God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I (Part Two)
To understand God’s disposition and God Himself, you have to start small. But start small from where? To begin, I have selected some chapters from the Bible. The information below contains Bible verses, all of which are related to the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. I specifically found these excerpts as reference materials to help you know God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself. By sharing them, we will be able to see what kind of disposition God has revealed through His past work and which aspects of His essence are unknown to man. These chapters may be old, but the topic we are fellowshiping about is something new that people do not have and have never heard of. Some of you might find it inconceivable—is bringing up Adam and Eve and going back to Noah not retracing the same steps again? No matter what you think, these chapters are very beneficial to fellowship about this topic and can act as the teaching texts or first-hand materials for today’s fellowship. By the time I finish this fellowship, you will understand My intentions behind choosing these chapters. Those who have read the Bible before may have read these few verses, but might not truly understand them. First, let us briefly review them, then go through each one in detail in our fellowshiping.
Adam and Eve are mankind’s ancestors. If we are to mention characters from the Bible, then we must start with the two of them. Next is Noah, mankind’s second ancestor. Who is the third character? (Abraham.) Do you all know Abraham’s story? Some of you may know it, but for others it may not be very clear. Who is the fourth character? Who is mentioned in the story of the destruction of Sodom? (Lot.) But Lot is not referenced here. Who does it refer to? (Abraham.) The main thing mentioned in the story of Abraham is what Jehovah God had said. Do you see it? Who is the fifth character? (Job.) Does God not mention a lot of Job’s story during this current stage of His work? Then do you care very much about this story? If you do care very much, have you read Job’s story in the Bible carefully? Do you know what things Job said, and what things he did? To those of you who have read it the most, how many times have you read it? Do you read it often? Sisters from Hong Kong, please tell us. (I read it a couple of times before when we were in the Age of Grace.) You have not read it again since? That is lamentable. Let Me tell you: During this stage of God’s work He mentioned Job many times, which is a reflection of His intentions. That He mentioned Job many times but did not arouse your attention is a testament to a fact: You have no interest in being people who are good and people who fear God and shun evil. This is because you are satisfied with just having a rough idea about the story of Job cited by God. You are content with merely understanding the story itself, but you do not care about and do not try to understand the details of who Job is and the purpose behind why God refers to Job on so many occasions. If such a person praised by God does not interest you, then what exactly are you paying attention to? If you do not care about or try to understand such an important person God has mentioned, what might that say about your attitude toward God’s word? Would that not be deplorable? Would it not prove that most of you do not engage in practical things or pursue the truth? If you do pursue the truth, you will pay the requisite attention to the people whom God approves of and the characters’ stories God has spoken of. Regardless of whether you can live up to them or find their stories palpable, you will quickly go and read about them, try to comprehend them, find ways to follow their example, and do what you can to the best of your ability. This is how someone longing for the truth ought to act. But the fact is, most of you sitting here have never read the story of Job—and that is quite telling.
Let us return to the topic I was just discussing. In this part of Scripture, which concerns the Old Testament Age of Law, I have opted to focus on certain stories about highly representative characters most people who have read the Bible will be familiar with. Anyone who reads the stories about these characters will be able to feel that the work God has done on them and the words God has spoken to them are equally tangible and accessible to people today. When you read these stories, the records from the Bible, you will be able to better understand how God went about His work and treated people during those times in history. But the reason I have decided to discuss these chapters today is not so you try to focus on the stories themselves or the characters in them. Rather, it is so you can—through these characters’ stories—appreciate God’s deeds and His disposition. This will enable you to more easily get to know and understand God, see the real side of Him; it will dispel your speculations and notions about Him, and help steer you away from faith beset by vagueness. Unless you have a solid foundation, trying to make sense of God’s disposition and getting to know God Himself can often lead to a sense of helplessness, powerlessness, and uncertainty of where to even begin. This is what spurred Me to develop a method and approach which could help you better understand God, more authentically appreciate God’s will, get to know God’s disposition and God Himself, and let you genuinely feel God’s existence and appreciate His will toward mankind. Will this not be to all of your benefit? Now when you revisit these stories and parts of Scripture, what do you feel inside your hearts? Do you think the parts of Scripture I picked out are superfluous? I must reemphasize what I just told you: The aim of having you read these characters’ stories is to help you see how God does His work on people and better understand His attitude toward mankind. What will help you reach this understanding? Understanding the work that God has done in the past, and relating it to the work God is doing right now—this will help you appreciate His myriad aspects. These myriad aspects are real and must be known and appreciated by all who wish to get to know God.
Let us start with the story of Adam and Eve, beginning with a quote from Scripture.
A. Adam and Eve
1. God’s Command to Adam
Gen 2:15–17 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
What do you gather from these verses? How does this part of Scripture make you feel? Why have I decided to talk about God’s Command to Adam? Does each of you now have an image of God and Adam in your mind? You can try to imagine: If you were the one in that scene, deep down, what do you think God would be like? How does thinking about this make you feel? This is a moving and heartwarming picture. Though there is only God and man in it, the intimacy between them fills you with a sense of admiration: God’s overflowing love is freely bestowed upon man and surrounds man; man is innocent and pure, unencumbered and carefree, blissfully living under God’s eye; God shows concern for man, while man lives under God’s protection and blessing; every single thing man does and says is inextricably linked to and inseparable from God.
This can be called God’s first command to man after creating him. What does this command convey? It conveys God’s will, but also His worries for mankind. This is God’s first command, and it is also the first time God expresses worry for man. That is to say, God has felt a responsibility toward man since the moment He created him. What is His responsibility? He has to protect man, to look after man. He hopes man can trust and obey His words. This is also God’s first expectation of man. It is with this expectation that God says the following: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” These simple words represent God’s will. They also reveal that, in His heart, God has begun to show concern for man. Among all things, only Adam was made in God’s image; Adam was the only living thing with God’s breath of life; he could walk with God, converse with God. That is why God gave him this command. God made it very plain in His command what man can and cannot do.
In these few simple words, we see God’s heart. But what kind of heart shows itself? Is there love in God’s heart? Is there concern? In these verses, God’s love and concern can not only be appreciated, but also intimately felt. Would you not agree? After hearing Me say this, do you still think these are just a few simple words? They are not so simple after all, are they? Were you aware of this before? If God personally told you these few words, how would you feel inside? If you were not a humane person, if your heart were ice cold, then you would not feel a thing, you would not appreciate God’s love, and you would not try to understand God’s heart. But as a person with a conscience and sense of humanity, you would feel differently. You would feel warmth, you would feel cared for and loved, and you would feel happiness. Is that not right? When you feel these things, how will you act toward God? Would you feel attached to God? Would you love and respect God from the bottom of your heart? Would your heart grow closer to God? You can see from this just how important God’s love is to man. But what is even more crucial is man’s appreciation for and comprehension of God’s love. In fact, does God not say a lot of similar things during this stage of His work? Are there people today who appreciate God’s heart? Can you grasp the will of God I just spoke of? You cannot really appreciate God’s will when it is this concrete, tangible, and real. That is why I say you do not have real knowledge and understanding of God. Is this not true? But let us leave it at that for now.
2. God Creates Eve
Gen 2:18–20 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Gen 2:22–23 And the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
There is one key line in this part of Scripture: “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” So, who gave all living creatures their names? It was Adam, not God. This line tells mankind a fact: God gave man intelligence when He created him. That is to say, man’s intelligence came from God. This is a certainty. But why? After God created Adam, did Adam go to school? Did he know how to read? After God made various living creatures, did Adam recognize all of these creatures? Did God tell him what their names were? Of course, God also did not teach him how to come up with the names of these creatures. That is the truth! How, then, did Adam know how to give these living creatures their names and what kind of names to give them? This is related to the question of what God added to Adam when He created him. The facts prove that when God created man, He added His intelligence to him. This is a key point, so listen carefully. There is also another key point that you should understand: After Adam gave these living creatures their names, these names became set in God’s vocabulary. Why do I mention this? Because this also involves God’s disposition, and this is a point I must expound on further.
God created man, breathed life into him, and also gave him some of His intelligence, His abilities, and what He has and is. After God gave man all of these things, man was able to do some things independently and think on his own. If what man comes up with and does is good in the eyes of God, then God accepts it and does not interfere. If what man does is right, God will let it stand. So, what does the phrase “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” indicate? It indicates that God did not see fit to alter any of the names given to the various living creatures. Whatever name Adam called a creature, God would say “So it is,” affirming the creature’s name. Did God express any opinion on the matter? No, He certainly did not. So, what do you gather from this? God gave man intelligence and man used his God-given intelligence to do things. If what man does is positive in the eyes of God, then it is affirmed, acknowledged, and accepted by God without any judgment or criticism. This is something no person or evil spirit, or Satan, can do. Do you see a revelation of God’s disposition here? Would a human being, a corrupted person, or Satan permit anyone else to do something in their name, right under their nose? Of course not! Would they fight over this position with that other person or other force that is different from them? Of course they would! If it were a corrupted person or Satan who was with Adam at that time, they would have certainly repudiated what Adam was doing. To prove that they have the ability to think independently and have their own unique insights, they would have absolutely denied everything Adam did: “You want to call it this? Well, I’m not going to call it this, I’m going to call it that; you called it Tom but I’m going to call it Harry. I have to show how clever I am.” What kind of nature is this? Is it not wildly arrogant? And what of God? Does He have such a disposition? Did God have any unusual objections to what Adam was doing? The answer is unequivocally no! Of the disposition God reveals, there is not the slightest hint of argumentativeness, arrogance, or self-righteousness. That much is clear here. This may appear to be a minor point, but if you do not understand God’s essence, if your heart does not try to figure out how God acts and what God’s attitude is, then you will not know God’s disposition or see the expression and revelation of God’s disposition. Is that not so? Do you agree with what I just explained to you? In response to Adam’s actions, God did not grandiosely proclaim, “You have done well, you have done right, and I concur!” In His heart, however, God approved, appreciated, and applauded what Adam did. This was the first thing since creation that man had done for God at His instruction. It was something man did in God’s stead and on God’s behalf. In God’s eyes, this arose out of the intelligence He bestowed upon man. God saw it as a good thing, a positive thing. What Adam did at that time was the first manifestation of God’s intelligence in man. It was a fine manifestation from God’s point of view. What I want to tell you here is that God’s aim in imparting to man something of what He has and is and of His intelligence was so that mankind could be the living creature that manifests Him. For such a living creature to act on His behalf was precisely what God had been longing to see.
3. God Makes Coats of Skins for Adam and Eve
Gen 3:20–21 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Let us take a look at this third passage, which states that there is indeed meaning behind the name Adam gave Eve. This shows that after being created, Adam had his own thoughts and understood many things. But for now, we are not going to study or explore what he understood or how much he understood, because that is not My main aim in discussing the third passage. So, what is the main point I want to highlight? Let us take a look at the line, “To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” If we do not discuss this line of Scripture in our fellowship today, you might never realize the deeper implications of these words. First, let Me give you some clues. Imagine, if you will, the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve living in it. God goes to visit them, but they hide because they are naked. God cannot see them, and after He calls out to them, they say, “We dare not see You for our bodies are naked.” They do not dare to see God because they are naked. So, what does Jehovah God do for them? The original text says: “To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” From this, do you understand what God used to make their clothes? God used animal skins to make their clothes. That is to say, God made coats of fur for man to wear as clothing. These were the first pieces of clothing God made for man. A fur coat is a luxurious item by today’s standards and not something everyone can afford to wear. If someone asks you: What was the first piece of clothing worn by our ancestors? You can answer: It was a fur coat. Who made this fur coat? You can then respond: God made it! That is the main point here: This clothing was made by God. Is that not something worth discussing? After hearing My description, has an image emerged in your mind? You should have at least a rough outline. The point of telling you this today is not so you know what man’s first piece of clothing was. What, then, is the point? The point is not the fur coat, but how people come to know—as revealed by God in what He did here—His disposition, what He has, and what He is.
“To Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” In this scene, what kind of role do we see God assume when He is with Adam and Eve? In what way does God manifest Himself, in this world with only two human beings? Does He manifest Himself in the role of God? Brothers and sisters from Hong Kong, please answer. (In the role of a parent.) Brothers and sisters from South Korea, what kind of role do you think God appears as? (Head of the family.) Brothers and sisters from Taiwan, what do you think? (The role of someone in Adam and Eve’s family, the role of a family member.) Some of you think God appears as a family member of Adam and Eve, while some say God appears as the head of the family and others say as a parent. All of these are very appropriate. But do you see what I am getting at? God created these two people and treated them as His companions. As their only family, God looked after their lives and took care of their food, clothing and shelter needs. Here, God appears as a parent of Adam and Eve. While God does this, man does not see how lofty God is; he does not see God’s supremacy, His mystery, and especially not His wrath or majesty. All he sees is God’s humbleness, His affection, His concern for man and His responsibility and care for him. The attitude and way in which God treated Adam and Eve is akin to how parents show concern for their children. It is also like the way parents love, look after, and care for their own sons and daughters—real, visible, and tangible. Instead of elevating Himself to a high and mighty position, God personally used skins to make clothing for man. It does not matter whether this fur coat was used to cover their modesty or to shield them from the cold. What matters is that this clothing for covering man’s body was personally made by God with His own hands. Rather than simply thinking the clothing into existence or using some other miraculous means, as people might imagine God would do, God legitimately did something that man would have thought God would not and should not do. This might seem like a trivial thing—some people might not even think it is worth mentioning—but it allows any follower of God who was beset with vague conceptions about Him to gain an insight into His genuineness and loveliness, and to see His faithfulness and humbleness. It makes insufferably arrogant people who think they are high and mighty bow their conceited heads in shame in the face of God’s genuineness and humbleness. Here, God’s genuineness and humbleness further enables people to see how lovable He is. By contrast, the “immense” God, “lovable” God, and “omnipotent” God people hold in their hearts has become trifling and ugly, and crumbles at the slightest touch. When you see this verse and hear this story, do you look down upon God because He did such a thing? Some people might, but others will have the opposite reaction. They will think God is genuine and lovable, and it is precisely God’s genuineness and loveliness that moves them. The more they see the real side of God, the more they can appreciate the true existence of God’s love, the importance of God in their hearts, and how He stands beside them at every moment.
Now, let us relate our discussion back to the present. If God could do these various little things for the people He created at the very beginning, even things that people would never dare think of or expect, then could God do such things for people today? Some say, “Yes!” Why is that? Because God’s essence is not feigned, and His loveliness is not feigned. God’s essence truly exists and is not something added on by others, and certainly not something that changes with different times, places, and eras. God’s genuineness and loveliness can truly be brought out only by doing something people think is unremarkable and insignificant—something so trifling that people would not even think He would ever do it. God is not pretentious. There is no exaggeration, disguise, pride, or arrogance in His disposition and essence. He never boasts, but instead loves, shows concern for, looks after, and leads, with faithfulness and sincerity, the human beings He created. No matter how little people may appreciate, feel, or see what God does, He most certainly is doing it. Would knowing that God has such an essence affect people’s love for Him? Would it influence their fear of God? I hope when you understand the real side of God, you will grow even closer to Him and be able to more truly appreciate His love and care for mankind, as well as be able to give your heart to God and be delivered from suspicions and doubts about Him. God is quietly doing everything for man, doing it all silently through His sincerity, faithfulness, and love. But He never has any apprehensions or regrets over anything He does, nor does He ever need anyone to repay Him in any way or have intentions of ever obtaining anything from mankind. The only purpose of everything He has ever done is so He can receive mankind’s true faith and love. And with that, I will end the first topic here.
Have these discussions helped you? How helpful have they been? (We have more understanding and knowledge of God’s love.) (This method of fellowship can help us in the future to better appreciate God’s word, to comprehend the emotions He had and the meanings behind the things He said when He said them, and to sense what He felt at the time.) Are any of you more keenly aware of God’s actual existence after reading these words? Do you feel God’s existence is no longer hollow or vague? Once you have this feeling, can you sense that God is right beside you? Perhaps the sensation is not obvious right now or you might not be able to feel it just yet. But one day, when you truly have a deep appreciation and real knowledge of God’s disposition and essence in your heart, you will sense that God is right by your side—you just had never genuinely accepted God into your heart. And that is the truth!
What do you think of this approach to fellowship? Are you able to keep up? Do you think this type of fellowship about the topic of God’s work and God’s disposition is very heavy? How do you feel? (Very good, excited.) What made you feel good? Why were you excited? (It was like returning to the Garden of Eden, back to being by God’s side.) “God’s disposition” is actually a rather unfamiliar topic for people, because what you usually imagine, and what you read in books or hear in fellowships, tends to make you feel a bit like a blind man touching an elephant—you are just feeling around with your hands, but you cannot actually visualize anything. Blindly fumbling around cannot give you even a rough understanding of God, let alone a clear concept of Him; it only further provokes your imagination, preventing you from precisely defining what God’s disposition and essence are, and the uncertainties arising from your imagination will invariably fill your heart with doubts. When you cannot be certain about something but still try to understand it, there will always be contradictions and conflict in your heart, and even a sense of disturbance, leaving you disoriented and confused. Is it not an agonizing thing to want to seek God, to know God, and see Him clearly, but never seem to be able to find the answers? Of course, these words are only targeted at those who desire to seek to fearfully revere and satisfy God. For people who do not pay any attention to such things, this actually does not matter, because what they hope for most is that the realness and existence of God are merely a legend or fantasy, so they can do whatever they want, so they can be the biggest and the most important, so they can commit evil deeds without regard for consequences, so they will not have to face punishment or bear any responsibility, and so that even the things that God says about evildoers will not apply to them. These people are not willing to comprehend God’s disposition. They are sick and tired of trying to know God and everything about Him. They would prefer that God does not exist. These people oppose God, and they are among those who will be cast out.