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Lesson 3: Global Rebellion and the Patriarchs *

Introduction: In our first lesson of this series we discovered how sin began in heaven. Next, we learned how the instigator of sin in heaven, who had been tossed out of heaven, spread the sin problem to God's perfect creation on our earth: Adam and Eve. This week we explore how sin continued its insidious march on earth. Let's dive into our Bible study and learn more!

  1. The Sons

    1. Read Genesis 4:1-2. Do you recall what it was like with your first born child? I thought that my son was doing things no other child in the history of the universe had done! What would it be like for the first-born of Adam and Eve, since it was literally true that Cain's actions as a baby were unprecedented?

      1. Notice the division of work between the two sons. Why do you think they chose these jobs? (Read Genesis 3:17. Cain is doing exactly what God said he should do. Perhaps Abel wanted to be a little different and thought his work was more spiritual.)

    2. Read Genesis 4:3-5. Can you understand Cain's anger? (No doubt he thought he was doing the work God commanded. Why isn't the result of that work a worthy sacrifice?)

    3. Read Genesis 4:6-7. What do we learn about whether Cain's anger is justified? (Reading between the lines we learn that Cain's anger is not justified. When God spoke to him about doing "what is right," this reveals that God gave him instructions about a proper sacrifice.)

      1. What is the nature of Cain's failure at this point? How would you compare it to the sin of his mother?(It was like Eve's sin in that he apparently disbelieved what God had said about proper sacrifices. Cain decided that he would follow his own logical understanding of what he should be sacrificing, based on the circumstances of his job.)

    4. Read Genesis 4:8-12. What kind of penalty does God impose? (In Genesis 3:17-19 we learned that one penalty for the original sin was that it would be difficult to grow food. Cain's penalty is more severe, the ground will not produce any food for him.)

      1. Put yourself in the place of Eve and Adam. Their first born murdered their second born, and then the first born is sent into exile. They lose both of their two sons in one day. What are your thoughts?

      2. What do you think about the penalty God imposed on Cain? (Read Genesis 9:5-6. It is premeditated murder, and it is unprecedented. Yet, God gives Cain a reduced penalty.)

      3. Who do you think inspired Cain to commit murder?

        1. What do you think life would be like if Satan had complete control of the world?

  2. Noah

    1. Read Genesis 6:1-4. What is meant by the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" is unclear. What is clear is that they produced giants, and God was not happy about this with the result that He reduced their life span. Why do you think God thought this was a good remedy? (If you had people who lived for hundreds of years, and they asserted an influence for evil, it would interfere with God's work on earth.)

    2. Read Genesis 6:5-7. Are we a mistake?

      1. God created humans with free choice. Does God regret that He gave us choice?

      2. Since we are looking at the history of rebellion and redemption in this series of lessons (the great controversy between good and evil), who is winning?

        1. If you were Satan, would you complain that God changed the rules?

        2. Has God changed the rules? (Read Genesis 2:15-17. Death is the penalty for sin. God has not changed the rules. Once people reject God, they are subject to this penalty.)

    3. Read Genesis 6:8-13 and Genesis 6:17-21. Let's see if we can understand God's mind. Does He regret creating humans? (No. God wants to continue with the human experiment. However, God does not want to continue to sustain evil.)

      1. What does this teach us about living a righteous life? Will God favor a righteous person? (Yes!)

      2. Why didn't God destroy Satan and his fallen angels at the same time? Why not remove the leadership for the promotion of evil? (My best answer is that the time was not right. God had not come to earth to save humans and Satan had not shown the full extent of his evil design.)

  3. Abraham

    1. Read Genesis 22:1-2. Tell me what is going through your mind if you are Abraham?

      1. Read Jeremiah 32:35 and 2 Kings 16:3. Everything is wrong with this. God calls child sacrifice in the fire "detestable" and says such ideas would not "enter My mind." The sacrifice is to take place on a mountain, a traditional place for idol worship. Would you believe this message was from God? (Abraham must have known the voice of God. Otherwise, this command is unbelievable.)

      2. Read Genesis 17:19-21. How would you reconcile God's promise here with God's instruction to offer Isaac as a burnt offering?

      3. We just got through discussing how God favors those who follow Him. How do you explain this terrible instruction to one of the faithful?

    2. Read Genesis 22:3-5. How long does Abraham wait to follow God's directions?

      1. Notice the last part of verse 5: "We will worship and then we will come back to you." Is Abraham lying so the servants will not interfere? If not (and I'm assuming not), what is Abraham thinking? (He believes God's promise about the future of Isaac. Somehow God will work this out.)

    3. Read Genesis 22:9-12. Why would God do this to Abraham (and Isaac)? Why would God record it in the Bible? (If this is one of the worst stories you have ever heard, God's point to Abraham and to us is that this is what God did on our behalf when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place. There was no one to stop the horrible death of Jesus.)

    4. Let's step back a moment. The Abraham story is incredibly emotional (especially for parents who are close to their children). At the same time, the story of Noah puts God in a less favorable light. What is God's overall message to us from these two stories? (That God loves us beyond our imagination. God made an incredible sacrifice for us, even though at the time of Noah God said He regretted our creation. At the same time, God is a God of judgment. He will destroy evil.)

  4. Jacob and Joseph

    1. Both Jacob and Joseph have complex stories that we cannot explore in detail here. Each one involved bitter feelings between brothers. Jacob and Joseph were "good" guys, but they were to differing degrees responsible for their brothers' anger toward them. Let's explore how this worked out for Joseph. Read Genesis 45:1-4. Those who know the story tell me how Joseph has "attendants," Pharaoh's household has an interest in his affairs, and Joseph was previously "sold?" (Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery because they hated him (Genesis 37), and through a series of events Joseph is now the prime minister of Egypt (Genesis 41).)

      1. Are the brothers of Joseph justified in feeling "terrified?"

        1. Is Joseph helping by reminding them that they sold him ( Genesis 45:4)?

    2. Read Genesis 45:5-7. What does this teach us about bad things happening to good people? (Read Genesis 50:19-20. God used the bad things in Joseph's life to create good.)

      1. If you know the story of Joseph and the Hebrews, you know that they were ultimately enslaved by the Egyptians (Exodus 1). What relationship, if any, did that have to Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery?

    3. Friend, sin has created a terrible situation for humans. Our God is active in the fight against sin. He suppresses sin without limiting human free choice and He turns the tragedies of sin into good. He made an astonishing sacrifice to defeat sin and make available to us eternal life free from sin. Why not choose right now to give your allegiance to God rather than to the one who inspired the death of Abel?

  5. Next week: Conflict and Crisis: The Judges.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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