The Divine Economy, by Witness Lee

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At the flow of the river there were gold, bdellium, and onyx stone (v. 12). Bdellium is a kind of pearl, but it is not produced from the oysters out of the ocean. It is a kind of pearl produced from a tree’s secretion. When the resin of the tree, the tree’s life secretion, the tree’s sap, congeals into gum, this gum is considered as a transparent pearl. Bdellium is a pearl produced by the plant life, not by the animal life. Onyx stone is a most precious stone. The picture in Genesis 2 shows us the tree of life, a river of water, and at the flow of this river are gold, pearl from the plant life, and the onyx stone. We need to ask what the significance of this picture is.

Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 3 that he had laid the unique foundation, which is Jesus Christ, but now we must be careful how we build upon this foundation (vv. 10-11). We have to build upon this foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones (v. 12). In Genesis 2 there is gold, bdellium, and onyx stone, and in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul refers to gold, silver, and precious stones. To build up the church there is the need of gold, of silver, and of precious stones. At the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, the holy city, New Jerusalem, is built with three items—gold, pearls, and precious stones (Rev. 21:18-21). In Genesis, 1 Corinthians, and Revelation, in all these three portions of the divine revelation, are three materials. Gold and precious stones are listed in these three books. But the second material in Genesis is bdellium, in 1 Corinthians is silver, and in Revelation are pearls.

It is significant that three items are listed. The number three has a spiritual significance in the Bible. It denotes the Triune God, and it also denotes resurrection on the third day. Therefore, three in the Bible denotes the Triune God in resurrection. The Jews and the Moslems believe in God. They believe in the God who created the universe, and we also believe in God. The Jews and the Moslems believe in the God of creation, but we believe in the God not only of creation, but also in resurrection. The God we believe in is not only the creating God but also the God in resurrection. This is a tremendous difference. The God in creation never became a man. But the Triune God in resurrection became a man, lived on this earth as a man, passed through death, and was resurrected. Our God is not only the God in creation, but the very God who became a man, lived on this earth for thirty-three and a half years, died on the cross and was resurrected. Today He is the very Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—in resurrection. The God in creation created the universe, but the God in resurrection regenerates us and transforms us to make us a new creation. As the God in creation He created us, but as the God in resurrection, He regenerates and transforms us to make us a new creation. We were once the old creation, but now we are a new creation in resurrection.

Adam was made by God of the dust of the ground. He was a dusty man placed in front of the tree of life. We also are men of dust, but by partaking of Christ as the tree of life, the river of water of life will flow within us and transform us into precious material for God’s building. Spiritually, we are being transformed from a man of dust to a man of gold. In the previous chapter we saw that God does not desire us to be good men but God-men. We not only need to be God-men but also gold men. As a Christian you must be a God-man and a gold man. In the divine Trinity are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Gold signifies the nature of the Father; bdellium and pearls signify the produce of the Son, the second in the Trinity; and onyx stone, precious stone, signifies the third in the Trinity, the Spirit.

(The Divine Economy, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)