Next, we will talk about the things in the story of Noah that are related to the topic of God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself.
From these verses, what do you see God did on Noah? Through the reading of these verses, everyone present may have known something about it: God commanded Noah to make an ark, and then God destroyed the world with a flood; God commanded Noah to make an ark in order to save the eight members of Noah’s family, so that they would be left alive and be the ancestors of the mankind in the next age. Now, read the verses.
- God Would Destroy the World with a Flood, and He Commanded Noah to Make 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.
Through the reading of these passages, do you get a general idea of the man Noah? What kind of man was Noah? The text says: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.” According to the understanding of the people today, what kind of man was a “just man” in that time? A “just man” should be a perfect man. Do you know this perfect man was a perfect man in men’s eyes or a perfect man in God’s eyes? No doubt, this “perfect man” was a perfect man in God’s eyes rather than in men’s eyes. This is certain! For men were blind and could not see that, and only God searched the whole earth and searched everyone, and only God knew that Noah was a perfect man. So God launched his plan of destroying the world with a flood at the very moment when Noah was called.
When it came to that time, God wanted to call Noah to do a very important thing. Why did God want to do it? Because God had a plan in his heart then, and his plan was to destroy the world with a flood. Why did he want to destroy the world? Here it says: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” What have you seen from the word “The earth was filled with violence”? When the world and mankind were corrupt to the utmost, there was a phenomenon on the earth, that is, “the earth was filled with violence.” To put it in modern language, “being filled with violence” means that everything was in a muddle. In man’s eyes, all walks of life were in disorder, very chaotic, and not easy to manage. In God’s eyes, the mankind in that world was too corrupt. To what extent were they corrupt? They were corrupt to such an extent that God could no longer bear to see them and could no longer be patient with them and to such an extent that God was determined to destroy them. When God was determined to destroy the world, God planned to find a man to make an ark. Then God chose Noah to do such a thing, that is, he commanded Noah to make an ark. Why did he choose Noah? Noah was a just man in God’s eyes, and moreover, he would do everything just as God commanded him, that is to say, he would do whatever God told him to do. God wanted to find such a man to cooperate with his work, accomplish his commission, and accomplish the work he would do on earth. Then besides Noah, was there any other man in that time who could accomplish such a work? Certainly not! Noah was the only possible man for it, the only possible man who could accomplish God’s commission, so God chose him. However, are the scope and the standard of God’s salvation of man in that time the same as those of today? The answer is that certainly there is a difference between them! Why do I ask this? Although in that time only Noah was a just man in God’s eyes, which implies that his children and his wife were not just men, God left them alive because of Noah. God did not make requirements of them according to what he requires of man now. Rather, he left all the eight members of Noah’s family alive. They were blessed by God because of Noah’s righteousness. Without Noah, none of them could possibly accomplish that commission of God, so Noah was the only man who should be left alive when the world was destroyed that time, while others were just favored specially. It can be seen that in that time when God had not formally carried out his management work, the principle and the standard by which God treated man and made requirements of man were comparatively “lenient.” In the eyes of the people today, God treating the eight members of Noah’s family in that way, he seems to be not “just and fair.” As far as the great many works God does on the people today and the great many words God speaks to them are concerned, God’s “treatment” of the eight members of Noah’s family was only a principle of working God adopted under the background of his work at that time. In comparison, who of the people today and the eight members of Noah’s family have gained more from God?
Although the matter of Noah being called is a simple fact, the crucial points we will talk about, the disposition of God, the will of God, and the substance of God in the record of this passage, are not simple. To know about these aspects of God, we should first know about what kind of man God wanted to call. Through knowing about what kind of man God wanted to call, we can know about God’s disposition, God’s will, and God’s substance. This is most important. Then in God’s eyes what kind of man was the man God wanted to call? This man had to be a man who could listen to his word and could do according to his commandment to him, and this man had also to be a man who had a sense of responsibility and a man who could fulfill God’s word as his bounden responsibility and duty. Then did such a man have to be one who knows God? No. In that time, Noah had not heard so many teachings of God or experienced any of God’s works, so he had very little knowledge of God. Although it is recorded here that Noah walked with God, had he ever seen God’s original person? It can be said with certainty: No! For in that time, only the messengers of God came to man. Although they could speak and do things on God’s behalf, they only conveyed God’s will and God’s intention. God’s original person, however, did not appear to man personally. In this passage, what we mainly see are the things Noah was to do and God’s commandment to him. Then, what is God’s substance expressed here? God does everything according to a careful plan, and when he sees a thing or a phenomenon happening, he has a standard to judge it by. This standard determines whether or not he will begin planning to deal with such a thing or phenomenon or how he will treat it. He is not indifferent to or with no feeling toward anything, but just the contrary. Here there is a word 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.” In this word of God, did God say that he would only destroy men? No! God said that he would destroy all living things of all flesh. Why would God destroy them? Here there was again the expression of God’s disposition: In God’s eyes, in his treatment of the corruption of mankind and the filthiness, violence, and disobedience of all fleshly men, there was a limit to his patience. What was the limit? It was what God said: “And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” What does the word “all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth” mean? It means that all the living things, including those who followed God, those who called upon the name of God with their mouth, those who had ever offered burnt offerings to God, and those who confessed God and even praised God with their mouth, once they had completely corrupted their ways and that had reached God’s eyes, God would destroy them. This was God’s limit. That is to say, to what extent could God be patient with mankind and with the corruption of all flesh? To the extent that none of the people, whether the followers of God or the unbelievers, went the right way, to the extent that not only was this mankind morally corrupt and full of evil, but there was no one who believed in the existence of God, much less was there anyone who believed that the world is ruled over by God and it is God who can bring the light and the right way to man, and to the extent that mankind hated the existence of God and did not allow God to exist. Once mankind’s corruption reached this degree, God would not be patient with them anymore. What would replace this? God’s wrath and God’s punishment were about to come upon them. Wasn’t this part of the expression of God’s disposition? In the present age, is there any just man in God’s eyes? Is there any perfect man in God’s eyes? Isn’t this age an age in which all flesh has corrupted his way on the earth in God’s eyes? In this age, except for those whom God intends to make complete, the human beings who can follow God and receive God’s salvation, aren’t all fleshly men challenging the limit of God’s patience? In this world, the things that happen around you every day and everything you see with your eyes, hear with your ears, or experience personally, aren’t they all filled with violence? In God’s eyes, shouldn’t such a world and such an age be ended? Although the background of the present age is completely different from that of Noah’s time, God’s feeling and God’s anger toward the corruption of mankind are the same as those of that time. God can be patient because of his work, but as far as all kinds of states and conditions are concerned, this world should have long been destroyed in God’s eyes, for the situation is much worse than that when the world was destroyed by the flood. However, what is the difference? This is also a thing that saddens God’s heart the most. Maybe none of you can realize it.
When the world would be destroyed with a flood, God could call Noah to make an ark and do some preparatory works for God before the destruction of the world by a flood. God could call a man, Noah, to do the series of things for God. But in the present age, God has no one to call. Why is this? Maybe everyone present knows and is clear about the reason. Is it necessary for me to make this thing clear? If I speak of it, that may somewhat hurt your face and make everyone upset. Some say, “Although we are not just men, nor are we perfect men in God’s eyes, if God commands us to do a certain thing, we will be equal to it. This is because before, when it was said that the great disasters would come, we began to prepare food and the things needed in the disasters. Wasn’t all that done according to God’s requirement? Weren’t we very cooperative with God’s work? Then can’t we compare with Noah in doing these things? Isn’t our doing so true obedience? Isn’t our doing so acting according to what God has commanded us? Haven’t we also done according to God’s word because of believing it? Then why is God still grieved? And why does he say that he can find no one to call?” Is there any difference between the doings and behavior of these people and Noah’s? What is the difference? (It is out of our own will that today we have prepared those foods for disasters.) (Our doings and behavior all fall short of righteousness, while Noah was a just man in God’s eyes.) This word is somewhat relevant. There is a substantive difference between the things Noah did and the things people today did. When Noah did the things according to what God commanded him, he did not know what God’s will was or know what God would accomplish. God only gave him a charge, commanding him what he should do, without much explanation, and he just did according to it. He did not guess God’s intention secretly, and he did not have resistance against or have a double heart toward God, but he just did according to what God commanded him with a pure and simple heart, and whatever God told him to do, he did it. Obeying and listening to God’s word was the conviction behind his doing things. He was just so straightforward and so simple toward God’s commission. His substance, the substance of his action, was obedience, without suspicion or resistance, much less consideration of his personal interests or his personal gain or loss. Moreover, when God said he would destroy the world with a flood, he did not ask when or sound God out, much less ask how God would actually destroy the world. He just did according to what God commanded him. After God told him how to make the ark and of what it was to be made, he did everything according to what God commanded him. Furthermore, after God told him, he acted at once. He did according to God’s commandment with an attitude of satisfying God. Was his purpose for him himself to escape the disaster? No. Did he ever ask God how long it was to the destruction of the world? No. Then did he ask God or did he know how long it would take to make the ark? No, he didn’t know either. He just obeyed, listened, and did what he was told to do with simplicity. The people today, however, are different: When God’s word conveys a small hint or when they sense the slightest sign of something, they immediately take action themselves to prepare food, drink, and the things to use for themselves in the future in all desperation and at all cost, and they evenmake ready the route to flee for their life when the disasters befall. The more interesting thing is that man’s head is of much “use” at crucial moments. Under a situation in which God has not given any commandment, people have made proper arrangements themselves for the things that may happen to them in the future, which can be described with one word—“perfect.” As to what God says, what God’s will is, and what God wants, no one cares about them or tries to comprehend them. Isn’t this the greatest difference between the people today and Noah?
In the record of the story of Noah, you have also seen some of God’s disposition, haven’t you? With God, there is a limit to his being patient with the corruption, filthiness, and violence of mankind. When his patience has been taxed to the limit, he will not be patient anymore, but begin his new management and new plan and begin to do what he wants to do to manifest his deeds and manifest another aspect of his disposition. This “doing” of his is not for the purpose of revealing that he does not tolerate man’s offense, that he is full of authority and wrath, or that he can destroy mankind, but means that his disposition and his holy substance will no longer allow or tolerate such a mankind to live before him or live under his authority. Therefore, when the whole mankind is at enmity with him and when there is no one he can save on the whole earth, he will no longer be patient with such a mankind, but will unhesitatingly carry out his plan—destroying such a mankind. Such an action of God is determined by his disposition, and it is an inevitable result and is also the consequence each created being living under God’s authority must take. Hence, isn’t God very eager to fulfill his plan and save the human beings he wants to save in the present age? Against such a background, what does God care about the most? It is not how those who simply do not follow him or who always oppose him treat him or resist him, or how mankind slanders him. Rather, he only cares about whether those who follow him, the objects of his salvation in his management plan, have been made complete by him and whether they have come up to his satisfaction. To those other than his followers, he only gives small “punishments” every now and then to show his wrath, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and so on. At the same time, he does his utmost to keep and watch over those who follow him and who are about to be saved by him. This is God’s disposition: On the one hand, God can show extremely great patience and tolerance to the human beings he will make complete and can wait for them to the utmost; on the other hand, God hates and loathes bitterly the brood of satan that do not follow him and are hostile to him. Although he does not care whether the brood of satan will follow him or whether they can worship him, he is hating them while being patient in his heart, and he is waiting for the step of his management plan to come while deciding the outcome of the brood of satan.
Let’s then look at the next passage.
2. God’s Blessing to Noah After the Flood
(Gen 9:1-6) And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, and on every fowl of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
What do you see in this passage? Why have I selected this passage? Why haven’t I selected the passages concerning the life of Noah and his family in the ark? Because they do not have much to do with the subject we want to fellowship about today. What we are concerned about is God’s disposition. If you want to know about those things, you can read them in the Bible. We will not talk about them here. Today we will mainly talk about the subject concerning how to know God’s deeds.
After Noah received God’s commandment and made the ark, he passed through the days when God destroyed the world with the flood, and the eight members of his family all survived. Except for the eight members of Noah’s family, all human beings were destroyed, and all the living things on the earth were also destroyed. To Noah God gave the blessing. God spoke some words to Noah and his sons, and those words were the things God wanted to bestow to him and were also God’s blessing to him. That was the blessing and promise God gave to a man who could listen to his word and receive his commandment, and that was also the way in which God gave a reward to a man. That is to say, regardless of whether Noah was a perfect man or a just man in the eyes of God and regardless of how much knowledge of God he had, he and his three sons listened to God’s word, cooperated with God’s work, and did what they should do as God had instructed them, and thus preserved for God the mankind and all the living creatures after the destruction of the world by the flood, making a very great contribution to the next step of God’s management plan. It was because of all these deeds of his that God blessed him. To the people today, what Noah did may not at all be worth mentioning, and some will even think: “Noah actually did not do anything; it was God who had decided to leave him, so he certainly could be left. His survival could not be accredited to him. That was what God had intended to accomplish, for man was the passive party.” But God does not think so in his heart. In God’s eyes, whether a man is great or small, as long as he can listen to God’s word, obey God’s commandment and commission, cooperate with God’s work, and cooperate with God’s will and God’s plan, so that God’s will and God’s plan can be carried out smoothly and fulfilled, such a deed is worthy for God to remember and worthy for God to bless. God treasures such a man, cherishes such a deed of his, and cherishes his kindness and his heart for God. This is God’s attitude. So, why did God bless Noah? It was because God treats such a deed and obedience of a man in this way.
Concerning the matter of God blessing Noah, some may say, “When a man has listened to God’s word and satisfied God, God should bless him. Isn’t this a matter of course?” Can it be said so? Some say, “No.” Why can’t it be said so? Some say, “Man is not worthy to enjoy God’s blessing.” This word is not completely right! For when a man has received God’s commission, God has a standard as to how to judge whether the man’s deed is good or bad, whether he has obedience or not, whether he satisfies God’s heart’s desire or not, and whether his doings are up to the standard or not. What God pays attention to is man’s heart rather than his outward behavior. It is not that no matter how he does it, as long as he finishes it, God should bless him. This is man’s misunderstanding of God. God does not only look at the result of the thing, but pays much attention to what the man’s heart is like and what his attitude is like in the course of the development of the thing, and looks at whether there is obedience, consideration, and a desire to satisfy God in the man’s heart. How much knowledge did Noah of that time have of God? Did he understand as many doctrines as you do now? In the truths concerning the concept of God and the knowledge of God, did he receive as much watering and shepherding as you do? No! But there is a fact that is undeniable: The concept of God and the attitude toward God the people today have in their consciousness, in their mind, and even in the depth of their heart are vague and equivocal, and it can even be said that a portion of people hold a denying attitude toward the existence of God. Noah, however, believed in his heart and in his consciousness that God really and truly existed and he did not have any doubt about it. So his obedience to God was without any mixture and could withstand the test, his heart was pure and was open to God, and he did not need so much knowledge in doctrine to convince himself to listen to God’s word and follow God’s plan or need so many facts to prove the existence of God so that he could accept God’s commission and could do whatever God commanded him. This is the difference between Noah and the people today in substance, and this is precisely a real interpretation of a perfect man in God’s eyes. What God wants is such a man as Noah, and what God approves is such a man. Such a man is the very one God blesses. What revelation do you receive here? Man looks at the outward appearance of a man, but God looks at the heart and the substance of a man. God does not tolerate man’s being perfunctory toward him or doubting him in the slightest, nor does he tolerate man’s suspecting him or tempting him in any way. Therefore, although the people today are face to face with God’s word and they can even be said to be face to face with God, yet because of the things in the depth of their heart, because of the existence of their corrupt substance, and because of their hostile attitude toward God, they are hindered from truly believing in God and are impeded from obeying God. Thus, it is hard for them to receive a blessing like that God gave to Noah.
3. God Established a Covenant with Men with a Rainbow as Its Token
(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, let’s look at the verses concerning “God established a covenant with men with a rainbow as its token.”
Most people know what a rainbow is and have heard something of the story about the rainbow. As to the story about the rainbow in the Bible, some believe it, others regard it as a legend, and still others simply do not believe it. No matter what, all the things related to the rainbow that happened throughout the story were the things God did and the things that happened in the course of God’s managing mankind. These things are recorded in the Bible exactly as they happened. Although how God’s heart felt at that time and what God’s intention was in speaking these words are not told in these records, much less can anyone realize how God felt when he spoke these words, yet the mind God had in the whole course of doing this thing is expressed among the words and between the lines, and it seems that God’s mind at that time is all revealed on paper vividly through each and every of these words of God.
God’s mind is what mankind should care about and know the most, because God’s mind has everything to do with man’s knowledge about God, and man’s knowledge about God is an indispensable link in his entering into life. Then what was God’s mind while these things happened?
The God-created mankind, a mankind who had originally been very good in God’s eyes and very close to God, was cut off by a flood after they disobeyed God. Such a mankind disappeared in a twinkling; was God grieved over that? Of course, he was grieved! What was the expression of his grief? What is the account of it in the Bible? It is as recorded in this verse: 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. In this simple word God’s mind was revealed: He was deeply grieved over this destruction of the world; in human terms, he was very sad. We may picture it: After the world was destroyed by the flood, what did the earth originally full of life look like then? What did the earth originally full of human beings look like then? It was desolate, no living things existed, and water was everywhere, on which things were floating about messily. Was such a scene God’s original intention in creating the world? Certainly not! God’s original intention was to see that the whole earth would be full of life and see that the mankind created by him would worship him, and at least it was not that only one man, Noah, would worship him, and only one man, Noah, could be called by him to accomplish his commission. At the moment when mankind disappeared, what God saw was not what he had originally intended to see but just the opposite. How could God’s heart not be grieved? So, when he was manifesting his disposition and expressing his feelings, he made a decision. What was the decision? He would establish a covenant with men with a bow in the cloud (Note: it was the rainbow we see), promising that he would not destroy mankind any more with a flood, and at the same time telling men that God had destroyed the world with a flood and letting men forever remember why God had done such a thing.
Was that destruction of the world what God desired? It was certainly not what God desired! As for the miserable condition on the earth after the destruction of the world, we can imagine a little about it, but what the scene God saw at that time was like is far beyond our imagination. It can be said that of the people today or the people then, none can imagine or understand how God felt in his heart when he saw that scene, when he saw the world after the destruction of it by the flood. Mankind’s disobedience had forced God to do so, but God’s heart was hurt because of that destruction of the world by a flood. This fact no one understood, and no one could feel it. So God established a covenant with men, that is, by an oath, he told men to remember that God had done such a thing and told men that God would never again destroy the world in such a way in the future. In this “covenant,” we see God’s heart and see that when God destroyed that mankind, God’s heart was in agony. To put it in human language, when God destroyed mankind and when God saw mankind disappear, God’s heart was weeping tears and dripping blood. Isn’t this all that can be said? Although these words are words mankind uses to describe man’s feeling, yet because human language is too short, I think it is not wrong or exaggerated to describe God’s heart and God’s feeling with such words, and at least they can make you understand vividly and properly how God’s heart felt at that time. When you see a rainbow again, what will you think about? At least you will think that God once sorrowed over destroying the world by a flood, and think that although God hated that world and hated that mankind, yet when he destroyed the mankind he had made with his own hands, he felt pain in his heart, felt it hard to give them up, felt he had no other choice, and felt it hard to do that. The only comfort to him was the eight members of Noah’s family. It was because of Noah’s cooperation that the painstaking effort and price he had expended in creating all things had not been wasted after all. It was the only thing that could appease his wound while he was grieved. From then on, God placed his expectations for mankind all on the whole family of Noah, and he hoped that they would live under his blessing rather than in his curse, hoped that they would never again see God’s destruction of the world with a flood, and hoped that they would not be destroyed.
To be continued…
Read the whole piece of word: God’s Utterance “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” (Part Three)
Eastern Lightning | The Church of Almighty God came into being because of the work of the returned Lord Jesus—Almighty God, Christ of the last days in China, and it isn’t established by any person. Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. After reading God’s word, you will see that God has appeared.