SOUL SEARCHING QUESTIONS FOR PLEASING GOD WELL – PART 2A
Greetings, again, friends. We want to continue with Soul-searching Questions for Pleasing God well. We’ve already established this fact, that these questions will help us in our ambition to please God well. These are three questions God asked three different people in the bible. We’ve considered the first one; and we want to take the second. And it’s from Genesis 4, reading at verse 9.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!
Father, we’ve come again, to search the scriptures. And we pray that You would open our understanding, open our hearts, and open Your Word, to us…in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
Where are you? That was the first question we considered, and from Genesis 3:9. This question was directed to Adam. The second question: Where is your brother Abel? That we find now in Genesis 4:9. We will yet come to the third and the last one: What is that in your hand?
I said earlier, we have examined the first one. Whereas this question addresses the need for vertical intimate relationship, that is: our relationship with God – that’s the first question: where are you? The second question addresses a horizontal relationship, that is, our relationship with one another.
We have already established that God, when He asks questions, is not searching for information He does not have or could not have – because He is omniscient; but when God asks questions, it is for the self-disclosure of the individual. Where is Abel your brother? God is not asking Cain to search for his lost bother or his dead brother. He asked the question to force Cain to search his conscience, instead. God’s question as usual, as I said, is for self-disclosure. Now we want to consider the context of the question that God asked Cain. And we’ll consider the content of Cain’s response; and then, we will also look at the contrast to Cain’s displeasing response.
What is the context of the question God asked Cain? The context of this unfortunate incident of Abel’s murder is the logical outcome of a life of spiritual carelessness on the part of Cain’s parents, and on the part of Cain himself. The door Cain’s parents opened to sin (that is, Adam and Eve) made a negative impact on his spiritual life. As a result, Cain was careless in his worship of God, causing God not to respect him and his offering. We find that in Genesis 4:5:
5 but He [that is, God] did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
There was a rich man whose son was killed in a ghastly motor accident. And he was mad. And he threatened to see to it that whoever was responsible for his son’s death (because it was as a result of drunk-driving)…whoever was responsible for my son’s death must pay for it. But, this rich man, when he got home, saw a not his son left for him. And his son said, “Dad, I hope you don’t mind, I took a bottle from your cupboard”: a bottle of the alcohol that the father left there. And it was this alcohol that he got from his father’s cupboard that was responsible for the ghastly accident.
When we open a door to sin, it could end up biting us. So Cain already now, has experienced the effect of sin; and his parents opened that door. And God was not interested in his offering, because he was careless.
Let us know that God is not desperate to receive people’s worship and offering; Satan is the one who is desperate. God is picky in the matter of worship and in the matter of offerings. In fact, in Malachi 1:6-8 (there are other scriptures but we don’t have time to go to them). But in Malachi 1:6, the Word of God says:
6 “A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’
7 “You offer defiled food on My altar,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.
God did not accept Cain and his offering favorably. Cain became angry because God preferred his brother Abel’s offering over his. And his uncontrolled anger led to murder. He killed his brother. But before he committed this crime, God warned him that sin was seeking to master him. We find that in Genesis 4:7.
7 If you do well [God says to Cain], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
This reminds us of a similar warning that was not heeded centuries later. In Saint Luke’s Gospel 22 from verse 31,
31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he might sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
33 But he [Peter] said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
40 When He came to the place, He said to [His disciples], “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
They did not heed the warning, and they all deserted them. And Peter who said he was going to die with them if necessary denied him three times. How many times has God forewarned us so that we would be forearmed and yet we failed to heed His warning? God warned Cain. Cain failed to heed the warning.
What is the content of Cain’s response? Cain’s response was displeasing to God. Cain said to God, when God asked him, where is your brother Abel: he said, I do not know, and I do not care about my brother. He said, am I supposed to take care of my brother? Am I my brother’s keeper? This two-part response or attitude amounts to what Jude would call the way of Cain, in Jude verse 11. And what is this way of Cain? Falsehood. I don’t know! He lied. Impenitence! Lack of affection! Hatred and murder. In his response to God, Cain lied. One sin often leads to another.
You remember when Jacob came and lied to his father that he was the first son Esau? And the father said, but how come you found this animal so quick and you have already prepared the food? He lied.
In Genesis 27:20
20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?”
And he said, “Because the Lord your God brought it to me.”
One sin, if not repented of, would lead to a second. Cain did not only lie. Cain was wicked in killing his brother in cold blood without provocation. Cain was also naïve in thinking that he could hide his sin from an omniscient God. Fourthly, Cain was unjust in violating the bond of blood relationship by abandoning his responsibility of taking care of his brother. And fifthly, Cain was defiant – refusing to admit or confess his sin to God.
Friend, you please God well when you hate sin and live a holy life. You also please God well when you fall and refuse to stay down, when you fail God and return to Him in repentance. That pleases Him well. This is a lesson we find in the triple parable of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Son. In those parables, Jesus said, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who returns to God.
Friend, will you return to Him today? There is joy in heaven when you return, pleasing God well.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank You for this time You have allowed us to interact with you in your Word. I’m praying for all who have heard me: all my friends in radioland; and I’m praying, O God, particularly for those who are returning to You now, those who would repent, those who would say, I’m sorry for my sins, and come back to you. There would be joy in heaven over these ones. May You receive them O God. May You bless them abundantly, in Jesus Name. Amen!