a. Why did God accept Abel and his offering? Hebrews 11:4.
“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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 72.
b. Why did God reject Cain and his offering? Hebrews 9:22.
“Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested.
“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.”—Ibid., pp. 72, 73.
a. What is written about Noah? Genesis 6:8, 9, 22; Hebrews 11:7.
“While Noah was giving his warning message to the world, his works testified of his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. He gave the world an example of believing just what God says. All that he possessed, he invested in the ark. As he began to construct that immense boat on dry ground, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest, fervent words of the singular preacher. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 95.
b. What comparison did Jesus give about these last days? Matthew 24:37–39.
“The sins that called for vengeance upon the antediluvian world exist today. The fear of God is banished from the hearts of men, and His law is treated with indifference and contempt. The intense worldliness of that generation is equaled by that of the generation now living. . . . God did not condemn the antediluvians for eating and drinking; He had given them the fruits of the earth in great abundance to supply their physical wants. Their sin consisted in taking these gifts without gratitude to the Giver, and debasing themselves by indulging appetite without restraint. It was lawful for them to marry. Marriage was in God’s order; it was one of the first institutions which He established. He gave special directions concerning this ordinance, clothing it with sanctity and beauty; but these directions were forgotten, and marriage was perverted and made to minister to passion.
“A similar condition of things exists now. That which is lawful in itself is carried to excess. Appetite is indulged without restraint. Professed followers of Christ are today eating and drinking with the drunken, while their names stand in honored church records. Intemperance benumbs the moral and spiritual powers and prepares the way for indulgence of the lower passions. Multitudes feel under no moral obligation to curb their sensual desires, and they become the slaves of lust. Men are living for the pleasures of sense; for this world and this life alone. Extravagance pervades all circles of society. Integrity is sacrificed for luxury and display. They that make haste to be rich pervert justice and oppress the poor, and ‘slaves and souls of men’ are still bought and sold. Fraud and bribery and theft stalk unrebuked in high places and in low. The issues of the press teem with records of murder—crimes so cold-blooded and causeless that it seems as though every instinct of humanity were blotted out.”—Ibid., pp. 101, 102.
a. What terrible sin made a dark stain on Jacob's experience? Genesis 25:29–33; 27:18–24.
“Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their purpose, but they gained only trouble and sorrow by their deception. God had declared that Jacob should receive the birthright, and His word would have been fulfilled in His own time had they waited in faith for Him to work for them. But like many who now profess to be children of God, they were unwilling to leave the matter in His hands. Rebekah bitterly repented the wrong counsel she had given her son; it was the means of separating him from her, and she never saw his face again. From the hour when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong repentance. This scene was vivid before him in afteryears, when the wicked course of his sons oppressed his soul.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 180.
b. When was Jacob fully forgiven and justified? Genesis 32:24–31.
“With earnest cries and tears [Jacob] made his prayer before God. Suddenly a strong hand was laid upon him. . . . While he was thus battling for his life, the sense of his guilt pressed upon his soul; his sins rose up before him, to shut him out from God. But in his terrible extremity he remembered God’s promises, and his whole heart went out in entreaty for His mercy. . . . It was Christ, ‘the Angel of the covenant,’ who had revealed Himself to Jacob. The patriarch was now disabled and suffering the keenest pain, but he would not loosen his hold. All penitent and broken, he clung to the Angel; ‘he wept, and made supplication’ (Hosea 12:4), pleading for a blessing. He must have the assurance that his sin was pardoned. Physical pain was not sufficient to divert his mind from this object. His determination grew stronger, his faith more earnest and persevering, until the very last. The Angel tried to release Himself; He urged, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaketh;’ but Jacob answered, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’ Had this been a boastful, presumptuous confidence, Jacob would have been instantly destroyed; but his was the assurance of one who confesses his own unworthiness, yet trusts the faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God.
“Jacob ‘had power over the Angel, and prevailed’ Hosea 12:4. Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven. He had fastened his trembling grasp upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite Love could not turn away the sinner’s plea.”—Ibid., p. 197.
a. Explain God’s plan for Samson. Judges 13:4, 5.
“To the childless wife of Manoah ‘the Angel of Jehovah’ appeared with the message that she should have a son, through whom God would begin to deliver Israel. In view of this the Angel gave her instruction concerning her own habits, and also for the treatment of her child. . . . And the same prohibition was to be imposed, from the first, upon the child, with the addition that his hair should not be cut; for he was to be consecrated to God as a Nazarite.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 560.
b. How are we warned by the first great mistake of Samson? Judges 14:1–3.
“Just as he was entering upon manhood, the time when he must execute his divine mission—the time above all others when he should have been true to God—Samson connected himself with the enemies of Israel. He did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice, or whether he was placing himself in a position where he could not fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life. To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to those who are bent upon self-pleasing.”—Ibid., p. 563.
“Many mistake strong passions for a strong character, but the truth is that he who is mastered by his passions is a weak man. The real greatness of the man is measured by the power of the feelings that he controls, not by those that control him. . . .
“Those who in the way of duty are brought into trial may be sure that God will preserve them; but if men willfully place themselves under the power of temptation, they will fall, sooner or later.
“The very ones whom God purposes to use as His instruments for a special work, Satan employs his utmost power to lead astray. He attacks us at our weak points, working through defects in the character to gain control of the whole man; and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed.”—Ibid., pp. 567, 568.
c. After being unfaithful to his vow, what happened to Samson? Judges 16:4, 21. How deeply did he repent of his sins? Judges 16:22, 28–30; Hebrews 11:32.
“In suffering and humiliation, a sport for the Philistines, Samson learned more of his own weakness than he had ever known before; and his afflictions led him to repentance.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 136.
a. What mistakes did Joseph and his father Jacob commit with regarding to the rest of the sons? Genesis 37:2, 3. Through their hatred against Joseph, what did his brothers do to him? Genesis 37:28–36.
“[Jacob’s] affection was to become a cause of trouble and sorrow. Jacob unwisely manifested his preference for Joseph, and this excited the jealousy of his other sons. As Joseph witnessed the evil conduct of his brothers, he was greatly troubled; he ventured gently to remonstrate with them, but only aroused still further their hatred and resentment. He could not endure to see them sinning against God, and he laid the matter before his father, hoping that his authority might lead them to reform.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 209.
“To become a slave was a fate more to be feared than death. In an agony of terror [Joseph] appealed to one and another of his brothers, but in vain. . . . Steeling their hearts against his entreaties, they delivered him into the hands of the heathen traders.”—Ibid., pp. 211, 212.
b. How did God change the fate of Joseph? Romans 8:28; Genesis 45:4–8.
“The life of Joseph illustrates the life of Christ. . . .
“Joseph, through his bondage in Egypt, became a savior to his father’s family; yet this fact did not lessen the guilt of his brothers. So the crucifixion of Christ by His enemies made Him the Redeemer of mankind, the Saviour of the fallen race, and Ruler over the whole world; but the crime of His murderers was just as heinous as though God’s providential hand had not controlled events for His own glory and the good of man.”—Ibid., p. 239.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can we follow in the spiritual path of Abel rather than Cain?
2. What would reveal us to be Christians in the path of Noah?
3. Explain the key to Jacob’s victory despite his great sin.
4. How can parents guide their children to avoid Samson’s downfall?
5. Why can we be encouraged by God’s working in the life of Jacob?