When all people take heed, when all things are renewed and revived, when every person submits to God without qualms and is willing to shoulder the heavy responsibility of God’s burden—this is when the eastern lightning issues forth, illuminating all from the East to the West, terrifying all the earth with the arrival of this light; and, at this juncture, God once again begins a new life. This is to say that at this moment, God begins the new work on earth, proclaiming to the people of the entire universe that “when lightning issues from the East, which is also precisely the moment that I begin to utter My words—when the lightning issues, the whole universe is illuminated, and a transformation occurs in all the stars.” So, when is the time that lightning issues forth from the East? When the heavens darken and the earth grows dim is when God hides His face from the world, and it is the very moment when all beneath the heavens is about to be beset by a mighty storm. Yet just at this time, all people are stricken by panic, fearful of the thunder, afraid of the brilliance of the lightning, and even more terrified of the onslaught of the deluge, such that most of them shut their eyes and wait for God to unleash His wrath and strike them down. And as various states come to pass, the eastern lightning issues forth immediately. This means that in the world’s East, from when testimony to God Himself begins, to when He begins to work, to when divinity begins to wield sovereignty across the earth—this is the glowing shaft of the eastern lightning, which has ever shone upon the whole universe. When the countries of earth become the kingdom of Christ is when the whole universe is illuminated. Now is the time of the eastern lightning issuing forth. God incarnate begins to work, and, furthermore, speaks directly in divinity. It may be said that when God begins to speak on earth is when the eastern lightning issues forth. More precisely, when living water flows from the throne—when the utterances from the throne begin—is precisely when the utterances of the seven Spirits formally begin. At this time, the eastern lightning begins to issue forth, and because of its duration, the degree of illumination also varies, and there is, too, a limit to the scope of its radiance. Yet with the movement of God’s work, with changes in His plan—with variations in the work on the sons and people of God—the lightning increasingly performs its inherent function, such that all throughout the universe is illuminated, and no dregs or dross remain. This is the crystallization of God’s 6,000-year management plan, and the very fruit enjoyed by God. “The stars” does not refer to the stars in the sky, but to all the sons and people of God who work for Him. Because they bear testimony to God in God’s kingdom, and represent Him in His kingdom, and because they are creatures, they are called “the stars.” “To transform” refers to a transformation in identity and status: People change from people on earth into people of the kingdom, and, furthermore, God is with them, and God’s glory is in them. As a result, they wield sovereign power in God’s stead, and the venom and impurities in them are cleansed by God’s work, ultimately making them fit for use by God and in accordance with God’s heart—this is one aspect of these words’ meaning. When the shaft of light from God illuminates all the land, all things in heaven and on earth will change to varying degrees, and the stars in the sky will also change, the sun and moon will be renewed, and the people on earth will be subsequently renewed—which is God’s work between heaven and earth, and of no surprise.
When God saves people—this does not refer to those who are not chosen naturally—that is just when God cleanses and judges people, and all weep bitterly, or fall stricken upon their beds, or are struck down and plunged into the hell of death because of God’s words. Thanks only to God’s utterances do people begin to know themselves. If things were not so, theirs would be the eyes of a toad—looking up, no one convinced, none of them knowing themselves, ignorant of how many stones they weigh. People are truly corrupted by Satan to a great extent. It is precisely because of God’s omnipotence that the ugly face of man is depicted in such vivid detail, causing man, after reading it, to compare it to his own true face. People all know that God seems to know, with perfect clarity, how many brain cells they have in their heads, to say nothing of His knowledge of their ugly faces or innermost thoughts. In the words “The entire human race is as if it had been sorted out. Under the glow of this shaft of light from the East, all of mankind is revealed in their original form, their eyes dazzled, unsure what to do,” it can be seen that one day, when God’s work ends, all mankind will be judged by God. No one will be able to escape; God will handle the people of all mankind one by one, without overlooking a single one of them, and only thus shall God’s heart be satisfied. And so, God says, “They are also like unto animals that flee from My light and take refuge in mountain caves—yet not one among them can be effaced from within My light.” People are lowly and inferior animals. Living in the hands of Satan, it is as if they have taken refuge in ancient forests deep within the mountains—but, because nothing can escape incineration in God’s flames, even while under the “protection” of the forces of Satan, how could they be forgotten by God? When people accept the coming of God’s words, the various bizarre forms and grotesque states of all people are depicted by God’s pen; God speaks as befits the needs and mentality of man. Thus, to people, God appears well-versed in psychology. It is as if God is a psychologist, but also as if God is a specialist of internal medicine—no wonder He has such an understanding of man, who is “complex.” The more people think so, the greater their sense of God’s preciousness, and the more they feel that God is profound and unfathomable. It is as if, between man and God, there is an uncrossable celestial boundary, but also as if the two were regarding each other from opposite banks of the Chu River,[a] neither able to do more than watch the other. This is to say, the people on earth only look at God with their eyes; they have never had the chance to study Him closely, and all they have toward Him is a feeling of attachment. In their hearts, there is always a sense that God is lovely, but because God is so “heartless and unfeeling,” they have never had the chance to speak of the anguish in their hearts before Him. They are like a beautiful young wife before her husband, never having had the opportunity to divulge her true feelings due to her husband’s probity. People are self-despising wretches, and so, because of their fragility, because of their lack of self-respect, My hate of man grows, unconsciously, somewhat more intense, and the fury in My heart bursts forth. In My mind, it is as if I have suffered a trauma. I have long since lost hope in man, but because “once again, My day presses close upon all humanity, once again arousing the human race, giving humanity another new beginning,” I once again drum up the courage to conquer all mankind, to capture and defeat the great red dragon. God’s original intention was as follows: to do nothing more than conquer the spawn of the great red dragon in China; only this could be considered the defeat of the great red dragon, the vanquishing of the great red dragon. Only this would suffice to prove that God reigns as King across the earth, to prove the accomplishment of God’s great enterprise, that God has a new beginning on earth and has gained glory on earth. Because of the final, beautiful scene, God can’t help but express the passion in His heart: “My heart beats and, following the rhythms of My heartbeat, the mountains leap for joy, the waters dance with joy, and the waves beat upon the rocky reefs. It is difficult to express what is in My heart.” From this, it can be seen that what God planned, He has already accomplished; it was predetermined by God, and it is precisely what God makes people experience and behold. The prospect of the kingdom is beautiful; the King of the kingdom is the victor, without ever having had, from His head to His feet, a trace of flesh or blood, composed entirely of divine elements. His whole body glows with sacred glory, utterly untainted by human ideas; His entire body, from top to bottom, brims with righteousness and the aura of heaven, and exudes a captivating fragrance. Like the beloved in Song of Songs, He is yet more beautiful than all the saints, higher than the ancient saints; He is the exemplar among all people, and incomparable to man; people are not fit to look upon Him directly. No one can attain God’s glorious countenance, God’s appearance, or God’s image; no one can compete with them, and no one can easily praise them with their mouth.
God’s words have no end—like water gushing from a spring, they never run dry, and thus no one can fathom the mysteries of God’s management plan. Yet to God, such mysteries are endless. Using different means and language, God has spoken many times of His renewal and utter transformation of the whole universe, each time more profound than the last: “I want to make all unclean things burn into ashes under My gaze; I want to make all the sons of disobedience disappear from before My eyes, never more to tarry in existence.” Why does God repeatedly say such things? Is He not fearful people will grow weary of them? People merely grope amidst God’s words, wishing to know God in this way, but never remembering to examine themselves. Thus, God employs this method to remind them, to make them all know themselves, so that from themselves they may know the disobedience of man, and thus eradicate their disobedience before God. Reading that God wishes to “sort out,” people’s mood grows anxious at once, and their muscles, too, seem to stop moving. They immediately return before God to criticize themselves, and so come to know God. After this—after they have made up their minds—God uses the opportunity to show them the substance of the great red dragon; thus, people engage with the spiritual realm directly, and, because of the role their resolve has played, their minds also begin to play a role, which increases the sentiment between man and God—which is of greater benefit to God’s work in the flesh. In this way, people are unconsciously possessed of a mood to look back on times gone by: In the past, people believed for years in a vague God; for years, they were never set free in their hearts, incapable of great enjoyment, and, although they believed in God, there was no order to their lives. It seemed the same as it did before coming to belief—their lives still felt empty and hopeless, and their belief at that time seemed like a kind of entanglement, no better than disbelief. Since they have beheld the practical God Himself of today, it is as if heaven and earth have been renewed; their lives have become radiant, they are no longer without hope, and, because of the arrival of the practical God, they feel steadfast in their hearts and peaceful within their spirits. No longer do they chase the wind and clutch at shadows in all they do; no more is their pursuit aimless, and no more do they flail about. The life of today is even more beautiful, and people have unexpectedly entered the kingdom and become God’s people, and afterward…. In their hearts, the more people think of this, the greater the sweetness; the more they think of this, the happier they are, and the more they are inspired to love God. Thus, without their realizing it, the friendship between God and man is enhanced. People love God more, and know God more, and God’s work in man becomes increasingly easy, and it no longer forces or compels people, but follows the course of nature, and man performs his own, unique function—only in this way will people gradually become able to know God. Only this is God’s wisdom—it does not entail the slightest effort, and it is brought to bear as befits man’s nature. Thus, at this moment, God says, “During My incarnation in the human world, mankind has come, under My guidance, unwittingly to this day and has come unwittingly to know Me. But, as for how to walk the path that lies ahead, no one has an inkling, no one is aware—and less still does anyone have a clue in what direction that path will take them. Only with the Almighty watching over them will anyone be able to walk the path to the end; only guided by the lightning in the East will anyone be able to cross the threshold that leads to My kingdom.” Is this not exactly a summary of what I described in man’s heart above? Herein lies the secret of God’s words. What man thinks in his heart is precisely what God speaks from His mouth, and what He speaks from His mouth is precisely that for which man yearns. This is precisely where God is most adept in exposing man’s heart; if not, how could all be sincerely convinced? Is this not the effect God wishes to achieve by conquering the great red dragon?
In fact, there are many words for which God’s intention is not to indicate their superficial meanings. In many of His words, God simply intends deliberately to change people’s notions and divert their attention. God does not attach any importance to these words, and thus many words are not worthy of explanation. When man has been conquered by God’s words to the extent they have been today, people’s strength reaches a certain point, so God subsequently utters more words of warning—the constitution He issues forth to the people of God: “Although the human beings that populate the earth are as numerous as the stars, I know them all as clearly as the palm of My own hand. And, though the human beings that ‘love’ Me are also as innumerable as grains of sand in the sea, only a few are chosen by Me: only those who pursue the bright light, who are apart from those who ‘love’ Me.” Indeed, there are many who say they love God, but there are few who love Him in their hearts. It would seem that this could be clearly discerned even with closed eyes. This is how the entire world of those who believe in God actually is. In this, we see that God has now turned to the work of “sorting people out,” which shows that what God wants, and what satisfies God, is not the church of today, but the kingdom after the sorting. At this moment, He gives a further warning to all the “dangerous goods”: Unless God does not act, as soon as God begins to act, these people shall be wiped from the kingdom. God never does things perfunctorily. He acts always according to the principle of “one is one and two is two,” and, if there are those He does not wish to look upon, He does everything possible to wipe them away, to stop them from causing trouble in the future. This is called “taking out the trash and thoroughly cleaning.” The very moment God announces the administrative decrees to man is when He presents His miraculous deeds and all that is within Him, and thus He subsequently says: “There are wild beasts without number in the mountains, but they are all as tame as sheep before Me; unfathomable mysteries lie beneath the waves, but they present themselves to Me as clearly as all things upon the face of the earth; in the heavens above are realms that man can never reach, yet I walk about freely in those inaccessible realms.” God’s meaning is this: Although the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and seems as endlessly mysterious as the hell of people’s notions, God knows man’s actual states like the back of His hand. Among all things, man is an animal fiercer and more brutal than a wild beast, yet God has conquered man to the point that none dare to rise up and resist. In fact, as God intends, what people think in their hearts is more complex than all things among all things; it is unfathomable, yet God has no regard for man’s heart. He merely treats it as a little worm before His eyes. With a word from His mouth, He conquers it; at any time He wishes, He strikes it down; with the slightest movement of His hand, He chastises it; at will, He condemns it.
Today, all people exist within darkness, but, due to God’s arrival, they finally come to know the essence of the light by having seen Him. Throughout the world, it is as if a great black pot has been upturned over the earth, and no one can draw a breath; they all want to reverse the situation, yet no one has ever lifted the pot. Only because of God’s incarnation have people’s eyes suddenly been opened, and they have beheld the practical God. Thus, God asks them with a questioning tone: “Man has never recognized Me in the light, but has only seen Me in the world of darkness. Are you not in exactly the same situation today? It was at the climax of the great red dragon’s rampages that I formally assumed the flesh to do My work.” God does not hide the real circumstances of the spiritual realm, nor does He hide the real state of the heart of man, and thus He repeatedly reminds people: “I am not only enabling My people to know the incarnate God, but also cleansing them. Due to the severity of My administrative decrees, a great majority of people are still in danger of being cast out by Me. Unless you make every effort to deal with yourself, to subdue your own body—unless you do this, you will assuredly become an object that I despise and reject, to be cast down into hell, just as Paul received chastisement from My hands, from which there was no escape.” As God says so more, only then do people guard their steps more and become more fearful of God’s administrative decrees; only then can God’s authority be brought to bear and His majesty made plain. Here, Paul is once again mentioned, so that people might understand God’s will: They must not be those who are chastised by God, but those who are mindful of God’s will. Only this can make people, amidst their fear, look back on the inability of their past resolve before God to satisfy Him completely, which gives them even greater regret and more knowledge of the practical God. Thus, only then can they have no doubts about God’s words.
“Man does not merely not know Me in My flesh; more than that, he has failed to understand his own self that resides in a fleshly body. For so many years, human beings have been deceiving Me, treating Me as a guest from outside. So many times….” These “so many times” list the realities of man’s opposition to God, showing people real examples of chastisement; this is proof of sin, and no one can refute it again. All people use God like some everyday item, as if He were some household essential that they can use as they wish. No one cherishes God; no one has tried to know the beauty of God, nor His glorious countenance, and much less does anyone intend to submit to God. Nor has anyone ever looked upon God as something beloved in their heart; they all drag Him out when they need Him, and toss Him to the side and ignore Him when they don’t. It is as if, to man, God is a puppet that man may manipulate at will, and make demands of howsoever he wishes or desires. But God says, “If, during the period of My incarnation, I had not sympathized with man’s weakness, then all of humanity would, solely on account of My incarnation, have been frightened out of their wits and, as a result, fallen into Hades,” which shows just how great the significance of God’s incarnation is. He has come to conquer mankind in the flesh, instead of destroying all mankind from the spiritual realm. Thus, when the Word became flesh, nobody knew. If God had no care for man’s frailty, if heaven and earth were turned upside down when He became flesh, then all people would have been annihilated. Because it is in people’s nature to like the new and hate the old, and they often forget the bad times when things are going well, and none of them know how blessed they are, God repeatedly reminds them that they must treasure how hard-won today is; for the sake of tomorrow, they must treasure today even more, and must not, like an animal, climb upon high without recognizing the master, and not be ignorant of the blessings among which they live. Thus, people become well-behaved, no longer boastful or arrogant, and they come to know that it is not the case that man’s nature is good, but that God’s mercy and love have come upon man; they all fear chastisement, and so dare do nothing more.
a. “Chu River” refers figuratively to the border between opposing powers.