1. SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS
a. What service did God institute in order to keep the death of Christ ever before humanity? Genesis 4:4. What was its symbolical meaning?
“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 68.
b. How was Satan able to pervert, in the mind of Cain, the understanding of the plan of salvation? Genesis 4:3–7.
“Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings. His gift expressed no penitence for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb, and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor. He presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out.”—Ibid., p. 72.
2. A FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE
a. What was the difference between Cain and Abel regarding the atonement? Hebrews 11:4. Explain the disagreement between the two brothers.
“Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous, and his offering accepted.
“Cain had the same opportunity of learning and accepting these truths as had Abel. He was not the victim of an arbitrary purpose. One brother was not elected to be accepted of God, and the other to be rejected. Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 72.
b. What was the consequence of Cain’s unbelief? Genesis 4:8–12.
“Instead of acknowledging his sin, Cain continued to complain of the injustice of God and to cherish jealousy and hatred of Abel. He angrily reproached his brother and attempted to draw him into controversy concerning God’s dealings with them. In meekness, yet fearlessly and firmly, Abel defended the justice and goodness of God. He pointed out Cain’s error and tried to convince him that the wrong was in himself. He pointed to the compassion of God in sparing the life of their parents when He might have punished them with instant death and urged that God loved them, or He would not have given His Son, innocent and holy, to suffer the penalty which they had incurred. All this caused Cain’s anger to burn the hotter. Reason and conscience told him that Abel was in the right; but he was enraged that one who had been wont to heed his counsel should now presume to disagree with him, and that he could gain no sympathy in his rebellion. In the fury of his passion he slew his brother.”—Ibid., p. 74.
3. TWO CLASSES OF WORSHIPPERS
a. Describe the two classes of worshippers that have existed from the beginning of the world. Give a more detailed description of the class represented by Cain. Ezekiel 33:31; Luke 18:9–14.
“Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits; theirs is a sacrifice without the virtue of divine mediation, and thus it is not able to bring man into favor with God. It is only through the merits of Jesus that our transgressions can be pardoned. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that without divine grace they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. If they do not accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation. There is no other provision made whereby they can be released from the thralldom of sin.
“The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; for nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle–that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 72, 73.
b. How does history show the difference between the two classes in the light of two conflicting principles—love and tolerance vs. hatred and persecution? 1 John 3:11, 12, 15, 16. What warning should we heed in light of this?
“Jesus bears with the perversity of the children of men and pities them in their wrong course. If He felt as some who claim to be His followers feel, He would be filled with continual disgust and hatred as He looks upon those who are abusing His mercy, despising His grace, refusing to obey His commandments, and trampling upon His authority. He has bought them soul and body, and though they give their allegiance to Satan, His bitterest enemy, He loves them still.
“No one can hate his brother, or even his enemy, without placing himself under condemnation. We ever receive from the hand of our Maker and Judge a reward in harmony with the nature of our conduct toward Him and His creatures.”—The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898.
4. WORSHIP IN PATRIARCHAL TIMES
a. What system of worship was conducted, among the people of God, in the days of the patriarchs? Give an example. Genesis 8:20.
“By the act of sacrifice the sinner acknowledged his guilt and manifested his faith, looking forward to the great and perfect sacrifice of the Son of God, which the offering of beasts prefigured. Without the atonement of the Son of God there could be no communication of blessing or salvation from God to man.”—The Story of Redemption, p. 51.
b. What is written of Abraham’s devotion to God and of his influence among his neighbors? Genesis 12:7, 8. What can we learn from the anxiety that he felt for the impenitent inhabitants of Sodom? Genesis 18:23–32.
“Abraham, ‘the friend of God,’ set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar, calling all within his encampment to the morning and evening sacrifice. When his tent was removed, the altar remained. In following years, there were those among the roving Canaanites who received instruction from Abraham; and whenever one of these came to that altar, he knew who had been there before him; and when he had pitched his tent, he repaired the altar, and there worshiped the living God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 128.
“Himself a sinner, he pleaded in the sinner's behalf. Such a spirit all who approach God should possess. Yet Abraham manifested the confidence of a child pleading with a loved father. He came close to the heavenly Messenger, and fervently urged his petition. . . .
“Love for perishing souls inspired Abraham’s prayer. While he loathed the sins of that corrupt city, he desired that the sinners might be saved. His deep interest for Sodom shows the anxiety that we should feel for the impenitent. We should cherish hatred of sin, but pity and love for the sinner. All around us are souls going down to ruin as hopeless, as terrible, as that which befell Sodom. Every day the probation of some is closing.”—Ibid., pp. 139, 140.
5. RIGHT AND WRONG IDEAS ABOUT WORSHIP
a. How was Satan able to deceive many with the thought that the blood of bulls and goats was actually sufficient to take away their sins? Isaiah 1:11.
b. What does God say about any religion that degenerates into a round of formalities? Isaiah 1:15; Proverbs 28:9.
“If Satan sees that the Lord is blessing His people and preparing them to discern his delusions, he will work with his masterly power to bring in fanaticism on the one hand and cold formalism on the other, that he may gather in a harvest of souls.”—Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 19.
c. What is God’s real requirement? Hosea 6:6; Isaiah 1:16–18; 55:6, 7.
“That which is called praying morning and evening, according to custom, is not always fervent and effectual. It is with many a sleepy, dull, and heartless repetition of words, and does not reach the ear of the Lord. God does not need or require your ceremonial compliments, but He will respect the broken heart, the confession of sins, the contrition of the soul. The cry of the humble, broken heart He will not despise. . . .
“We must have such love for Jesus that we will consider it a privilege to suffer and even die for His sake. We may tell the Lord all our trials, tell Him all our weaknesses, tell Him all our dependence upon His might and His power. This is true prayer. If ever there was a time when the Spirit of grace and supplication was needed to be poured out upon us, God Himself inditing our prayers, it is now.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 87.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why were sacrificial offerings required as soon as sin entered the world?
2. What was the main difference between Cain’s and Abel’s offerings?
3. Explain how Cain and Abel represent two classes of worshippers.
4. How was the hope of salvation kept alive in the time of the patriarchs?
5. What are some important aspects in the practice of true religion?