Instruction and Exhortation to the Trainees, by Witness Lee


The training that we provide is not at all like that of a seminary. We should not consider the full-time training as a kind of seminary. According to the Old Testament, from the very beginning God did have the intention to train and discipline His people. Concerning this matter we cannot see that much before the time of Jacob. However, in Jacob’s case we can realize that he received a great deal of training. The Lord exercised much discipline over him. In all of the ancient fathers such as Adam, Abel, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac, we cannot see much of God’s discipline. But with His people, God began His discipline with Jacob. Jacob was nearly the first among God’s people who received so much discipline and training. This, however, was just the initial stage of God’s discipline and training of His people. Actually, by that time God had only one person to discipline—the naughty Jacob. God eventually trained him and disciplined him to transform him from Jacob into Israel (Gen. 35:10). When did this individual Israel become the corporate Israel? It was an individual Israel in Genesis, but when we come to the book of Exodus, there is no more individual Israel (Exo. 1:1). Now it is a corporate Israel. The name "Israel" was first used for an individual person. Eventually, the same word "Israel" was used to denote an entire nation. They became the children of Israel, the people of Israel.

Immediately after God rescued this corporate Israel, the children of Israel, out of Egypt, the Lord brought them to Mount Horeb (Sinai). Mount Horeb is called the mount of God because it was there that God stayed with His people. God stayed with them for at least one hundred twenty days. Moses spent the first forty-day period to receive the two tablets of the law (Exo. 24). That law was quickly broken (Exo. 32). Then he returned to the mount for another forty days (Exo. 34). So there were at least two periods of forty days. There may also have been a third time of forty days (cf. Exo. 34:34-35). Each term of our training lasts about eighteen weeks. The current training will last about twenty weeks. Twenty weeks is equivalent to one hundred forty days which is approximately three periods of forty days. So our terms of training are fixed according to the length of time that God stayed with His people.

Prior to this, God never stayed with a group of people day and night for one hundred twenty days. Then the children of Israel finally arrived at Sinai (Horeb). (There is a difference between Sinai and Horeb. Sinai is an entire range of mountains. Horeb is just one peak of the entire Sinai.) So, God came to meet Israel at Sinai and stayed on Horeb. Horeb is called the mount of God or the mount of Jehovah. For God to stay there one hundred twenty days was not a small thing. For that many days God trained His people. The first thing that God did on this earth with His corporate people was to hold a training.

Let us consider the Israelites. They were wild and Egyptian, that is, worldly. But they were saved and passed through God’s judgment. They came out of that tyranny and were brought to the very place which God had prepared so that He could come to stay with His chosen people for a length of time. Whether the children of Israel wanted to stay for a longer or shorter time did not depend upon them, but upon Him. He had to finish His plan, His economy. That was the Old Testament economy of God, which was a type of the new. They were under God’s training. God was there training His people. God gave them lessons and then a design. He planned for them to do a work to build up something for Him.

At Sinai the children of Israel received the design to build God’s dwelling place on this earth. They eventually built a house for God, which became the place for God to meet with His corporate Israel. This required much training. In addition to building a habitation for God, there was the need of the service of the priesthood to be set up to serve in the tabernacle. Because this priesthood required many things involving the offerings, the instructions found in Leviticus were given at Horeb, the mount of God.

Exodus 19 records that the corporate Israel arrived at Sinai and stayed there. They stayed there for over one hundred days. In Numbers 10, they then left Sinai when they saw the cloud move. That cloud was a sign of God. Because God has no image, we cannot see Him. God was in the cloud. The cloud remained there at Mount Horeb for over one hundred days. Within that period of time, God trained His people. The entire book of Exodus, the entire book of Leviticus, and half of Numbers are a record of training. They were trained how to worship God.

(Instruction and Exhortation to the Trainees, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)