Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing messages, we have covered God's eternal purpose and some of the points regarding God's way of fulfilling His purpose. God's way of accomplishing His purpose was firstly to create man as a vessel to contain Himself as life and then to place him in a garden before the tree of life, indicating that God's intention was for man to partake of the fruit of this tree. However, along with the tree of life, Genesis 2:9, 17 mention the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, we need to consider very carefully the significance of these two trees.
Although God wanted man to eat of the tree of life, He did not force him to do it. Neither did God put the tree of life into him. Instead, God gave man free will. He gave him freedom of choice. When mothers feed their infant children, they seem to force the children to take the food. Nevertheless, the baby still has free will, for often he refuses the food that has been put in his mouth. The mother wants her child to eat, but she must recognize that he has a free will.
God created man with freedom of choice. Why did God do this? God is great. He is not small. Only a small man forces people to accept his opinion. If you compel others to take your way, it proves that you are a small person. If you are a great man, you will never force people to accept you. You will always give them a choice, saying, "If you love me, you may take me. If you do not care for me, you are free to forget about me." No man who is great or honorable will coerce people. Likewise, God is great. He is so attractive as the God of glory. God did not place man in front of Him exclusively, thus compelling man to choose Him. He placed man before two trees, confronting him with a choice.
When I was a young Christian, I was bothered by this. I said, "Why did God put man into such a dangerous situation? If I had been God, I would have removed the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I would have left the tree of life, placed man in front of it, and built a high protective wall to keep him safe. Why didn't God do this? Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden as a temptation? Every problem comes from this source. Why didn't God take it away? If He had removed this tree, it would have saved us a great deal of trouble." I was not the only one who had these questions. Many young people asked me the same thing. However, if God had not given man a choice, He would have forced him to take the tree of life. God is too great to do such a thing. God is honorable and attractive. In order to display His greatness and prove His attractiveness, He needs the second tree.
According to the book of Job, Satan, the adversary of God, accused Job to God. He seemed to say, "Why does Job worship You? He worships You only because You bless him. If You take away all these blessings, Job will forsake You and renounce You to Your face" (Job 1:9-11). In other words, Satan told the Lord that He was bribing Job to worship Him and that if He did not bribe him, Job would forsake Him. Thus, Satan was slandering God as well as Job. God seemed to answer Satan, "Do as much as you can. I only command you to spare his life. I will prove to you that Job has not been bribed, but that he has been attracted by Me. Job worships Me out of his own free will."
God is the same today. He never forces anyone to accept Him. When the Lord Jesus came, He did not coerce people into following Him. He presented Himself to people, but always respected their freedom of choice. The Lord seemed to say, "If you like Me, you may take Me. If you don't like Me, you may forget about Me." Some of us may feel that we have been compelled by the Lord's mercy to believe in Him. To a certain extent, I feel the same way. His mercy has conquered us, persuading us to receive Him. Nevertheless, I can testify strongly that if you force me to reject Him, I will still take Him. I will never give Him up. Why have there been so many martyrs throughout the centuries? The Lord God stayed away, allowing His people to make a choice, that the actual situation might be proved to His enemy. God seemed to say, "Do your best, Satan. My people still choose Me." Our brother Watchman Nee was imprisoned for twenty years, from 1952 until his death in 1972, where he was tested and tempted. He never changed his choice because his Lord was too lovely and too attractive. We have received the Lord Jesus, not because we have been forced or pressed, but because we have been called by His glory and attracted by His virtue (2 Pet. 1:3). We all can confess that regardless of what people might offer us, we would never renounce the Lord Jesus. Our Lord is too dear, too precious, and too attractive. We have made Him our unique choice.
The same principle operated in the garden of Eden when God placed Adam before the two trees, which denoted two sources. God wanted man to choose Him as the tree of life.
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