God’s Righteous Disposition Part One
Now that you have listened to the previous fellowship about God’s authority, I am confident that you are equipped with quite an array of words on the matter. How much you can accept, grasp and understand all depends on how much effort you will apply to it. It is My hope that you can approach this matter earnestly; by no means should you deal with it half-heartedly! Now, is knowing God’s authority equal to knowing God’s entirety? One can say that knowing God’s authority is the beginning of knowing the unique God Himself, and one could also say that knowing God’s authority means that one has already stepped into the gate of knowing the substance of the unique God Himself. This understanding is one part of knowing God. What is the other part, then? This is the subject that I would like to fellowship about today—God’s righteous disposition.
I have selected two sections from the Bible with which to fellowship about today’s topic: The first concerns God’s destruction of Sodom, which can be found in Genesis 19:1-11 and Genesis 19:24-25; the second concerns God’s deliverance of Nineveh, which can be found in Jonah 1:1-2, in addition to the third and fourth chapters of the book. I suspect that you are all waiting to hear what I have to say about these two sections. What I say naturally cannot stray from the theme of knowing God Himself and knowing His substance, but what will be the focus of today’s fellowship? Do any of you know? Which parts of My fellowship about “God’s Authority” caught your attention? Why did I say that only the one who possesses such authority and power is God Himself? What did I wish to explain by saying that? What did I wish to inform you of? Are God’s authority and power one aspect of how His substance is displayed? Are they a part of His substance that proves His identity and status? Have these questions told you what I am going to say? What do I want you to understand? Think this over carefully.
(I) For Stubbornly Opposing God, Man Is Destroyed by God’s Wrath
First, let us look at several passages of scripture describing “God’s destruction of Sodom.”
(Gen 19:1-11) And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, No; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed on them greatly; and they turned in to him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called to Lot, and said to him, Where are the men which came in to you this night? bring them out to us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door to them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brothers, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed sore on the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
(Gen 19:24-25) Then the LORD rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.
From these passages, it is not difficult to see that Sodom’s iniquity and corruption had already reached a degree detestable to both man and God, and that in the eyes of God the city therefore deserved to be destroyed. But what happened inside the city before it was destroyed? What can we learn from these events? What does God’s attitude toward these events show us about His disposition? In order to understand the whole story, let us carefully read what was recorded in the Scripture….
Sodom’s Corruption: Infuriating to Man, Enraging to God
On that night, Lot received two messengers from God and prepared a feast for them. After dining, before they had lain down, people from all over the city surrounded Lot’s residence and called out to Lot. The Scripture records them as saying, “Where are the men which came in to you this night? bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Who said these words? To whom were they spoken? These were the words of the people of Sodom, yelled outside Lot’s residence and meant for Lot. How does it feel to hear these words? Are you furious? Do these words sicken you? Are you simmering with rage? Do these words not reek of Satan? Through them, can you sense the evil and darkness in this city? Can you sense the cruelty and barbarity of these people’s behavior through their words? Can you sense the depth of their corruption through their behavior? Through the content of their speech, it is not difficult to see that their iniquitous nature and savage disposition had reached a level beyond their own control. Save for Lot, every last person in this city was no different from Satan; the mere sight of another person made these people want to harm and devour them…. These things not only give one a sense of the city’s ghastly and terrifying nature, as well as the aura of death around it; they also give one a sense of its iniquity and bloodiness.
As he found himself face-to-face with a gang of inhumane thugs, people who were filled with soul-devouring ambition, how did Lot respond? According to the Scripture: “I pray you … do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” Lot meant the following with his words: He was willing to give up his two daughters in order to protect the messengers. Out of reason, these people should have agreed to Lot’s conditions and left the two messengers alone; after all, the messengers were perfect strangers to them, people who had absolutely nothing to do with them; these two messengers had never harmed their interests. However, motivated by their iniquitous nature, they did not leave the matter at this. Rather, they only intensified their efforts. Here another one of their exchanges can undoubtedly give one further insight into these people’s true vicious nature; at the same time it also lets one know and comprehend the reason why God wished to destroy this city.
So what did they say next? As the Bible reads: “Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed sore on the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.” Why did they want to break down the door? The reason is that they were only too anxious to harm those two messengers. What were those messengers doing in Sodom? Their purpose in coming there was to save Lot and his family; however, the people of the city mistakenly thought that they had come to assume official posts. Without asking their purpose, it was merely conjecture that made the city want to savagely harm these two messengers; they wished to harm two people who had nothing whatsoever to do with them. It is clear that the people of this city had utterly lost their humanity and reason. The degree of their insanity and wildness was already no different from Satan’s vicious nature of harming and devouring men.
When they demanded these people from Lot, what did Lot do? From the text we know that Lot did not hand them over. Did Lot know these two messengers of God? Of course not! But why was he able to save these two people? Did he know what they had come to do? Although he was unaware of their reason for coming, he did know that they were God’s servants, and so he received them. That he could call these servants of God lords shows that Lot was usually a follower of God, unlike the others inside Sodom. Therefore, when God’s messengers came to him, he risked his own life to receive these two servants; furthermore, he also exchanged his two daughters in order to protect these two servants. This is Lot’s righteous deed; it is also a tangible expression of Lot’s nature and substance, and it is also the reason God sent His servants to save Lot. When faced with peril, Lot protected these two servants without regard for anything else; he even attempted to trade his two daughters in exchange for the servants’ safety. Other than Lot, was there anyone else inside the city who could have done something like this? As the facts prove—no! Therefore, it goes without saying that everyone inside Sodom, save for Lot, was a target for destruction as well as a target that deserved destruction.
Sodom Is Laid to Waste for Inciting God’s Wrath
When the people of Sodom saw these two servants, they did not ask their reason for coming, nor did anyone ask whether they had come to spread God’s will. To the contrary, they formed a mob and, without waiting for an explanation, came to seize these two servants like wild dogs or vicious wolves. Did God watch these things as they happened? What was God thinking in His heart as to this kind of human behavior, this kind of thing? God decided to destroy this city; He would not hesitate or wait, nor would He continue to show patience. His day had come, and so He set about the work He wished to do. Thus, Genesis 19:24-25 says, “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.” These two verses tell people the method with which God destroyed this city; it also tells people what God destroyed. First, the Bible recounts that God burned the city with fire, and that the extent of the fire was enough to destroy all the people and that which grew on the ground. That is to say, the fire that fell from heaven not only destroyed the city; it also destroyed all people and living things inside it, all without leaving a single trace behind. After the city was destroyed, the land was bare of living things. There was no more life, nor any signs of it. The city had become a wasteland, an empty place filled with dead silence. There would be no more evil deeds against God in this place; there would be no more slaughter or spilled blood.
Why did God want to burn this city so thoroughly? What can you see here? Would God bear to watch mankind and nature, His own creations, be destroyed like this? If you can discern Jehovah God’s anger from the fire that was cast down from heaven, then it is not difficult to see the level of His rage from the target of His destruction as well as from the degree to which this city was destroyed. When God despises a city, He will render His punishment upon it. When God is disgusted with a city, He will issue repeated warnings informing people of His anger. However, when God decides to put an end to and destroy a city—that is, when His wrath and majesty have been offended—He will deliver no further punishments or warnings. Instead, He will directly destroy it. He will make it utterly disappear. This is God’s righteous disposition.
After Sodom’s Repeated Resistance and Hostility Toward Him, God Utterly Eradicates It
Once we have a general understanding of God’s righteous disposition, we can return our attention to the city of Sodom—what God saw as a city of sin. By understanding the substance of this city, we can understand why God wanted to destroy it and why He destroyed it so completely. From this, we can come to know God’s righteous disposition.
From a human perspective, Sodom was a city that could fully satisfy man’s desire and man’s evil. Alluring and bewitching, with music and dancing night after night, its prosperity drove men to fascination and madness. Its evil corroded the hearts of people and bewitched them into degeneration. This was a city where unclean spirits and evil spirits ran amok; it brimmed with sin and murder and was filled with a bloody, putrid scent. It was a city that chilled people to the bone, a city that one would shrink back from. No one in this city—neither man nor woman, neither young nor old—sought the true way; no one yearned for the light or longed to walk away from sin. They lived under Satan’s control, corruption and deceit. They had lost their humanity; they had lost their senses, and they had lost man’s original goal of existence. They committed countless sins of resistance against God; they refused His guidance and opposed His will. It was their wicked deeds that carried these people, the city and every living thing inside it, step by step, down the path of destruction.
Although these two passages do not record the details describing the extent of the corruption of the people of Sodom, instead recording their conduct toward God’s two servants following the latter’s arrival in the city, a simple truth can reveal the extent to which the people of Sodom were corrupt, evil and resisted God. With this, the true face and substance of the city’s people are also exposed. Not only did they not accept God’s warnings, they also did not fear His punishment. To the contrary, they scorned God’s anger. They blindly resisted God. No matter what He did or how He did it, their vicious nature only intensified, and they repeatedly opposed God. The people of Sodom were hostile toward God’s existence, His coming, His punishment, and even more so, His warnings. They saw nothing else worthwhile around them. They devoured and harmed all people that could be devoured and harmed, and they treated God’s servants no differently. In regard to the whole of the wicked deeds committed by the people of Sodom, harming God’s servants was only the tip of the iceberg, and their wicked nature that this revealed actually amounted to little more than a drop in a vast sea. Therefore, God chose to destroy them with fire. God did not use a flood, nor did He use a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami or any other method to destroy the city. What did God’s use of fire to destroy this city signify? It meant the city’s total destruction; it meant that the city vanished entirely from the earth and from existence. Here, “destruction” not only refers to the vanishing of the city’s form and structure or outer appearance; it also means that the souls of the people inside the city ceased to exist, having been utterly eradicated. Simply put, all people, events and things associated with the city were destroyed. There would be no afterlife or reincarnation for them; God had eradicated them from humanity, His creation, once and forever. The “use of fire” signified a halt to sin, and it meant an end to sin; this sin would cease to exist and spread. It meant that Satan’s evil had lost its nurturing soil as well as the graveyard that granted it a place to stay and to live. In the war between God and Satan, God’s use of fire is the brand of His victory with which Satan is marked. Sodom’s destruction is a great misstep in Satan’s ambition to oppose God by corrupting and devouring men, and it is likewise a humiliating sign of a time in humanity’s development when man rejected God’s guidance and abandoned himself to vice. Furthermore, it is a record of a true revelation of God’s righteous disposition.
When the fire God sent from heaven had reduced Sodom to nothing more than ashes, it meant that the city named “Sodom” would cease to exist, as would everything within the city itself. It was destroyed by God’s anger; it vanished under God’s wrath and majesty. Because of God’s righteous disposition Sodom received its just punishment; because of God’s righteous disposition, it received its just end. The end of Sodom’s existence was due to its evil, and it was also due to God’s desire to never look upon this city again, as well as any of the people who had lived in it or any life that had grown within the city. God’s “desire to never look upon the city again” is His wrath, as well as His majesty. God burned the city because its iniquity and sin caused Him to feel anger, disgust and loathing toward it and wish to never see it or any of the people and living things inside it again. Once the city had finished burning, leaving only ashes behind, it had truly ceased to exist in God’s eyes; even His memories of it were gone, erased. This means that the fire sent from heaven did not only destroy the entire city of Sodom and the iniquity-filled people inside it, nor did it only destroy all things inside the city that had been stained by sin; even more so, this fire destroyed the memories of humanity’s evil and resistance against God. This was God’s purpose in burning the city down.
A humanity had become corrupt to the extreme. They did not know who God was or where they had come from. If you mentioned God, these people would attack, slander and blaspheme. Even when God’s servants had come to spread His warning, these corrupt people not only showed no signs of repentance; they did not abandon their wicked conduct. To the contrary, they brazenly harmed God’s servants. What they expressed and revealed was their nature and substance of extreme enmity toward God. We can see that these corrupt people’s resistance against God was more than a revelation of their corrupt disposition, just as it was more than an instance of slandering or mocking stemming from a lack of understanding of the truth. Neither stupidity nor ignorance caused their wicked conduct; it was not because these people had been deceived, and it was certainly not because they had been misled. Their conduct had reached the level of flagrantly brazen antagonism, opposition and uproar against God. Without a doubt, this kind of human behavior would enrage God, and it would enrage His disposition—a disposition that must not be offended. Therefore, God directly and openly released His wrath and His majesty; this is a true revelation of His righteous disposition. Faced with a city overflowing with sin, God desired to destroy it in the swiftest manner possible; He wished to eradicate the people within it and the entirety of their sins in the most complete way, to make this city’s people cease to exist and to stop the sin within this place from multiplying. The swiftest and most complete way of doing so was to burn it down with fire. God’s attitude toward the people of Sodom was not one of abandonment or disregard; rather, He used His wrath, majesty and authority to punish, strike down and utterly destroy these people. His attitude toward them was one not only of physical destruction but also of destruction of the soul, an eternal eradication. This is the true implication of God’s desire for them to “cease to exist.”