Divine Principle Two Hour Lecture
God's Work in the Providence of Restoration
We have previously stated that God, as a being of dual characteristics, created man and all things in the relationship of subject and object, and they are to respond to each other in Give and Take Action, establishing a harmonious union, fulfilling the purpose of goodness.
In addition, we have also shown that man betrayed God and made Satan the false master, thus initiating this sinful world. To save mankind and such a world, God began His providence of restoration in order to restore man and the world to its original sinless state.
Now, let us look at the way God has been working for the purpose of restoration throughout human history.
Does human history consist solely of the roles individual men have played? It is man's experience that he can hardly shape the course of his own life or personal history, much less human history. Therefore, who did what, when and how does not truly tell the whole story behind human history. From God's point of view, man's history is the entire record of His dispensation to save this world. In short, history is the history of restoration, revealing everything God has tried to do to reach this objective.
Because the purpose of God's restoration providence is to restore men and the world to the point where they have fulfilled the purpose of creation, man's history can be defined as the history of God's dispensation to restore the purpose of creation.
The Struggle between Good and Evil
Throughout this fallen world which Satan rules as its false master, God's efforts to divide good from evil have continued, and as a result, most of human history is composed of the struggles between good and evil. Fallen man united with Satan with his mind and commits sin through his body, yet man also has his original mind created by God still within him, and it always remains directed toward God. Man is caught in the midway position. On one hand, the evil sovereignty of Satan is trying desperately to hold on to man, while on the other hand, the good sovereignty of God is striving to win man to His side. Thus, there is always a continuing battle to win man over to one side or the other. This is the true picture of human history: good and evil are in conflict in this world.
After man's fall, Cain's murder of his brother, Abel, was the first conflict among brothers in human history, and from then on the pattern of conflict persisted throughout history, irrespective of East or West. Although the scope of the struggle varied from that among individuals, families and societies, to nations and groups of nations, ultimately these conflicts have all been between good and evil, God's side and Satan's side, as the chief protagonists behind the scenes of history.
The Condition to Enable Historical Development
Then, what is the real driving force of history? When we say history stems from the dispensation of God, does history advance solely by the plan and working of God? If the goal of history is to fulfill the purpose of creation, do the conflicts between good and evil automatically progress toward realizing the purpose of creation? If this is so, how can we explain the many injustices and tragedies in history, such as the prevalence of evil or the sacrifice of people on the side of goodness?
In the beginning, God gave the first human ancestors a commandment which they were to observe until their perfection. The purpose of creation was to be accomplished not simply by the plan and workings of God, but by man fulfilling his comparatively small portion of responsibility, obeying God's commandment. In order to fulfill the purpose of creation, man's effort is as absolutely essential as God's.
But man may or may not fulfill his responsibility toward God. When men do accomplish their responsibility, God's plan comes to be concretely reflected in history and restoration progresses. But when men fail to fulfill their responsible part, God's plan for that time is frustrated, and Satan's will comes to be reflected in history instead. Thus, man can accomplish or fail his responsibility. The reason human history appears as nothing but a constant reenactment of sinful history with the prospect of an ideal world seemingly so distant is not because God is impotent or not absolute, but because so few men accomplished their portion of responsibility to fulfill God's providence.
God is absolute, eternal and omnipotent; therefore, His purpose of creation or restoration is also absolute. God's will of restoration is surely to be accomplished as is said in Isa. 46:11. Therefore, though one man fails to fulfill his responsibility, God, after a period of time, restores the same foundation and conditions as before, and chooses another man to carry out the same mission. This is precisely the reason why we see very similar incidents and events appearing over the long history of God's dispensation, even over periods of two to four thousand years. We call this reappearance of similar events or periods providential time-identity.
In God's providence, He must first restore a true man to accomplish His purpose of creation and through him restore a family, society, nation and world of His ideal creation. God sends the Messiah to the world as a model of a true man. Therefore the Messiah is indeed the most valuable fruit of the providential history. As a result, God cannot just send the Messiah to the world without any preparation. This is because, due to the fall of man, mankind has been serving a false master, and if the Messiah were sent without a prepared environment, the sinful world would surely try to eliminate him. God first chooses a few individuals from the evil ones who can honor and obey Him, and through these people, He creates families and nations separated from Satan's side so that they can serve as a foundation of faith upon which the Messiah can arrive.
God chose the families of Abraham and Jacob and raised up the tribe of Israel to prepare this people as a landing site for the Messiah. God likewise worked with Christianity for the last two thousand years to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Consequently, the history of the Israelites before the coming of Jesus and the history of the Christians after Jesus compromise the mainstream of human history.
Central History and Auxiliary History
God's will is to restore all the people of the world. But first, God works a model dispensation through this central flow of history while conducting the histories of other nations in supporting roles, later grafting them to the central history to include them in the overall salvation.
From the providential viewpoint, the history of religions also occupies the central part of God's dispensation, because they are to educate man's mind and spirit towards accomplishing the goals of the restoration of mankind. Other fields, such as politics, economics, science and culture are meant to improve man's living environment, and thus their histories can be considered auxiliary ones.
With history viewed in this way, we can begin to understand the meaning and significance of the events of the history of the Jewish people as told in the Old Testament. It is not merely a history of a tribe and nation, but it is the central history through which God operated His providence of salvation.
The history of the Jewish people centering around Judaism together with the history of Western civilization centering around Christianity is the clearest manifestation of God's dispensation, and, astonishingly, we can derive a consistent formula which is applicable to all histories. With this formula, it becomes possible to forecast future historical courses. With this new perspective of restoration history, let's look at history more closely.
The Providence of Restoration Centering on Adam's Family
Because Adam himself failed, it would stand to reason that he be the one to make an offering before God. But instead, God had the next generation make the offering. Why was this so? God's dividing Adam into Cain and Abel, who made the offerings, was His first restoration effort to separate good and evil.
After Satan occupied the principled world which God had created, Satan began to bring about the non-principled world against God's will. Therefore, God separated Cain from Abel in order to work His providence. Cain, as the first-born son, was to represent Satan's side, and Abel, the second-born, was to represent God's side. Each was now in the position to deal with only one master. In Gen. 4:7, God said to Cain, "Why are you angry and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; it's desire is for you but you must master it." This shows that Cain was placed in a position to deal with Satan. When the Israelites fled out of Egypt, God smote not only all the first-born of the Egyptians but also of their cattle (Ex. 12:29). Also, God loved the second son Jacob and hated the first son Esau while they were still in their mother's womb (Gen. 25:23). And in the case of Jacob's blessing of his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he blessed them by crossing his hands to lay the right hand on the head of Ephraim, the second son (Gen. 48:14). These are all examples of how God placed every second-born child in the favored position.
Based on this principle, God placed Cain and Abel in their respective positions to make their offerings. God could accept Abel's offering (Gen. 4:4) because he was in a position representing God and made the offering acceptably (Heb. 11:4). Thus, God received Abel but rejected Cain. However, it certainly was not God's permanent will to accept Abel but reject Cain. Cain had to set up a condition of indemnity in order to separate from evil and move towards the side of goodness.
Then what was this condition of indemnity? Because Cain had the fallen nature, he could not be the object of God, who is the subject of goodness. He had to establish some condition to remove this evilness within him so that he could become a person to whom God could respond.
Since the first human ancestors fell due to the archangel, inheriting and passing on his fallen nature, the only acceptable condition was to reverse this process. The archangel, who separated himself from God, must love Adam from the same position as God, and through obeying and humbling himself before Adam, go through him as a mediator to come back to God, thus coming to perfection; but he failed to do that. (Therefore the condition of indemnity to remove the fallen nature must be established in the reverse order of the fall.) After their offerings, Cain was in the position of the archangel and Abel in that of Adam; therefore, Cain was to love Abel and through him come closer to God by continuing to obey and humble himself before Abel to establish the condition of indemnity. However, in actuality, Cain killed Abel and repeated the process of the fall of the archangel. This act was not simply the crime of an elder brother murdering his younger brother, but it meant that the satanic side had struck God's side, frustrating God's effort to separate good from evil in Adam's family, and losing the side of goodness.
What Cain failed to achieve was the necessary basic condition of indemnity for any individual separated from God to come nearer to God; thus, that condition remained to be fulfilled. Observing this principle within ourselves, our mind, which directs us toward goodness (Rom. 7:22) is in the position of Abel, while our body, tending to serve the law of sin (Rom. 7:25), is in the position of Cain. Consequently, only when our body obeys and is subjugated by our mind will our individual body be made pure (sinless). However, in reality, because of the dominance of our fallen nature, our body always rebels against the command of our mind, repeating the same actions as when Cain killed Abel. Therefore, we continue to do evil.
Since all fallen men stand in the position of Cain, by humbling themselves, and by serving, obeying and loving the Messiah as Abel, men can attain salvation.
Man had become deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), so in order to come to God, God made man go through the created things, which are now in Abel's position. God carried out His entire providence by having man make offerings according to this principle.
The Providence of Restoration Centering on Jacob's Family
The Bible tells us that God's work of separating good from evil continued through the age of Abraham and Isaac, coming to a significant conclusion at the time of Jacob. Among so many prosperous men after the time of Adam, why did God raise up a specially chosen family, later to form a nation? God's activities with Jacob's family, from external appearance according to Scripture, raise many questions. Why did the twins Esau and Jacob fight even while in their mother's womb? (Gen. 25:22-23). Why was Jacob born with one hand grasping Esau's ankles? (Gen. 25:26). Why did Jacob take the birthright from his brother? (Gen. 25:3234). Why did Jacob cleverly deceive his blind father to gain his blessing? (Gen. 27:18-19). And why did God so love and protect Jacob throughout his life?
From the providential viewpoint, Jacob and Esau were the repeated pattern of separating Abel and Cain and therefore they represented the sides of good and evil, respectively. Jacob, through his 21-year experience of drudgery in Haran, prepared himself so that ultimately his elder brother Esau was able to receive him with love and humility. Outwardly this seems merely the case of an elder brother being able to love his younger brother, but from the providential viewpoint, the deeper meaning is that for the first time in human history the satanic side was subjugated by the heavenly side. Thus God blessed Jacob, giving him the name "Israel," and gave His blessing to the three generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God. We can see, then, that God first locates a victorious individual and a victorious family that have fulfilled the condition of indemnity, and centering around them, raises a chosen people. Thus, the fact that the Israelites became God's chosen people is due to Jacob's individual victory in subjugating the satanic side.
Jacob's course set the pattern for the subjugation of Satan and this pattern was to be followed by Moses and all other prophets -And because a nation must also follow this pattern, the history of the Israelite nation shows the model course which a nation must go through in the national level providence; for this reason, the history of the Israelites until the coming of Jesus is the central focus of the providential history.
Although it does not seem to have any personal consequence to us today, the Bible greatly emphasizes the details of the history of the Israelites for the reason just mentioned. God sent so many prophets to the Israelite nation and protected it with much love because it was the fruit of the many years of God's providence, and thus He built the foundation for subjugating Satan on the national level. Moreover, it is the very foundation upon which the Messiah, the Abel of all Abels, must come. The tradition of Israel was founded by Jacob, in the position of Abel (on God's side) by his subjugating Esau who was in Cain's position (on Satan's side). This tradition was meant to be the exemplary course for the chosen people of Israel, who, in the position of Cain, were to trust, obey and love Jesus, the Abel for all mankind, in order to realize the Kingdom of Heaven.
God and Israel
God truly loved the chosen people. He prophesied many times of the coming of the Messiah and warned the people to expect his coming. God also prepared the great John the Baptist, who was to testify to the Messiah for the people of Israel. Thus, the nation of Israel had been truly waiting for the Messiah. However, tragically, the much-prepared chosen people failed to recognize the Messiah when he came. The Son of God was left with no other choice but to persuade the people himself that he was the Son of God, yet he was not understood, branded as blasphemous, and ultimately crucified. Even Pilate, a pagan ruler, knew of Jesus' innocence, yet ironically the people who condemned Jesus were the chosen people and prepared Jewish leaders themselves. How could this have happened?
Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus' death on the cross was the original plan of God. No! This is absolutely false. It was the Israelite's ignorance of God's will that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. God's will was clearly to lead the chosen people to believe in and accept the Messiah and be saved (John 6:29). The Jewish people did not know who Jesus of Nazareth was, for they even jeered that they would believe in him as savior only if he would come down from the cross, even as he hung dying. John 1: 11 says, "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." Paul also testified that "none of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2:8).
Christians everywhere today do not know what actually occurred at the time of Jesus. If it was God's will solely to crucify his Son, why did He prepare a chosen people for so long? Wasn't it expressly to protect His Son from a disbelieving world?
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death ... My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:36-38). Jesus uttered this prayer, not once, but three times. Many Christians today believe that although his mission was to die on the cross, Jesus, out of human weakness, uttered this timid prayer. But, could Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind, utter any prayer out of weakness?
Neither the first Christian martyr, Stephen, nor any of the many martyrs who followed ever prayed from such weakness. Did they ever ask, "Let this cup pass from me" as they were dying? What makes present-day Christians believe that Jesus was weaker than these martyrs? Especially because his sole purpose of coming to this world was to save mankind, why did Jesus pray this way?
Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was not a self-centered or timid prayer, uttered out of fear of dying. Rather, if there were any way-any way at all-that Jesus could have saved mankind, he would have gladly died hundreds of times over. He had been working all his life to accomplish his messianic mission and to realize God's purpose of creation here on earth.
Jesus' heart was so grieved that God's will would have to wait for thousands of years if he died without succeeding in his mission. He also foresaw that his disciples and all of his followers to come-the Christians-would have to go through the same agonizing way of shedding blood as he did on the cross. He also anguished over the troubled future that would befall the people of Israel who had rejected him. Therefore, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, as a last desperate prayer to God, was really saying: "Even in these desperate circumstances, let me remain on earth so that I can continue my mission, no matter what the price. Show me any way I can do this."
If dying on the cross was predestined by God, why did Jesus say to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him, "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24).
Moreover, how can we explain Jesus' cry on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). If the crucifixion was the only way God prepared for Jesus, why didn't he feel resounding joy upon successfully completing his mission?
The crucifixion was not God's original will for Jesus, the Son of God; rather, it became God's painful alternative caused by the distrust of the people of Israel. What would have happened if all the people of Israel believed in Jesus and welcomed and loved him? Most certainly, salvation would have been realized? The purpose of creation would have been accomplished and thereby the Kingdom of Heaven on earth established. The people of Israel would have become the honored central nation of that ideal world and division would never have arisen between Judaism and Christianity nor would either of them have had to undergo the tribulations they have endured. Furthermore, because the will of God would have been done on earth, the Second Coming of Christ would have been totally unnecessary.
To put it clearly, Jesus' crucifixion was only a secondary course of salvation, and provided only spiritual salvation. Because Jesus was neither trusted nor received by the Israelites, God had to pay the price for the sinful distrust of all mankind by giving His only Son to Satan as a ransom. Therefore, Satan could claim Jesus' body. This is why Jesus' precious blood on the cross became the price for the redemption of all mankind.
The Limit of Salvation through Redemption by the Cross
From that point, God could resurrect Jesus and open up a way of spiritual salvation not invaded by Satan. Thus God's only victory was not that of the crucifixion but that of Jesus' resurrection. As a result, the physical bodies of mankind, which were meant to belong to Jesus through acceptance and love, became subject to Satan's invasion. The only way left open was the way towards spiritual salvation, which could be won by believing in and loving Jesus spiritually and being resurrected spiritually as he was.
Even after Jesus' appearance on earth, the world continues to be ruled by Satan, and sin mercilessly persists in the bodies of men. The Apostle Paul lamented, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ... 1, of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Rom. 7:24-25). As a saint, Paul was so devout and full in his love of the Lord, but his flesh continued to be oppressed by sin. Since this is true for all mankind, we are taught to "pray constantly" (Thess. 5:17) to protect us from satanic invasion. Also, we read in I John 1:10, "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar," which tells us that mankind is still under the bondage of sin.
Therefore, the Lord must come again to completely liquidate the sins that remain and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the purpose of God's creation.
When the people of Israel did not accomplish their mission as the central nation of the dispensation, unable to achieve unity with the Son of God, God began to form the Second Israel: the multiracial Christianity. Therefore Christianity is what God set up worldwide to replace the nation of Israel and, of course, to be the prepared foundation for the Messiah to come. Thus God's central providence shifted from the Israelites and Judaism to Christianity.
For 400 years the early Christians in Rome paid the price through persecution and martyrdom to establish Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire and to build a strong foundation. Later, nations such as England and America were established by God as central nations to form the Second Israel of Christianity, which is to be responsible to bring the whole world into unity around God and is the foundation of God's blessing prepared for the Lord of the Second Advent.
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