless of whether or not God was going to destroy the city, and regardless of how many righteous were within it, to God this sinful city was cursed and execrable, and should be destroyed, should vanish from the eyes of God, while the righteous should remain. Regardless of the age, regardless of the stage of mankind’s development, the attitude of God does not change: He hates evil, and cares about the righteous in His eyes. This clear attitude of God is also the true revelation of the substance of God. Because there was but one righteous person within the city, God hesitated no longer. The end result was that Sodom would inevitably be destroyed. What do you see in this? In that age, God would not destroy a city if there were fifty righteous within it, nor if there were ten, which means that God would decide to forgive and be tolerant toward mankind, or would do the work of guidance, because of a few people who were able to revere and worship Him. God places great stock in man’s righteous deeds, He places great stock in those who are able to worship Him, and He places great stock in those who are able to do good deeds before Him.
From the earliest times until today, have you ever read in the Bible of God communicating the truth, or speaking about the way of God, to any person? No, never. The words of God to man that we read of only told people what to do. Some went and did it, some didn’t; some believed, and some didn’t. That’s all there was. Thus, the righteous of that age—those who were righteous in the eyes of God—were merely those who could hear God’s words and follow God’s commands. They were servants who carried out God’s words among man. Could such people be called those who know God? Could they be called people who were made perfect by God? No, they could not. And so, regardless of their number, in the eyes of God were these righteous worthy of being called the confidants of God? Could they be called God’s witnesses? Certainly not! They were certainly not worthy of being called God’s confidants and witnesses. And so what did God call such people? In the Bible, up until the passages of scripture that we have just read, there are many instances of God calling them “My servant.” Which is to say, at that time, in the eyes of God these righteous people were the servants of God, they were the people who served Him on earth. And how did God think of this appellation? Why did He call them so? Does God have standards for what He calls people in His heart? He certainly does. God has standards, regardless of whether He calls people righteous, perfect, upright, or servants. When He calls someone His servant, He is of the firm belief that this person is able to receive His messengers, and able to follow His commands, and can carry out that which is commanded by the messengers. And what does this person carry out? That which God commands man to do and carry out on earth. At that time, could that which God asked man to do and carry out on earth be called the way of God? No, it could not. For at that time, God asked only that man do a few simple things; He uttered a few simple commands, telling man to only do this or that, and nothing more. God was working according to His plan. Because, at that time, many conditions were not yet present, the time was not yet ripe, and it was difficult for mankind to bear the way of God, thus the way of God had yet to begin to be issued forth from God’s heart. God saw the righteous people He spoke of, whom we see here—whether thirty or twenty—as His servants. When the messengers of God came upon these servants, they would be able to receive them, and follow their commands, and act according to their words. This was precisely what should be done, and attained, by the servants in God’s eyes. God is judicious in His appellations for people. He did not call them His servants because they were as you are now—because they had heard much preaching, knew what God was to do, understood much of God’s will, and comprehended His management plan—but because their humanity was honest and they were able to comply with God’s words; when God commanded them, they were able to put aside what they were doing and carry out that which God had commanded. And so, for God, the other layer of meaning in the title of[a] servant is that they cooperated with His work on earth, and although they were not the messengers of God, they were the executors and implementers of God’s words on earth. You see, then, that these servants or righteous people carried great weight in the heart of God. The work that God was to embark upon on earth could not be without people to cooperate with Him, and the role undertaken by the servants of God was irreplaceable by the messengers of God. Each task that God commanded unto these servants was of great importance to Him, and so He could not lose them. Without these servants’ cooperation with God, His work among mankind would have come to a standstill, as a result of which God’s management plan and God’s hopes would have come to naught.
God Is Abundantly Merciful Toward Those Whom He Cares About, and Profoundly Wrathful Toward Those Whom He Detests and Rejects
In the accounts of the Bible, were there ten servants of God in Sodom? No, there were not! Was the city worthy of being spared by God? Only one person in the city—Lot—received God’s messengers. The implication of this is that there was only one servant of God in the city, and thus God had no choice but to save Lot and destroy the city of Sodom. These exchanges between Abraham and God may seem simple, but they illustrate something very profound: There are principles to God’s actions, and prior to making a decision He will spend a long time observing and deliberating; before the time is right, He will definitely not make any decisions or jump to any conclusions. The exchanges between Abraham and God show us that God’s decision to destroy Sodom was not in the slightest bit wrong, for God already knew that in the city there were not forty righteous, nor thirty righteous, nor twenty. There were not even ten. The only righteous person in the city was Lot. All that happened in Sodom and its circumstances were observed by God, and were as familiar to God as the back of His own hand. Thus, His decision could not be wrong. In contrast, compared to the almightiness of God, man is so numb, so foolish and ignorant, so short-sighted. This is what we see in the exchanges between Abraham and God. God has been issuing forth His disposition from the beginning until today. Here, likewise, there is also the disposition of God that we should see. Numbers are simple, and don’t demonstrate anything, but here there is a very important expression of God’s disposition. God would not destroy the city because of fifty righteous. Is this due to the mercy of God? Is it because of His love and tolerance? Have you seen this side of God’s disposition? Even if there were only ten righteous, God would not have destroyed the city because of these ten righteous people. Is this, or is it not the tolerance and love of God? Because of God’s mercy, tolerance, and concern toward those righteous people, He would not have destroyed the city. This is the tolerance of God. And in the end, what outcome do we see? When Abraham said, “Peradventure ten shall be found there,” God said, “I will not destroy it.” After that, Abraham said no more—for within Sodom there were not the ten righteous he referred to, and he had no more to say, and at that time he understood why God had resolved to destroy Sodom. In this, what disposition of God do you see? What kind of resolution did God make? That is, if this city had not ten righteous, God did not permit its existence, and would inevitably destroy it. Is this not the wrath of God? Does this wrath represent God’s disposition? Is this disposition the revelation of God’s holy substance? Is it the revelation of God’s righteous substance, which man must not offend? Having confirmed that there were not ten righteous in Sodom, God was certain to destroy the city, and would severely punish the people within that city, for they opposed God, and because they were so filthy and corrupt.
Why have we analyzed these passages in this way? Because these few simple sentences give full expression to God’s disposition of abundant mercy and profound wrath. At the same time as treasuring the righteous, and having mercy upon, tolerating, and caring about them, in God’s heart there was a deep loathing for all those in Sodom who had been corrupted. Was this, or was it not, abundant mercy and profound wrath? By what means did God destroy the city? By fire. And why did He destroy it using fire? When you see something being burned by fire, or when you are about to burn something, what are your feelings toward it? Why do you want to burn it? Do you feel that you no longer need it, that you no longer wish to look at it? Do you want to abandon it? God’s use of fire means abandonment, and hate, and that He no longer wished to see Sodom. This was the emotion that made God raze Sodom with fire. The use of fire represents just how angry God was. The mercy and tolerance of God do indeed exist, but God’s holiness and righteousness when He unleashes His wrath also show man the side of God that brooks no offense. When man is fully capable of obeying the commands of God and acts in accordance to God’s requirements, God is abundant in His mercy toward man; when man has been filled with corruption, hatred and enmity for Him, God is profoundly angry. And to what extent is He profoundly angry? His wrath will keep on until God no longer sees man’s resistance and evil deeds, until they are no longer before His eyes. Only then will God’s anger disappear. In other words, no matter who the person is, if their heart has become distant from God, and turned away from God, never to return, then regardless of how, to all appearances or in terms of their subjective desires, they wish to worship and follow and obey God in their body or in their thinking, as soon as their heart turns away from God, God’s wrath will be unleashed without cease. It will be such that when God deeply unleashes His anger, having given man ample opportunities, once it is unleashed there will be no way of taking it back, and He will never again be merciful and tolerant of such man. This is one side of God’s disposition that tolerates no offense. Here, it seems normal to people that God would destroy a city, for, in God’s eyes, a city full of sin could not exist and continue to remain, and it was rational that it should be destroyed by God. Yet in that which happened prior to and following His destruction of Sodom, we see the entirety of God’s disposition. He is tolerant and merciful toward things that are kind, and beautiful, and good; toward things that are evil, and sinful, and wicked, He is profoundly wrathful, such that He is unceasing in His wrath. These are the two principal and most prominent aspects of God’s disposition, and, moreover, they have been revealed by God from beginning to end: abundant mercy and profound wrath. Most of you here have experienced something of God’s mercy, but very few of you have appreciated God’s wrath. God’s mercy and lovingkindness can be seen in every person; that is, God has been abundantly merciful toward every person. Yet very rarely—or, it can be said, never—has God been profoundly angry toward any individuals or any section of the people among you here today. Relax! Sooner or later, God’s wrath will be seen and experienced by every person, but now is not yet the time. And why is this? Because when God is constantly angry toward someone, that is, when He unleashes His profound wrath upon them, this means that He has long since detested and rejected this person, that He despises their existence, and that He cannot endure their existence; as soon as His anger comes upon them, they will disappear. Today, God’s work has yet to reach that point. None of you will be able to stand it once God becomes profoundly angry. You see, then, that at this time God is only abundantly merciful toward you all, and you have yet to see His profound anger. If there are those who remain unconvinced, you can ask that God’s wrath come upon you, so that you may experience whether or not God’s anger and His unoffendable disposition to man really exist. Do you dare?
The People of the Last Days Only See God’s Wrath in His Words, and Do Not Truly Experience the Wrath of God
Are the two sides of God’s disposition that are seen in these passages of scripture worthy of fellowship? Having heard this story, do you have a renewed understanding of God? What kind of understanding? It can be said that from the time of creation until today, no group has enjoyed as much of God’s grace or mercy and lovingkindness as this final group. Although, in the final stage, God has done the work of judgment and chastisement, and has done His work with majesty and wrath, most of the time God only uses words to accomplish His work; He uses words to teach, and water, and provide, and feed. God’s wrath, meanwhile, has always been kept hidden, and apart from experiencing God’s wrathful disposition in His words, very few people have experienced His anger in person. Which is to say, during God’s work of judgment and chastisement, although the wrath revealed in God’s words allows people to experience God’s majesty and intolerance of offense, this wrath does not go beyond His words. In other words, God uses words to rebuke man, expose man, judge man, chastise man, and even condemn man—but God has yet to be profoundly angry toward man, and has barely even unleashed His wrath upon man outside of His words. Thus, the mercy and lovingkindness of God experienced by man in this age are the revelation of God’s true disposition, while the wrath of God experienced by man is merely the effect of the tone and feel of His utterances. Many people wrongly take this effect to be the true experiencing and the true knowledge of God’s wrath. Consequently, most people believe that they have seen God’s mercy and lovingkindness in His words, that they have also beheld God’s intolerance of man’s offense, and most of them have even come to appreciate God’s mercy and tolerance toward man. But no matter how bad man’s behavior, or how corrupt his disposition, God has always endured. In enduring, His aim is to wait for the words He has spoken, the efforts He has made and the price He has paid to achieve an effect in those whom He wishes to gain. Waiting for an outcome such as this takes time, and requires the creation of different environments for man, in the same way that people don’t become adults as soon as they are born; that takes eighteen or nineteen years, and some people even need twenty or thirty years before they mature into a real adult. God awaits the completion of this process, He awaits the coming of such a time, and He awaits the arrival of this outcome. And throughout the time He waits, God is abundantly merciful. During the period of God’s work, however, an extremely small number of people are struck down, and some are punished because of their grave opposition to God. Such examples are even greater proof of the disposition of God that does not brook the offense of man, and fully confirm the real existence of God’s tolerance and endurance toward the chosen ones. Of course, in these typical examples, the revelation of part of the disposition of God in these people does not affect God’s overall management plan. In fact, in this final stage of God’s work, God has endured throughout the period He has been waiting, and He has exchanged His endurance and His life for the salvation of those who follow Him. Do you see this? God does not upset His plan without reason. He can unleash His wrath, and He can also be merciful; this is the revelation of the two main parts of God’s disposition. Is this, or is it not, very clear? In other words, when it comes to God, right and wrong, just and unjust, the positive and the negative—all this is clearly shown to man. What He will do, what He likes, what He hates—all this can be directly reflected in His disposition. Such things can also be very obviously and clearly seen in God’s work, and they are not vague or general; instead, they allow all people to behold the disposition of God and what He has and is in an especially concrete, true and practical manner. This is the true God Himself.
God’s Disposition Has Never Been Hidden From Man—Man’s Heart Has Strayed From God
If I did not fellowship about these things, none of you would be able to behold the true disposition of God in the stories of the Bible. This is fact. That is because, though these biblical stories recorded some of the things that God did, God spoke but a few words, and did not directly introduce His disposition or openly issue forth His will to man. Later generations have regarded these records as nothing more than stories, and so it appears to people that God hides Himself from man, that it is not God’s person that is hidden from man, but His disposition and will. After My fellowship today, do you still feel that God is fully hidden from man? Do you still believe that God’s disposition is hidden from man?
Since the time of creation, God’s disposition has been in step with His work. It has never been hidden from man, but fully publicized and made plain to man. Yet, with the passing of time, man’s heart has grown ever more distant from God, and as man’s corruption has become deeper, man and God have become further and further apart. Slowly but surely, man has disappeared from the eyes of God. Man has become unable to “see” God, which has left him without any “news” of God; thus, he does not know whether God exists, and even goes so far as to completely deny the existence of God. Consequently, man’s incomprehension of God’s disposition and what He has and is is not because God is hidden from man, but because his heart has turned away from God. Though man believes in God, man’s heart is without God, and he is ignorant of how to love God, nor does he want to love God, for his heart never draws close to God and he always avoids God. As a result, man’s heart is distant from God. So where is his heart? In fact, man’s heart has not gone anywhere: Instead of giving it to God or revealing it to God to see, he has kept it for himself. That’s despite the fact that some often pray to God and say, “O God, look upon my heart—you know all that I think,” and some even swear to let God look upon them, that they may be punished if they break their oath. Though man allows God to look within his heart, this does not mean that he is capable of obeying the orchestrations and arrangements of God, nor that he has left his fate and prospects and his all under the control of God. Thus, regardless of the oaths you make to God or what you declare to Him, in God’s eyes your heart is still closed to Him, for you only allow God to look upon your heart but do not permit Him to control it. In other words, you have not given your heart to God at all, and only speak nice-sounding words for God to hear; your various deceitful intentions, meanwhile, you hide from God, together with your intrigues, scheming, and plans, and you clutch your prospects and fate in your hands, deeply afraid that they will be taken away by God. Thus, God never beholds man’s sincerity toward Him. Though God does observe the depths of man’s heart, and can see what man is thinking and wishes to do in his heart, and can see what things are kept within his heart, man’s heart does not belong to God, he has not given it over to God’s control. Which is to say, God has the right to observe, but He does not have the right to control. In the subjective consciousness of man, man does not want or intend to leave himself to the mercy of God. Not only has man closed himself off to God, but there are even people who think of ways to wrap up their hearts, using smooth talk and flattery to create a false impression and gain the trust of God, and concealing their true face out of sight from God. Their aim in not allowing God to see is to not allow God to perceive how they really are. They do not want to give their hearts to God, but to keep them for themselves. The subtext of this is that what man does and what he wants is all planned, calculated, and decided by man himself; he does not require the participation or intervention of God, much less does he need the orchestrations and arrangements of God. Thus, whether in regard to the commands of God, His commission, or the requirements that God makes of man, man’s decisions are based on his own intentions and interests, on his own state and circumstances at the time. Man always uses the knowledge and insights that he is familiar with, and his own intellect, to judge and select the path he should take, and does not allow the interference or control of God. This is the heart of man that God sees.
From the beginning until today, only man has been capable of conversing with God. That is, among all living things and creatures of God, none but man has been able to converse with God. Man has ears that enable him to hear, and eyes that let him see, he has language, and his own ideas, and free will. He is possessed of all that is required to hear God speak, and understand God’s will, and accept God’s commission, and so God confers all His wishes upon man, wanting to make man a companion who is of the same mind with Him and who can walk with Him. Since He began to manage, God has been waiting for man to give his heart to Him, to let God purify and equip it, to make him satisfactory to God and loved by God, to make him revere God and shun evil. God has ever looked forward to and awaited this outcome. Are there any such people among the records of the Bible? That is, are there any in the Bible capable of giving their hearts to God? Is there any precedent before this age? Today, let us continue reading the accounts of the Bible and take a look at whether what was done by this figure—Job—has any connection to the topic of “giving your heart to God” that we’re talking about today. Let us see whether Job was satisfactory to God and loved by God.
What is your impression of Job? Citing original scripture, some people say that Job “feared God, and eschewed evil.” “Feared God, and eschewed evil”: Such is the original assessment of Job recorded in the Bible. If you used your own words, how would you pin down Job? Some people say that Job was a good and reasonable man; some say that he had true faith in God; some say that Job was a righteous and humane man. You have seen the faith of Job, which is to say, in your hearts you attach great importance to and are envious of Job’s faith. Today, then, let us look at what was possessed by Job that God is pleased with him so. Next, let us read the scriptures below.
1. Assessments of Job by God and in the Bible
(Job 1:1) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
(Job 1:5) And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
(Job 1:8) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
What is the key point that you see in these passages? These three brief passages of scripture all relate to Job. Though short, they clearly state what kind of person he was. Through their description of Job’s everyday behavior and his conduct, they tell everyone that, rather than being groundless, God’s assessment of Job was well-founded. They tell us that whether it be man’s appraisal of Job (Job 1:1), or God’s appraisal of him (Job 1:8), both are the result of Job’s deeds before God and man (Job 1:5).
First, let us read passage number one: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” The first assessment of Job in the Bible, this sentence is the author’s appraisal of Job. Naturally, it also represents man’s assessment of Job, which is “that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Next, let us read of God’s assessment of Job: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil” (Job 1:8). Of the two, one came from man, and one originated from God; they are two assessments with the same content. It can be seen, then, that Job’s behavior and conduct were known to man, and were also praised by God. In other words, Job’s conduct before man and his conduct before God were the same; he laid his behavior and motivation before God at all times, so that they might be observed by God, and he was one that feared God and shunned evil. Thus, in the eyes of God, of the people on earth only Job was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and shunned evil.
Specific Manifestations of Job’s Fear of God and Shunning of Evil in His Daily Life
Next, let us look at specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. In addition to the passages that precede and follow it, let us also read Job 1:5, which is one of the specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. It relates to how he feared God and shunned evil in his daily life; most prominently, he not only did as he ought to do for the sake of his own fear of God and shunning of evil, but also regularly sacrificed burnt offerings before God on behalf of his sons. He was afraid that they had often “sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” while feasting. And how was this fear manifested in Job? The original text gives the following account: “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all.” Job’s conduct shows us that, rather than being manifested in his outward behavior, his fear of God came from within his heart, and that his fear of God could be found in every aspect of his daily life, at all times, for he not only shunned evil himself, but often sacrificed burnt offerings on behalf of his sons. In other words, Job was not only deeply afraid of sinning against God and renouncing God in his own heart, but also worried that his sons sinned against God and renounced Him in their hearts. From this can be seen that the truth of Job’s fear of God stands up to scrutiny, and is beyond the doubt of any man. Did he do thus occasionally, or frequently? The final sentence of the text is “Thus did Job continually.” The meaning of these words is that Job did not go and look in on his sons occasionally, or when it pleased him, nor did he confess to God through prayer. Instead, he regularly sent and sanctified his sons, and sacrificed burnt offerings for them. The “continually” here does not mean he did so for one or two days, or for a moment. It is saying that the manifestation of Job’s fear of God was not temporary, and did not stop at knowledge, or spoken words; instead, the way of fearing God and shunning evil guided his heart, it dictated his behavior, and it was, in his heart, the root of his existence. That he did so continually shows that, in his heart, he often feared that he himself would sin against God and was also afraid that his sons and daughters sinned against God. It represents just how much weight the way of fearing God and shunning evil carried within his heart. He did thus continually because, in his heart, he was frightened and afraid—afraid that he had committed evil and sinned against God, and that he had deviated from the way of God and so was unable to satisfy God. And at the same time, he also worried about his sons and daughters, fearing that they had offended God. Thus was Job’s normal conduct in his everyday life. It is precisely this normal conduct which proves that Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil are not empty words, that Job truly lived out such reality. “Thus did Job continually”: these words tell us of Job’s everyday deeds before God. When he did thus continually, did his behavior and his heart reach before God? In other words, was God often pleased with his heart and his behavior? Then, in what state, and in what context did Job do thus continually? Some people say that it was because God frequently appeared to Job that he acted so; some say that he did thus continually because he would shun evil; and some say that perhaps he thought that his fortune had not come easily, and he knew that it had been bestowed upon him by God, and so he was deeply afraid of losing his property as a result of sinning against or offending God. Are any of these claims true? Clearly not. For, in the eyes of God, what God accepted and cherished most about Job was not just that he did thus continually; more than that, it was his conduct before God, man, and Satan when he was handed over to Satan and tempted. The sections below offer the most convincing evidence, evidence which shows us the truth of God’s assessment of Job. Next, let us read the following passages of scripture.
2. Satan Tempts Job for the First Time (His Livestock Is Stolen and Calamity Befalls His Children)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 1:8) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
(Job 1:12) And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
b. Satan’s Reply
(Job 1:9-11) Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
God Permits Satan to Tempt Job so That Job’s Faith Will Be Made Perfect
Job 1:8 is the first record that we see in the Bible of an exchange between Jehovah God and Satan. And what did God say? The original text provides the following account: “And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” This was God’s assessment of Job before Satan; God said that he was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. Prior to these words between God and Satan, God had resolved that He would use Satan to tempt Job—that He would hand Job over to Satan. In one respect, this would prove that God’s observation and evaluation of Job were accurate and without error, and would cause Satan to be shamed through Job’s testimony; in another, it would make perfect Job’s faith in God and fear of God. Thus, when Satan came before God, God did not equivocate. He cut straight to the point and asked Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” In God’s question there is the following meaning: God knew that Satan had roamed all places, and had often spied upon Job, who was God’s servant. It had often tempted and attacked him, trying to find a way of bringing ruin upon Job in order to prove that Job’s faith in God and fear of God could not hold firm. Satan also readily sought opportunities to devastate Job, that Job might renounce God and allow Satan to seize him from the hands of God. Yet God looked within Job’s heart and saw that he was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil. God used a question to tell Satan that Job was a perfect and an upright man who feared God and shunned evil, that Job would never renounce God and follow Satan. Having heard God’s appraisal of Job, in Satan there came a rage born of humiliation, and it became more angry, and more impatient to snatch Job away, for Satan had never believed that someone could be perfect and upright, or that they could fear God and shun evil. At the same time, Satan also loathed the perfection and uprightness in man, and hated people that could fear God and shun evil. And so it is written in Job 1:9-11 that “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” God was intimately acquainted with Satan’s malicious nature, and knew full well that Satan had long planned to bring ruin upon Job, and so in this God wished, through telling Satan once more that Job was perfect and upright and that he feared God and shunned evil, to bring Satan into line, to make Satan reveal its true face and attack and tempt Job. In other words, God deliberately emphasized that Job was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil, and by this means He made Satan attack Job because of Satan’s hatred and ire toward how Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. As a result, God would bring shame upon Satan through the fact that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil, and Satan would be left utterly humiliated and defeated. After that, Satan would no longer doubt or make accusations about Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, or shunning of evil. In this way, God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was almost inevitable. The only one able to withstand God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was Job. Following this exchange, Satan was granted permission to tempt Job. Thus began Satan’s first round of attacks. The target of these attacks was Job’s property, for Satan had made the following accusation against Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing? … you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” As a result, God permitted Satan to take all that Job had—which was the very purpose why God talked with Satan. Nevertheless, God made one demand of Satan: “all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand” (Job 1:12). This was the condition that God made after He permitted Satan to tempt Job and placed Job into the hands of Satan, and was the limit He set for Satan: He ordered Satan not to harm Job. Because God recognized that Job was perfect and upright, and He had faith that Job’s perfection and uprightness before Him were beyond doubt, and could withstand being put to the test; thus, God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but imposed a restriction on Satan: Satan was permitted to take all of Job’s property, but it could not lay a finger on him. What does this mean? It means that God did not give Job completely to Satan then. Satan could tempt Job by whatever means it wanted, but it could not hurt Job himself, not even one hair on his head, because everything of man is controlled by God, whether man lives or dies is decided by God, and Satan does not have such license. After God said these words to Satan, Satan couldn’t wait to begin. It used every means to tempt Job, and before long Job had lost a mountainful of sheep and oxen and all of the property given unto him by God…. Thus God’s trials came to him.
Though the Bible tells us of the origins of Job’s temptation, was Job himself, the one subjected to these temptations, aware of what was going on? Job was just a mortal man; of course he knew nothing of the story unfolding behind him. Nevertheless, his fear of God, and his perfection and uprightness, made him realize that the trials of God had come upon him. He did not know what had occurred in the spiritual realm, nor what the intentions of God were behind these trials. But he did know that regardless of what happened to him, he should hold true to his perfection and uprightness, and should abide by the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Job’s attitude and reaction to these matters were clearly beheld by God. And what did God see? He saw Job’s heart that feared God, because from the beginning right through until when Job was tried, Job’s heart remained open to God, it was laid before God, and Job did not renounce his perfection or uprightness, nor did he cast away or turn from the way of fearing God and shunning evil—and nothing was more gratifying to God. Next, we will look at what temptations were undergone by Job and how he treated these trials. Let us read the scriptures.
c. Job’s Reaction
(Job 1:20-21) Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
That Job Takes It Upon Himself to Return All That He Possesses Stems From His Fear of God
After God said to Satan, “all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand,” Satan departed, soon after which Job came under sudden and fierce attacks: First, his oxen and donkeys were plundered and his servants killed; next, his sheep and servants were burned to destruction; after that, his camels were taken and his servants were murdered; finally, his sons and daughters had their lives taken. This string of attacks was the torment suffered by Job during the first temptation. As commanded by God, during these attacks Satan only targeted Job’s property and his children, and did not harm Job himself. Nevertheless, Job was instantly transformed from a rich man possessed of great wealth to someone who had nothing. No one could have withstood this astonishing surprise blow or properly reacted to it, yet Job demonstrated his extraordinary side. The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” This was Job’s first reaction after hearing that he had lost his children and all of his property. Above all, he did not appear surprised, or panic-stricken, much less did he express anger or hate. You see, then, that in his heart he had already recognized that these disasters were not an accident, or born from the hand of man, much less were they the arrival of retribution or punishment. Instead, the trials of Jehovah had come upon him; it was Jehovah who wished to take his property and children. Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” “Rent his mantle” means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; “shaved his head” means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; “fell down on the ground, and worshipped” means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, and obedience to God, and he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. What’s more, he was able to take it upon himself to return all that he owned, including his life.
Job’s fear and obedience toward God is an example to mankind, and his perfection and uprightness were the peak of the humanity that ought to be possessed by man. Though he did not see God, he realized that God truly existed, and because of this realization he feared God—and due to his fear of God, he was able to obey God. He gave God free rein to take whatever he had, yet he was without complaint, and fell down before God and told Him that, at this very moment, even if God took his flesh, he would gladly allow Him to do so, without complaint. His entire conduct was due to his perfect and upright humanity. Which is to say, as a result of his innocence, honesty, and kindness, Job was unwavering in his realization and experience of God’s existence, and upon this foundation he made demands of himself and standardized his thinking, behavior, conduct and principles of actions before God in accordance with God’s guidance of him and the deeds of God that he had seen among all things. Over time, his experiences caused in him a real and actual fear of God and made him shun evil. This was the source of the integrity to which Job held firm. Job was possessed of an honest, innocent, and kind humanity, and he had actual experience of fearing God, obeying God, and shunning evil, as well as the knowledge that “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away.” Only because of these things was he able to stand fast and bear witness amid such vicious attacks of Satan, and only because of them was he able to not disappoint God and to provide a satisfactory answer to God when God’s trials came upon him. Though Job’s conduct during the first temptation was very straightforward, later generations were not assured of achieving such straightforwardness even after a lifetime of efforts, nor would they necessarily possess the conduct of Job described above. Today, faced with Job’s straightforward conduct, and in comparing it to the cries and determination of “absolute obedience and loyalty unto death” shown to God by those who claim to believe in God and follow God, do you, or do you not, feel deeply ashamed?
When you read in the scriptures of all that was suffered by Job and his family, what is your reaction? Do you become lost in your thoughts? Are you astonished? Could the trials that befell Job be described as “horrifying”? In other words, it is appalling enough reading of Job’s trials as described in the scriptures, to say nothing of how they would have been in reality. You see, then, that what befell Job was not a “practice drill,” but a real “battle,” featuring real “guns” and “bullets.” But by whose hand was he subjected to these trials? They were, of course, carried out by Satan, they were personally carried out by Satan—but they were authorized by God. Did God tell Satan by what means to tempt Job? He did not. God merely gave it one condition, after which the temptation came upon Job. When the temptation came upon Job, it gave people a sense of the evil and ugliness of Satan, of its maliciousness and loathing for man, and of its enmity to God. In this we see that words cannot describe just how cruel this temptation was. It can be said that the malicious nature with which Satan abused man and its ugly face were fully revealed at this moment. Satan used this opportunity, the opportunity provided by God’s permission, to subject Job to feverish and remorseless abuse, the method and level of cruelty of which are both unimaginable and completely intolerable to people today. Rather than saying that Job was tempted by Satan, and that he stood firm in his testimony during this temptation, it is better to say that in the trials set for him by God Job embarked upon a contest with Satan to protect his perfection and uprightness, and to defend his way of fearing God and shunning evil. In this contest, Job lost a mountain of sheep and cattle, he lost all of his property, and he lost his sons and daughters—but he did not abandon his perfection, uprightness, or fear of God. In other words, in this contest with Satan he preferred to be deprived of his property and children than lose his perfection, uprightness, and fear of God. He preferred to hold on to the root of what it means to be a man. The Scriptures provide a concise account of the entire process by which Job lost his assets, and also document Job’s conduct and attitude. These terse, succinct accounts give the sense that Job was almost relaxed in facing this temptation, but if what actually happened were to be re-created, added to which there is the malicious nature of Satan—then things would not be as simple or easy as described in these sentences. The reality was far crueler. Such is the level of devastation and hate with which Satan treats mankind and all those who are approved of by God. If God had not asked that Satan not harm Job, Satan would have undoubtedly slain him without any compunction. Satan does not want anyone to worship God, nor does it wish for those who are righteous in God’s eyes and those who are perfect and upright to be able to continue fearing God and shunning evil. For people to fear God and shun evil means that they shun and forsake Satan, and so Satan took advantage of God’s permission to pile all of its rage and hate upon Job without mercy. You see, then, how great was the torment suffered by Job, from mind to flesh, from without to within. Today, we don’t see how it was at that time, and can only gain, from the accounts of the Bible, a brief glimpse of Job’s emotions when he was subjected to the torment at that time.
Job’s Unshakable Integrity Brings Shame Upon Satan and Causes It to Flee in Panic
And what did God do when Job was subjected to this torment? God observed, and watched, and awaited the outcome. As God observed and watched, how did He feel? He felt grief-stricken, of course. But, as a result of His grief, could He have regretted His permission to Satan to tempt Job? The answer is, No, He could not have. For He firmly believed that Job was perfect and upright, that he feared God and shunned evil. God had simply given Satan the opportunity to verify Job’s righteousness before God, and to reveal its own wickedness and contemptibility. It was, furthermore, an opportunity for Job to testify to his righteousness and to his fear of God and shunning of evil before the people of the world, Satan, and even those who follow God. Did the final outcome prove that God’s assessment of Job was correct and without error? Did Job actually overcome Satan? Here we read of the archetypal words spoken by Job, words which are proof that he had overcome Satan. He said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” This is Job’s attitude of obedience toward God. Next, he then said: “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” These words spoken by Job prove that God observes the depths of man’s heart, that He is able to look into the mind of man, and they prove that His approval of Job is without error, that this man who was approved by God was righteous. “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” These words are Job’s testimony to God. It was these ordinary words that cowed Satan, that brought shame upon it and caused it to flee in panic, and, moreover, that shackled Satan and left it without resources. So, too, did these words make Satan feel the wondrousness and might of the deeds of Jehovah God, and allow it to perceive the extraordinary charisma of one whose heart was ruled by the way of God. Moreover, they demonstrated to Satan the powerful vitality shown by a small and insignificant man in adhering to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Satan was thus defeated in the first contest. Despite its “hard-earned insight,” Satan had no intention of letting Job go, nor had there been any change in its malicious nature. Satan tried to carry on attacking Job, and so once more came before God …
Next, let us read the scriptures of the second time that Job was tempted.
3. Satan Once More Tempts Job (Sore Boils Break Out Across Job’s Body)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 2:3) And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.
(Job 2:6) And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life.
b. The Words Spoken by Satan
(Job 2:4-5) And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.
c. How Job Deals With the Trial
(Job 2:9-10) Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
(Job 3:3) Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Job’s Love of the Way of God Surpasses All Else
The Scriptures document the words between God and Satan as follows: “And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). In this exchange, God repeats the same question to Satan. It is a question that shows us Jehovah God’s affirmative assessment of what was demonstrated and lived out by Job during the first trial, and one that is no different to God’s assessment of Job before he had undergone Satan’s temptation. Which is to say, before the temptation came upon him, in God’s eyes Job was perfect, and thus God protected him and his family, and blessed him; he was worthy to be blessed in God’s eyes. After the temptation, Job did not sin with his lips because he had lost his property and his children, but continued to praise the name of Jehovah. His actual conduct made God applaud him, and give him full marks. For in the eyes of Job, his offspring or his assets were not enough to make him renounce God. God’s place in his heart, in other words, could not be replaced by his children or any piece of property. During Job’s first temptation, he showed God that his love for Him and his love for the way of fearing God and shunning evil surpassed all else. It’s merely that this trial gave Job the experience of receiving a reward from Jehovah God and having his property and children taken away by Him.
For Job, this was a true experience that washed his soul clean, it was a baptism of life that fulfilled his existence, and, what’s more, it was a sumptuous feast that tested his obedience to, and fear of God. This temptation transformed Job’s standing from that of a rich man to someone who had nothing, and it also allowed him to experience Satan’s abuse of mankind. His destitution did not cause him to loathe Satan; rather, in Satan’s vile acts he saw Satan’s ugliness and contemptibility, as well as Satan’s enmity and rebellion toward God, and this better encouraged him to forever hold firm to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. He swore that he would never forsake God and turn his back on the way of God because of external factors such as property, children or kinfolk, nor would he ever be a slave to Satan, property, or any person; apart from Jehovah God, no one could be his Lord, or his God. Such were the aspirations of Job. On the other face of the temptation, Job had also acquired something: He had gained great riches amid the trials given unto him by God.
During his life over the previous several decades, Job had beheld the deeds of Jehovah and gained Jehovah God’s blessings for him. They were blessings that left him feeling enormously uneasy and indebted, for he believed that he had not done anything for God, yet had been bequeathed with such great blessings and had enjoyed so much grace. For this reason, in his heart he often prayed, hoping that he would be able to repay God, hoping that he would have the opportunity to bear testimony to God’s deeds and greatness, and hoping that God would put his obedience to the test, and, moreover, that his faith could be purified, until his obedience and his faith gained God’s approval. And when the trial came upon Job, he believed that God had heard his prayers. Job cherished this opportunity more than anything else, and thus he didn’t dare treat it lightly, for his greatest lifelong wish could be realized. The arrival of this opportunity meant that his obedience and fear of God could be put to the test, and could be made pure. Moreover, it meant that Job had a chance to gain God’s approval, thus bringing him closer to God. During the trial, such faith and pursuit allowed him to become more perfect, and to gain a greater understanding of God’s will. Job also became more grateful for God’s blessings and graces, in his heart he poured greater praise on the deeds of God, and he was more fearful and reverent of God, and longed more for God’s loveliness, greatness, and holiness. At this time, though Job was still one who feared God and shunned evil in the eyes of God, with regard to his experiences, Job’s faith and knowledge had come on in leaps and bounds: His faith had increased, his obedience had gained a foothold, and his fear of God had become more profound. Though this trial transformed Job’s spirit and life, such a transformation did not satisfy Job, nor did it slow his progress onward. At the same time as calculating what he had gained from this trial, and considering his own deficiencies, he quietly prayed, waiting for the next trial to come upon him, because he yearned for his faith, obedience, and fear of God to be elevated during the next trial of God.
God observes the inmost thoughts of man and all that man says and does. Job’s thoughts reached the ears of Jehovah God, and God listened to his prayers, and in this way God’s next trial for Job arrived as expected.
Amid Extreme Suffering, Job Truly Realizes God’s Care for Mankind
Following Jehovah God’s questions to Satan, Satan was secretly happy. This was because Satan knew that it would once more be permitted to attack the man who was perfect in God’s eyes—which for Satan was a rare opportunity. Satan wanted to use this opportunity to completely undermine Job’s conviction, to make him lose his faith in God and thus no longer fear God or bless the name of Jehovah. This would give Satan a chance: Whatever the place or time, it would be able to make Job a plaything under its command. Satan hid its wicked schemes without trace, but it could not hold its evil nature in check. This truth is hinted in its answer to the words of Jehovah God, as recorded in the scriptures: “And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2:4-5). It is impossible not to gain a substantive knowledge and sense of Satan’s maliciousness from this exchange between God and Satan. Having heard these fallacies of Satan, all those who love the truth and detest evil will undoubtedly have a greater hate of Satan’s ignobility and shamelessness, will feel appalled and disgusted by the fallacies of Satan, and, at the same time, will offer deep prayers and earnest wishes for Job, praying that this man of uprightness can achieve perfection, wishing that this man who fears God and shuns evil will forever overcome the temptations of Satan, and live in the light, and live amid God’s guidance and blessings; so, too, will they wish that Job’s righteous deeds can forever spur on and encourage all those who pursue the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Though Satan’s malicious intent can be seen in this proclamation, God breezily consented to Satan’s “request”—but He also had one condition: “he is in your hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). Because, this time, Satan asked to stretch forth its hand to harm Job’s flesh and bones, God said, “but save his life.” The meaning of these words is that He gave Job’s flesh to Satan, but He retained his life. Satan could not take Job’s life, but apart from this Satan could employ any means or method against Job.
After gaining God’s permission, Satan rushed to Job and stretched forth its hand to afflict his skin, causing sore boils all over his body, and Job felt pain upon his skin. Job praised the wondrousness and holiness of Jehovah God, which made Satan even more flagrant in its audaciousness. Because it had felt the joy of hurting man, Satan stretched forth its hand and raked Job’s flesh, causing his sore boils to fester. Job immediately felt a pain and torment upon his flesh that was without parallel, and he could not help but knead himself from head to foot with his hands, as if this would relieve the blow to his spirit from this pain of the flesh. He realized that God was by his side watching him, and he tried his best to steel himself. He once more knelt to the ground, and said: You look within man’s heart, You observe his misery; why does his weakness concern You? Praised be the name of Jehovah God. Satan saw the insufferable pain of Job, but it did not see Job forsake the name of Jehovah God. Thus it hastily stretched forth its hand to afflict the bones of Job, desperate to tear him limb from limb. In an instant, Job felt unprecedented torment; it was as if his flesh had been ripped open from the bones, and as if his bones were being smashed apart bit by bit. This agonizing torment made him think it would be better to die…. His ability to bear had reached its limit…. He wanted to cry out, he wanted to tear at the skin on his body to lessen the pain—yet he held back his screams, and did not tear at the skin on his body, for he did not want to let Satan see his weakness. And so he knelt once more, but at this time he felt not the presence of Jehovah God. He knew that He was often before him, and behind him, and on either side of him. Yet during his pain, God had never watched; He covered His face and was hidden, for the meaning of His creation of man was not to bring suffering upon man. At this time, Job was weeping, and doing his best to endure this physical agony, yet he could no longer keep himself from giving thanks to God: Man falls at the first blow, he is weak and powerless, he is young and ignorant—why would You wish to be so caring and tender toward him? You strike me, yet it hurts You to do so. What of man is worth Your care and concern? Job’s prayers reached the ears of God, and God was silent, only watching without sound…. Having tried every trick in the book to no avail, Satan quietly departed, yet this did not bring an end to God’s trials of Job. Because the power of God revealed in Job had not been made public, the story of Job did not end with the retreat of Satan. As other characters made their entry, more spectacular scenes were yet to come.
Another Manifestation of Job’s Fear of God and Shunning of Evil Is His Extolling of God’s Name in All Things
Job had suffered the ravages of Satan, yet still he did not forsake the name of Jehovah God. His wife was the first to step out and play the role of Satan that can be seen by attacking Job. The original text describes it thus: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). These were the words spoken by Satan in the guise of man. They were an attack, and an accusation, as well as enticement, a temptation, and slander. Having failed in attacking Job’s flesh, Satan then directly attacked Job’s integrity, wishing to use this to make Job give up his integrity, renounce God, and stop living. So, too, did Satan wish to use such words to tempt Job: If Job forsook the name of Jehovah, he need not endure such torment, could free himself from the torment of the flesh. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job reprimanded her by saying, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job had long known these words, but at this time the truth of Job’s knowledge of them was proven.
When his wife advised him to curse God and die, her meaning was: Your God treats you thus, so why not curse Him? What are you doing still living? Your God is so unfair to you, yet still you say blessed be the name of Jehovah. How could He bring disaster upon you when you bless His name? Hurry up and forsake the name of God, and follow Him no more. In this way your troubles will be over. At this moment, there was produced the testimony that God wished to see in Job. No ordinary person could bear such testimony, nor do we read of it in any of the stories of the Bible—but God had seen it long before Job spoke these words. God merely wished to use this opportunity to allow Job to prove to all that God was right. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job not only didn’t give up his integrity or renounce God, but he also said to his wife: “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Do these words carry great weight? Here, there is only one fact capable of proving the weight of these words. The weight of these words is that they are approved of by God in His heart, they are what was desired by God, they are what God wanted to hear, and they are the outcome that God yearned to see; these words are also the essence of Job’s testimony. In this, Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil were proven. The preciousness of Job lay in how, when he was tempted, and even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, when he endured the utmost torment, and when his wife and kinfolk advised him, he still uttered such words. To put it in another way, in his heart he believed that, no matter what temptations, or however grievous the tribulations or torment, even if death was to come upon him, he would not renounce God or spurn the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You see, then, that God held the most important place in his heart, and that there was only God in his heart. It is because of this that we read such descriptions of him in the Scriptures as: In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Not only did he not sin with his lips, but in his heart he did not complain about God. He did not say hurtful words about God, nor did he sin against God. Not only did his mouth bless the name of God, but in his heart he also blessed the name of God; his mouth and heart were as one. This was the true Job seen by God, and this was the very reason why God treasured Job.
People’s Many Misunderstandings About Job
The hardship suffered by Job was not the work of messengers sent by God, nor was it caused by God’s own hand. Instead, it was personally caused by Satan, the enemy of God. Consequently, the level of hardship suffered by Job was profound. Yet at this moment Job demonstrated, without reserve, his everyday knowledge of God in his heart, the principles of his everyday actions, and his attitude toward God—and this is the truth. If Job had not been tempted, if God had not brought trials upon Job, when Job said, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” you would say that Job is a hypocrite; God had given him so many assets, so of course he blessed the name of Jehovah. If, before being subjected to trials, Job had said, “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” you would say that Job was exaggerating, and that he would not forsake the name of God since he was often blessed by the hand of God. If God had brought disaster upon him, then he would surely have forsaken the name of God. Yet when Job found himself in circumstances that no one would wish for, or wish to see, or wish to befall them, which people would fear befalling them, circumstances that even God could not bear to watch, Job was still able to hold on to his integrity: “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” and “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Faced with Job’s conduct at this time, those who love to talk high-sounding words, and who love to speak letters and doctrines, are left speechless. Those who extol God’s name in speech only, yet have never accepted the trials of God, are condemned by the integrity to which Job held firm, and those who have never believed that man is able to hold firm to the way of God are judged by Job’s testimony. Faced with Job’s conduct during these trials and the words that he spoke, some people will feel confused, some will feel envious, some will feel doubtful, and some will even appear disinterested, turning their noses up at the testimony of Job because they not only see the torment that befell Job during the trials, and read of the words spoken by Job, but also see the human “weakness” betrayed by Job when the trials came upon him. This “weakness” they believe to be the supposed imperfection in the perfection of Job, the blemish in a man who in God’s eyes was perfect. Which is to say, it is believed that those who are perfect are flawless, without stain or sully, that they have no weaknesses, have no knowledge of pain, that they never feel unhappy or dejected, and are without hate or any externally extreme behavior; as a result, the great majority of people do not believe that Job was truly perfect. People do not approve of much of his behavior during his trials. For example, when Job lost his property and children, he did not, as people would imagine, break into tears. His “indecorum” makes people think he was cold, for he was without tears, or love for his family. This is the bad impression that Job first gives people. They find his behavior after that even more perplexing: “Rent his mantle” has been interpreted by people as his disrespect for God, and “shaved his head” is wrongly believed to mean Job’s blasphemy and opposition to God. Apart from Job’s words that “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” people discern none of the righteousness in Job that was praised by God, and thus the assessment of Job of the great majority of them is nothing more than incomprehension, misunderstanding, doubt, condemnation, and approval in theory only. None of them are able to truly understand and appreciate Jehovah God’s words that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil.
Based on their impression of Job above, people have further doubts as to his righteousness, for Job’s actions and his conduct recorded in the scriptures were not as earth-shatteringly touching as people would have imagined. Not only did he not carry out any great feats, but he also took a potsherd to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. This act also astonishes people and causes them to doubt—and even deny—Job’s righteousness, for while scraping himself Job did not pray to God, or promise to God; nor, moreover, was he seen to weep tears of pain. At this time, people only see the weakness of Job and nothing else, and thus even when they hear Job say “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” they are completely unmoved, or else undecided, and are still unable to discern the righteousness of Job from his words. The basic impression that Job gives people during the torment of his trials is that he was neither cringing nor arrogant. People do not see the story behind his behavior that played out in the depths of his heart, nor do they see fear of God within his heart or adherence to the principle of the way of shunning evil. His equanimity makes people think his perfection and uprightness were but empty words, that his fear of God was merely hearsay; the “weakness” that he revealed externally, meanwhile, leaves a profound impression on them, giving them a “new perspective” on, and even a “new understanding” toward the man whom God defines as perfect and upright. Such a “new perspective” and “new understanding” are proven when Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born.
Though the level of torment he suffered is unimaginable and incomprehensible to any man, he spoke no words of heresy, but only lessened the pain of his body by his own means. As recorded in the Scriptures, he said: “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived” (Job 3:3). Perhaps, no one has ever considered these words important, and perhaps there are people who have paid attention to them. In your view, do they mean that Job opposed God? Are they a complaint against God? I know that many of you have certain ideas about these words spoken by Job and believe that if Job was perfect and upright, he should not have shown any weakness or grief, and ought instead to have faced any attack from Satan positively, and even smiled in the face of Satan’s temptations. He should not have had the slightest reaction to any of the torment brought upon his flesh by Satan, nor should he have betrayed any of the emotions within his heart. He should even have asked that God make these trials even harsher. This is what should be demonstrated and possessed by someone who is unwavering and who truly fears God and shuns evil. Amid this extreme torment, Job did but curse the day of his birth. He did not complain about God, much less did he have any intention of opposing God. This is much easier said than done, for since ancient times until today, no one has ever experienced such temptations or suffered that which befell Job. And why has no one ever been subjected to the same kind of temptation as Job? Because, as God sees it, no one is able to bear such a responsibility or commission, no one could do as Job did, and, moreover, no one could still, apart from cursing the day of their birth, not forsake the name of God and continue to bless the name of Jehovah God, as Job did when such torment befell him. Could anyone do this? When we say this about Job, are we commending his behavior? He was a righteous man, and able to bear such testimony to God, and capable of making Satan flee with its head in its hands, so that it never again came before God to accuse him—so what’s wrong with commending him? Could it be that you have higher standards than God? Could it be that you would act even better than Job when trials come upon you? Job was praised by God—what objections could you have?
Job Curses the Day of His Birth Because He Does Not Want God to Be Pained by Him
I often say that God looks within people’s hearts, and people look at people’s exteriors. Because God looks within people’s hearts, He understands their substance, whereas people define other people’s substance based on their exterior. When Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth, this act astonished all the spiritual figures, including the three friends of Job. Man came from God, and should be thankful for the life and flesh, as well as the day of his birth, bestowed upon him by God, and he should not curse them. This is understandable and conceivable to most people. For anyone who follows God, this understanding is sacred and inviolable, it is a truth that can never change. Job, on the other hand, broke the rules: He cursed the day of his birth. This is an act that most people consider to be crossing over into forbidden territory. Not only is he not entitled to people’s understanding and sympathy, he is also not entitled to God’s forgiveness. At the same time, even more people become doubtful toward Job’s righteousness, for it seems that God’s favor toward him made Job self-indulgent, it made him so bold and reckless that not only did he not thank God for blessing him and caring for him during his lifetime, but he damned the day of his birth to destruction. What is this, if not opposition to God? Such superficialities provide people with the proof to condemn this act of Job, but who can know what Job was truly thinking at that time? And who can know the reason why Job acted in that way? Only God and Job himself know the inside story and reasons here.
When Satan stretched forth its hand to afflict the bones of Job, Job fell into its clutches, without the means to escape or the strength to resist. His body and soul suffered enormous pain, and this pain made him deeply aware of the insignificance, frailty, and powerlessness of man living in the flesh. At the same time, he also gained a profound understanding of why God is of a mind to care for and look after mankind. In Satan’s clutches, Job realized that man, who is of flesh and blood, is actually so powerless and weak. When he fell to his knees and prayed to God, he felt as if God was covering His face, and hiding, for God had completely placed him in the hands of Satan. At the same time, God also wept for him, and, moreover, was aggrieved for him; God was pained by his pain, and hurt by his hurt…. Job felt God’s pain, as well as how unbearable it was for God…. Job did not want to bring any more grief upon God, nor did he want God to weep for him, much less did he want to see God pained by him. At this moment, Job wanted only to divest himself of his flesh, to no longer endure the pain brought upon him by this flesh, for this would stop God being tormented by his pain—yet he could not, and he had to tolerate not only the pain of the flesh, but also the torment of not wishing to make God anxious. These two pains—one from the flesh, and one from the spirit—brought heart-rending, gut-wrenching pain upon Job, and made him feel how the limitations of man who is of flesh and blood can make one feel frustrated and helpless. Under these circumstances, his yearning for God grew fiercer, and his loathing of Satan became more intense. At this time, Job would have preferred to have never been born into the world of man, would rather that he did not exist, than see God cry tears or feel pain for his sake. He began to deeply loathe his flesh, to be sick and tired of himself, of the day of his birth, and even of all that which was connected to him. He did not wish there to be any more mention of his day of birth or anything to do with it, and so he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth: “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine on it” (Job 3:3-4). Job’s words bear his loathing for himself, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived,” as well as his reproval of himself and sense of indebtedness for causing pain to God, “Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine on it.” These two passages are the ultimate expression of how Job felt then, and fully demonstrate his perfection and uprightness to all. At the same time, just as Job had wished, his faith and obedience to God, as well as his fear of God, were truly elevated. Of course, this elevation is precisely the effect that God had expected.
Job Defeats Satan and Becomes a True Man in the Eyes of God
When Job first underwent his trials, he was stripped of all his property and all of his children, but he did not fall down or say anything that was a sin against God as a result. He had overcome the temptations of Satan, and he had overcome his material assets and offspring, and the trial of losing all his worldly possessions, which is to say he was able to obey God’s taking away from him and offer thanks and praise to God because of it. Such was Job’s conduct during Satan’s first temptation, and such was also Job’s testimony during the first trial of God. In the second trial, Satan stretched forth its hand to afflict Job, and although Job experienced pain greater than he had ever felt before, still his testimony was enough to leave people astounded. He used his fortitude, conviction, and obedience to God, as well as his fear of God, to once more defeat Satan, and his conduct and his testimony were once more approved of and favored by God. During this temptation, Job used his actual conduct to proclaim to Satan that the pain of the flesh could not alter his faith and obedience to God or take away his devotion to God and fear of God; he would not renounce God or give up his own perfection and uprightness because he faced death. Job’s determination made a coward of Satan, his faith left Satan timorous and trembling, the force of his life-and-death battle with Satan bred in Satan a deep hatred and resentment, his perfection and uprightness left Satan with nothing more it could do to him, such that Satan abandoned its attacks on him and gave up its accusations against Job before Jehovah God. This meant that Job had overcome the world, he had overcome the flesh, he had overcome Satan, and he had overcome death; he was completely and utterly a man who belonged to God. During these two trials, Job stood firm in his testimony, and actually lived out his perfection and uprightness, and broadened the scope of his living principles of fearing God and shunning evil. Having undergone these two trials, there was born in Job a richer experience, and this experience made him more mature and seasoned, it made him stronger, and of greater conviction, and it made him more confident of the rightness and worthiness of the integrity to which he held firm. Jehovah God’s trials of Job gave him a deep understanding and sense of God’s concern for man, and allowed him to sense the preciousness of God’s love, from which point consideration toward and love for God were added in to his fear of God. The trials of Jehovah God not only didn’t alienate Job from Him, but brought his heart closer to God. When the fleshly pain endured by Job reached its peak, the concern that he felt from Jehovah God gave him no choice but to curse the day of his birth. Such conduct was not long-planned, but a natural revelation of the consideration for and love of God from within his heart, it was a natural revelation that came from his consideration for and love of God. Which is to say, because he loathed himself, and he was unwilling to, and could not stand to torment God, thus his consideration and love reached the point of selflessness. At this time, Job elevated his long-standing adoration and yearning for God and devotion to God to the level of consideration and loving. At the same time, he also elevated his faith and obedience to God and fear of God to the level of consideration and loving. He did not allow himself to do anything that would cause harm to God, he did not permit himself any conduct that would hurt God, and did not allow himself to bring any sorrow, grief, or even unhappiness upon God for his own reasons. In God’s eyes, although Job was still the Job of before, Job’s faith, obedience, and fear of God had brought God complete satisfaction and enjoyment. At this time, Job had attained the perfection that God had expected him to attain, he had become someone truly worthy of being called “perfect and upright” in God’s eyes. His righteous deeds allowed him to overcome Satan and to stand fast in his testimony to God. So, too, did his righteous deeds make him perfect, and allow the value of his life to be elevated, and transcend more than ever, and make him the first person to no longer be attacked and tempted by Satan. Because Job was righteous, he was accused and tempted by Satan; because Job was righteous, he was handed over to Satan; and because Job was righteous, he overcame and defeated Satan, and stood firm in his testimony. Henceforth Job became the first man who would never again be handed over to Satan, he truly came before the throne of God, and lived in the light, under the blessings of God without the spying or ruination of Satan…. He had become a true man in the eyes of God, he had been set free …
Having learned of how Job went through the trials, most of you will likely want to know more details about Job himself, particularly with regard to the secret by which he gained God’s praise. So today, let us talk about Job!
In Job’s Daily Life We See His Perfection, Uprightness, Fear of God, and Shunning of Evil
If we are to discuss Job, then we must start with the assessment of him uttered from God’s own mouth: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil.”
Let us first learn about Job’s perfection and uprightness.
What is your understanding of the words “perfect” and “upright”? Do you believe that Job was without reproach, and honorable? This, of course, would be a literal interpretation and understanding of “perfect” and “upright.” Integral to a true understanding of Job is real life—words, books, and theory alone won’t provide any answers. We’ll start by looking at Job’s home life, at what his normal conduct was like during his life. This will tell us about his principles and objectives in life, as well as about his personality and pursuit. Now, let us read the final words of Job 1:3: “this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” What these words are saying is that Job’s status and standing were very high, and though we are not told whether he was the greatest of all men of the east because of his abundant assets, or because he was perfect and upright, and feared God and shunned evil, overall, we know that Job’s status and standing were much prized. As recorded in the Bible, people’s first impressions of Job were that Job was perfect, that he feared God and shunned evil, and that he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. For a normal person living in such an environment and under such conditions, Job’s diet, quality of life, and the various aspects of his personal life would be the focus of most people’s attention; thus we must continue reading the scriptures: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:4-5). This passage tells us two things: The first is that Job’s sons and daughters regularly feasted, eating and drinking; the second is that Job frequently offered burnt sacrifices because he often worried for them, fearful that they were sinning, that in their hearts they had cursed God. In this are described the lives of two different types of people. The first, Job’s sons and daughters, often feasted because of their affluence, they lived extravagantly, they wined and dined to their heart’s content, enjoying the high quality of life brought by material wealth. Living such a life, it was inevitable that they would often sin and offend God—yet they did not sanctify themselves or offer burnt offerings as a result. You see, then, that God had no place in their hearts, that they gave no thought to God’s graces, nor feared offending God, much less did they fear renouncing God in their hearts. Of course, our focus is not on Job’s children, but on what Job did when faced with such things; this is the other matter described in the passage, and which involves Job’s daily life and the substance of his humanity. When the Bible describes the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, there is no mention of Job; it is said only that his sons and daughters often ate and drank together. In other words, he did not hold feasts, nor did he join his sons and daughters in eating to extravagance. Though affluent, and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings because of his wealth, much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, and was not greedy or hedonistic, nor did he fixate upon quality of life, as a result of God’s blessings to him. Instead, he was humble and modest, and cautious and careful before God, he often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for the sake of himself or his children, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was put into action, and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of a substance that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was fed up with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity: one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God, and he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life that we must learn about.
The Manifestations of Job’s Humanity During His Trials (Understanding Job’s Perfection, Uprightness, Fear of God, and Shunning of Evil During His Trials)
What we have shared above are the various aspects of Job’s humanity that were exhibited in his daily life prior to his tests. Without doubt, these various manifestations provide an initial acquaintance with and understanding of Job’s uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil, and naturally provide an initial affirmation. The reason why I say “initial” is because most people still do not have a true understanding of Job’s personality and the degree to which he pursued the way of obeying and fearing God. Which is to say, most people’s understanding of Job doesn’t go beyond the somewhat favorable impression of him provided by his words in the Bible that “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” and “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Thus, there is a great need for us to understand how Job lived out his humanity as he received God’s trials; in this way, Job’s true humanity will be shown to all in its entirety.
When Job heard that his property had been stolen, that his sons and daughters had lost their lives, and that his servants had been killed, he reacted as follows: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped” (Job 1:20). These words tell us one fact: After hearing this news, Job was not panic-stricken, he did not cry, or blame the servants who had given him the news, much less did he inspect the scene of the crime to investigate and verify the whys and wherefores and find out what really happened. He did not exhibit any pain or regret at the loss of his possessions, nor did he break down in tears due to the loss of his children, of his loved ones. On the contrary, he rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped. Job’s actions are unlike those of any ordinary man. They confuse many people, and make them reprimand Job for his “cold-bloodedness” in their hearts. At the sudden loss of their possessions, normal people would appear heartbroken, or despairing—or, in the case of some people, they might even fall into deep depression. That is because, in their hearts, people’s property represents a lifetime of effort, it is that which their survival relies upon, it is the hope that keeps them living; the loss of their property means their efforts have been for nothing, that they are without hope, and even that they have no future. This is any normal person’s attitude toward their property and the close relationship they have with it, and this is also the importance of property in people’s eyes. As such, the great majority of people feel confused by Job’s cool attitude toward the loss of[b] his property. Today, we’re going to dispel the confusion of all these people by explaining what was going on within Job’s heart.
Common sense dictates that, having been given such abundant assets by God, Job should feel ashamed before God because of losing these assets, for he hadn’t looked after or taken care of them, he hadn’t held on to the assets given to him by God. Thus, when he heard that his property had been stolen, his first reaction should have been to go to the scene of the crime and take inventory of everything that had gone,[c] and then to confess to God so that he might once more receive God’s blessings. Job, however, did not do this—and he naturally had his own reasons for not doing so. In his heart, Job profoundly believed that all he possessed had been bestowed upon him by God, and had not come off the back of his own labor. Thus, he did not see these blessings as something to be capitalized upon, but took holding on to the way that he should by tooth and nail as his living principles. He cherished God’s blessings, and gave thanks for them, but he was not enamored of, nor did he seek more blessings. Such was his attitude toward property. He neither did anything for the sake of gaining blessings, nor worried about or was aggrieved by the lack or loss of God’s blessings; he neither became wildly, deliriously happy because of God’s blessings, nor ignored the way of God or forgot the grace of God because of the blessings he frequently enjoyed. Job’s attitude toward his property reveals to people his true humanity: Firstly, Job was not a greedy man, and was undemanding in his material life. Secondly, Job never worried or feared that God would take away all that he had, which was his attitude of obedience toward God in his heart; that is, he had no demands or complaints about when or whether God would take from him, and did not ask the reason why, but only sought to obey the arrangements of God. Thirdly, he never believed that his assets came from his own labors, but that they were bestowed unto him by God. This was Job’s faith in God, and is an indication of his conviction. Are Job’s humanity and his true daily pursuit made clear in this three-point summary of him? Job’s humanity and pursuit were integral to his cool conduct when faced with the loss of his property. It was precisely because of his daily pursuit that Job had the stature and conviction to say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” during the trials of God. These words were not gained overnight, nor had they just popped into Job’s head. They were what he had seen and acquired during many years of experiencing life. Compared to all those who only seek God’s blessings, and who fear that God will take from them, and hate it and complain about it, is Job’s obedience not very real? Compared to all those who believe that there is a God, but who have never believed that God rules over all things, does Job not possess great honesty and uprightness?
Job’s actual experiences and his upright and honest humanity meant that he made the most rational judgment and choices when he lost his assets and his children. Such rational choices were inseparable from his daily pursuits and the deeds of God that he had come to know during his day-to-day life. Job’s honesty made him able to believe that Jehovah’s hand rules over all things; his belief allowed him to know the fact of Jehovah God’s sovereignty over all things; his knowledge made him willing and able to obey Jehovah God’s sovereignty and arrangements; his obedience enabled him to be more and more true in his fear of Jehovah God; his fear made him more and more real in his shunning of evil; ultimately, Job became perfect because he feared God and shunned evil; and his perfection made him wise, and gave him the utmost rationality.
How should we understand this word “rational”? A literal interpretation is that it means being of good sense, being logical and sensible in one’s thinking, being of sound words, actions, and judgment, and possessing sound and regular moral standards. Yet Job’s rationality isn’t so easily explained. When it is said here that Job was possessed of the utmost rationality, it is in connection to his humanity and his conduct before God. Because Job was honest, he was able to believe in and obey the sovereignty of God, which gave him a knowledge that was unobtainable by others, and this knowledge made him able to more accurately discern, judge, and define that which befell him, which enabled him to more accurately and perspicaciously choose what to do and what to hold firm to. Which is to say that his words, behavior, the principles behind his actions, and the code by which he acted, were regular, clear, and specific, and were not blind, impulsive, or emotional. He knew how to treat whatever befell him, he knew how to balance and handle the relationships between complex events, he knew how to hold fast to the way that should be held fast to, and, moreover, he knew how to treat the giving and taking away of Jehovah God. This was the very rationality of Job. It was precisely because Job was equipped with such rationality that he said, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” when he lost his assets and his sons and daughters.
When Job was faced with the enormous pain of the body, and the remonstrations of his kinfolk and friends, and when he was faced with death, his actual conduct once again demonstrated his true face to all.
The Real Face of Job: True, Pure, and Without Falsity
Let us read the following: “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes” (Job 2:7-8). This is a description of Job’s conduct when sore boils sprouted upon his body. At this time, Job sat in the ashes as he endured the pain. No one treated him, and no one helped him lessen the pain of his body; instead, he used a potsherd to scrape away the surface of the sore boils. Superficially, this was merely a stage in Job’s torment, and bears no relation to his humanity and fear of God, for Job spoke no words to demonstrate his mood and views at this time. Yet Job’s actions and his conduct are still a true expression of his humanity. In the record of the previous chapter we read that Job was the greatest of all the men of the east. This passage of the second chapter, meanwhile, shows us that this great man of the east should take a potsherd to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. Is there not an obvious contrast between these two descriptions? It is a contrast that shows us Job’s true self: Despite his prestigious standing and status, he had never loved nor paid them any attention; he cared not how others viewed his standing, nor was he concerned about whether his actions or conduct would have any negative effect on his standing; he did not indulge in the riches of status, nor did he enjoy the glory that came with status and standing. He only cared about his value and the significance of his living in the eyes of Jehovah God. Job’s true self was his very substance: He did not love fame and fortune, and did not live for fame and fortune; he was true, and pure, and without falsity.
Job’s Separation of Love and Hate
Another side of Job’s humanity is demonstrated in this exchange between him and his wife: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9-10). Seeing the torment he was suffering, Job’s wife tried to advise Job to help him escape his torment—yet the “good intentions” did not gain Job’s approval; instead, they stirred his anger, for she denied his faith in, and obedience to Jehovah God, and also denied the existence of Jehovah God. This was intolerable to Job, for he had never allowed himself to do anything that opposed or hurt God, to say nothing of others. How could he remain indifferent when he saw others speak words that blasphemed against and insulted God? Thus he called his wife a “foolish woman.” Job’s attitude toward his wife was one of anger and hate, as well as reproach and reprimand. This was the natural expression of Job’s humanity of differentiating between love and hate, and was a true representation of his upright humanity. Job was possessed of a sense of justice—one which made him hate the winds and tides of wickedness, and loathe, condemn, and reject absurd heresy, ridiculous arguments, and ludicrous assertions, and allowed him to hold true to his own, correct principles and stance when he had been rejected by the masses and deserted by those who were close to him.
The Kindheartedness and Sincerity of Job
Since, in Job’s conduct, we are able to see the expression of various aspects of his humanity, what of Job’s humanity do we see when he opened his mouth to curse the day of his birth? This is the topic we will share below.
Above, I have talked of the origins of Job’s curse of the day of his birth. What do you see in this? If Job were hardhearted, and without love, if he were cold and emotionless, and bereft of humanity, could he have cared for God’s heart’s desire? And could he have despised the day of his own birth as a result of caring for God’s heart? In other words, if Job were hardhearted and bereft of humanity, could he have been distressed by God’s pain? Could he have cursed the day of his birth because God had been aggrieved by him? The answer is, Absolutely not! Because he was kindhearted, Job cared for God’s heart; because he cared for God’s heart, Job sensed God’s pain; because he was kindhearted, he suffered greater torment as a result of sensing God’s pain; because he sensed God’s pain, he began to loathe the day of his birth, and thus cursed the day of his birth. To outsiders, Job’s entire conduct during his trials is exemplary. Only his curse of the day of his birth paints a question mark above his perfection and uprightness, or provides a different assessment. In fact, this was the truest expression of the substance of Job’s humanity. The substance of his humanity was not concealed or packaged, or revised by someone else. When he cursed the day of his birth, he demonstrated the kindheartedness and sincerity deep within his heart; he was like a spring whose waters are so clear and pellucid as to reveal its bottom.
Having learned all this about Job, most people will undoubtedly have a fairly accurate and objective assessment of the substance of Job’s humanity. They should also have a profound, practical, and more advanced understanding and appreciation of the perfection and uprightness of Job spoken of by God. Hopefully, this understanding and appreciation will help people embark upon the way of fearing God and shunning evil.
The Relationship Between God’s Consignment of Job to Satan and the Aims of God’s Work
Although most people now recognize that Job was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil, this recognition doesn’t give them a greater understanding of God’s intention. At the same time as envying Job’s humanity and pursuit, they ask the following question of God: Job was so perfect and upright, people adore him so much, so why did God hand him over to Satan and subject him to so much torment? Such questions are bound to exist in many people’s hearts—or rather, this doubt is the question in many people’s hearts. Since it has confounded so many people, we must lay this question on the table and explain it properly.
Everything that God does is necessary, and possessed of extraordinary significance, for all that He does in man concerns His management and the salvation of mankind. Naturally, the work that God did in Job is no different, even though Job was perfect and upright in the eyes of God. In other words, regardless of what God does or the means by which He does it, regardless of the cost, or His objective, the purpose of His actions does not change. His purpose is to work into man God’s words, God’s requirements, and God’s will for man; in other words, it is to work into man all that God believes to be positive in accordance with His steps, enabling man to understand God’s heart and comprehend God’s substance, and allowing him to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and thus allowing man to attain the fear of God and shunning of evil—all of which is one aspect of God’s purpose in all He does. The other aspect is that, because Satan is the foil and serving object in God’s work, man is often given to Satan; this is the means God uses to allow people to see the wickedness, ugliness, and contemptibility of Satan amid Satan’s temptations and attacks, thus causing people to hate Satan and be able to know and recognize that which is negative. This process allows them to gradually free themselves from Satan’s control, and from Satan’s accusations, interference, and attacks—until, thanks to God’s words, their knowledge and obedience of God, and their faith in God and fear of Him, they triumph over the attacks of Satan, and triumph over the accusations of Satan; only then will they have been completely delivered from the domain of Satan. People’s deliverance means that Satan has been defeated, it means that they are no longer the food in Satan’s mouth—that instead of swallowing them, Satan has relinquished them. This is because such people are upright, because they have faith, obedience, and fear toward God, and because they completely break with Satan. They bring shame upon Satan, they make a coward of Satan, and they utterly defeat Satan. Their conviction in following God, and obedience to and fear of God defeat Satan, and make Satan completely give them up. Only people such as this have truly been gained by God, and it is this which is God’s ultimate objective in saving man. If they wish to be saved, and wish to be completely gained by God, then all those who follow God must face temptations and attacks both great and small from Satan. Those who emerge from these temptations and attacks and are able to fully defeat Satan are those who have been saved by God. Which is to say, those who have been saved unto God are those who have undergone God’s trials, and who have been tempted and attacked by Satan an untold number of times. Those who have been saved unto God understand God’s will and requirements, and are able to acquiesce to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and they do not forsake the way of fearing God and shunning evil amid Satan’s temptations. Those who are saved unto God possess honesty, they are kindhearted, they differentiate between love and hate, they have a sense of justice and are rational, and they are able to care for God and treasure all that is of God. Such people are not bound, spied upon, accused, or abused by Satan, they are completely free, they have been completely liberated and released. Job was just such a man of freedom, and this is precisely the significance of why God handed him over to Satan.
Job was abused by Satan, but he also gained eternal freedom and liberation, and gained the right to never again be subjected to Satan’s corruption, abuse, and accusations, to instead live in the light of God’s countenance free and unencumbered, and to live amid God’s blessings to him. No one could take away, or destroy, or procure this right. It was given to Job in return for his faith, determination, and obedience to and fear of God; Job paid the price of his life to win joy and happiness on earth, to win the right and entitlement, ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, to worship the Creator without interference as a true creature of God on earth. Such was also the greatest outcome of the temptations endured by Job.
When people have yet to be saved, their lives are often interfered with, and even controlled by, Satan. In other words, people who have not been saved are prisoners to Satan, they have no freedom, they have not been relinquished by Satan, they are not qualified or entitled to worship God, and they are closely pursued and viciously attacked by Satan. Such people have no happiness to speak of, they have no right to a normal existence to speak of, and moreover they have no dignity to speak of. Only if you stand up and do battle with Satan, using your faith in God and obedience to, and fear of God as the weapons with which to fight a life-and-death battle with Satan, such that you fully defeat Satan and cause it to turn tail and become cowardly whenever it sees you, so that it completely abandons its attacks and accusations against you—only then will you be saved and become free. If you are determined to fully break with Satan, but are not equipped with the weapons that will help you defeat Satan, then you will still be in danger; as time goes on, when you have been so tortured by Satan that there is not an ounce of strength left in you, yet you have still been unable to bear testimony, have still not completely freed yourself of Satan’s accusations and attacks against you, then you will have little hope of salvation. In the end, when the conclusion of God’s work is proclaimed, you will still be in the grip of Satan, unable to free yourself, and thus you will never have a chance or hope. The implication, then, is that such people will be completely in Satan’s captivity.
Accept God’s Tests, Overcome Satan’s Temptations, and Allow God to Gain Your Whole Being
During the work of His abiding provision and support of man, God tells the entirety of His will and requirements to man, and shows His deeds, disposition, and what He has and is to man. The objective is to equip man with stature, and to allow man to gain various truths from God while following Him—truths that are the weapons given to man by God with which to fight Satan. Thus equipped, man must face God’s tests. God has many means and avenues for testing man, but every one of them requires the “cooperation” of God’s enemy: Satan. Which is to say, having given man the weapons with which to do battle with Satan, God hands man over to Satan and allows Satan to “test” man’s stature. If man can break out from Satan’s battle formations, if he can escape Satan’s encirclement and still live, then man will have passed the test. But if man fails to leave Satan’s battle formations, and submits to Satan, then he will not have passed the test. Whatever aspect of man God examines, the criteria for His examination are whether or not man stands firm in his testimony when attacked by Satan, and whether or not he has forsaken God and surrendered and submitted to Satan while ensnared by Satan. It may be said that whether or not man can be saved depends on whether he can overcome and defeat Satan, and whether or not he can gain freedom depends on whether he is able to lift up, on his own, the weapons given to him by God to overcome Satan’s bondage, making Satan completely abandon hope and leave him alone. If Satan abandons hope and relinquishes someone, this means that Satan will never again try to take this person from God, will never again accuse and interfere with this person, will never again wantonly torture or attack them; only someone such as this will truly have been gained by God. This is the entire process by which God gains people.
The Warning and Enlightenment Provided to Later Generations by Job’s Testimony
At the same time as understanding the process by which God completely gains someone, people will also understand the aims and significance of God’s consignment of Job to Satan. People are no longer disturbed by Job’s torment, and have a new appreciation of its significance. They no longer worry about whether they themselves will be subjected to the same temptation as Job, and no longer oppose or reject the coming of God’s trials. Job’s faith, obedience, and his testimony to overcoming Satan have been a source of huge help and encouragement to people. In Job, they see hope for their own salvation, and see that through faith, and obedience to and fear of God, it is entirely possible to defeat Satan, and prevail over Satan. They see that as long as they acquiesce to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and possess the determination and faith not to forsake God after having lost everything, then they can bring shame and defeat upon Satan, and that they need only possess the determination and perseverance to stand firm in their testimony—even if it means losing their lives—for Satan to be cowed and beat a hasty retreat. Job’s testimony is a warning to later generations, and this warning tells them that if they do not defeat Satan, then they will never be able to rid themselves of the accusations and interference of Satan, nor will they ever be able to escape the abuse and attacks of Satan. Job’s testimony has enlightened later generations. This enlightenment teaches people that only if they are perfect and upright are they able to fear God and shun evil; it teaches them that only if they fear God and shun evil can they bear strong and resounding testimony to God; only if they bear strong and resounding testimony to God can they never be controlled by Satan, and live under the guidance and protection of God—and only then will they have been truly saved. Job’s personality and his life’s pursuit should be emulated by everyone who pursues salvation. That which he lived out during his whole life and his conduct during his trials is a precious treasure to all those who pursue the way of fearing God and shunning evil.
Job’s Testimony Brings Comfort to God
If I tell you now that Job is a lovely man, you may not be able to appreciate the meaning within these words, and may not be able to grasp the sentiment behind why I have spoken of all these things; but wait until the day when you have experienced trials the same as or akin to those of Job, when you have gone through adversity, when you have experienced trials personally arranged for you by God, when you give your all, and endure humiliation and hardship, in order to prevail over Satan and bear testimony to God amid temptations—then you will be able to appreciate the meaning of these words I speak. At that time, you will feel that you are far inferior to Job, you will feel how lovely Job is, and that he is worthy of emulation; when that time comes, you will realize how important those classic words spoken by Job are for one who is corrupt and who lives in these times, and you will realize how difficult it is for the people of today to achieve what was achieved by Job. When you feel it is difficult, you will appreciate how anxious and worried is God’s heart, you will appreciate how high is the price paid by God for gaining such people, and how precious is that done and expended by God for mankind. Now that you have heard these words, do you have an accurate understanding and correct assessment of Job? In your eyes, was Job a truly perfect and upright man who feared God and shunned evil? I believe that most people will most certainly say, Yes. For the facts of what Job acted and revealed are undeniable by any man or Satan. They are the most powerful proof of Job’s triumph over Satan. This proof was produced in Job, and was the first testimony received by God. Thus, when Job triumphed in the temptations of Satan and bore testimony to God, God saw hope in Job, and His heart was comforted by Job. Since the creation until Job, this was the first time that God truly experienced what comfort was, and what it meant to be comforted by man, and it was the first time that He had seen, and gained, true testimony that was borne for Him.
I trust that, having heard of Job’s testimony and accounts of the various aspects of Job, the majority of people will have plans for the path before them. So, too, do I trust that most people who are full of anxiety and fear will slowly begin to relax in both body and mind, and will begin to feel relief, little by little …
The passages below are also accounts about Job. Let us continue reading.
4. Job Has Heard of God by the Hearing of the Ear
(Job 9:11) See, he goes by me, and I see him not: he passes on also, but I perceive him not.
(Job 23:8-9) Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he does work, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.
(Job 42:2-6) I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from you. Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech you, and I will speak: I will demand of you, and declare you to me. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Although God Has Not Revealed Himself to Job, Job Believes in the Sovereignty of God
What is the thrust of these words? Have any of you realized that there is a fact here? First, how did Job know there is a God? And how did he know that the heavens and earth and all things are ruled by God? There is a passage that answers these two questions: I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6). From these words we learn that, rather than having seen God with his own eyes, Job had learned of God from legend. It was under these circumstances that he began to walk the path of following God, after which he confirmed the existence of God in his life, and among all things. There is an undeniable fact here—and what is it? Despite being able to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, Job had never seen God. In this, was he not the same as the people of today? Job had never seen God, the implication of which is that although he had heard of God, he did not know where God was, or what God was like, or what God was doing, which are subjective factors; objectively speaking, though he followed God, God had never appeared to him or spoken to him. Is this not a fact? Although God had not spoken to Job or given him any commands, Job had seen God’s existence, and beheld His sovereignty among all things and in legends in which Job had heard of God by the hearing of the ear, after which he began the life of fearing God and shunning evil. Such were the origins and process by which Job followed God. But no matter how he feared God and shunned evil, no matter how he held firm to his integrity, still God never appeared to him. Let us read this passage. He said, “See, he goes by me, and I see him not: he passes on also, but I perceive him not” (Job 9:11). What these words are saying is that Job might have felt God around him or he might not—but he had never been able to see God. There were times when he imagined God passing before him, or acting, or guiding man, but he had never known. God comes upon man when he isn’t expecting it; man doesn’t know when God comes upon him, or where He comes upon him, because man cannot see God, and thus, to man, God is hidden from him.
Job’s Faith in God Is Not Shaken Because God Is Hidden From Him
In the following passage of scripture, Job then says, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he does work, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him” (Job 23:8-9). In this account, we learn that in Job’s experiences, God had been hidden to him throughout; God had not openly appeared to him, nor had He openly spoken any words to him, yet in his heart, Job was confident of God’s existence. He had always believed that God might be walking before him, or might be acting by his side, and that although he could not see God, God was next to him governing his all. Job had never seen God, but he was able to stay true to his faith, which no other person was able to do. And why couldn’t they? Because God did not speak to Job, or appear to him, and if he had not truly believed, he could not have gone on, nor could he have held fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Is this not true? How do you feel when you read of Job saying these words? Do you feel that Job’s perfection and uprightness, and his righteousness before God, are true, and not an exaggeration on the part of God? Even though God treated Job the same as other people, and did not appear or speak to him, Job still held firm to his integrity, he still believed in God’s sovereignty, and, furthermore, he frequently offered burnt offerings and prayed before God as a result of his fear of offending God. In Job’s ability to fear God without having seen God, we see how much he loved positive things, and how firm and real his faith was. He did not deny the existence of God because God was hidden from him, nor did he lose his faith and forsake God because he had never seen Him. Instead, amid God’s hidden work of ruling all things, he had realized the existence of God, and felt the sovereignty and power of God. He did not give up on being upright because God was hidden, nor did he forsake the way of fearing God and shunning evil because God had never appeared to him. Job had never asked that God openly appear to him to prove His existence, for he had already beheld God’s sovereignty among all things, and he believed that he had gained the blessings and graces that others had not gained. Although God remained hidden to him, Job’s faith in God was never shaken. Thus, he harvested what none other had: God’s approval and God’s blessing.
Job Blesses the Name of God and Does Not Think of Blessings or Disaster
There is a fact which is never referred to in the Scriptures’ stories of Job, which will be our focus today. Although Job had never seen God or heard the words of God with his own ears, God had a place in Job’s heart. And what was Job’s attitude toward God? It was, as previously referred to, “blessed be the name of the LORD.” His blessing of God’s name was unconditional, unqualified, and without reason. We see that Job had given his heart to God, allowing it to be controlled by God; all that he thought, all that he decided, and all that he planned in his heart was laid open to God and not closed off from God. His heart did not stand in opposition to God, and he had never asked God to do anything for him or give him anything, and he did not harbor extravagant desires that he would gain anything from his worship of God. Job did not talk of trades with God, and made no requests or demands of God. His praising of God’s name was because of the great power and authority of God in ruling all things, and was not dependent on whether he gained blessings or was struck by disaster. He believed that regardless of whether God blesses people or brings disaster upon them, God’s power and authority will not change, and thus, regardless of a person’s circumstances, God’s name should be praised. That man is blessed by God is because of God’s sovereignty, and when disaster befalls man, so, too, is it because of God’s sovereignty. God’s power and authority rule over and arrange everything of man; the vagaries of man’s fortune are the manifestation of God’s power and authority, and regardless of one’s viewpoint, God’s name should be praised. This is what Job experienced and came to know during the years of his life. All of Job’s thoughts and actions reached the ears of God, and arrived before God, and were seen as important by God. God cherished this knowledge of Job, and treasured Job for having such a heart. This heart awaited God’s command always, and in all places, and no matter what the time or place it welcomed whatever befell him. Job made no demands of God. What he demanded of himself was to wait for, accept, face, and obey all of the arrangements that came from God; Job believed this to be his duty, and it was precisely what was wanted by God. Job had never seen God, nor heard Him speak any words, issue any commands, give any teachings, or instruct him of anything. In the words of today, for him to be able to possess such a knowledge and attitude toward God when God had given him no enlightenment, guidance, or provision with regard to the truth—this was precious, and for him to demonstrate such things was enough for God, and his testimony was commended by God, and cherished by God. Job had never seen God or heard God personally utter any teachings to him, but to God his heart and he himself were far more precious than those people who, before God, were only able to talk of profound theory, who were only able to boast, and speak of offering sacrifices, but who had never had a true knowledge of God, and had never truly feared God. For Job’s heart was pure, and not hidden from God, and his humanity was honest and kind-hearted, and he loved justice and that which was positive. Only a man like this who was possessed of such a heart and humanity was able to follow the way of God, and capable of fearing God and shunning evil. Such a man could see God’s sovereignty, could see His authority and power, and was able to achieve obedience to His sovereignty and arrangements. Only a man such as this could truly praise God’s name. That is because he did not look at whether God would bless him or bring disaster upon him, because he knew that everything is controlled by the hand of God, and that for man to worry is a sign of foolishness, ignorance, and irrationality, of doubt toward the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things, and of not fearing God. Job’s knowledge was precisely what God wanted. So, did Job have a greater theoretical knowledge of God than you? Because God’s work and utterances at that time were few, it was no easy matter to achieve the knowledge of God. Such an accomplishment by Job was no mean feat. He hadn’t experienced the work of God, nor ever heard God speaking, or seen the face of God. That he was able to have such an attitude toward God was entirely the result of his humanity and his personal pursuit, a humanity and pursuit that are not possessed by people today. Thus, in that age, God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man.” In that age, God had already made such an assessment of him, and had come to such a conclusion. How much more true would it be today?
Although God Is Hidden From Man, His Deeds Among All Things Are Sufficient for Man to Know Him
Job had not seen the face of God, or heard the words spoken by God, much less had he personally experienced the work of God, but his fear of God and testimony during his trials are witnessed by all, and they are loved, delighted in, and commended by God, and people envy and admire them, and, moreover, sing their praises. There was nothing great or extraordinary about his life: Just like any ordinary person, he lived an unremarkable life, going out to work at sunrise and returning home to rest at sunset. The difference is that during these several unremarkable decades, he gained an insight into the way of God, and realized and understood the great power and sovereignty of God, as no other person ever had. He was no cleverer than any ordinary person, his life was not especially tenacious, nor, moreover, did he have invisible special skills. What he did possess, though, was a personality that was honest, kind-hearted, upright, a personality which loved fairness and righteousness, and which loved positive things—none of which are possessed by most ordinary people. He differentiated between love and hate, had a sense of justice, was unyielding and persistent, and was diligent in his thoughts, and thus during his unremarkable time on earth he saw all the extraordinary things that God had done, and saw the greatness, holiness, and righteousness of God, he saw God’s concern, graciousness, and protection for man, and saw the honorableness and authority of the supreme God. The first reason why Job was able to gain these things that were beyond any normal person was because he had a pure heart, and his heart belonged to God, and was led by the Creator. The second reason was his pursuit: his pursuit of being impeccable, and perfect, and someone who complied with the will of Heaven, who was loved by God, and shunned evil. Job possessed and pursued these things while being unable to see God or hear the words of God; though he had never seen God, he had come to know the means by which God rules over all things, and understood the wisdom with which God does so. Though he had never heard the words spoken by God, Job knew that the deeds of rewarding man and taking from man all come from God. Although the years of his life were no different from those of any ordinary person, he did not allow the unremarkableness of his life to affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things, or to affect his following of the way of fearing God and shunning evil. In his eyes, the laws of all things were full of God’s deeds, and God’s sovereignty could be seen in any part of a person’s life. He had not seen God, but he was able to realize that God’s deeds are everywhere, and during his unremarkable time on earth, in every corner of his life he was able to see and realize the extraordinary and wondrous deeds of God, and could see the wondrous arrangements of God. The hiddenness and silence of God did not hinder Job’s realization of God’s deeds, nor did they affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things. His life was the realization of the sovereignty and arrangements of God, who is hidden among all things, during his everyday life. In his everyday life he also heard and understood the voice of God’s heart, and the words of God, who is silent among all things yet expresses the voice of His heart and His words by governing the laws of all things. You see, then, that if people have the same humanity and pursuit as Job, then they can gain the same realization and knowledge as Job, and can acquire the same understanding and knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things as Job. God had not appeared to Job or spoken to him, but Job was able to be perfect, and upright, and to fear God and shun evil. In other words, without God having appeared to or spoken to man, God’s deeds among all things and His sovereignty over all things are sufficient for a man to become aware of God’s existence, power, and authority, and God’s power and authority are enough to make this man follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Since an ordinary man such as Job was able to achieve the fear of God and shunning of evil, then every ordinary person who follows God should also be able to. Though these words may sound like logical inference, this does not contravene the laws of things. Yet the facts haven’t matched up to expectations: Fearing God and shunning evil, it would appear, is the preserve of Job and Job alone. At the mention of “fearing God and shunning evil,” people think that this should only be done by Job, as if the way of fearing God and shunning evil had been labeled with the name of Job and were unrelated to others. The reason for this is clear: Because only Job was possessed of a personality that was honest, kind-hearted, and upright, and which loved fairness and righteousness and things that were positive, thus only Job could follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You must have all understood the implication here—which is that because no one is possessed of a humanity that is honest, kind-hearted, and upright, and which loves fairness and righteousness and that which is positive, no one can fear God and shun evil, and thus they can never gain God’s joy or stand firm amid trials. Which also means that, with the exception of Job, all people are still bound and ensnared by Satan, they are all accused, attacked, and abused by it, and the ones Satan tries to swallow, and they are all without freedom, prisoners that have been taken captive by Satan.
If Man’s Heart Is in Enmity to God, How Can He Fear God and Shun Evil
Since the people of today do not possess the same humanity as Job, what of the substance of their nature, and their attitude toward God? Do they fear God? Do they shun evil? Those who do not fear God or shun evil can only be summed up with four words: the enemies of God. You often say these four words, but you have never known their real meaning. The words “the enemies of God” have substance to them: They are not saying that God sees man as the enemy, but that man sees God as the enemy. First, when people begin to believe in God, who does not have their own aims, motivations, and ambitions? Even though one part of them believes in the existence of God, and has seen the existence of God, their belief in God still contains those motivations, and their ultimate aim in believing in God is to receive His blessings and the things they want. In people’s life experiences, they often think to themselves, I’ve given up my family and career for God, and what has He given me? I must add it up, and confirm it—have I received any blessings recently? I’ve given a lot during this time, I’ve run and run, and have suffered much—has God given me any promises in return? Has He remembered my good deeds? What will my end be? Can I receive God’s blessings? … Every person constantly, and often makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, and ambitions, and deals. Which is to say, in his heart man is constantly putting God to test, constantly devising plans about God, and constantly arguing the case for his end with God, and trying to extract a statement from God, seeing whether or not God can give him what he wants. At the same time as pursuing God, man doesn’t treat God like God. He has always tried to make deals with God, ceaselessly making demands of Him, and even pressing Him at every step, trying to take a mile after being given an inch. At the same time as trying to make deals with God, man also argues with Him, and there are even people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often become weak, passive and slack in their work, and full of complaints about God. From when he first began to believe in God, man has considered God to be a cornucopia, a Swiss Army knife, and he has considered himself to be God’s greatest creditor, as if trying to get blessings and promises from God were his inherent right and obligation, while God’s responsibility were to protect and care for man and provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of “belief in God” of all those who believe in God, and their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God. From the substance of man’s nature to his subjective pursuit, there is nothing that relates to the fear of God. Man’s aim in believing in God could not possibly have anything to do with the worship of God. That is to say, man has never considered nor understood that belief in God requires fearing God, and worshiping God. In light of such conditions, man’s substance is obvious. And what is this substance? It is that man’s heart is malicious, it harbors treachery and deceit, it does not love fairness and righteousness, or that which is positive, and it is contemptible and greedy. Man’s heart couldn’t be more closed to God; he hasn’t given it to God at all. God has never seen man’s true heart, nor has He ever been worshiped by man. No matter how great the price God pays, or how much work He does, or how much He provides to man, man remains blind to it, and utterly indifferent. Man has never given his heart to God, he only wants to mind his heart himself, to make his own decisions—the subtext of which is that man doesn’t want to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, or to obey the sovereignty and arrangements of God, nor does he want to worship God as God. Such is the state of man today. Now let us look again at Job. First of all, did he do a deal with God? Did he have any ulterior motives in holding firm to the way of fearing God and shunning evil? At that time, had God spoken to anyone of the end to come? At that time, God had not made promises to anyone about the end, and it was against this background that Job was able to fear God and shun evil. Do the people of today stand up to comparison with Job? There’s too much of a disparity, they’re in different leagues. Although Job did not have much knowledge of God, he had given his heart to God and it belonged to God. He never did a deal with God, and had no extravagant desires or demands toward God; instead, he believed that “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away.” This was what he had seen and obtained from holding true to the way of fearing God and shunning evil during many years of life. Likewise, he had also gained the outcome of “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” These two sentences were what he had seen and come to know as a result of his attitude of obedience toward God during his life’s experiences, and they were also his most powerful weapons with which he triumphed in Satan’s temptations, and the foundation of his standing firm in testimony to God. At this point, do you envisage Job as a lovely person? Do you hope to be such a person? Do you fear having to undergo the temptations of Satan? Do you resolve to pray for God to subject you to the same trials as Job? Without doubt, most people would not dare to pray for such things. It is evident, then, that your faith is pitiably small; compared to Job, your faith is simply unworthy of mention. You are the enemies of God, you do not fear God, you are incapable of standing firm in your testimony to God, and unable to triumph over the attacks, accusations, and temptations of Satan. What makes you qualified to receive the promises of God? Having heard the story of Job and understood God’s intention in saving man and the meaning of the salvation of man, do you now have the faith to accept the same trials as Job? Should you not have a little resolve to allow yourselves to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil?
Have No Misgivings About the Trials of God
After receiving testimony from Job following the end of his trials, God resolved that He would gain a group—or more than a group—of people like Job, yet He resolved to never again allow Satan to attack or abuse any other person using the means by which it had tempted, attacked, and abused Job, by betting with God; God did not permit Satan to ever again do such things to man, who is weak, foolish, and ignorant—it was enough that Satan had tempted Job! Not permitting Satan to abuse people howsoever it wishes is the mercy of God. For God, it was enough that Job had suffered the temptation and abuse of Satan. God did not permit Satan to ever again do such things, for the lives and everything of people who follow God are ruled and orchestrated by God, and Satan is not entitled to manipulate God’s chosen ones at will—you should be clear about this point! God cares about man’s weakness, and understands his foolishness and ignorance. Although, in order that man could be completely saved, God has to hand him over to Satan, God is not willing to see man ever played with as a toy by Satan and abused by Satan, and He does not want to see man always suffering. Man was created by God, and it is perfectly justified that God rules and arranges everything of man; this is the responsibility of God, and the authority by which God rules all things! God does not permit Satan to abuse and mistreat man at will, He does not permit Satan to employ various means to lead man astray, and, moreover, He does not permit Satan to intervene in God’s sovereignty of man, nor does He allow Satan to trample and destroy the laws by which God rules all things, to say nothing of God’s great work of managing and saving mankind! Those whom God wishes to save, and those who are able to bear testimony to God, are the core and the crystallization of the work of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, as well as the price of His efforts in His six thousand years of work. How could God casually give these people to Satan?
People often worry about and are fearful of the trials of God, yet at all times they are living in Satan’s snare, and living in perilous territory in which they are attacked and abused by Satan—yet they know not fear, and are unperturbed. What is going on? Man’s faith in God is only limited to the things he can see. He has not the slightest appreciation of God’s love and concern for man, or of His tenderness and consideration toward man. But for a little trepidation and fear about God’s trials, judgment and chastisement, and majesty and wrath, man has not the slightest understanding of God’s good intentions. At the mention of trials, people feel as if God has ulterior motives, and some even believe that God harbors evil designs, unaware of what God will actually do to them; thus, at the same time as crying out obedience to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, they do all they can to resist and oppose God’s sovereignty over man and arrangements for man, for they believe that if they are not careful they will be misled by God, that if they don’t keep a grip on their own fate then all that they have could be taken by God, and their life could even be ended. Man is in Satan’s camp, but he never worries about being abused by Satan, and he is abused by Satan but never fears being taken captive by Satan. He keeps saying that he accepts God’s salvation, yet has never trusted in God or believed that God will truly save man from the claws of Satan. If, like Job, man is able to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and can give his entire being to the hands of God, then will man’s end not be the same as Job’s—the receipt of God’s blessings? If man is able to accept and submit to God’s rule, what is there to lose? And thus, I suggest that you be careful in your actions, and cautious toward everything that is about to come upon you. Do not be rash or impulsive, and do not treat God and the people, matters, and objects He has arranged for you as the urge takes you, or according to your natural self, or your imaginations and conceptions; you must be cautious in your actions, and must pray and seek more, to avoid inciting the wrath of God. Remember this!
Next, we will look at how Job was after his trials.
5. Job After His Trials
(Job 42:7-9) And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
(Job 42:10) And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
(Job 42:12) So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
(Job 42:17) So Job died, being old and full of days.
Those Who Fear God and Shun Evil Are Looked Upon With Cherishment by God, While Those Who Are Foolish Are Seen as Lowly by God
In Job 42:7-9, God says that Job is His servant. His use of the term “servant” to refer to Job demonstrates Job’s importance in His heart; though God did not call Job something more esteemed, this appellation had no bearing on Job’s importance within God’s heart. “Servant” here is God’s nickname for Job. God’s multiple references to “my servant Job” show how He was pleased with Job, and although God did not speak of the meaning behind the word “servant,” God’s definition of the word “servant” can be seen from His words in this passage of scripture. God first said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.” These words are the first time that God had openly told people that He accepted all that was said and done by Job after God’s trials of him, and are the first time that He had openly confirmed the accuracy and correctness of all that Job had done and said. God was angry at Eliphaz and the others because of their incorrect, absurd discourse, because, like Job, they couldn’t see the appearance of God or hear the words He spoke in their lives, yet Job had such an accurate knowledge of God, whereas they could only blindly guess about God, violating God’s will and trying His patience in all that they did. Consequently, at the same time as accepting all that was done and said by Job, God grew wrathful toward the others, for in them He was not only unable to see any reality of fear of God, but also heard nothing of the fear of God in what they said. And so God next made the following demands of them: “Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly.” In this passage God is telling Eliphaz and the others to do something that will redeem their sins, for their folly was a sin against Jehovah God, and thus they had to make burnt offerings in order to remedy their mistakes. Burnt offerings are often offered to God, but what is unusual about these burnt offerings is that they were offered to Job. Job was accepted by God because he bore testimony to God during his trials. These friends of Job, meanwhile, were revealed during the time of his trials; because of their folly, they were condemned by God, and they incited the wrath of God, and should be punished by God—punished by making burnt offerings before Job—after which Job prayed for them to dispel God’s punishment and wrath toward them. God’s intention was to bring shame upon them, for they were not people who feared God and shunned evil, and they had condemned the integrity of Job. In one regard, God was telling them that He did not accept their actions but greatly accepted and took delight in Job; in another, God was telling them that being accepted by God elevates man before God, that man is loathed by God because of his folly, and offends God because of it, and is lowly and vile in God’s eyes. These are the definitions given by God of two types of people, they are God’s attitudes toward these two types of people, and they are God’s articulation of the worth and standing of these two types of people. Even though God called Job His servant, in God’s eyes this servant was beloved, and was bestowed with the authority to pray for others and forgive them their mistakes. This servant was able to talk directly to God and come directly before God, his status was higher and more honorable than those of others. This is the true meaning of the word “servant” spoken by God. Job was given this special honor because of his fear of God and shunning of evil, and the reason why others were not called servants by God is because they did not fear God and shun evil. These two distinctly different attitudes of God are His attitudes toward two types of people: Those who fear God and shun evil are accepted by God, and seen as precious in His eyes, while those who are foolish do not fear God, and are incapable of shunning evil, and are not able to receive God’s favor; they are often loathed and condemned by God, and are lowly in God’s eyes.
God Bestows Authority Upon Job
Job prayed for his friends, and afterward, because of Job’s prayers, God did not deal with them as befitted their folly—He did not punish them or take any retribution upon them. And why was that? Because the prayers for them of God’s servant, Job, had reached His ears; God forgave them because He accepted Job’s prayers. And what do we see in this? When God blesses someone, He gives them many rewards, and not just material ones, either: God also gives them authority, and entitles them to pray for others, and God forgets, and overlooks those people’s transgressions because He hears these prayers. This is the very authority that God gave to Job. Through Job’s prayers to halt their condemnation, Jehovah God brought shame upon those foolish people—which, of course, was His special punishment for Eliphaz and the others.
Job Is Once More Blessed by God, and Is Never Again Accused by Satan
Among the utterances of Jehovah God are the words that “you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.” What was it that Job had said? It was what we talked about previously, as well as the many pages of words in the Book of Job that Job is recorded as having spoken. In all of these many pages of words, Job never once has any complaints or misgivings about God. He simply awaits the outcome. It is this waiting which is his attitude of obedience, as a result of which, and as a result of the words he said to God, Job was accepted by God. When he endured trials and suffered hardship, God was by his side, and although his hardship was not lessened by God’s presence, God saw what He wished to see, and heard what He wished to hear. Every one of Job’s actions and words reached the eyes and ears of God; God heard, and He saw—and this is fact. Job’s knowledge of God, and his thoughts about God in his heart at that time, during that period, were not actually as specific as those of the people of today, but in the context of the time, God still recognized all that he had said, because his behavior and the thoughts in his heart, and what he had expressed and revealed, were sufficient for His requirements. During the time that Job was subjected to trials, that which he thought in his heart and resolved to do showed God an outcome, one that was satisfactory to God, and afterward God took away Job’s trials, Job emerged from his troubles, and his trials were gone and never again befell him. Because Job had already been subjected to trials, and had stood firm during these trials, and completely triumphed over Satan, God gave him the blessings that he so rightfully deserved. As recorded in Job 42:10, 12, Job was blessed once again, and was blessed with more than the first instance. At this time Satan had withdrawn, and no longer said or did anything, and from then onward Job was no longer interfered with or attacked by Satan, and Satan no longer made accusations against God’s blessings of Job.
Job Spends the Latter Half of His Life Amid God’s Blessings
Although His blessings of that time were only limited to sheep, cattle, camels, material assets, and so on, the blessings that God wished to bestow upon Job in His heart were far more than this. At the time were there recorded what kind of eternal promises God wished to give Job? In His blessings of Job, God did not mention or touch upon his end, and regardless of what importance or position Job held within God’s heart, in sum God was discerning in His blessings. God did not announce Job’s end. What does this mean? At that time, when God’s plan had yet to reach the point of the proclamation of man’s end, the plan had yet to enter the final stage of His work, God made no mention of the end, merely bestowing material blessings upon man. What this means is that the latter half of Job’s life was passed amid God’s blessings, which was what made him different to other people—but like them he aged, and like any normal person the day came when he said goodbye to the world. Thus is it recorded that “So Job died, being old and full of days” (Job 42:17). What is the meaning of “died … full of days” here? In the era before God proclaimed people’s end, God set a life expectancy for Job, and when that age had been reached He allowed Job to naturally depart from this world. From Job’s second blessing until his death, God did not add any more hardship. To God, Job’s death was natural, and also necessary, it was something very normal, and neither a judgment nor a condemnation. While he was alive, Job worshiped and feared God; with regard to what sort of end he had following his death, God said nothing, nor made any comment about it. God is judicious in what He says and does, and the content and principles of His words and actions are according to the stage of His work and the period in which He is working. What kind of end did someone such as Job have in God’s heart? Had God reached any kind of decision in His heart? Of course He had! It’s just that this was unknown by man; God did not want to tell man, nor did He have any intention of telling man. And thus, superficially speaking, Job died full of days, and such was the life of Job.
The Price Lived Out by Job During His Lifetime
Did Job live a life of value? Where was the value? Why is it said that he lived a life of value? To man, what was his value? From the viewpoint of man, he represented the mankind whom God wishes to save, in bearing a resounding testimony to God before Satan and the people of the world. He fulfilled the duty that ought to be fulfilled by a creature of God, and set an exemplar, and acted as a model, for all those whom God wishes to save, allowing people to see that it is entirely possible to triumph over Satan by relying on God. And what was his value to God? To God, the value of Job’s life lay in his ability to fear God, worship God, testify to the deeds of God, and praise the deeds of God, bringing God comfort and something to enjoy; to God, the value of Job’s life was also in how, before his death, Job experienced trials and triumphed over Satan, and bore resounding testimony to God before Satan and the people of the world, glorifying God among mankind, comforting God’s heart, and allowing God’s eager heart to behold an outcome, and see hope. His testimony set a precedent for the ability to stand firm in one’s testimony to God, and for being able to shame Satan in behalf of God, in God’s work of managing mankind. Is this not the value of Job’s life? Job brought comfort to God’s heart, he gave God a foretaste of the delight of being glorified, and provided a wonderful beginning for God’s management plan. And from this point onward the name of Job became a symbol for the glorification of God, and a sign of mankind’s triumph over Satan. What Job lived out during his lifetime and his remarkable triumph over Satan will forever be cherished by God, and his perfection, uprightness, and fear of God will be venerated and emulated by generations to come. He will forever be cherished by God like a flawless, luminous pearl, and so too is he worth treasuring by man!
Next, let us look at God’s work during the Age of Law.
D. The Regulations of the Age of Law
1. The Ten Commandments
2. The Principles for Building Altars
3. Regulations for the Treatment of Servants
4. Regulations for Theft and Compensation
5. Keeping the Sabbath Year and the Three Feasts
6. Regulations for the Sabbath Day
7. Regulations for Offerings
a. Burnt Offerings
b. Grain Offerings
c. Peace Offerings
d. Sin Offerings
e. Trespass Offerings
f. Regulations for Offerings by Priests (Aaron and His Sons Are Ordered to Comply)
1) Burnt Offerings by Priests
2) Grain Offerings by Priests
3) Sin Offerings by Priests
4) Trespass Offerings by Priests
5) Peace Offerings by Priests
8. Regulations for the Eating of Offerings by Priests
9. Clean and Unclean Animals (Those Which Can and Cannot Be Eaten)
10. Regulations for the Purification of Women Following Childbirth
11. Standards for the Examination of Leprosy
12. Regulations for Those Who Have Been Healed of Leprosy
13. Regulations for Cleansing Infected Houses
14. Regulations for Those Suffering From Abnormal Discharges
15. The Day of Atonement That Must Be Observed Once a Year
16. Rules for the Slaughtering of Cattle and Sheep
17. The Prohibition of Following Detestable Practices of Gentiles (Not Committing Incest, and So On)
18. Regulations That Must Be Followed by the People (“You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”)
19. The Execution of Those Who Sacrifice Their Children to Molech
20. Regulations for the Punishment of the Crime of Adultery
21. Rules That Should Be Observed by Priests (Rules for Their Everyday Behavior, Rules for the Consumption of Holy Things, Rules for Making Offerings, and So On)
22. Feasts That Should Be Observed (the Sabbath Day, Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and So On)
23. Other Regulations (Burning the Lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the Redemption of the Land, Making Vows, the Offering of Tithes, and So On)
The Regulations of the Age of Law Are the Real Proof of God’s Direction of All Mankind
So, you’ve read these regulations and principles of the Age of Law, yes? Do the regulations encompass a broad range? First, they cover the Ten Commandments, after which are the regulations for how to build altars, and so on. These are followed by regulations for keeping the Sabbath and observing the three feasts, after which are the regulations for offerings. Did you see how many types of offerings there are? There are burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and so on, which are followed by regulations for priests’ offerings, including burnt offerings and grain offerings by priests, and other kinds of offerings. The eighth regulations are for the eating of offerings by priests, and then there are regulations for what should be observed during people’s lives. There are stipulations for many aspects of people’s lives, such as the regulations for what they may or may not eat, for the purification of women following childbirth, and for those who have been healed of leprosy. In these regulations, God goes so far as to speak about disease, and there are even rules for the slaughter of sheep and cattle, and so on. Sheep and cattle were created by God, and you should slaughter them however God tells you to; there is, without doubt, reason to God’s words, it is undoubtedly right to act as decreed by God, and surely of benefit to people! There are also feasts and rules to be observed, such as the Sabbath day, Passover, and more—God spoke of all of these. Let us look at the final ones: other regulations—burning the lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the redemption of the land, making vows, the offering of tithes, and so on. Do these encompass a broad range? The first thing to be talked of is the issue of people’s offerings, then there are regulations for theft and compensation, and the observation of the Sabbath day…; every one of life’s details is involved. Which is to say, when God began the official work of His management plan, He set down many regulations that were to be followed by man. These regulations were in order to allow man to lead the normal life of man on earth, a normal life of man that is inseparable from God and His guidance. God first told man how to make altars, how to set up the altars. After that, He told man how to make offerings, and established how man was to live—what he was to pay attention to in life, what he was to abide by, what he should and should not do. What God set out for man was all-embracing, and with these customs, regulations, and principles He standardized people’s behavior, guided their lives, guided their initiation to the laws of God, guided them to come before the altar of God, guided them in having a life among all the things God had made for man that was possessed of order, regularity, and moderation. God first used these simple regulations and principles to set limits for man, so that on earth man would have a normal life of worshiping God, would have the normal life of man; such is the specific content of the beginning of His six-thousand-year management plan. The regulations and rules cover a very broad content, they are the specifics of God’s guidance of mankind during the Age of Law, they had to be accepted and honored by the people who came before the Age of Law, they are a record of the work done by God during the Age of Law, and they are real proof of God’s leadership and guidance of all mankind.
Mankind Is Forever Inseparable From God’s Teachings and Provisions
In these regulations we see that God’s attitude toward His work, toward His management, and toward mankind is serious, conscientious, rigorous, and responsible. He does the work He must do among mankind according to His steps, without the slightest discrepancy, speaking the words that He must speak to mankind without the slightest error or omission, allowing man to see that he is inseparable from God’s leadership, and showing him just how important all that God does and says is to mankind. Regardless of what man is like in the next age, in short, at the very beginning—during the Age of Law—God did these simple things. To God, people’s concepts of God, the world, and mankind in that age were abstract and opaque, and even though they had some conscious ideas and intentions, all of them were unclear and incorrect, and thus mankind was inseparable from God’s teachings and provisions for them. Earliest mankind knew nothing, and so God had to begin teaching man from the most superficial and basic principles for survival and regulations necessary for living, imbuing these things in the heart of man bit by bit, and giving man a gradual understanding of God, a gradual appreciation and understanding of God’s leadership, and a basic concept of the relationship between man and God, through these regulations, and through these rules, which were of words. After achieving this effect, only then was God able to, little by little, do the work that He would do later, and thus these regulations and the work done by God during the Age of Law are the bedrock of His work of saving mankind, and the first stage of work in God’s management plan. Although, prior to the work of the Age of Law, God had spoken to Adam, Eve, and their descendants, those commands and teachings were not so systematic or specific as to be issued one by one to man, and they were not written down, nor did they become regulations. That is because, at that time, God’s plan had not gone that far; only when God had led man to this step could He begin speaking these regulations of the Age of Law, and begin making man carry them out. It was a necessary process, and the outcome was inevitable. These simple customs and regulations show man the steps of God’s management work and the wisdom of God revealed in His management plan. God knows what content and means to use to begin, what means to use to continue, and what means to use to end in order that He could gain a group of people who bear testimony to Him, could gain a group of people that are of the same mind as Him. He knows what is within man, and knows what is lacking in man, He knows what He has to provide, and how He should lead man, and so too does He know what man should and should not do. Man is like a puppet: Even though he had no understanding of God’s will, he couldn’t help but be led by God’s work of management, step by step, up to today. There was no haziness in God’s heart about what He was to do; in His heart there was a very clear and vivid plan, and He carried out the work that He Himself wished to do according to His steps and His plan, progressing from the superficial to the profound. Even though He had not indicated the work that He was to do later, His subsequent work still continued to be carried out and progress in strict accordance with His plan, which is a manifestation of what God has and is, and is also the authority of God. Regardless of which stage of His management plan He is doing, His disposition and His substance represent Himself. This is absolutely true. Regardless of the age, or the stage of work, what kind of people God loves, what kind of people He loathes, His disposition and all that He has and is will never change. Even though these regulations and principles that God established during the work of the Age of Law seem very simple and superficial to people today, and even though they are easy to understand and achieve, in them there is still the wisdom of God, and there is still the disposition of God and what He has and is. For within these apparently simple regulations are expressed God’s responsibility and care toward mankind, and the exquisite substance of His thoughts, allowing man to truly realize the fact that God rules over all things and all things are controlled by His hand. No matter how much knowledge mankind masters, or how many theories or mysteries he understands, to God none of these is capable of replacing His provision to, and leadership of mankind; mankind will forever be inseparable from God’s guidance and the personal work of God. Such is the inseparable relationship between man and God. Regardless of whether God gives you a commandment, or regulation, or provides truth for you to understand His will, no matter what He does, God’s aim is to guide man to a beautiful tomorrow. The words uttered by God and the work He does are both the revelation of one aspect of His substance, and are the revelation of one aspect of His disposition and His wisdom, they are an indispensable step of His management plan. This must not be overlooked! God’s will is in whatever He does; God does not fear misplaced remarks, nor is He afraid of any of man’s conceptions or thoughts about Him. He merely does His work, and continues His management, in accordance with His management plan, unconstrained by any person, matter, or object.
OK, that’s all for today. See you next time!
June 13, 2014
a. The original text omits “the title of.”
b. The original text omits “the loss of.”
c. The original text omits “that had gone.”