Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
God’s eternal purpose is to work Himself into us as our life so that we may take Him as our person, live Him, and express Him. This is the desire of God’s heart; it is also the focal point of the Bible. In order to fulfill this purpose, God created man in His image and after His likeness. God’s intention in creating man was that man would receive God into him and take Him as his life and everything to him. For this reason, after God created man, He placed him in front of the tree of life. This indicates that God wanted man to eat of this tree, which is a symbol of God Himself as life. To eat of the tree of life is to take God into us as our life and life supply.
The tree of life is seen both in Genesis 2 and Revelation 22. From eternity to eternity, God’s intention is for man to partake of this tree. Our destiny in eternity future is to eat the tree of life and thereby to live God and express Him. This is God’s eternal intention.
In Genesis 3 the serpent tempted man to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result of eating of this tree, man became fallen. Instead of partaking of the tree of life, man ate of the tree of knowledge.
The principle of life is dependence, whereas the principle of knowledge is independence. For example, after a student of mathematics learns all his instructor has to teach him, he can be independent of his teacher. Because the student knows mathematics for himself, it is no longer necessary for him to depend on this teacher. Knowledge leads to independence, but life requires constant dependence. We can never afford to become independent with respect to the means of life. In fact, the more life we have, the more dependent we are. To maintain our physical life we must breathe, drink, and eat. If we want to stay alive, we cannot graduate from breathing, drinking, and eating.
If man had not fallen, man’s living would not be independent from God, but man would continually take God in and live by Him. Man would depend on God, and there would be no separation between God and man. Man would be able to receive God directly as life, live by Him, and even live Him. What a wonderful situation that would be!
At the time of man’s fall a wedge was driven between man and God, a wedge that caused a separation between them. The knowledge of good and evil made man independent from God.
Another consequence of eating of the tree of knowledge is that man tries to do things for God on his own. In a sense, man realizes that he has displeased God. Because of this realization, he makes up his mind to do something to please God. With fallen human beings, therefore, there are two striking characteristics: independence and efforts on his own to please God.
God is not willing to give up His original purpose for man. In order to deal with man in his fallen situation, God gives commandments to him. By giving man commandments, God seems to be saying, “You want to do something to please Me, but you don’t realize how fallen you are, how incapable you are, and how far you are from Me. The very fact that you try to please Me proves that you don’t know where you are. Let Me now give you some commandments to test you, to prove whether or not you can fulfill them.”
The law decreed by God functions in at least three ways. First, the law portrays God and defines Him. As God’s testimony, the law is actually a portrait of God; it shows us what He is like. All the commandments given by God both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament reveal who God is and what He is. Leviticus 19:2 gives this commandment: “Ye shall be holy: for I Jehovah your God am holy” (lit.). The Lord Jesus issued an even higher commandment: “You, therefore, shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). In both cases the principle is the same: the law presents a picture of God. According to the law He has given, God is perfect, holy, and righteous; He is a God of love and of light. His law presents a picture of what He is.
The second function of the law is that of exposing us. This function is presented in a full way in Romans 7. In Romans 7:7 Paul declares, “But I had not known sin except through the law; for I had not known coveting except the law had said, You shall not covet.” Until the law came, sin was dormant. In Romans 7:8 Paul says that “without law sin is dead.” Then in the next verse he goes on to say that “when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Using the law as a knife, sin put Paul to death. In verse 11 Paul tells us that sin killed him by taking occasion through the commandment. Thus, in his experience Paul found that the commandment was death unto him. God used the law to expose him.
A third function of the law is the function of subduing us. After we are exposed, we need to be subdued. Once the law has subdued us, it can then bring us to God.
The rich young man in Matthew 19 was defeated in his contact with the Lord; however, he was not subdued. This was the reason he went away sorrowful. If he had been subdued and had said, “Lord Jesus, I cannot fulfill Your requirement to sell all I have and give to the poor,” the Lord would have told him, “Since you cannot do it, simply let Me fulfill this requirement for you.” The Lord wants to come into us, be our life, and fulfill every requirement for us.
In Philippians 2:12 Paul says, “So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only as in my presence, but now much rather in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We need to be subdued by Paul’s word and admit that we simply cannot work out our own salvation. Then we shall appreciate Paul’s word in the following verse: “For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” Although we cannot work out our own salvation, God is operating in us both the willing and the working. This enables us to work out our salvation according to God’s operating within us.
After we have been subdued by the law and tell the Lord that we cannot fulfill His requirements, that we simply cannot be holy as God is or perfect as the Father is, the Lord will say, “Simply open and receive Me. Let Me come into you and fulfill these requirements for you. I want to be your holiness and your perfection.” We cannot be holy, but we can be sanctified. Likewise, we cannot be perfect, but we can be perfected. God’s desire is to come into us to be our life and our person. In this way, He becomes one with us, and we become one with Him. Then as He lives in us, we live Him. This is the basic principle of the divine revelation in the Bible.
It is true that both in the Old Testament and in the New, God commands His people to do many things. In addition to the Ten Commandments, there are numerous precepts, ordinances, and regulations. Chapters twenty-one through twenty-three of Exodus are filled with such ordinances, precepts, and regulations. All these are used by God to expose and subdue the children of Israel. His intention is to use the law to portray Himself and then to expose us and subdue us so that we may open to Him and allow Him to come into us to be our life and everything to us. Then He will live in us, and we shall live Him.
We have seen that with the giving of the law there are two sides, the “day” side and the “night” side. If we think that we are able to fulfill the requirements of the law and then try to do so, we shall find ourselves in the “night.” We shall make the commandments of the law separate from God, who is the fountain of life. As a result, the commandments will become killing letters to us. But if we let the law do its work to portray God, expose us, and subdue us, and if we tell the Lord that we are not able to fulfill His requirements, but that we put our full trust in Him, we shall be in the “day.” Then the Law-giver, the fountain of life, will enter into us to be our life, live in us, and do everything for us. Eventually, the result will be even better and higher than the requirements of the law.
When the law was given, Moses was on the mountaintop being infused with God. The law could only give a picture of God, but the infusion Moses received on the mountaintop actually made him one with God. God is holy, and as a result of that infusion Moses became holy also. God is perfect, and through the divine infusion Moses also was perfected. When he came down from the mountain, the skin of his face shone. Moses’ shining face portrayed much more than the law portrayed. Moses was not striving or working to fulfill the requirements of the law. He was infused with God and reflected Him. His glowing face was simply a reflection of what God is. Which do you prefer, the Ten Commandments or the glowing on the face of Moses? I definitely prefer the glowing. The commandments are words, but the glowing face of Moses is a living picture. God does not want a people who strive to keep the law; He wants a glowing people to express His glory.
The more we try in ourselves to keep the law, the more pitiful we shall become. I can testify of this from my own experience. When I was young, I often fought with my older brothers. After I was saved and began to read the Bible, I discovered the Lord’s new commandment to love one another. I received that word and made up my mind that from that time onward I would love not only my brothers but everyone. However, the more I tried to love others, the less loving I became. I became more critical instead of more loving. Have you not had similar experiences? Are you able to fulfill the Lord’s commandment to love others? Although in ourselves we cannot fulfill the Lord’s new commandment, this commandment can perform a wonderful work to describe the Lord and expose us. It proves to us that we are not able to love others. Furthermore, this commandment subdues us. If we love the Lord and are subdued by this word, we shall say, “Lord, I love You, but I cannot fulfill Your commandment to love others. I need You, Lord, and I am wholly dependent on You.” This is what the Lord wants to hear from us. If we would speak to Him in this way, He would reply, “I have been waiting for you to say this. You cannot fulfill My requirement, but I can do it in you and for you. Open to Me and let Me come into you to live in you.” Then the Lord Himself within us will fulfill the requirement to love others.
Moses on the mountaintop received the infusion from without, but we today can receive a marvelous infusion from within. If we are right with the Lord, we shall be continually under His infusion. The more we are infused, the more we glow. Because the Lord lives within us, moving, working, and operating in us, it is easy for us to be infused with Him and to glow with the divine element which has been infused into us. As we are infused with the Lord, we shall shine spontaneously. We shall not work or strive; we shall simply glow.
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