Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall see more of the shadow of the church life as typified in Genesis 8 and 9, this time seeing something on the negative side.
In the midst of all the positive aspects of the church life, something negative occursthe failure of Noah who was the leader and God's deputy authority on the new earth (9:20-27).
Why did Noah have a failure? Because he had been very successful. According to the record of Genesis, Noah had become the leader on the new land and the father of all mankind on the earth. At that time, he, as the father and leader of all mankind, undoubtedly was under God's blessing. Noah began to be a farmer and planted a vineyard (9:20). We know he was successful in this because the vineyards produced grapes from which wine was made (9:21). Then Noah became somewhat loose. The grape wine was nourishing, and Noah drank it in excess. He was wrong in this looseness. He should have exercised self-control, but he did not, and became drunken. Being drunken, he was not only loose, but was careless, becoming naked without realizing it. He was unconsciously naked, and his son, Ham, saw this. This shows us that we all must be careful whenever we experience success under God's blessing, for that success can easily cause us to be loose and careless. We should not be overly joyful with our success. Instead, we should be joyful in our suffering. When we suffer, we must rejoice (Rom. 5:3). But when we are successful, we must be careful. Any kind of success can cause you to be loose in the presence of God. After being loose, you may become careless. Then you may lose your consciousness and even become naked. What does it mean to be naked? It means to lose your covering in the eyes of God.
Here I must speak a strong word. As fallen human beings, we need a covering. We need a covering not only spiritually, but also physically. Spiritually and physically we must be covered in the presence of God. Before the fall of man, man was naked before God. There was nothing wrong with that nakedness because there was no sin. After the fall, because sin has come in, it is sinful to be naked. We are sinful in our nature and need a proper covering in the presence of God.
Physically speaking, the proper covering is our clothing. Immediately after the fall, Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked and tried their best to cover themselves (3:7), but they did not do it very well. Then God came in and covered them with the skins of the sacrifice (3:21). That covering was also a type of Christ as the covering for fallen people. Physically speaking, fallen man needs a covering, especially before God. The priests were not allowed to be naked; they had to be fully covered when they came into the presence of God (Exo. 20:25-26; 28:40-43).
People today like to be naked, exposing their bodies as much as possible. There is no need to ask what the Bible says about thisjust ask yourself. Do you not feel that it is shameful to be naked? Your nature tells you that it is. The situation today is pitiful. People not only go against the Bible, but also against their own nature and consciousness. Both males and females must cover their bodies. Due to this deep conviction, I try to cover myself as much as possible. I do not like to have my body exposed. The more we are covered, the more we hide ourselves under a covering, the more peace we have. When I was young, I saw some people who wore short pants in the summer. If I were to wear short pants when I stand up to minister, I would not be able to speak. Even if I were to stand on the platform with bare feet or wear a short-sleeved shirt, I would find it difficult to speak. The more we expose our physical body, the less peace we have. If you read the Bible, you will find that this conviction regarding nakedness comes from the fall. Regardless of how holy we are, we still need a covering. Our physical body must be covered. If I could have my whole body covered, including my head and my hands, I could speak much better, because I would have the assurance that no one would see me. I could speak in a covered way. We all must cover ourselves as much as possible.
We need a spiritual covering even more than a physical covering. What is our spiritual covering? It is Christ. In typology, all garments and clothing are types of Christ as our covering (Luke 15:22; Psa. 45:13). To be naked spiritually speaking means to lose your covering in the presence of God, that is, to lose Christ as your covering. In fellowship, many times the brothers become overly excited about some success that they have had. When, in that excited talking, they become loose and careless, they lose Christ as their covering. They talk in the presence of God without any covering. I have seen this among the sisters. Some dear sisters prayed very spiritually with a full covering in the church meeting, but when the time came for them to fellowship with one another about certain exciting things, they became loose and careless. They lost Christ as their covering. In a sense, they were drunken and naked. Whenever I saw this situation among the sisters, I did not dare to enter in. From my learning in the past, I have come to realize that it is not good to see the nakedness of any saint. When the sisters engage in that kind of excited, naked fellowship, it is not good for me to see what is there. I like to see a wonderful prayer meeting, a meeting that is so high, with the prayers strong, and all the brothers and sisters fully under the covering of Christ. It is a blessing to see such a meeting. But, when I see a negative situation, I run away, for I do not like to see what is exposed there. We all must be careful not to be excited to the degree that we become loose, careless, drunken, naked, and lose the proper covering. Many times we were like this even while talking about spiritual things or about the church life. Perhaps we were even talking about a high church meeting, but we talked about it in a naked way without the covering of Christ. As fallen human beings, we must keep ourselves covered by Christ in every kind of activity, in everything that we do or say. I would not do anything without Christ covering me. I would not talk to my wife, my children, or to my brothers or sisters without being covered by Christ. If I do anything without the covering of Christ, it means that I am loose, careless, drunken, and naked. It means that I have lost my self-control. That was exactly what happened to Noah.
Young people must learn how to be fully covered in their attitude, talk, and even in their fellowship. This is a real lesson. Whatever you lack now will be fully exposed when you are older. We older ones must realize that our present lack exposes the lack of learning when we were young. It is just the same as in education. If you do not learn sufficiently when you are young, you will feel that you lack certain knowledge when you become old. It is good to be saved as early as possible. The young people must be encouraged to learn the lessons now. Otherwise, when they are older, their shortage then will expose the lack of learning today. Now is the time to learn some of the lessons of the fine details concerning the spiritual life.
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