Chapter 2. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I
What topic will we fellowship today? We will fellowship a very important topic, a topic that we have fellowshiped ever since God began His work. It is a topic that is very important to every single person, and is also an issue that everyone must come into contact with, and will come into contact with, during the course of their belief in God. It is a very important issue and it is both unavoidable and inseparable from man. Speaking of importance, what is the most important thing to every single believer? Some will say that the most important thing is understanding God’s will; some will say that the most important thing is eating and drinking more of the words of God; some will say that the most important thing is to know yourselves; some will say that the most important thing is to know how to be saved by God, how to follow God and how to be able to satisfy God’s will. But we will set these topics aside for today. What will we talk about? The topic we will talk about concerns God. Isn’t this a topic of paramount importance to everyone? (Yes.) What things does a topic about God involve? Of course, this topic is assuredly inseparable from God’s disposition, God’s essence and God’s work, so today let’s talk about “God’s Work, God’s Disposition and God Himself.”
God’s work is not a topic that anyone will be strangers to, and people come into contact with it from the day they begin to believe in God. Some people will say, “We experience God’s work every day. We’re not strangers to it! How could it be possible that we are strangers to God’s work?” Some will also say, “God’s disposition is a topic that we spend our lives researching, investigating and focusing on, so we’re not strangers to that either. As for God Himself, He is the One whom we follow, we believe in and we adhere to; we’re also not strangers to Him.” Since the creation of the world, God has not stopped His work. As He works, He constantly expresses His own disposition, conveys His own essence and expresses His word in all manner of ways, unceasingly conveys Himself, His will and His essence to mankind, and expresses His will and His requirements for mankind. Therefore, in a literal sense, these topics will not appear strange to anyone, but in actual fact those who now follow God are indeed strangers to God’s work, God’s disposition and God Himself. Why do I say this? Whilst man experiences God’s work, they come into contact with God, and so they think they understand God’s disposition and that they have knowledge of a part of God’s disposition. They think they are on familiar terms with God and that they understand a lot about Him. But looking at the current situation, it seems that many people’s understanding is confined only to books, to their own personal scope of experience and even more their understanding is confined to facts they can see with their own eyes, and there lies a gulf between their understanding and the true God Himself. How big a gulf exactly? You may not be clear about this in your heart, or you may have some awareness and some feeling, but as far as God Himself is concerned, man’s understanding of Him is very far removed from the essence of true God Himself. So, there is a great need for us to bring up this topic of “God’s Work, God’s Disposition and God Himself” and fellowship about it.
In actual fact, God’s disposition is open to each and every person; it’s not hidden. For God has never consciously tried to evade anyone, nor has He ever consciously tried to conceal Himself, not allowing man to know Him or to understand Him. Instead, since the beginning, God’s disposition has been open and has been in plain view for everyone to see. This is because, in God’s management, God works before everyone and on everyone. At the same time as He does this work, He continually reveals His disposition, and continually leads every single person by means of His essence and by means of what He has and is. Within every age, every period of time, whether in good environments or terrible environments, generally speaking, God’s disposition is open to everyone and what He has and is is open to everyone, just as His life provides and supports man in an unending flow. Yet, to some people, God’s disposition is hidden. Why do I say this? For although these people live within God’s work and although they follow God, they have never tried to understand God, they have no desire to know God and even less do they wish to draw close to God. As far as these people are concerned, an understanding of God’s disposition would signify the beginning of their end, and it would signify their judgment and condemnation by God’s disposition. Therefore, these people have never wanted to understand God or understand His disposition, never tried to have an in-depth understanding of God’s will or to comprehend His will, and they have no desire to consciously cooperate trying to grasp His will. They just never grow tired of doing the things they want to do, believing in the God they wish to believe in, believing in the God of their own hearts who exists within their imaginings and conceptions and believing in the God of their daily lives that is with them everywhere they go. As for the true God Himself, they treat Him with a contemptuous disregard; they have no desire to understand Him or to pay Him any attention, much less draw close to Him. Instead, they gloss over themselves and wrap themselves up with the words God expresses and, in this way, they think their belief in God is bearing fruit and that their belief has brought God into their hearts. Within their hearts, however, they are being led by their imaginations, their conceptions and even by their definitions of God, and they have nothing at all to do with the true God Himself. Because once they have understood the true God Himself and God’s true disposition and understood what God has and is, then this would signify condemnation of their behavior, their belief and their seeking, therefore they are very unwilling to try to understand God’s essence, and very unwilling, very reluctant, to actively seek or pray in a way that would allow them to further understand God, know more about God’s will and further understand God’s disposition. They would rather God was a fabrication, a thing hollow and vague, and they would rather God was just as they imagine Him to be, a God at their beck and call, inexhaustible and to be used without end. When they wish to enjoy the grace of God, God would be that grace; when they need to be blessed, God would be that blessing; when they encounter adverse[a] environments, God would give them courage and be their backup. But there are also some people who eagerly wish to understand God’s disposition, who wish to truly see God Himself and who wish to truly and genuinely understand God’s disposition and what He has and is. These people seek the reality of the truth, they seek to be saved by God and they seek for God’s conquest, salvation and perfection. These people read the word of God with their hearts and they use their hearts to experience every environment and every person, matter and thing God arranges for them—they pray and they seek with a true heart. The thing they most want to know is God’s disposition and the thing they most want to understand is God’s true essence, so that they may not offend God and may see even more of God’s loveliness and realness within their experience, so that there may be a true God existing in their hearts, that God may have a place in their hearts, and that they may no longer imagine, no longer live inside a vacuum and no longer live within imaginings and conceptions; they are unwilling to live in vagueness. These people wish urgently to understand God’s disposition and to understand His essence. To them, God’s disposition and essence provide for them at all times—they provide life. Once they understand God’s disposition, they are then able to fear God still further; once they understand God, they are then better able to cooperate with God’s work and better able to be considerate toward God’s will and to do their duty. These are the attitudes toward God’s disposition of two types of people. One type doesn’t want to understand God’s disposition. Though they may say they do, and say they want to know God Himself, that they want to see what God has and is and they want to truly experience what God is like, within their hearts they would rather God did not exist, for they have been rebelling against God and defying Him all along, because they jostle with God for position in their own hearts and because in their hearts they often doubt, and even deny, the existence of God. They don’t want God’s disposition or the true God Himself to occupy their hearts. They want only to satisfy their own desires, their own imaginations and their own wild ambitions. So you see, although these people believe in God and follow God, and although some even abandon their families and careers, their evil deeds never cease. There are even some who steal offerings, some who squander offerings freely, some who curse God on the quiet and some who use their positions to vie with God for people or for status, who use any method and resort to any artifice to get people to worship them, all the while bearing witness for themselves, exalting themselves, and always wanting others to think highly of them. There are even some who want others to mistake them for God, and to them it’s best if people treat them as though they were God. They never say to people, “I am a corrupt human being; I too am corrupt and arrogant, so don’t worship me. No matter how good my actions, it is all because God raises me up, they are all things I ought to do.” They never say anything like this. Why not? Because they are deeply afraid of losing their position in people’s hearts. So these people never exalt God or bear witness for God. And the reason why they don’t exalt God or bear witness for Him is because they have never tried to understand God. Can they know God when they don’t understand Him? Impossible. Therefore, although the words of the title of this topic—“God’s Work, God’s Disposition and God Himself”—are simple, they bear a different significance for every single person. As for those who are always rebelling against God, defying God and being hostile to God, they mean condemnation; whereas for those who seek the reality of the truth and who are always able to come before God to seek His will, then beyond all doubt they will have them be like a fish back in water. So, once you hear that I will be discussing God’s disposition and God’s work, there are some among you whose heads will begin to ache; and when some others hear this, they think,[b] “Mm, this is a good topic. I need to hear about it because it will be of great benefit to me, and it is a topic that I cannot do without in my life experience. It is the key of all keys, and it is the foundation of my belief in God. People cannot do without it.” Though this topic is both near and far, both strange and familiar to everyone, whatever the case, it is still something that everyone here today must hear and is something that you all need to know and to understand. No matter how you approach this topic, how you regard it or how you understand it, it is a topic that still needs to be discussed.
God’s work began when He began to create mankind. In the beginning, God’s work was very simple. Yet despite its simplicity, within it was God’s essence and disposition. Now God’s work is higher than before, and He expresses a great many words to man and He does a great deal of specific work on everyone who follows Him, but always God’s person has remained hidden to man. Though He has twice become flesh, has anyone ever seen God’s real person since the Biblical records began? As far as you know, has anyone ever seen God’s real person? (No.) No, they haven’t, and this is something that everyone agrees on. No one has ever seen God’s real person, that is, no one has ever seen God’s true face. In other words, God’s real person, His Spirit, is hidden from all people, including God’s creations Adam and Eve, as well as Job, the righteous man whom God accepted; none have ever seen God’s real person. So why does God consciously hide His real person? Some people say, “God is afraid of frightening people!” Do you believe this? Some people say, “God hides His real person because man is so insignificant and God is so great. Man cannot look upon Him—to do so would mean death.” Then there are some who say, “God is busy managing His work every day. Maybe He doesn’t have the time to appear visibly to man.” Regardless of what you believe, I have the conclusion right here. What have I concluded? What was the topic I mentioned just now? (No one has ever seen God’s person, and why God wants to hide His person from man.) This “why God wants to hide His person from man,” should be “consciously hide His person from man.” You all heard this word “consciously,” right? God has never shown His person to man, so why does God want to consciously hide His person? Do you believe that God’s person exists? (Yes.) This is for sure! You can’t have believed for this long and then say God’s person simply doesn’t exist—that would be troublesome. We must first affirm that God’s person exists. As for how big His person is or what He looks like, are these issues that we should investigate? No, they’re not. The answer is negative; these issues are not things we as mankind should investigate. So what issues should we investigate? (God’s disposition.) (God’s work.) We’re getting back to our topic just now: God has never shown His person to mankind, so why does He consciously hide His person from mankind? There is only one reason: It is because the created mankind is too insignificant and it has been so corrupted by Satan that it does not deserve to see God’s person. Therefore, God has kept His person hidden since the time He began His work—this is the sole reason. You’re clear on this, right? (Yes, we’re clear.)
Ever since God’s management began, He has been working flat out with all His heart. While He kept His person hidden, He has constantly accompanied man, worked on mankind and worked on every single person by means of His power, His wisdom and His authority, thus bringing about the Age of Law, the Age of Grace and the present Age of Kingdom. Although God’s person is hidden from man, in actual fact He unreservedly shows man His disposition, what He has and is, and the will of God Himself toward mankind, so that man may see and experience them. Isn’t that a fact? (Yes.) Why do I say this? Regardless of what method God uses or from what perspective He does His work, He always uses His true identity to approach man, to do His work and to say the things He is supposed to say. This doesn’t mean that much to man, but to God Himself, no matter what perspective He takes to speak His words, whether from on high in the third heaven or from the perspective of the flesh, or even whether He speaks to people from the perspective of a person, He puts His heart and soul into doing every part of His work, without any deception and without hiding anything from man. And while God is doing His work, He expresses His word and expresses His own disposition and what He has and is without reserve.
After the Age of Law, how long was God in flesh for the first time? Do you know? (33 and a half years.) And would this amount of time—33 and a half years—be a long time to man? (No, not long.) This is because people can normally live into their seventies and eighties; therefore to man 33 and a half years cannot be considered a very long time. God, however, became human, an ordinary person; He was born into an ordinary family, and grew up in an ordinary family. As an ordinary man, He undertook God’s work, and He undertook God’s commission to do His work. In the Age of Grace, how much suffering did the Lord Jesus endure from the time He began His work up until the crucifixion? Although His suffering is not right there for people nowadays to see, yet are you able to perceive any of it through the records in the Bible? You should be able to, right? No matter how detailed or how sketchy the record of this fact is, generally speaking, God was filled with pain and suffering during this period of His work. Man may think that those 33 and a half years is not a long time and that little bit of suffering isn’t a big deal. But for the Lord Jesus who undertook God’s work and undertook God’s commission, didn’t He suffer greatly? Because you didn’t undertake that work or suffer that pain, you think it’s no big deal. But as for the holy, unblemished God, He is the Lord of creation who is the Sovereign of all things, who dominates everything; He came to the world devoid of a sinful nature and yet took upon Himself the sins of all mankind; devoid of a sinful nature Himself, He was condemned by man, and He suffered pain never before suffered by normal people. What did His suffering signify? It signified His devotion to mankind and signified the price He paid for man’s salvation, for the redemption of man’s sins and for the completion of that stage of work. The price He paid was the price of blood, the price of life, something that no created being could pay in His stead. Only because He had God’s essence and possessed what God has and is could He undertake this suffering and this kind of work, things that no created being could undertake in His place. Is what God has and is revealed here at all? (Yes.) This was the work of the Age of Grace.
Now in the Age of Kingdom, God has once again become flesh and, although the method used is the same as the first time He became flesh, God has now been working for over 20 years. During this work, God still unreservedly expresses His word, expresses what He has and is and does the work He’s supposed to do, whilst at the same time continuously showing patience and tolerance to man’s rebelliousness and ignorance. Isn’t this also work that God does? (Yes.) During this time then, isn’t God also constantly revealing His disposition and expressing His will? Therefore, since the time of man’s creation and through God’s work up till the present stage, His disposition, what He has and is and His will have in fact always been open to anyone; God has never consciously hidden His essence, hidden His disposition or hidden His will. As for how much man understands God, that depends on their seeking and on their hearts. Isn’t that so? This being said, then isn’t it a simple matter for everyone to understand God’s disposition and understand God Himself? This is not an easy question to answer, is it? You can say it is a simple matter, yet some people seek to know God and never know Him, or never know Him clearly, only knowing Him in a hazy, vague way; and you can say it’s not a simple matter, but then that is also wrong—having experienced God’s work for this long you should have had in your spirit some interaction with God, and in your spirit had previous encounters with God and with His Spirit, and have some tales to tell. Every one of you has had some genuine dealings with God in your experience, and you should all have some perceptual knowledge of God’s disposition. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) If you say it’s a simple matter, in reality people still haven’t gotten to know God; if you say it’s not a simple matter, in reality God has done much work on man, and yet people have no knowledge of it. What problem is this? Is it God’s problem? (No.) Then whose problem is it? (It’s man’s problem.) Tell Me, does God provide a lot or a little to man? (A lot.) Does man then gain a lot or a little? (A little.) You gain a little? This is troublesome. God provides a lot for man, you yourselves acknowledge that He provides a lot and yet, when I ask you whether you gain a lot, you still say no. Don’t you lack conscience? Can you say such a thing? It must be put this way: God provides a lot for man and, in actual fact, they have gained so much since following God. But for various reasons—their lack of caliber, their ignorance, their rebelliousness, their mindlessness and various intentions—they have let so much slip through their fingers. In reality, doesn’t God give much to man? Although God has hidden His person, He provides to man all that He has and is, and He provides them with His life. Some people ask, “Seeing as You say He provides all this to us, is it His entirety that He provides to us?” It can be put this way. Yes, God gives His entirety to man, but there are two sides to this. What God has and is is all-inclusive, and God is so wise; so besides that which God provides to man, these truths and life, is there anything more to God? (Yes.) There is no need to doubt this, and there is certainly more to God! There is one word that can be used to describe God’s wisdom, what God has and is and His entirety, a word that comes from mankind: What God has and is is “boundless,” and God’s wisdom is “boundless.” Despite the fact you think you haven’t gained much from God, I must say that God’s entirety is boundless. It is not restricted only to that little which man can perceive, nor is it restricted only to that which man can understand, much less is it restricted to that which has been recorded from the Bible till now; God’s entirety is boundless. If you are picky about the choice of word and you say “God gives His entirety to us so surely He is this much and there is no more to Him,” then you have made a mistake and you have delimited God. Whatever the case, we had better talk about our main topic and get back to that. God’s work, God’s disposition and God Himself—are these three one? (Yes.) Though we say three things, in actual fact these three are one; they are one thing. God’s disposition is expressed within God’s work, His disposition is revealed and expressed little by little during God’s work, and every single thing that is expressed represents God Himself. Tell Me, does God’s mercy and love represent God Himself? Does God’s patience and tolerance represent God Himself? (Yes.) Then does God’s wisdom represent God Himself? Does God’s supremacy represent God Himself? (Yes.) What about God’s majesty and wrath? What about His righteousness? What about His omnipotence? They all represent God Himself, do they? (Yes.) We can say this about this topic.
If you want to understand God’s disposition and understand God Himself, then you must start with small steps. But what small steps must you start with? Firstly we have found some sections and chapters in the Bible that we can share. Though these writings are old, that which we are fellowshiping are new things, and we will fellowship things that are even newer, things that people do not have and have never heard before. We haven’t selected many chapters so as to save time. We haven’t chosen too many and we haven’t chosen in too much detail. If you would like to read them in more detail, then you can read them in the Bible and look them up yourselves, okay? (Okay.) Maybe some people will feel that this is beyond comprehension: “Bringing up Adam and Eve and bringing up Noah—isn’t this going over old ground?” Whatever you may think, I see these sections and chapters as being highly beneficial to the topic we are fellowshiping today, and they can act as textbooks and first-hand materials for today’s topic. Have you all read these chapters before? (Yes.) (I’ve read the Bible before.) Having read the Bible before doesn’t mean you’ve read today’s chapters; it’s not the same. Read the chapters that I have chosen for you today. Having read the Bible before, were you then able to regard these sections as being key points? (No.) No, you couldn’t. So, you still need to read these that have been chosen today. First of all, have a rough look and see what characteristics are shared by these sections and chapters I have chosen.
First of all, there are Adam and Eve, the ancestors of mankind, and if we want to talk about some characters, then we first need to start with these two. Who comes second? (Noah.) Noah, the second ancestor of mankind. You see that, right? And third? (Abraham.) You all know the story of Abraham, don’t you? (Yes.) Maybe some know about it and maybe some others aren’t quite sure, having only heard about it before. And the fourth character? Who was involved in the destruction of Sodom? (Lot.) But Lot isn’t mentioned here. Who is mentioned? (Abraham.) Abraham, that’s right. There is another point: It mainly mentions that which was spoken by Jehovah God. Have you seen this? (Yes.) Look closely. Who is the fifth character? (Job.) Does God mention the story of Job much during this stage of His work? (Yes.) So do you care much about this story? (Yes.) While you care about it, have you read in detail the story of Job in the Bible? What did Job say and what things did he do? Has anyone here read the Book of Job? (Yes.) What’s the most number of times any of you have read it? Do you read it often? (I read it once or twice during the Age of Grace.) And you didn’t read it again after that, right? (No.) That’s such a shame! Let Me tell you: Job is mentioned a lot during this stage of work, and yet all these times he is mentioned have not attracted your attention. This proves one fact that you have no interest in being good people or in being people who fear God and shun evil. This is because you simply don’t care about the story of Job mentioned by God, nor do you read it. You just know the general outline of it, you get the people around you to explain it and then your involvement ends there. What exactly do you pay attention to then? You even don’t care about or try to understand such an important character mentioned by God, so tell Me, what attitude do you have toward God’s words? Isn’t this a sad thing? It proves that most of you are impractical people who do not seek the truth. If you seek the truth, then as soon as God mentions this person and as soon as He brings up this kind of story—something you can reach and touch—then you would straight away go and read it and understand it, read it over and over, and then think of a way you can follow Job’s example, sparing no effort to achieve whatever you can. But you here today surprise Me by saying that most of you haven’t read it before, and this is a serious problem.
Right, let’s get back to our topic. From scriptures related to the Old Testament Age of Law, I have mainly taken the stories of some characters. These characters are very representative. When you read the Bible, the work God did on these people and the words He spoke to them are things that people nowadays can touch and comprehend. And when you read these stories and read these biblical records, you can better understand how God worked back then and His approach to man. But I haven’t chosen these chapters today so that you can understand these characters. Through these characters’ stories, My aim is for you to be able to see God’s deeds and God’s disposition, to further facilitate your knowledge and understanding of God, for you to see the realness of God, and so that you can put an end to your imaginings, your conceptions of God and your vague belief in God. Isn’t this to your advantage? (Yes.) So now when you look at these characters and these sections again, what do you think in your hearts? Does anyone think My selection is superfluous? (No.) Regardless of what you think or whether you can appreciate it, we must now get back to our topic. I have selected these characters from the Bible. You should all read about and hear about them in earnest today. What result do I want to achieve? It’s what I just said. Getting you to understand God’s disposition and understand and know God Himself without a foundation can perhaps cause you to feel helpless and incapable of action. I therefore thought of this method so that people can better understand God and more truly appreciate God’s will and know His disposition, know God Himself, truly feel the existence of God and truly appreciate God’s will toward mankind; My aim in choosing these sections would then be achieved. I’ve just told you that My aim is not for you to read stories of these characters, but to understand how God works on man and what kind of attitude He takes toward mankind. How are you to understand this? Through the work God has done before and the work God is currently doing, you will understand God in each and every detail, and each and every one of these details is true. Okay, let’s start reading, beginning with scriptures related to Adam and Eve.
A. Adam and Eve
1. God’s Command to Adam
(Gen 2:15-17) And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD 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.
How do you feel when you hear this passage of scripture? In your hearts, what kind of God would you think God is, if it were you there personally? Has each of you got a picture of this scene in your hearts after hearing this passage of scripture? Have you got a picture of God and Adam? You can imagine this. Firstly, why was this passage “God’s Command to Adam” taken? This is the first command God gave to man since He created them. What does this command carry? It carries His will and it carries His concern for man; this was His first command. That is to say, God took responsibility for mankind from the time He created them. What is His responsibility? To protect them and look after them; He hopes for man to be able to believe in and obey His words. This is the first of God’s hopes for mankind, so God spoke these words: “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.” God’s will is represented here within these simple words, and they reveal also that God’s heart has already begun to care for man. Of all things, only Adam was created in God’s image and Adam was the only living thing that possessed the breath of God, and he could walk with God and speak with God. So God commanded him thus. This command included things that man was permitted to do and things man was not permitted to do, and God spoke His command very clearly. What does this picture make us feel? God cares for man, and everything man does, everything they will do, their every word and deed are closely related with God and inseparable from Him. Isn’t that so? We can see God’s heart in these few simple words, but what kind of heart is it? Is there love in God’s heart? (Yes.) Is there any care in God’s heart? (Yes.) Even more there is wisdom and tender love in God, isn’t that so? (Yes.) So do you still feel these few words are simple now that I’ve said this? (No, they’re not simple.) They’re not simple, are they? Were you able to see this before? (No.) You weren’t able to see it. So if God speaks a few words personally to you like this, how would you feel in your heart? If you are someone with no humanity and if your heart is ice-cold then you would feel nothing, and you would be unable to appreciate God’s heart and unable to understand it. If you are someone with conscience and humanity, however, what kind of feeling would you have? You would feel warm, cared for and loved. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) So while feeling like this, how would you be to God? Would you feel attachment to God? Would you feel love and respect for God in your heart? Would your heart draw close to God? (Yes.) In fact, did God speak much like this during this stage of His work? (Yes.) God spoke much like this, but is there anyone among modern people who have appreciated this heart of God? Are you able to appreciate God’s will that I spoke of just now? You are not able to appreciate this kind of concrete, true and realistic will of God, and that is why I say you have no true knowledge or understanding of God. That’s enough fellowship for this passage.
2. God Creates Eve
(Gen 2:18-20) And the LORD 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 the LORD 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 the LORD 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 are some key phrases within this passage of scripture “God Creates Eve.” So underline them: “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” Who was it who gave every living creature its name? (Adam.) It was Adam, not God. Right? This proves another fact: That when God created man, He gave them intelligence. Where did this intelligence come from? (From God.) From God, and this is certainly beyond all doubt—man’s intelligence came from God. Why is that? After God made Adam, did Adam go to school? (No.) Did he know how to read? (No, he didn’t.) After he was made, did Adam recognize all the various living creatures that he laid eyes on? (No, he didn’t.) Then did God tell him what these creatures’ names were? Did God tell him this? (No.) God did not impart this knowledge to him, right? Then how did he know how to give names to these living creatures, and what names to give them? This proves a fact: When God created man, He gave them His own intelligence. This is a key point, so you’re listening carefully, right? There is another key point, but what is it? Once Adam had given names to these living creatures, these names were then set with God. Why do I say this? This again involves God’s disposition, so we need to explain it. God created man and gave them the breath of life, and He also gave them His intelligence, some of His power and some of what He has and is. Once God had given man these things, man could then act independently and think independently, and God did not interfere with the things man thought and did—this was the standard God kept. Therefore, it is written: “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” What does this signify? God didn’t make any amendments; whatever Adam said the creature was to be called, God just said “Yes,” and confirmed that as its name. Did God make any suggestions? (No.) No, He didn’t, that’s for sure. So, what do we see here? God gave man intelligence and man used this God-given intelligence to do things. If man does positive things, these are affirmed, accepted and acknowledged by God. God makes no comment and gives no critique, and this is something that no human, no evil spirit or Satan can do. Is God’s disposition revealed here in any way? So, if it were a human instead, a corrupt human, or Satan, would they be contending for this position with others or with forces different from themselves? Of course they would! “You say it is called this, but I will be contrary and not call it that, I will call it something else. You call it Tom, I’ll call it Harry. I will show off how brilliant I am and that I am higher up than you. Despite the fact you came from Me, I’m still higher up than you are.” They would certainly repudiate the other’s opinion and show themselves off. They would want to show that they can think independently and have independent opinions. What is this? It is arrogance. And does God have this kind of disposition? No, He does not. As for what Adam did, did God take any action? (No.) To be sure, He didn’t! That is, within the revelations of God’s disposition there is not a drop, not even half a drop, of argumentativeness or arrogance. Is this not appropriate to say here? Or am I making a tenuous link? Though it may only be a small matter, if you don’t recognize God’s deeds and if in your heart you don’t contemplate how God does these things or what His attitude is, then you will not be able to know God’s disposition in this, and you won’t be able to see that which God’s disposition expresses and reveals. Isn’t that so? Then do you agree with what I have just explained to you? (Yes.) God is in tacit agreement with what Adam does. Although God doesn’t say with great fanfare “Well done! I commend you!” or “Well done, all correct, I approve!”—although God doesn’t say these things, yet His heart approves and is in tacit agreement. God’s disposition is here revealed, as I said just now. Who gave Eve her name? (Adam.) Adam named her, and this chimes with the issue we’re talking about, right?
3. (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 the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
This third passage of scripture is crucial. The name Adam gives to Eve is significant, isn’t it? It proves that Adam was capable of thought after he was created, and that he understood many things. As for what he understood or how much he understood, we won’t now research or investigate this. What is the key point in this third passage of scripture? “To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” If I don’t fellowship this sentence today then you could live a lifetime and never be aware of the meaning within it. First of all, I will give you a clue, and you can give free rein to your imaginations. Imagine the Garden of Eden: Adam and Eve live there and God goes to pay them a visit. They are completely naked and they hide themselves and, once they have hidden, God calls to them. And what do they say? “We are naked and we dare not see You.” Maybe these aren’t the original words in the Bible, but you get the general idea. Because they are naked and dare not see God, what does Jehovah God do? What does He use to make them clothes? (Animal hides.) He uses animal hides to make clothes for them and these are excellent clothes. Nowadays these clothes are top grade, not things that just anyone can wear, right? They are fur coats, the most primitive fur coats. So here we can tell a little joke. Suppose someone asked you: What was the first piece of clothing worn by mankind’s ancestors in the very beginning? (Fur coats.) Made by whom? (God.) These clothes were made by God and this is the key point. Isn’t this something worth talking about? (Yes.) Do you have a picture in your minds from My description just now? You should at least have a rough idea, as human minds aren’t dead, right? But what is the key point here? This still needs to be spoken about in detail. The key point is not the fur coats, and My aim in talking about this today is not to tell you what the first piece of clothing was that mankind ever wore. That was just a joke, but it was also a fact, and you can take it as a joke. What is the key point here? “To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The key point is here. Within this image, in what role do we see God being together with Adam and Eve? In a world where there are only two human beings, in what role did God appear to them? Did He appear to them as God? (He appeared as a parent.) Anyone else? In what role did God appear to them? (As the head of the house.) (As a family member of Adam and Eve, as their family.) Mm, He appeared as the family of Adam and Eve, and some people say He appeared as the head of the house, and then some say He appeared as a parent. These are all apt responses. But what is it I’d like to say? God created these two people and made them His companions and His family. He looked after their lives and their basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. So here, God appeared as a parent to Adam and Eve, and as their only family. At this point, man’s eyes do not see God’s greatness, nor do they see God’s supremacy, much less do they see God’s inscrutableness or God’s wrath and majesty. They see only what? They only see God’s lovingkindness, His caring for mankind, just as a parent cares for a child and just as a human parent loves, looks after and shows concern for their child. God didn’t put on the airs of His great position, but instead He Himself made clothes for mankind from animal hides. Regardless of whether these skins were used to cover their modesty or to shield them from the cold, generally speaking, God made these clothes with His own hands and made them Himself. It wasn’t as people imagine, that God made the clothes with just a thought or by some miracle, or that by means of some miracle their ugliness, their bodies were immediately covered. That’s not what happened. Instead, He truly did something that mankind doesn’t think He could have or should have done. Though the words in this extract[c] are simple, yet they allow those of us who follow God and who have previously been filled with vague imaginings of God, to gain an insight into God’s truthfulness and see God’s faithfulness and humility. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) When you read these words and when you hear these things, will you despise God for doing something like this? Maybe some people will, but some will be exactly the opposite. They believe that God is truthful, that God is lovable, and the more they see the true side of God, the more they are able to realize God’s true existence—God is within our hearts and by our side. At this point, we should make a connection with the present day. God did such minute things for mankind which He created, and He surprises us by doing things that man had never thought of or things they had never expected before. People even think that God is so great that He couldn’t do such small things, that God is so supreme, things like this are done by man, lowly man, and God shouldn’t be doing it and it’s not possible for God to do it. And yet the facts are exactly the opposite: God did this thing. And seeing as He did it for Adam and Eve, could He do it for the people of today? (Yes.) Why is that? God’s essence is not make-believe, and neither is God’s loveliness. Furthermore, God’s essence truly exists. It is not given by others and much less does it change due to the changing of time, place or era—this is His essence. God does things that people don’t deign to look at, things that they look down on, things that people believe God simply cannot do, things that are insignificant—and only this truly embodies God’s truthfulness. God is not false; He is true. This is to say there is no boastfulness, no haughtiness and no arrogance within God’s disposition and essence. He never brags, but instead with a faithful, truthful attitude He cherishes, cares for and looks after His creation, mankind. No matter how much of this man realizes, how much they can feel or how much they can see, God does indeed do this kind of thing. When we have understood this essence of God, would our understanding then affect our love for God? Would it affect our fear of God? (No, it wouldn’t.) I hope when you understand the true side of God, you are able to get closer to Him and can even more truly appreciate God’s love and His care toward mankind. And when you appreciate that, I hope that you can give your heart to God, and not keep it to yourself. In all the things God does, there are perhaps many that He doesn’t talk about, instead doing them in silence; He does all things silently by means of His essence, His truthfulness, His faithfulness and His love. People may realize this, and then again they may not, but because of His essence He never feels any misgivings about anything He does, nor has He ever needed man to repay Him for anything, and nor has He ever hoped to gain anything from man; this is something no created being could do. In actual fact, the more humble and hidden God is, the more this proves His greatness and supremacy. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Let’s end our first topic here.
Are these topics helpful to you? (Yes.) How helpful? (We have more understanding and knowledge of God’s love.) What do you think of fellowshiping these topics in this way? (It’s good.) How is it good? (Fellowshiping in this way will allow us to better appreciate God’s words and to appreciate How God felt and the meaning behind His utterances at that time. It will allow us to better appreciate how God felt back then.) After reading these words, is there anyone who now feels even more that God truly exists? He’s not hollow or vague anymore, is He? (Yes.) With this kind of feeling, do you feel that God is right by your side? It’s not a very clear feeling, is it? Does anyone say they can feel it very clearly? Maybe you can’t realize this now. But one day, when there is truly a deep feeling in your hearts toward God’s disposition and God’s essence, when you truly know it, then maybe you will feel that God is right by your side—it’s just that your hearts have never let God in, and yet He has always been right by your side.
What do you think of this way of fellowship? (It’s good.) Are you able to keep up? (Yes.) Do you think topics like God’s work and God’s disposition are very heavy topics to fellowship? (No.) So how do you feel? (We feel good.) Are you excited? (Yes.) What excites you? Why excited? (I feel like I’ve gone back to the Garden of Eden, and gone back to be by God’s side.) And this excites you? Or is it something else? In actual fact, this topic of “God’s disposition” is a stranger to every single person. Whatever you imagine ordinarily, or whatever you read in books or hear in fellowship, you always feel like a blind man touching an elephant, just feeling your way around when in fact your eyes cannot see a thing. Without being able to see, you cannot even gain a rough outline, and you cannot arrive at a concept that would enable you to define God’s disposition or God’s essence. You can never be sure, and can only say[d] “Is this an expression of God’s disposition? Are my thoughts about God’s disposition and essence accurate? Are they correct?” The heart of man always has these kinds of doubts, right? There are always contradictions in your heart about things you cannot be sure about but which you still want to understand, and there is always conflict, even to the point where it takes shape as a disturbance, and you don’t know which way to turn. This is because you want to seek Him, know Him and see Him clearly, but you can never get the answers. Isn’t this something that causes suffering in man? (Yes.) Of course, these words are only aimed at some people, and for those who seek to fear God and seek to satisfy God, these words are just the way it is. But as for those who simply ignore these matters, they are in fact indifferent. They don’t think like this because they hope that God’s truthfulness and His existence are no more than fables or fantasies, and that would be great, and then they can do whatever they wish, be the biggest fish in the sea and consider themselves most important. They can then do whatever they want and not face any punishment or suffer any consequence or bear any responsibility, and even the punishments for evildoers spoken by God and the statements God has made about evildoers would not come to pass upon them. These people have no desire to understand God’s disposition and they are hostile to God. They don’t wish to understand God, instead wishing for there to be no God, for God to not exist. Let’s get back to our topic.
The second section is about Noah. This is clearly telling the story of Noah here. What did God do with Noah? Maybe everyone here today knows a little about it: God asked Noah to build the ark, and after that He would destroy the world with flood; God asked Noah to build the ark in order to save the eight people in Noah’s family, that Noah may survive and become the ancestor of mankind in the age that followed.
1. God Intends to Destroy the World With a Flood, 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 have a general understanding of Noah now that you’ve read these passages of scripture? What kind of man was Noah? (A just man.) And in his generations, what kind of man was he? He was a perfect man. Was this “perfect man” perfect in the eyes of man or perfect in the eyes of God? He was perfect in the eyes of God, not in man’s eyes. Man’s eyes were blind and couldn’t see. Only God could examine all the world and examine every single person; God knew he was a perfect man. Did man care about these things? Did they take heed? Man did not take heed and no one cared about these things—only God knew that Noah was a perfect man. So when this age came, God called upon Noah to perform an important task. Why did this task need to be done? God had a plan, and His plan was that He intended to destroy the world with flood. Why did He want to destroy the world? It says here: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” What can one see from these words “the earth was filled with violence”? When the earth and mankind became utterly corrupt, the earth became filled with violence. In modern speech, “filled with violence” means that things were in a mess and people saw there was no order, chaotic and unmanageable. And in God’s eyes, it meant that the mankind of this world was too corrupt. To what extent were they corrupt? They were corrupt to such an extent that God could not look at them anymore nor have any more patience with them. Therefore, God determined to destroy the world. When God determined to destroy the world, God chose Noah to perform a task, which was to build an ark. Why did God choose Noah? Noah was a just man in the eyes of God and, furthermore, he did everything as God commanded him. That is, he did whatever God told him, and God needed to find someone like this to fulfill His trust and to complete the work He needed to do on earth; that is, He had to find someone like this to cooperate with His work. Apart from Noah, then, was there another who could have completed this work? (No.) There certainly wasn’t. Noah was the only choice, so God chose him. In that age, however, was the scope of God’s salvation the same as it is today? Why do I ask this question? For in that age, only Noah was a just man, so did God want only Noah to survive after he built the ark? He didn’t, did He? God allowed Noah’s three sons, his daughters-in-law and his wife to remain together. That is to say, in that age, only Noah was a just man in the eyes of God; so what about his sons and daughters-in-law? What about his wife? They weren’t just, were they? And yet God still allowed them to survive for Noah’s sake. God didn’t get so serious as to say, “You people are not just, so I will destroy you all, and only Noah may remain.” Did God do this? He clearly didn’t, but instead He allowed the eight people of Noah’s family to remain, and He got Noah to take two of every kind of living thing so that they also could remain. Though this is a simple fact, the key point we need to mention is that within this fact lie God’s disposition, God’s will and God’s essence. That is, what kind of person did God want to call upon? They would have had to be someone who could obey God’s words and do as God commanded, someone with a sense of responsibility who could regard God’s words as their duty and as a trust that had to be fulfilled. So, did this person have to be someone who knew God? No. In that age, Noah hadn’t heard many of God’s teachings and, although it is here recorded that Noah walked with God, had he ever seen God’s person? We can say with certainty that he had not. For in that age, only God’s messengers came to man. They could represent God in their speech and their actions, but they were only passing on God’s will and His intention; they were not God’s person. We can see in these passages of scripture what it was Noah intended to do and God’s commands to him, so what essence is God expressing here? It is that everything God does is planned with precision. That is, when He sees something or some occurrence happening, there is a standard within His eyes against which it is measured. He’s not completely indifferent to everything that goes on, feeling nothing at all—He is exactly the opposite. When His eyes touch upon something or some occurrence, He begins to plan how to approach this thing or this occurrence, or how to approach this person. His plans are both very precise and very accurate. See here, there is a sentence of God’s words 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 speaks this time, does God say that He only intends to destroy man? (No.) For God says “all flesh,” meaning that He intends to destroy all living things. Why does He want to destroy them? Here, again, God’s disposition is revealed: In the eyes of God, there is a limit to His patience toward the corruption of mankind, and toward the filth, violence and rebelliousness of all fleshly men. What is His limit? It is as God says, “God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” In the eyes of God, what is meant by the words “for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth”? It means all living things, including those who followed God, those who called on the name of God, those who once sacrificed burnt offerings to God and those who verbally acknowledged God and who even praised God—once their behavior had become filled with corruption and God’s eyes touched upon it, God then became intent on destroying them; this was God’s utmost limit. That is to say, to what extent would God be patient with mankind and patient with the corruption of all fleshly men? Whether they followed God or whether they were unbelievers, none of them walked the right path. It wasn’t just that they had corrupt morals, that they were filled with wickedness, they simply didn’t listen to the words of God, they had no fear of God and, even more seriously, not one of them believed in God’s existence and they believed even less that the world was dominated by God, and that it was God who could bring to them the light and the right path. Once mankind’s corruption had reached such an extent, God would be patient no longer. And what took the place of God’s patience? It was God’s anger and His punishment that was soon to befall. Is there any of God’s disposition shown here? Can this be considered as a revelation of a part of God’s disposition? Now in the modern age, are there any more just people in the eyes of God? Are there any more perfect people in His eyes? In God’s eyes, has all flesh corrupted their way on the earth in this age? And in this age, besides those whom God plans to make complete, besides those of mankind who are able to follow God and accept His salvation, isn’t all flesh already pushing the utmost limit of God’s patience? (Yes.) If you think about it, isn’t everything that happens around you, everything you see with your eyes, hear with your ears and experience personally, and every single thing that happens all around the world every day filled with violence? (Yes.) So in God’s eyes then, shouldn’t this kind of world and this kind of age be brought to an end? However, although what God does now is different from what He did back in the days of Noah, yet His frame of mind and His disposition are exactly the same as they were back then. Although God is capable of patience, which is because of His work, yet in accordance with all the various environments and conditions, in the eyes of God this world should be destroyed, and compared with when the world was destroyed with flood, the world today has gone beyond the pale. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) But what is different? This is the saddest thing for God’s heart and it is something perhaps none of you are able to realize.
When the world was destroyed with flood, God was able to call upon one man—Noah—to build the ark and to prepare some work prior to the world’s destruction. Now, however, there is no one whom God can call upon. Why is that? Each of you here today may perhaps know this, and are clear about it. Do I need to spell it out? Talking about this can be a bit hurtful to people’s feelings and can upset everyone. Some people say, “Though we may not be just people and we may not be perfect people in the eyes of God, yet if God commanded us to do something we could still do it competently. And why? Because when it was said before that the great disasters are coming, we then began preparing food supplies.” And someone says, “God will destroy the world and He will end His work, so we start preparing food, clothing and shelter for our future. Isn’t this cooperating well with God’s work? Can’t what we do now be compared with what Noah did? Isn’t this also cooperating with God’s work? Don’t our actions here show our true obedience? Aren’t we doing as God commands by doing this? Aren’t we also listening to what God says? Aren’t we also doing as God bids us because of our belief in His words? So how can God still feel hurt? How can He say He can’t find anyone to call upon?” Is there any difference here? (Yes.) What is the difference? (Preparing these food supplies now for the disasters is something we came up with ourselves.) (Nothing we do can be called just; Noah was a just man in the eyes of God.) You’re on the right track here. There is an essential difference between what Noah did and what modern people do. When Noah did what he did, he didn’t know anything about God’s will or what God wished to accomplish. God just commanded him and instructed him to do this task, so he went and did as he was commanded. He didn’t guess privately as to what God might mean, he just believed with a pure and simple heart, did whatever God asked of him and was obedient to God’s words. This was how simple and straightforward he was. His essence—the essence of his behavior—was obedient, without misgivings and without conjecture. Furthermore, when God said He would destroy the world with flood, Noah didn’t ask when it would happen or try to get to the bottom of it, and he didn’t ask how God meant to destroy the world. God said to build a boat, to build the ark, and He told Noah how to build it and what materials to use, and Noah built it as he was instructed. Noah went and followed God’s commands one after another, and he took action as soon as God had finished speaking. He did as God commanded with an attitude that wished to satisfy God. Did he do it so that he himself could escape the disaster? No. Did he ask God how long it would be until the world was destroyed? No. So did he ask God, or did he know how long it would take to build the ark? He didn’t know this either. He just went and did it once God had told him. Therefore, he simply obeyed, listened and acted accordingly. Yet people today are different. If God’s words reveal something or if there is the slightest sign of things astir, people spring into action, disregarding everything and paying any price without hesitation to store up food, drink and items for them to use in the days to come. They’ve even thought of where they will hide themselves when the disasters befall and have prepared a route for their escape. And what is it that is even more interesting? Human brains, when they reach key moments such as this, can be very “effective.” Under circumstances where God has given no instructions, people make proper arrangements for what will come, and one can use a word to describe their arrangements—“perfect.” As for what God says, what His will is and what God wants, no one cares and no one tries to understand these things. Isn’t that so?
Within the record of the story of Noah, do we not see a part of God’s disposition? God’s patience toward mankind’s corruption, filth and violence has a limit, and when this limit is reached, when His patience has expired, He then begins His management, begins His plans, begins to do what He must do and reveals His deeds. His actions are not done to reveal His unoffendableness, or that He permits no offense against Him, or that He is filled with authority or that He is capable of destroying mankind. This is not what He wants to reveal. Instead, it is that His disposition and His holy essence can no longer tolerate or show any more patience toward this mankind living before Him and living under His dominion. Therefore, when He reaches the end of His forbearance and reaches His limit, He is no longer patient with this mankind, but instead will put His plan into action to destroy them. If you think about it, in the current age, isn’t God impatient to finish His plans and save those of mankind He wishes to save? What concerns God the most? It’s not how those who simply don’t follow Him or who antagonize Him treat Him, how they are His enemies, how they believe in Him or how they vilify Him; He doesn’t care about these things. He only waits for what? He only waits to see whether or not those who follow Him and those who are the targets of His salvation within His management plan have been made complete and have gained His satisfaction; this is His disposition. On the one hand, God shows great patience to those of mankind He wishes to make complete; on the other hand, He utterly loathes and detests those of Satan’s ilk who are hostile to Him and who do not follow Him. Though He doesn’t care whether or not they follow Him or whether or not they can worship Him, while He has patience for them in His heart, He still loathes them, those of Satan’s ilk. You understand this, don’t you? (Yes.)
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 in this passage? Why have I chosen this passage? Have we chosen a passage about the life of Noah and his family of eight aboard the ark? (No.) Why not? This has little to do with the topic we are fellowshiping today, and the thing we are concerned with is God’s disposition. If you wish to read about that then you can read it in your own time, but we’re not talking about that today. Today we are primarily fellowshiping God’s deeds. Noah accepted God’s commands, and following that he lived through the days of the world being destroyed by God with flood and his family of eight lived on. Apart from the eight people in Noah’s family, everyone else was destroyed, as were all living creatures on the earth. God gave blessings to Noah, and He spoke to Noah and his sons. These words were a blessing to Noah and they were that which God bestowed on him. These words were the blessing and the promise from God to someone who was capable of obeying God’s words and of accepting His commands; it can be said that they were God’s reward to Noah. That is, regardless of whether Noah was a perfect man or a just man in the eyes of God, Noah and his three sons survived the flood because they heeded the words of God, and God blessed Noah because of his actions. Today, people may see this story very simply, and they may say,[e] “Noah didn’t do anything. God determined that Noah would be left, so he was left. That he was left wasn’t down to his own efforts; it was what God wanted to achieve, and man was passive.” Some people will think like this, but God doesn’t think this way. No matter if someone is so very great or so very insignificant, so long as they heed God’s commands, obey God’s commands and commission, cooperate with God’s will and God’s plans, cooperate with God’s work and heed God’s words, so that God’s will and His plans can be achieved, then, to God, this kind of behavior is worthy of remembrance and worthy of blessings, and God cherishes this kind of behavior, He cherishes this sentiment and this heart that man has for God—this is God’s attitude. Why, therefore, did God bless Noah? Because this is how God looks upon this kind of behavior and obedience in man.
Now, some may perhaps say, “When someone heeds God’s words and satisfies Him, then God should bless them. Isn’t this what God ought to do anyway?” Is it okay for people to say this? (No.) Why not? (Man does not deserve to enjoy God’s blessings.) This isn’t right either. For in the eyes of God, when He entrusts someone with a task, God has a standard which He uses to judge whether their behavior is good or bad, whether or not they are obedient, whether or not they satisfy His will and whether or not their deeds are up to the mark. It’s not that as long as someone does it, it is enough and God should bless them, regardless of what kind of person they are or how they do it. That’s not how it is. The thing that God pays close attention to is the person’s heart. So, tell Me, how well did Noah know God back then? Did he understand as much as you do now? Was his concept of God, and his knowledge of God, as clear as yours is today? (No.) And yet there is something undeniable: The attitude people today have toward God within their consciousness, within their thoughts and even deep within their hearts, is blurry and ambiguous, and it could even be said that some people hold an attitude that denies the existence of God. But in Noah’s heart, within his consciousness, the existence of God was affirmed. He didn’t need too much doctrinal knowledge, nor did he need too many facts to verify God’s existence. He did whatever God asked of him—he was this simple—and this is the kind of person God wants, the kind of person God praises, and so God blessed him. What can we see here? People see what’s on the surface of other people, whereas God sees their hearts. God cannot tolerate anyone to treat Him in any perfunctory and doubtful way, and He cannot tolerate anyone having any doubts about Him or testing Him in any way. Therefore, though people today are face-to-face with God’s words and, it can be said, they are face-to-face with God, because of the existence of man’s corrupt essence it is very difficult for them to obtain the same blessings as God gave to Noah.
3. God Makes the Rainbow as a Symbol of His Covenant With Man
(Gen 9:11-13) And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
Next, we will look at this section of scripture entitled “God Makes the Rainbow as a Symbol of His Covenant With Man.”
We will say simply about this. Most people know what a rainbow is, and there are some who have heard some stories about rainbows; some people believe them, some regard them to be legends, and some don’t believe them. Whatever the case, this fact is recorded in the Bible—it is something that happened and something that God has done. We have seen how God felt after He did this thing. So how did God feel? God created mankind, mankind rebelled against Him, and the mankind that was so good and that was so close to God in the beginning was annihilated by a flood—did God feel pained? (Yes.) He felt pained. How was His pain revealed? It’s in what we just read. God said: “And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” These simple words reveal God’s feelings—He was greatly pained and, to say it in human terms, He was greatly saddened. We can imagine, after the flood destroyed the world, what was the earth then like, that had previously been filled with life? What was the earth that had previously been filled with mankind then like? No inhabitants, no living creatures, just detritus floating everywhere, and water as far as the eye could see. Was this what God had intended when He created the world? (No.) It certainly wasn’t. God’s original intention was to see life in all corners of the earth, to have mankind worship Him; at least, not just to have one man, Noah, worship Him, and not just for there to be only Noah whom He could call upon to fulfill His trust. Yet what God saw was not what He had originally intended, but instead it was the exact opposite. We can see here the true side of God: God’s heart was in pain. So, while He was revealing His disposition and expressing His feelings, He made a decision—what kind of decision? It was to use rainbows, rainbows in the clouds, the same rainbows that we can see, as a covenant with man, to tell man that God once destroyed the world with flood, that they may ever remember God had once done this kind of thing.
Was it God’s desire to destroy the world? It certainly wasn’t. Although we can only imagine a little of the pitiful scene that followed the destruction of the world, we will never be able to imagine the sight God saw at that time. It can be said that neither the people of today nor the people at that time—no one at all—is able to imagine how God felt in His heart when He saw that spectacle, when He saw the world after it had been destroyed with flood. We can now use some simple human language to describe God’s frame of mind at that time and how He thought in His heart. If we use human language, we can say that God’s heart was hurt because of the destruction of the world with flood. And yet God could not have done otherwise, so what was His aim in making this covenant? It was a vow, a covenant with man, to tell them so they would remember that God did something like this, but that He would never again do something like this to destroy the world, and that He would never destroy the world in the same way again. Do we see God’s heart here? Have you seen it? That is, God’s heart was in pain when He destroyed that mankind. It is perhaps unsuitable to use human language to describe God’s heart, but you can imagine it and feel it, so to say it in human language: God’s heart bled and wept. Isn’t that the best way to describe it? Though it may be that this language is used to describe human emotions, seeing as human language is so insufficient, it doesn’t seem to Me to be too excessive or too wrong to use it to describe God’s feelings. At least you know what it means, right? (Yes.) Therefore, when we next see a rainbow, what will we think? (That God was greatly pained back then.) God was pained because He destroyed the world with flood. That is, although God hated that world and destroyed it, there was pain in His heart. Fortunately, there was something worth God deriving comfort from; who was that? That was Noah and his family of eight, and because of them it was worthwhile anyway for God to have paid the painstaking price to create all things.
What part of God’s disposition should we understand here? Although God hated mankind, which was because of their opposition to Him, yet in God’s heart His concern, caring and mercy for mankind never changed, and even when He destroyed mankind, His heart remained unchanged. So what kind of heart do we see in God here? Mankind rebelled against God and was filled with corruption and, as far as God’s disposition was concerned and because of His essence, He absolutely had to destroy that mankind. Yet at the same time, God took pity on mankind and wished to use any method to redeem mankind and allow them to live on. But mankind opposed God and did not accept His salvation. That is, they didn’t accept God’s good intentions: I don’t appreciate Your kindness, and no matter how You call upon me, no matter how You provide for me and help me, I don’t appreciate Your kindness, I won’t listen to You and I won’t pay You any attention. To God, besides His mercy and patience, His heart was pained, and He waited until His utmost limit had been reached before doing what He had to do; there was a process. But what did God do in the time period before He destroyed mankind? Though God’s heart was so very pained and saddened, His attitude to mankind continued to be caring, concerned and abundantly merciful. So, what do we see here? God’s love for mankind is real; it is not just words, it is real. Is there any falseness in God’s love? (No.) Anything impure? (No.) This is even less the case. Any deception? (No.) Any illusion? (No.) Does God employ any deception or cover-up to make mankind see Him as lovable? God has never used any false evidence to make people see Him as lovable or to parade His own loveliness and holiness, right? (Yes.) So is this aspect of God’s disposition worth loving? (Yes.) Is it worth worshiping? (Yes.) From what we’ve spoken about up till this point, is God’s greatness just an empty page in man’s heart? Do you believe God’s greatness to be just empty words? (No.) It certainly isn’t. God’s supremacy, God’s greatness, God’s holiness, His tolerance—each and every detail of His disposition is put into effect and enacted upon every single person. Whether you can perceive it or not, God cares for each and every person in every possible way, and by any means possible He uses His wisdom and uses various methods in His approach to every single person, to warm and awaken their hearts. However many people are here today, each and every person has different experiences and different feelings about God; all these experiences, these feelings or perceptions come from God, and all these positive things come from God. So, if every one of you gathers together your experiences and knowledge of God and combines them with the sections of the Bible we are reading today, don’t you then have a truer, more suitable knowledge of God?
Once we’ve finished reading this story, and after we have understood the dispositions God revealed in this matter, what kind of new knowledge do we then have of God? Would you have a more profound understanding of God and of His heart? (Yes.) So is it necessary then to tell this story of Noah? (Yes.) So if, as you see it, after reading these passages, you seem as though you have nothing to say, isn’t it then unnecessary to talk about them? Isn’t it unnecessary to read these words? Now that we are fellowshiping in this way, is it necessary to read these words? (Yes.) It is necessary. Though what we are reading is a story, it is a record of something God did before, and it is true. I don’t want you to understand the details of these stories or the details of this character, or to research this character or to go back and study the Bible. That’s not what I mean, understand? (Yes.) Then do these stories help you to know God? (Yes.) They are helpful. So from this story, tell Me, how has your understanding of God increased? (I see that God’s love is something that none of us corrupt humans possess.) (God’s love for mankind is real, and within it is God’s disposition, His greatness, holiness, supremacy and tolerance. Through stories like this we can realize even more that this is all God’s disposition, and it is worth us having a deeper understanding of it.) (From God’s fellowship just now, I can see the aspect of God’s righteous and holy disposition, while I can also see God’s caring for mankind, as well as His mercy and lovingkindness for man. I also see that within everything God does and within His every thought and idea is revealed God’s love and care for mankind.) (My previous knowledge was that God destroyed the world with flood because mankind had reached a certain level of wickedness, and it seemed that God detested that mankind and so destroyed them. Only when talking about the story of Noah today, and talking about how God’s heart bled did I come to know that, actually, God so hated to lose that mankind, and that it was because mankind was so rebellious that God was compelled to destroy them. In actual fact, God’s heart felt extremely distressed. From this I can see the care and concern for mankind within God’s disposition. I didn’t know this before, but instead I had such a superficial knowledge, thinking that God destroyed mankind because they were so wicked.) Very good. You have listened very carefully. Go on. (After listening to this today, I feel a great deal. I have read the Bible before, but I have never before gained an understanding of God like I have today through God dissecting these things directly. God leading us in this way to read the Bible together has made me see that God’s essence toward man before they were corrupted was love and concern, and that after mankind became corrupt, God has saved us all the way up till now in the time of the last days, bearing His righteous disposition, His love and His salvation. I can see that this essence of God’s love, from the creation of the world up till today, is forever unchanged whether mankind is corrupted or not.) Yes! (I see that God’s essence does not change over time or because the location of His work changes, and I see that everything God does—whether it be creating the world or destroying the world after mankind became corrupt—everything He does has its meaning and has within it His disposition. Therefore, I see that God’s love is boundless and immeasurable and, as several brothers and sisters have just mentioned, when God destroyed the world, He was still concerned about and took pity on mankind. I definitely hadn’t known these things before and, after listening today, I feel that God really is believable, that I can count on Him and trust Him, and that He indeed exists, and I am able to realize in my heart that God’s disposition and love are so very real. This is how I feel after listening today.) Very true, very good. It looks like you have all taken what you’ve heard to heart.
Have you ever noticed a certain fact that is in every chapter in the Bible, including in the Bible stories we are fellowshiping today? Has God ever used His own language to explain His own thoughts, or to profess His love and concern for mankind? Is there this kind of language? Or is there any straightforward language, anything that says directly that God so cares for and so loves mankind; is there any language like this? (No.) Many of you have read the Bible, or other books besides the Bible. Has anyone seen any words like this? The definite answer is no. The things recorded in the Bible, including God’s words or stories, were merely recorded by people. In no time period or age has God ever explained His own mind or expressed His love or concern for man in His own way. In human terms, God has never used His utterances or any form of behavior to explain His own mind and emotions; isn’t this a fact? (Yes.) Why do I say this? Why do I bring this matter up? Because this also involves God’s loveliness and His disposition. God created mankind, and whether they are corrupt or are able to follow Him, He regards them as His dearest ones, meaning that He regards them as His family, as we would say; He does not regard them as playthings. Though God says that He is the Creator and that mankind is His created beings, and although it sounds as though there is a difference in ranking between these two, in actual fact, when it comes to God loving mankind, showing concern for mankind and caring for mankind, as well as His unceasing provision for mankind, He has never in His heart felt these things to be added extras, nor has He ever felt them to be a kind of meritorious service; He has never felt that saving mankind, providing for mankind and bestowing everything on mankind to be like some great contribution to mankind; He has never felt this way. By means of His own methods, His own essence and what He has and is, He just silently and softly provides for mankind. No matter how people behave, He never thinks or makes a move to ask people to give Him credit. Therefore, whether it be in the Bible or in any other book, no one has found God expressing His own thoughts or explaining or professing to man why He does what He does or why He treats people the way He does, so as to make them feel deeply grateful to Him and to praise Him. He just goes along normally providing for mankind in this way. Whereas mankind often has some spontaneous expressions to praise God, or bear witness for God, but God does not ask for these things in return from man and God has no desire to use any of the good things He does for man to get their gratitude in exchange or to get anything in return from them. Conversely, those who are capable of fearing God, shunning evil and truly following God, those who are capable of obeying God’s words and being loyal to Him, those who are capable of obeying God, often obtain God’s blessings, and these blessings are given without reserve. Furthermore, the blessings people obtain from God often exceed their imaginations, they exceed anything man can do or anything they may get in return—whether in grace or blessings—for the price they pay; the blessings they obtain exceed these things many times over. Isn’t that so? (Yes.)
From the beginning up until now, we read many stories in the Bible and we often see what people do, then afterward what promise God gives to them; we see what things people cooperate in with God, and then afterward the great blessings God gives to them. How many blessings were obtained by people? More than a hundredfold, more than they ever imagined, right? (Yes.) So on this basis, has anyone realized the pain God felt? As in the story of Noah that we have just finished reading, was Noah able to realize God’s pain? Was he able to realize why God wanted to make a covenant? He wasn’t. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) So can we see in the Bible, or in all the current utterances of God, any wording that says God wants something in return from man? (No.) No. On the contrary, God repeatedly encourages man, provides for man, helps man and asks them to follow His way, so that they may gain the beautiful destination God has prepared for them. God takes what He has and is, His grace, His mercy and His rewards, and bestows them unreservedly on those who love Him and follow Him. Yet He never shows His pain or His thoughts to man, and He never complains about anyone not being considerate toward Him or not understanding His will. Why do I say these things here? What do you see in these words? There is an issue within God’s essence that is easiest for us to overlook; there is something within His essence, within His disposition, that is the easiest thing for man to overlook, and it is something that no one has and no one possesses, including those whom people believe to be great and outstanding, or the “God” in people’s imaginations. Only God possesses it. What is this thing? It is God’s selflessness. When selflessness is spoken of, you may think, “I’m selfless too, as I’ve never bargained with my children or quibbled with them over anything,” or “I treat my parents selflessly.” No matter what you think, at the very least you have a concept about this word “selfless,” and at the very least you believe this word to be a positive one. On a literal level, everyone believes “selfless” to be a good word, and it is a hard thing for people to achieve. Even when they achieve it, some people think of it as a kind of virtue and, if they are able to achieve selflessness, they would think themselves great. But there is no one who is capable of seeing God’s selflessness in all things, in any person, matter or thing, or in God’s work. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Why is that? Because people are too selfish! Why do I say this? People live within the physical world, and although you may follow God, you can never see or touch the manner in which God provides for you, how He treats you or cares for you. What is it you can see? You can see the person who loves you, the person who dotes on you and the things that are of benefit to you. You can see only the people and things you like that are before your eyes, and you never spare any concern for the God you cannot see. So, compared with God, the “selflessness” of man is contemptible, and what people believe to be “selflessness” is hollow, it’s not real, it’s not in conformity with God and it has nothing to do with God. Perhaps some people will think, “You say God is selfless, but isn’t everything God does done for the sake of His own management?” Has anyone spoken like this? Is this a fact? You may not have a very deep perception about this topic I’m talking about today, just nodding your heads and agreeing. But when you try to understand God’s heart within your own heart, you will make an unconscious discovery: In this world, amongst all the people, matters and things you are able to perceive, only God is genuinely and truly selfless. Besides God, there is no one who is selfless. The selflessness of man is false, it is superficial and unreal, and it has purpose, it has intention, and we can go so far as to say it is dirty and contemptible. Do you agree with this? (Yes.)
Are these topics unfamiliar to you? (Yes.) They’re unfamiliar to you, and they need some time to settle in, don’t they? The more unfamiliar you are with these questions and topics, the more it proves that you know nothing about them, and the more I talk like this, the more you feel this is indeed the case. Then what if I never raised these topics? Would there be any among you who would have any knowledge of them? I believe you would never know about them, and this is for certain, otherwise there would be no need for Me to talk about them. No matter how much you are able to understand or come to know, in short, I believe these topics that I talk about are the things you most lack, and they are what people should most come to know. These topics are very important to everyone, they are the most precious things, they are life and they are essential for the path you must walk ahead. If you are not in possession of them, if you do not have this knowledge, if you have no knowledge of God’s disposition and no knowledge of God’s essence, then there will always be a question mark hanging over God in your heart. If you simply have no understanding of God, how then can you be successful in your belief in Him? You simply don’t know God’s emotions, don’t know God’s will, don’t know God’s thoughts, don’t know what He is thinking, you don’t know what grieves God, and you don’t know what brings Him joy. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Whenever God is grieved, no one … This is such a heavy topic!
In God’s work and in His management, although He is facing each and every person, and although He holds nothing back and is utterly unconcealed, conversely, everyone who follows God is closed to Him, and no one tries to actively get close to God or to actively understand His heart. Even those who wish to become God’s confidants have no desire to draw close to God, to show any consideration to His heart or to understand Him. Therefore, when God feels joy, when He is happy, no one shares His happiness with Him; or when people misunderstand God, no one tries to comfort His wounded heart; when His heart feels pain, not one person is willing to hear about it. Therefore, throughout these several thousand years of God’s work and management, God has been lonely; He is lonely! God is lonely not only because corrupt mankind opposes Him, but because those who seek to be spiritual, who seek to know God, who seek to understand Him, and even those who are willing to expend their whole lives for Him, do not know His thoughts, they don’t understand His disposition and they don’t understand His emotions. So, we see in the concluding part of Noah’s story God expressing His mind in an extraordinary way, an exceptional way, by making a covenant with man. Looking at it from the outside, the making of this covenant was very simple and was something very ordinary. It was just making a covenant and using this covenant to limit both parties—no big deal. And yet within the making of this covenant there was a true revelation of both God’s disposition and of His thoughts. If you don’t investigate carefully and if you leave these words to one side and ignore them, then mankind really will never know God’s thoughts. You may perhaps imagine that God was smiling when He made this covenant, or that He was solemn, or that He had some other most common expression. But no one is able to see God’s heart or see His pain, and even less is anyone able to see His loneliness. Because no one was capable of having, or was worthy of God’s trust, so that God might express His thoughts or unburden His pain to them, He had no choice but to take such action. This matter is not a simple one, is it? (No, it isn’t.) Whilst God had no one to confide in, He made a covenant with man, telling man that He would never again destroy the world with flood—telling man so that they would be reminded of this whenever a rainbow appeared. That is, no matter how painful a situation God is in, He never forgets man, He never forgets to care for man and to keep them in the know. Is this not the selflessness of God? (Yes.) So, when people are in pain, what do they remember? What do they think of? When people are in pain, isn’t that when they need God the most? (Yes.) People always want to bring God to them so He may comfort them, and so their hearts can be a little happier and feel a little better, right? (Yes.) But when God is in pain, when His heart is wounded, to Him it is a kind of extravagant requirement, an extravagant desire, to have a created being or any person to keep Him company and to comfort Him. He has never required this and never entertained such wild wishes; He just expresses His own feelings in His own way. As far as people are concerned, it’s as though this is no big deal, but when you come to have a genuine desire to understand God, aren’t you then truly able to perceive His greatness and His selflessness? Although God used the rainbow to make His covenant with man, He has never said why He did this, why He made this covenant. Has God ever told His true thoughts to man? (No.) Does He trouble man with them? He doesn’t, does He? He just takes His best side and the best, most beautiful things, and gives them all to man. As for Himself, He endures this suffering in silence. God has never publicly announced His suffering, but instead endures it silently. His enduring this suffering is not because He has no other choice, and neither is it a sign of weakness; what is it instead? God’s essence has always been selfless and it is His essence and His disposition that causes Him to act this way and to act this way naturally. We are talking about this now only so that everyone may know about it and understand God—this is the sole aim.
From what has been said so far, would anyone misunderstand and think that by talking about God’s feelings in such detail and in such an excitable, sensational way, that I am intentionally making people sympathize with God? Does anyone suspect this? (No.) That’s good. On the contrary, what am I aiming to achieve? My sole aim for saying these things is that you may understand God more and understand each and every detail of God, including His joys and sorrows. God’s essence and His disposition are expressed truly and honestly, bit by bit; they are not a depiction by man through their empty words, or through letters and doctrines or through their imaginations. That is, God and His essence exist in truth; they are not a picture, not imaginary and they are not some fabrication or invention. So, are you now aware of this point? (Yes.) If you are now aware of it, then My words today have not been spoken in vain.
Then let’s end our fellowship here for today. We have only discussed three subjects today, and I think that everyone has gained a lot from them. I think that the things concerning God’s disposition that we’ve raised or that we’ve come to know within these three subjects have even overturned some people’s imaginings and knowledge of God, and even more they have overturned some people’s belief in God. Whatever the case, I hope God’s disposition that we have come to know through the sections and chapters of these three subjects is helpful to everyone, and I hope that you will afterward take the time to contemplate it well. Let’s finish our meeting here then. Goodbye! (Goodbye!)
a. The original text omits “adverse.”
a. The original text omits “adverse.”
c. The original text omits “in this extract.”
d. The original text omits “and can only say.”
e. The original text omits “and they may say.”