After listening to God’s declaration, the king of Nineveh and his subjects performed a series of acts. What is the nature of their behavior and actions? In other words, what is the essence of the entirety of their conduct? Why did they do what they did? In God’s eyes they had sincerely repented, not only because they had earnestly entreated God and confessed their sins before Him, but also because they had abandoned their wicked conduct. They acted this way because after hearing God’s words, they were incredibly frightened and believed that He would do as He said. By fasting, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, they wished to express their willingness to reform their ways and refrain from wickedness, to pray for Jehovah God to restrain His anger, to entreat Jehovah God to withdraw His decision as well as the catastrophe about to befall them. Through examining all of their behavior we can see that they already understood that their previous wicked acts were detestable to Jehovah God and that they understood the reason why He would soon destroy them. For these reasons, they all wished to utterly repent, to turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, once they became aware of Jehovah God’s declaration, each and every one of them felt fear in their hearts; they no longer continued their wicked conduct nor continued to commit those acts hated by Jehovah God. Additionally, they entreated Jehovah God to forgive their past sins and to not treat them according to their past actions. They were willing to never again engage in wickedness and to act according to Jehovah God’s instructions, if only they would never again infuriate Jehovah God. Their repentance was sincere and thorough. It came from the depths of their hearts and was not feigned, nor was it temporary. Once the people of Nineveh, from the supreme king to his subjects, learned that Jehovah God was angry with them, every single one of their actions, the entirety of their behavior, as well as every one of their decisions and choices were clear and plain in the sight of God. God’s heart changed according to their behavior. What was God’s frame of mind at that very moment? The Bible can answer that question for you. As is recorded in Scripture: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.” Although God changed His mind, there was nothing complex about His frame of mind. He simply went from expressing His anger to calming His anger, and then decided not to bring the catastrophe upon the city of Nineveh. The reason why God’s decision—to spare the Ninevites from the catastrophe—was so swift is that God observed the heart of every person of Nineveh. He saw what they held in the depths of their hearts: their sincere confession and repentance for their sins, their sincere belief in Him, their deep sense of how their wicked acts had enraged His disposition, and the resulting fear of Jehovah God’s impending punishment. At the same time, Jehovah God also heard the prayers from the depths of their hearts entreating Him to cease His anger against them so that they might avoid this catastrophe. When God observed all these facts, little by little His anger disappeared. Regardless of how great His anger had previously been, when He saw the sincere repentance in the depths of these people’s hearts His heart was touched by this, and so He could not bear to bring the catastrophe upon them, and He ceased to be angry at them. Instead He continued to extend His mercy and tolerance toward them and continued to guide and supply them. from “God Himself, the Unique II”
When the king of Nineveh heard this news, he arose from his throne, took off his robe, dressed himself in sackcloth and sat in ashes. He then proclaimed that no one in the city would be allowed to taste anything, and that no livestock, lambs and oxen would graze or drink water. Man and livestock alike were to don sackcloth; the people would earnestly entreat God. The king also proclaimed that every one of them would turn away from their evil ways and forsake the violence in their hands. Judging from this series of acts, the king of Nineveh demonstrated his heartfelt repentance. The series of actions he took—arising from his throne, casting off his king’s robe, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes—tells people that the king of Nineveh laid aside his royal status and wore sackcloth alongside the common people. This is to say that the king of Nineveh did not occupy his royal post to continue his evil way or the violence in his hands after hearing the announcement from Jehovah God; rather, he laid aside the authority he held and repented before Jehovah God. At this moment the king of Nineveh was not repenting as a king; he had come before God to confess and repent his sins as an ordinary subject of God. Moreover, he also told the entire city to confess and repent their sins before Jehovah God in the same manner as him; additionally, he had a specific plan for how to do so, as seen in Scripture: “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: … and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” As the city’s ruler, the king of Nineveh possessed supreme status and power and could do anything he wished to. When faced with Jehovah God’s announcement, he could have ignored the matter or simply repented and confessed his sins alone; as for whether or not the people in the city chose to repent, he could have completely ignored the matter. However, the king of Nineveh did not do this at all. Not only did he arise from his throne, wear sackcloth and ashes and confess and repent his sins before Jehovah God, he also ordered all people and livestock within the city to do the same. He even ordered the people to “cry mightily to God.” Through this series of actions, the king of Nineveh truly accomplished that which a ruler should; his series of actions is one that was difficult for any king in human history to achieve, and also one that none achieved. These actions can be called unprecedented undertakings in human history; they are worthy of being both commemorated and imitated by mankind. Since the dawn of man, every king had led his subjects to resist and oppose God. No one had ever led his subjects to entreat God to seek redemption for their wickedness, receive Jehovah God’s pardon and avoid imminent punishment. The king of Nineveh, however, was able to lead his subjects to turn to God, leave their respective evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. Furthermore, he was also able to put aside his throne, and in return, Jehovah God turned and repented and retracted His wrath, allowing the people of the city to survive and keeping them from destruction. The king’s actions can only be called a rare miracle in human history; they can even be called a model of a corrupt humanity confessing and repenting their sins before God. from God Himself, the Unique
What does it mean to be overthrown? In colloquial terms, it means to disappear. But in what way? Who could make an entire city overthrown? It is impossible for man to perform such an act, of course. These people were no fools; as soon as they heard this proclamation, they caught the idea. They knew that it had come from God; they knew that God was going to perform His work; they knew that their wickedness had enraged Jehovah God and brought His anger down upon them, so that they would soon be destroyed along with their city. How did the people of the city behave after listening to Jehovah God’s warning? The Bible describes in specific detail how these people reacted, from their king to the common man. As recorded in the Scriptures: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. …” After hearing Jehovah God’s proclamation, the people of Nineveh displayed an attitude utterly opposite to that of the people of Sodom—the people of Sodom openly opposed God, proceeding from evil to evil, but after hearing these words, the Ninevites did not ignore the matter, nor did they resist; instead they believed God and declared a fast. What does “believed” refer to here? The word itself suggests faith and submission. If we use the Ninevites’ actual behavior to explain this word, it means that they believed God could and would do as He said, and that they were willing to repent. Did the people of Nineveh feel fear in the face of imminent disaster? It was their belief that put fear in their hearts. Well, what can we use to prove the Ninevites’ belief and fear? It is as the Bible says: “and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” This is to say that the Ninevites truly believed, and that from this belief came fear, which then led to fasting and the donning of sackcloth. This is how they showed the beginning of their repentance. In utter contrast to the people of Sodom, not only did the Ninevites not oppose God, they also clearly showed their repentance through their behavior and actions. Of course, this did not only apply to the common people of Nineveh; their king was no exception.
God’s treatment of the whole of foolish and ignorant humanity is primarily based on mercy and tolerance. His wrath, on the other hand, is concealed in the vast majority of time and of things; it is unknown to man. As a result, it is difficult for man to see God display His wrath, and it is also difficult to understand His wrath. As such, man makes light of God’s wrath. When man faces God’s final work and step of tolerating and forgiving man—that is, when God’s final instance of mercy and His final warning reach them—if they still use the same methods to oppose God and do not make any effort to repent, mend their ways or accept His mercy, God will no longer bestow His tolerance and patience upon them. To the contrary, it is at this time that God will retract His mercy. Following this, He will only send forth His wrath. He can express His wrath in different ways, just as He can use different methods to punish and destroy people. God’s use of fire to destroy the city of Sodom is His swiftest method of utterly annihilating a humanity or a thing. Burning the people of Sodom destroyed more than their physical bodies; it destroyed the entirety of their spirits, their souls and their bodies, ensuring that the people inside this city would cease to exist in both the material world and the world invisible to man. This is one way in which God reveals and expresses His wrath. This manner of revelation and expression is one aspect of the substance of God’s wrath, just as it is naturally also a revelation of the substance of God’s righteous disposition. When God sends forth His wrath, He ceases to reveal any mercy or lovingkindness, nor does He display any more of His tolerance or patience; there is no person, thing or reason that can persuade Him to continue to be patient, to give His mercy again, to bestow His tolerance once more. In place of these things, without a moment’s hesitation, God will send forth His wrath and majesty, do what He desires, and He will do these things in a swift and clean manner in accordance to His own wishes. This is the way in which God sends forth His wrath and majesty, which man must not offend, and it is also an expression of one aspect of His righteous disposition. When people witness God showing worry and love toward man, they are unable to detect His wrath, see His majesty or feel His intolerance to offense. These things have always led people to believe that God’s righteous disposition is one solely of mercy, tolerance and love. However, when one sees God destroy a city or detest a humanity, His wrath in the destruction of man and His majesty allow people to glimpse the other side of His righteous disposition. This is God’s intolerance to offense. God’s disposition that tolerates no offense surpasses the imagination of any created being, and among the non-created beings, none is capable of interfering with it or affecting it; even more so, it cannot be impersonated or imitated. Thus, this aspect of God’s disposition is the one that humanity should know the most. Only God Himself has this kind of disposition, and only God Himself is possessed of this kind of disposition. God is possessed of this kind of righteous disposition because He detests wickedness, darkness, rebelliousness and Satan’s evil acts—corrupting and devouring mankind—because He detests all acts of sin in opposition to Him and because of His holy and undefiled substance. It is because of this that He will not suffer any of the created or non-created beings to openly oppose or contest Him. Even an individual that He had once shown mercy to or selected need only provoke His disposition and transgress His principle of patience and tolerance, and He will release and reveal His righteous disposition without the least bit of mercy or hesitation—a disposition that tolerates no offense.
Once we have a general understanding of God’s righteous disposition, we can return our attention to the city of Sodom—what God saw as a city of sin. By understanding the substance of this city, we can understand why God wanted to destroy it and why He destroyed it so completely. From this, we can come to know God’s righteous disposition. From a human perspective, Sodom was a city that could fully satisfy man’s desire and man’s evil. Alluring and bewitching, with music and dancing night after night, its prosperity drove men to fascination and madness. Its evil corroded the hearts of people and bewitched them into degeneration. This was a city where unclean spirits and evil spirits ran amok; it brimmed with sin and murder and was filled with a bloody, putrid scent. It was a city that chilled people to the bone, a city that one would shrink back from. No one in this city—neither man nor woman, neither young nor old—sought the true way; no one yearned for the light or longed to walk away from sin. They lived under Satan’s control, corruption and deceit. They had lost their humanity; they had lost their senses, and they had lost man’s original goal of existence. They committed countless sins of resistance against God; they refused His guidance and opposed His will. It was their wicked deeds that carried these people, the city and every living thing inside it, step by step, down the path of destruction. Although these two passages do not record the details describing the extent of the corruption of the people of Sodom, instead recording their conduct toward God’s two servants following the latter’s arrival in the city, a simple truth can reveal the extent to which the people of Sodom were corrupt, evil and resisted God. With this, the true face and substance of the city’s people are also exposed. Not only did they not accept God’s warnings, they also did not fear His punishment. To the contrary, they scorned God’s anger. They blindly resisted God. No matter what He did or how He did it, their vicious nature only intensified, and they repeatedly opposed God. The people of Sodom were hostile toward God’s existence, His coming, His punishment, and even more so, His warnings. They saw nothing else worthwhile around them. They devoured and harmed all people that could be devoured and harmed, and they treated God’s servants no differently. In regard to the whole of the wicked deeds committed by the people of Sodom, harming God’s servants was only the tip of the iceberg, and their wicked nature that this revealed actually amounted to little more than a drop in a vast sea. Therefore, God chose to destroy them with fire. God did not use a flood, nor did He use a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami or any other method to destroy the city. What did God’s use of fire to destroy this city signify? It meant the city’s total destruction; it meant that the city vanished entirely from the earth and from existence. Here, “destruction” not only refers to the vanishing of the city’s form and structure or outer appearance; it also means that the souls of the people inside the city ceased to exist, having been utterly eradicated. Simply put, all people, events and things associated with the city were destroyed. There would be no afterlife or reincarnation for them; God had eradicated them from humanity, His creation, once and forever. The “use of fire” signified a halt to sin, and it meant an end to sin; this sin would cease to exist and spread. It meant that Satan’s evil had lost its nurturing soil as well as the graveyard that granted it a place to stay and to live. In the war between God and Satan, God’s use of fire is the brand of His victory with which Satan is marked. Sodom’s destruction is a great misstep in Satan’s ambition to oppose God by corrupting and devouring men, and it is likewise a humiliating sign of a time in humanity’s development when man rejected God’s guidance and abandoned himself to vice. Furthermore, it is a record of a true revelation of God’s righteous disposition. When the fire God sent from heaven had reduced Sodom to nothing more than ashes, it meant that the city named “Sodom” would cease to exist, as would everything within the city itself. It was destroyed by God’s anger; it vanished under God’s wrath and majesty. Because of God’s righteous disposition Sodom received its just punishment; because of God’s righteous disposition, it received its just end. The end of Sodom’s existence was due to its evil, and it was also due to God’s desire to never look upon this city again, as well as any of the people who had lived in it or any life that had grown within the city. God’s “desire to never look upon the city again” is His wrath, as well as His majesty. God burned the city because its iniquity and sin caused Him to feel anger, disgust and loathing toward it and wish to never see it or any of the people and living things inside it again. Once the city had finished burning, leaving only ashes behind, it had truly ceased to exist in God’s eyes; even His memories of it were gone, erased. This means that the fire sent from heaven did not only destroy the entire city of Sodom and the iniquity-filled people inside it, nor did it only destroy all things inside the city that had been stained by sin; even more so, this fire destroyed the memories of humanity’s evil and resistance against God. This was God’s purpose in burning the city down. A humanity had become corrupt to the extreme. They did not know who God was or where they had come from. If you mentioned God, these people would attack, slander and blaspheme. Even when God’s servants had come to spread His…
When the people of Sodom saw these two servants, they did not ask their reason for coming, nor did anyone ask whether they had come to spread God’s will. To the contrary, they formed a mob and, without waiting for an explanation, came to seize these two servants like wild dogs or vicious wolves. Did God watch these things as they happened? What was God thinking in His heart as to this kind of human behavior, this kind of thing? God decided to destroy this city; He would not hesitate or wait, nor would He continue to show patience. His day had come, and so He set about the work He wished to do. Thus, Genesis 19:24-25 says, “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.” These two verses tell people the method with which God destroyed this city; it also tells people what God destroyed. First, the Bible recounts that God burned the city with fire, and that the extent of the fire was enough to destroy all the people and that which grew on the ground. That is to say, the fire that fell from heaven not only destroyed the city; it also destroyed all people and living things inside it, all without leaving a single trace behind. After the city was destroyed, the land was bare of living things. There was no more life, nor any signs of it. The city had become a wasteland, an empty place filled with dead silence. There would be no more evil deeds against God in this place; there would be no more slaughter or spilled blood. Why did God want to burn this city so thoroughly? What can you see here? Would God bear to watch mankind and nature, His own creations, be destroyed like this? If you can discern Jehovah God’s anger from the fire that was cast down from heaven, then it is not difficult to see the level of His rage from the target of His destruction as well as from the degree to which this city was destroyed. When God despises a city, He will render His punishment upon it. When God is disgusted with a city, He will issue repeated warnings informing people of His anger. However, when God decides to put an end to and destroy a city—that is, when His wrath and majesty have been offended—He will deliver no further punishments or warnings. Instead, He will directly destroy it. He will make it utterly disappear. This is God’s righteous disposition. from God Himself, the Unique II
On that night, Lot received two messengers from God and prepared a feast for them. After dining, before they had lain down, people from all over the city surrounded Lot’s residence and called out to Lot. The Scripture records them as saying, “Where are the men which came in to you this night? bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Who said these words? To whom were they spoken? These were the words of the people of Sodom, yelled outside Lot’s residence and meant for Lot. How does it feel to hear these words? Are you furious? Do these words sicken you? Are you simmering with rage? Do these words not reek of Satan? Through them, can you sense the evil and darkness in this city? Can you sense the cruelty and barbarity of these people’s behavior through their words? Can you sense the depth of their corruption through their behavior? Through the content of their speech, it is not difficult to see that their iniquitous nature and savage disposition had reached a level beyond their own control. Save for Lot, every last person in this city was no different from Satan; the mere sight of another person made these people want to harm and devour them…. These things not only give one a sense of the city’s ghastly and terrifying nature, as well as the aura of death around it; they also give one a sense of its iniquity and bloodiness. As he found himself face-to-face with a gang of inhumane thugs, people who were filled with soul-devouring ambition, how did Lot respond? According to the Scripture: “I pray you … do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” Lot meant the following with his words: He was willing to give up his two daughters in order to protect the messengers. Out of reason, these people should have agreed to Lot’s conditions and left the two messengers alone; after all, the messengers were perfect strangers to them, people who had absolutely nothing to do with them; these two messengers had never harmed their interests. However, motivated by their iniquitous nature, they did not leave the matter at this. Rather, they only intensified their efforts. Here another one of their exchanges can undoubtedly give one further insight into these people’s true vicious nature; at the same time it also lets one know and comprehend the reason why God wished to destroy this city. So what did they say next? As the Bible reads: “Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed sore on the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.” Why did they want to break down the door? The reason is that they were only too anxious to harm those two messengers. What were those messengers doing in Sodom? Their purpose in coming there was to save Lot and his family; however, the people of the city mistakenly thought that they had come to assume official posts. Without asking their purpose, it was merely conjecture that made the city want to savagely harm these two messengers; they wished to harm two people who had nothing whatsoever to do with them. It is clear that the people of this city had utterly lost their humanity and reason. The degree of their insanity and wildness was already no different from Satan’s vicious nature of harming and devouring men. When they demanded these people from Lot, what did Lot do? From the text we know that Lot did not hand them over. Did Lot know these two messengers of God? Of course not! But why was he able to save these two people? Did he know what they had come to do? Although he was unaware of their reason for coming, he did know that they were God’s servants, and so he received them. That he could call these servants of God lords shows that Lot was usually a follower of God, unlike the others inside Sodom. Therefore, when God’s messengers came to him, he risked his own life to receive these two servants; furthermore, he also exchanged his two daughters in order to protect these two servants. This is Lot’s righteous deed; it is also a tangible expression of Lot’s nature and substance, and it is also the reason God sent His servants to save Lot. When faced with peril, Lot protected these two servants without regard for anything else; he even attempted to trade his two daughters in exchange for the servants’ safety. Other than Lot, was there anyone else inside the city who could have done something like this? As the facts prove—no! Therefore, it goes without saying that everyone inside Sodom, save for Lot, was a target for destruction as well as a target that deserved destruction. from God Himself, the Unique II