Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We need to consider further the experience at Bethel. In this message we come to God's promise.
We may be quite familiar with the term promise. In this portion of the Word, however, God's promise is not common. The God who gives the promise in chapter thirty-five is God all-sufficient (v. 11, Heb.). We need to give attention to the revelation of God's titles in the book of Genesis. In chapter one, God is only revealed as Elohim, and in chapter two we see the title Jehovah (rendered Lord in the King James Version). Elohim is God's title as Creator in relation to His creation, and Jehovah is His title in His relationship with man, revealing how God is related to man. The title the all-sufficient God, or God all-sufficient, is not revealed until 17:1, where God said to Abraham, "I am the all-sufficient God; walk before me and be thou perfect" (Heb.). In the past, we did not adequately realize the significance of this title. We thought that it simply meant that God was everything to us. Undoubtedly, it is correct to say that God's all-sufficiency means that He is everything to us. But for what purpose is this title of God revealed? I have given a number of messages in the past on this title of God, telling people that it denotes that God is rich and that He is our all-sufficient supply. He is everything to supply all our need. In a sense, this was right. God is all-sufficient in order to supply us. But for what does He supply us? Does He supply us merely in order that we might be saved or be spiritual? No. If we would see the purpose for God's being the all-sufficient One, we need to read Genesis 35 and compare it with Genesis 17.
The purpose of God's revealing Himself as the all-sufficient God is for His building. Just as Elohim is for God's creation, so the all-sufficient God is for God's building. Do not understand the Holy Word by your imagination. Understand the Bible by the Bible itself, by comparing one portion of the Word with another. How do we know that Elohim is for God's creation? All Bible students agree that the first mention of an item in the Bible establishes a principle for that particular thing. The first mention of Elohim is in Genesis 1. In this chapter, God is revealed for His creation. Therefore, this establishes the principle that Elohim basically denotes the creating God, God the Creator.
Genesis 17:1, the first mention of the title the all-sufficient God, El-Shaddai, clearly reveals the significance of this title. Prior to that time, Abraham had been called by God for the purpose of becoming the father of so many of God's called ones. God did not intend that Abraham fulfill this by the exercise of his natural strength, and God did not give Abraham a child until his natural strength had been exhausted. Abraham, however, neither understood God adequately, nor had faith in Him for this. Instead, he followed his wife's proposal that he bring forth a child by using his natural strength with a concubine. God was offended by this and did not speak to Abraham for thirteen years. Do not think that God cannot be offended, or that He will always be patient with you. We are nowhere told in the Bible that God is all-patient. In Abraham's case, God was offended, not by sin, but by the exercise of Abraham's natural strength. In God's economy, nothing offends Him more than your exercise of your natural strength. Whenever a called one of God uses his natural strength to do something for the accomplishment of God's purpose, God will be offended. In a sense, using your natural strength is an insult to God. God does not need your help. To exercise your natural strength means that you are capable of helping God. This indicates that God is not sufficient and that He needs you to assist Him. When God spoke to Abraham again after an interval of thirteen years, He said, "I am the all-sufficient God." If you read this chapter carefully, you will see that God's being all-sufficient is for us to produce the materials for His house.
Genesis 17 and 35 correspond to each other in at least three ways. Firstly, both chapters reveal that God is all-sufficient. God revealed this divine title to both Abraham and Jacob. Secondly, in both chapters a change of name occurs. Abraham's name was changed from Abram to Abraham, and Jacob's name was changed from Jacob to Israel. In spiritual life, the change of name signifies transformation, not merely the change of label. You may say, "Witness Lee, you have done something wrong. From now on, you are not Witness Lee but Charles Ford." This change of label means nothing. According to the Bible, to change your name is to change your being. Formerly, you were Abram; now you are Abraham. Previously, you were a supplanting Jacob; now you are Israel, the wrestler of God. This is the change, not of a label, but of your being, of your constitution. Hence, chapter seventeen speaks of the transformation of Abraham and chapter thirty-five speaks of the transformation of Jacob.
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