God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I (Part Three)
Next, we will discuss the story of Noah and how it relates to the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself.
What do you see God doing to Noah in this part of the scriptures? Perhaps everyone sitting here knows something about it from reading the scriptures: God made Noah build the ark, then God destroyed the world with a flood. God had Noah build the ark to save his family of eight, which allowed them to survive and become the ancestors for the next generation of mankind. Let us now turn to Scripture.
1. God Intends to Destroy the World With a Flood and Instructs Noah to Build an Ark
Gen 6:9–14 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make you an ark of gopher wood; rooms shall you make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch.
Gen 6:18–22 But with you will I establish My covenant; and you shall come into the ark, you, and your sons, and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shall you bring into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come to you, to keep them alive. And take you to you of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to you; and it shall be for food for you, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Do you now have a general understanding of who Noah was after reading these passages? What kind of person was Noah? The original text is: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.” According to the understanding of modern people, what kind of a person was a “just man” back in those days? A just man should be a perfect man. Do you know whether this perfect man was perfect in the eyes of man, or perfect in the eyes of God? Without a doubt, this perfect man was a perfect man in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of man. This is for certain! This is because man is blind and cannot see, and only God looks upon the entire earth and every single person, and only God knew that Noah was a perfect man. Therefore, God’s plan to destroy the world with a flood began from the moment He called upon Noah.
In that age, God intended to call upon Noah to do something very important. Why did this task have to be done? Because God had a plan in His heart at that moment. His plan was to destroy the world with a flood. Why would He destroy the world? As it says here: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” What do you gather from the phrase “the earth was filled with violence”? It was a phenomenon on earth wherein the world and its people had become corrupt to the extreme; hence, “the earth was filled with violence.” In today’s parlance, “filled with violence” would mean that everything is out of kilter. To man, it meant that all semblance of order was lost in every facet of life, and that everything had become chaotic and unmanageable. In God’s eyes, it meant that the people of the world had become too corrupt. But corrupt to what extent? Corrupt to the extent that God could no longer bear to look upon or be patient with them. Corrupt to the extent that God intended to destroy them. When God resolved to destroy the world, He planned to find someone to build an ark. God chose Noah to perform this task; that is, He had Noah build an ark. Why did He choose Noah? In God’s eyes, Noah was a righteous man; no matter what God instructed him to do, Noah did so accordingly. That is to say, Noah was willing to do whatever God told him to do. God wanted to find someone like this to work with Him, to complete what He had entrusted—to complete His work on earth. Back then, was there another person apart from Noah who could complete such a task? Certainly not! Noah was the only candidate, the only person who could complete what God entrusted, and so God chose him. But are God’s limits and standards for saving people the same now as they were then? The answer is, there is definitely a difference! And why do I ask this? Noah was the only man righteous in God’s eyes during that time, which implies that neither his wife nor any of his sons or daughters-in-law were righteous people, but God still spared them because of Noah. God did not place demands on them the way He does now, and instead kept all eight members of Noah’s family alive. They received God’s blessing because of Noah’s righteousness. Without Noah, none of them could have completed what God had entrusted. Therefore, Noah was the only person who was supposed to survive that destruction of the world, and the others were just collateral beneficiaries. This shows that, in the era before God officially commenced His management work, the principles and standards with which He treated people and asked of them were relatively relaxed. To the people of today, the way God treated Noah’s family of eight appears to lack “fairness.” But compared to the great volume of work He now does on people and the great amount of His word He now conveys, God’s treatment of Noah’s family of eight was merely a work principle given the background of His work at the time. By comparison, did Noah’s family of eight receive more from God, or do the people of today?
That Noah was called upon is a simple fact, but the main point of what we are talking about—God’s disposition, His will, and His essence in this record—is not so simple. To understand these several aspects of God, we must first understand the kind of person God desires to call upon, and through this, understand His disposition, will, and essence. This is crucial. So in God’s eyes, just what kind of a person is this man He calls upon? This must be a person who can listen to His words and who can follow His instructions. At the same time, this must also be a person with a sense of responsibility, someone who will carry out God’s word by treating it as the responsibility and duty they are bound to fulfill. Then does this person need to be someone who knows God? No. Back in that time, Noah had not heard much of God’s teachings or experienced any of God’s work. Therefore, Noah had very little knowledge of God. Although it is recorded here that Noah walked with God, did he ever see God’s person? The answer is definitely no! Because in those days, only God’s messengers came among people. While they could represent God in saying and doing things, they were merely conveying God’s will and His intentions. God’s person was not revealed to man face-to-face. In this part of the scriptures, all we basically see is what Noah had to do and what God’s instructions to him were. So what was the essence expressed by God here? Everything God does is planned with precision. When He sees a thing or a situation occurring, in His eyes there is a standard to measure it with, and this standard determines whether He launches a plan to deal with it or what approach to take in dealing with this thing or situation. He is not indifferent or lacking in feelings toward everything. It is actually the complete opposite. There is a verse here stating what God said to Noah: “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” When God said this, did He mean He was destroying only humans? No! God said He was going to destroy all living things of flesh. Why did God want destruction? There is another revelation of God’s disposition here; in God’s eyes, there is a limit to His patience toward man’s corruption, toward the filthiness, violence, and disobedience of all flesh. What is His limit? It is as God said: “God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” What does the phrase “for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth” mean? It means any living things, including those who followed God, those who called on the, those who once made burnt offerings to God, those who verbally acknowledged God and even praised God—once their behavior was full of corruption and reached God’s eyes, He would have to destroy them. That was God’s limit. So to what extent did God remain patient with man and the corruption of all flesh? To the extent that all people, whether followers of God or unbelievers, were not walking the right path. To the extent that man was not just morally corrupt and full of evil, but where there was no one who believed in God’s existence, let alone anyone who believed that the world is ruled by God and that God can bring people light and the right path. To the extent that man despised God’s existence and did not permit God to exist. Once man’s corruption reached this point, God could stand it no longer. What would replace it? The coming of God’s wrath and God’s punishment. Was that not a partial revelation of God’s disposition? In this current age, are there no men who are righteous in the eyes of God? Are there no men who are perfect in the eyes of God? Is this age one in which the behavior of all flesh on earth is corrupt in the eyes of God? In this day and age, are all people of flesh—apart from those God wants to make complete, and those who can follow God and accept His salvation—not challenging the limit of God’s patience? Is everything that happens beside you—what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears, and personally experience every day in this world—not full of violence? In God’s eyes, should such a world, such an age, not be ended? Though the background of the current age is completely different from the background of Noah’s time, the feelings and wrath God has toward man’s corruption remain exactly the same. God is able to be patient because of His work, but in light of the circumstances and conditions, in God’s eyes this world should have been destroyed long ago. The circumstances are far beyond what they were when the world was destroyed by flood. But what is the difference? This is also the thing that saddens God’s heart the most, and perhaps something none of you can appreciate.
When He destroyed the world by flood, God was able to call upon Noah to build an ark and do some of the preparation work. God could call upon one man—Noah—to do these series of things for Him. But in this current age, God does not have anybody to call upon. Why is that? Every single person sitting here probably understands and knows the reason very well. Do you need Me to spell it out? Saying it out loud might make you lose face and get everybody upset. Some people might say: “Although we are not righteous people and we are not perfect people in the eyes of God, if God were to instruct us to do something, we would still be capable of doing it. Before, when He said a catastrophic disaster was coming, we started preparing food and items that would be needed in a disaster. Wasn’t all of this done in accordance with God’s demands? Weren’t we really cooperating with God’s work? Can’t these things we did be compared to what Noah did? Isn’t doing what we did true obedience? Weren’t we following God’s instructions? Didn’t we do what God said because we have faith in? Then why is God still sad? Why does God say He has no one to call upon?” Is there any difference between your actions and those of Noah’s? What is the difference? (Preparing food today for the disaster was our own intention.) (Our actions cannot amount to being “righteous,” whereas Noah was a righteous man in God’s eyes.) What you said is not too far off. What Noah did was essentially different to what people are doing now. When Noah did as God instructed, he did not know what God’s intentions were. He did not know what God wanted to accomplish. God had only given him a command and instructed him to do something, and without much explanation, Noah went ahead and did it. He did not try to secretly figure out God’s intentions, nor did he resist God or show insincerity. He just went and did it accordingly with a pure and simple heart. Whatever God had him do, he did, and obeying and listening to God’s word underpinned his belief in what he did. That was how straightforwardly and simply he dealt with what God entrusted. His essence—the essence of his actions was obedience, not second-guessing, not resisting, and moreover, not thinking of his own personal interests or his gains and losses. Further, when God said He would destroy the world with a flood, Noah did not ask when or ask what would become of things, and he certainly did not ask God how He was going to destroy the world. He simply did as God instructed. However God wanted it to be made and made with what, he did exactly as God asked and also commenced action immediately. He acted according to God’s instructions with an attitude of wanting to satisfy God. Was he doing it to help himself avoid the disaster? No. Did he ask God how much longer it would be before the world was to be destroyed? He did not. Did he ask God or did he know how long it would take to build the ark? He did not know that either. He simply obeyed, listened, and acted accordingly. The people of now are not the same: As soon as a bit of information is leaked through God’s word, as soon as people sense a mere rustle of leaves in the wind, they immediately spring into action, no matter what and regardless of the price, to prepare what they will eat, drink, and use in the aftermath, even planning their escape routes for when the disaster strikes. Even more interesting is that, at this key moment, human brains are very good at “getting the job done.” Under circumstances where God has not given any instructions, man can plan for everything very appropriately. You could use the word “perfect” to describe such plans. As for what God says, what God’s intentions are, or what God wants, no one cares and no one tries to appreciate it. Is that not the biggest difference between the people of today and Noah?
In this record of Noah’s story, do you see a part of God’s disposition? There is a limit to God’s patience toward man’s corruption, filthiness, and violence. When He reaches that limit, He will no longer be patient and will instead begin His new management and new plan, start to do what He has to do, reveal His deeds and the other side of His disposition. This action of His is not to demonstrate that He must never be offended by man or that He is full of authority and wrath, and it is not to show that He can destroy humanity. It is that His disposition and His holy essence can no longer allow or have the patience for this kind of humanity to live before Him, to live under His dominion. That is to say, when all of mankind is against Him, when there is no one He can save on the whole earth, He will no longer have patience for such a humanity and will, without any misgiving, carry out His plan—to destroy this kind of humanity. Such an act by God is determined by His disposition. This is a necessary consequence, and a consequence that every created being under God’s dominion must bear. Does this not show that in this current age, God cannot wait to complete His plan and save the people He wants to save? Under these circumstances, what does God care about the most? Not how those who do not follow Him at all or those who oppose Him anyway treat Him or resist Him, or how mankind is slandering Him. He only cares about whether those who follow Him, the objects of His salvation in His management plan, have been made complete by Him, whether they have become worthy of His satisfaction. As for the people other than those who follow Him, He merely occasionally provides a bit of punishment to express His wrath. For example: tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. At the same time, He is also strongly protecting and looking after those who follow Him and are about to be saved by Him. God’s disposition is this: On the one hand, He can have extreme patience and tolerance toward the people He intends to make complete, and He can wait for them for as long as He possibly can; on the other hand, God passionately hates and loathes the Satan-type of people who do not follow Him and oppose Him. Although He does not care whether these Satan-types follow Him or worship Him, He still detests them while having patience for them in His heart, and as He determines the ending of these Satan-types, He is also waiting for the arrival of the steps of His management plan.
Let us look at the next passage.
2. God’s Blessing to Noah After the Flood
Gen 9:1–6 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, and on every fowl of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.
What do you see from this passage? Why did I choose these verses? Why did I not select an excerpt about Noah and his family’s life on the ark? Because that information does not have much connection to the topic we are communicating today. What we are focusing on is God’s disposition. If you want to know about those details, then you can pick up the Bible to have a read yourselves. We will not talk about that here. The main thing we are talking about today is about how to know God’s actions.
After Noah accepted God’s instructions and built the ark and lived through the days in which God used a flood to destroy the world, his whole family of eight survived. Apart from Noah’s family of eight, all of mankind was destroyed, and all living things on earth were destroyed. To Noah, God gave blessings, and said some things to him and his sons. These things were what God was bestowing upon him and also God’s blessing upon him. This is the blessing and promise God gives to someone who can listen to Him and accept His instructions, and is also the way God rewards people. That is to say, regardless of whether Noah was a perfect man or a righteous man in God’s eyes, and regardless of how much he knew about God, in short, Noah and his three sons all listened to God’s words, cooperated with God’s work, and did what they were supposed to do in accordance with God’s instructions. As a result, they preserved humans and various kinds of living things for God in the wake of the destruction of the world by flood, making a great contribution to the next step of God’s management plan. Because of everything he had done, God blessed him. Maybe for the people of today, what Noah did was not even worth mentioning. Some might even think: Noah did not do anything; God had made up His mind to spare him, so he was definitely going to be spared. His survival was not due to his own accomplishments. This is what God wanted to make happen, because man is passive. But that is not what God was thinking. To God, no matter whether a person is great or insignificant, as long as they can listen to Him, obey His instructions and what He entrusts, and can cooperate with His work, His will, and His plan, so that His will and His plan can be accomplished smoothly, then that conduct is worthy of His remembrance and of receiving His blessing. God treasures such people, and He cherishes their actions and their love and affection for Him. This is God’s attitude. So why did God bless Noah? Because this is how God treats such actions and the obedience of man.
In regard to God’s blessing of Noah, some people will say: “If man listens to God and satisfies God, then God should bless man. Doesn’t that go without saying?” Can we say that? Some people say: “No.” Why can we not say that? Some people say: “Man is not worthy of enjoying God’s blessing.” That is not entirely right. Because when a person accepts what God entrusts to them, God has a standard for judging whether their actions are good or bad and whether the person has obeyed, and whether the person has satisfied God’s will and whether what they do meets that standard. What God cares about is the person’s heart, not their actions on the surface. It is not the case that God should bless someone as long as they do something, regardless of how they do it. This is a misunderstanding people have about God. God looks not just at the end result of things, but places more emphasis on how a person’s heart is and how a person’s attitude is during the development of things, and He looks at whether there is obedience, consideration, and the desire to satisfy God in their heart. How much did Noah know about God at the time? Was it as much as the doctrines you know now? In terms of aspects of the truth such as concepts and knowledge of God, did he receive as much watering and shepherding as you? No, he did not! But there is one fact that is undeniable: In the consciousness, minds, and even the depths of the hearts of the people of today, their concepts of and attitudes toward God are vague and ambiguous. You could even say that a portion of people hold a negative attitude toward God’s existence. But in Noah’s heart and his consciousness, God’s existence was absolute and beyond the slightest doubt, and thus his obedience to God was unadulterated and could stand the test. His heart was pure and open toward God. He did not need too much knowledge of doctrines to convince himself to follow every word of God, nor did he need a lot of facts to prove God’s existence in order to be able to accept what God entrusted him with and to be capable of doing whatever God had him do. This is the essential difference between Noah and the people of today. It is also the true definition of precisely what a perfect man is in God’s eyes. What God wants is people like Noah. He is the type of person God praises and is also precisely the kind of person God blesses. Have you received any enlightenment from this? People look at people from the outside, while what God looks at is people’s hearts and their essence. God does not allow anyone to have any half-heartedness or doubts toward Him, nor does He permit people to suspect or test Him in any way. Hence, even though the people of today are face to face with God’s word—you could even say face to face with God—due to something deep inside their hearts, the existence of their corrupt essence, and their hostile attitude toward Him, people have been obstructed from having a true belief in God and blocked from being obedient to Him. Because of this, it is very difficult for them to obtain the same blessing that God bestowed upon Noah.