THE BACKGROUND OF GOD’S CALLING—BABEL
FORSAKING GOD • Now in this message we need to see the experience of the called ones. But before we come to this, we need to consider the background and origin of God’s calling.
When God appeared to Abraham, he was in the darkest background. His background was exceedingly strong. The first aspect of this background was that man had forsaken God. Man’s forsaking of God was signified by his building a city. We saw this in the case of Cain in chapter four. Man built a city because he had lost God as his protection. Since man no longer had God as his safeguard, he built a city to protect himself. So the building of the city was the sign that man had forsaken God. Man seemed to be saying, “Let God go. I will build a city to protect myself.” The building of the city was the declaration that man had forsaken God.
EXALTING MAN • Not only did man forsake God, but he built a tower to exalt himself. The tower was a sign of man’s self-exaltation. When man forsakes God, automatically he exalts himself. Whenever man builds a city he will also build a tower to make a name for himself.
DENYING THE RIGHT OF GOD • Furthermore, at Babel man also denied God’s right over His creation. Both man and the earth were God’s creation. Nevertheless, man would not recognize God’s right but instead established the nations. The establishing of nations signified that man had denied God’s right and authority. As we have seen, after the flood God gave man the authority to rule others, but Satan caused man to abuse this God-given authority to form nations that man may have his own dominion, denying God’s right and authority over man.
SERVING IDOLS • Finally, Joshua 24:2 shows us that at Babel man turned from God to idols, to other gods. Behind all the idols are demons. Whenever a man worships an idol, he worships demons. Apparently he is worshipping idols; actually he is worshipping demons.
As the background of God’s calling we have the city, the tower, the nations, and the demons. Man had forsaken God, had exalted himself, had denied God’s right and authority, and had turned from God to serve idols. Do you believe that the situation is any better today? I do not believe it. It is as bad today as it was then. The situation is exactly the same.
THE ORIGIN OF GOD’S CALLING—GOD
Who originated this calling? Abraham did not originate it. Although he was the father of the called race, the calling was not initiated by him. I believe that Abraham was the same as we are today. He never dreamed of being called by God. Suddenly, while he and his relatives were there in Chaldea worshipping other gods (Josh. 24:2), God appeared to him. God was the originator of this calling.
THE APPEARING OF GOD • Although God’s calling is carried out in time, something prior to that—God’s selection—took place in eternity past. God selected Abraham in eternity past. After that, also in eternity past, God predestinated, premarked, Abraham. Before Abraham was born, even before the foundation of the world when nothing but God Himself was in existence, God chose Abraham and predestinated him. One day, in time, while Abraham was worshipping other gods, having no forethought that he was to be called by God, God visited him. God just came in as the very God of glory. Abraham was surprised. The God of glory not only came to Abraham, but He appeared to him.
Because Abraham’s background was so dark, God had to appear to him in a strong way. Many of us have also experienced such a strong calling of God. I can testify that one day, when I was an ambitious young man, God came to me in a strong way. That was God’s visitation to me. I cannot deny it. Many of us have experienced the same thing. We were deeply fallen, and light and loose preaching would never have worked in our case. We needed the living God, the God of glory, to pay us a visit. I have heard many testimonies regarding this.
God appeared to Abraham twice. The first time was in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2; Gen. 11:31). If we study the Bible carefully, we shall see that, in Ur of the Chaldees, God did not appear to Abraham’s father but to Abraham. Abraham, however, did not accept that calling immediately, and God sovereignly caused his father, Terah, to bring the family from Ur to Haran. They stayed there until Terah died. Abraham’s staggering in answering God’s calling brought about his father’s death. God took his father away. Then, at Haran, God appeared to Abraham the second time (12:1). We can see by this that God has a specific purpose in dealing with people. I do not believe that any of you reading this message would respond immediately if God were to visit you. We all are the children of Abraham, and children are always like their fathers. Because Abraham hesitated in following God, God had to appear to him the second time.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)