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, a parenthesis in our Life-study of Genesis, I am burdened that we see a crucial point regarding Noah's lifethat Noah's life and work changed the age. Although I had seen this previously in my study of Genesis, I never saw it so impressively as in these days. It is not a small thing to change the age.
There is a great contrast between Genesis 1 and 6. If you read the latter part of Genesis 1, you will see that God created man in His own image for the purpose of expressing Himself (1:26). God intended that man be His expression. Man was made in the image of God to express nothing less than God Himself. Man was like a photograph, made in the image of God to express God. Furthermore, man was also committed with God's authority that he might exercise this authority for God's dominion on earth. We must see how great a commission this is. Man was created in God's image that he might express God, and he was entrusted with God's authority that he might represent God and set up a dominion on earth over all God's creatures. God did not charge man to work or to establish a mission. No, God's intention was that man should express Him with His image and represent Him with His authority.
After God created man and had a thorough look at him, He said, "Very good" (1:31). After His work on some of the six days, God simply said, "Good." On the second day, God did not say anything, because on that day there were fallen angels in the air and demons in the water. It was impossible for God to say, "Good," on that day. God did not say anything about the second day. On the sixth day, the day in which God created man, God looked at His work, especially on man, and said, "Very good!" In God's eyes, man was very good.
Five chapters later on, in Genesis 6, God took another look at mankind. When God had His first look at mankind in Genesis 1, He was happy and pleased with man. When God had another look at man in Genesis 6, He saw that man had become wicked and corrupt to the uttermost, and it grieved Him that He had made man. What a change from Genesis 1! Originally, man was on such a high level, but, beginning at chapter three, he descended lower and lower. What would you have done if you had been God? Perhaps you would have said, "Forget about it." But what about God's eternal purpose? Is not God the eternal God? Can the eternal God change? God is not a temporary God, but an eternal God. In Him there is no shadow of change (James 1:17). Once He makes a decision, it stands for eternity. If God had forgotten His eternal purpose, His enemy would have laughed at Him, saying, "You intended to create man to defeat me, but instead of You defeating me, I have defeated You." Will God be defeated? Never! Then what should God do? The answer, the same in principle throughout the centuries, is found in Genesis 6:8: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
Let us read verses 5 through 8. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." In Hebrew, the words "every imagination" signify not only the imagination, but also the purposes and desires. "And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them." If that had been all, there would have been no hope. But hallelujah for verse 8! This verse begins with a big "But." "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." This is one of the greatest verses in the book of Genesis. Satan was glad to hear that God was going to destroy man from the face of the earth, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. That turned the situation and changed the age. Hallelujah, God was not defeated! In the midst of apparent defeat, there was victory through a man who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. That was the turning point. If you read history along with the Bible, you will see that in every generation, when Satan has done his best to damage the situation to the uttermost, there has always been one man or a few people who found grace in the eyes of God and who became the ones who turned the age. Remember the history of Israel. Although they degraded lower and lower until they reached the bottom, there was, much to the surprise of the enemy, a young man named Daniel. Daniel 1:8 says, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." There in the book of Daniel it says, "But Daniel"; here in Genesis 6:8 it says, "But Noah." At the bottom of man's fall, there is always a "but."
If we look at Noah's life, we shall see that it was not simply a matter of walking with God or of building the ark. The basic and crucial point is that God used Noah to change the age. The enemy had driven the situation to the bottom, and even God repented that He had made man. There seemed to be no hope. But Noah found grace. Noah's life was a life that changed the age.
Look at the situation today. If you read the Gospels and if you see God's purpose for the church, you will realize that the church has such a high commission. The church was produced with God's life to express Him in this New Testament age. The church has been entrusted with such a glorious commission. There is no need for us to look into the past. The present situation is sufficient to show us how much the church has fallen and deviated from God's proper goal. But do not be disappointed. Though Satan has done his best, God still has a way to carry out His original purpose. Among all the defeats, God today has raised up local churches to change the age.
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