© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 27 September 2016
2B24. Further acute heart-testing situations for all people:
(a) God continued to permit situations where people’s commitment to Him was challenged by God’s Enemy, as well as by their circumstances and their influences upon each other
(b) Yet these situations were also new opportunities God was giving people to fulfil His intended roles for them
2B24(title) Further acute heart-testing situations for all people
The vital issue in how things would actually work out was whether people were wholeheartedly committed to God and would choose to obey His basic requirements. This went to the very source of their motivations and desires – their hearts [2A8(b)]. So their commitment had to be proven and strengthened by being tested acutely, even severely.
2B24(a) God continued to permit situations where people’s commitment to Him was challenged by God’s Enemy, as well as by their circumstances and their influences upon each other
God permitted people to be challenged by many kinds of acutely heart-testing situations. Their initial reactions and then responses revealed their degree of heart-commitment to God.
2B24(b) Yet these situations were also new opportunities God was giving people to fulfil His intended roles for them
Fulfilling God’s intended roles was CONDITIONAL upon IF people obeyed His two basic requirements [2A11(a)]. So God was allowing frequent opportunities for people to respond with wholehearted commitment by obeying Him.
Arrow 2B21 -> 2B24
This arrow indicates that God’s instructions were crucial inputs to the acute heart-testing situations and challenging choices confronting various people. God had told them how to respond in order to fulfil His intended roles for them.
Arrow 2B23 -> 2B24
This arrow shows that the evil nature and intentions of God’s Enemy made him challenge people’s heart-commitment to God. God’s Enemy was opportunistic, coordinating his attack with other aspects of their situations that were potentially favorable to his aims.
THIRTEEN CYCLES OF TESTING AND RESPONSES
In Era 2 there were repeated “cycles” of acute heart-testing situations that caused various reactions and responses by people. Thirteen of these cycles have been identified as significant and selected for closer scrutiny, as outlined below.
For ease of reading, the Detailed Explanations follow the sequence of the biblical text rather than the numbering of the Chart boxes. The next section in each cycle is found by clicking on the “Continue to…” note at the end of each section.
2B24(a)(i) When Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, then later bore Seth and other children
Whenever Eve became pregnant, her heart attitudes would have been challenged by anticipations of her severe pains when giving birth Gen 3:16a.
2B24(a)(ii) When Cain and Abel each brought offerings to God
Cain and then Abel decided to bring offerings to God. What they brought were some of the results of their labours Gen 4:3-4a.
Why did Cain and Abel bring offerings to God? Were they motivated by the desire to acknowledge God’s favouring them with a harvest from their toilsome farming and grazing efforts and to seek for this favour to continue in the future? Or did they have a sense of their sinfulness and feel a need to seek God’s mercy? Or was it simply intended to give due honour or worship to God? Or were there some other motives?
Whatever their motivations, it was no trifling matter to bring an offering to God. They were making a deliberate attempt to honour and engage with God and seek good things from Him. So their heart attitudes should have been challenged to act with integrity when bringing their offerings to God.
2B24(a)(iii) When Cain realised that he and his offering had not been looked on with favour by God
Abel’s offering had been favoured by God but Cain’s was not Gen 4:4-5a. Why? It is not stated what God required Cain and Abel to bring as offerings. Yet if Abel could know and do whatever was required, surely Cain could too.
Not only was Cain’s offering not favoured by God, but also Cain himself! Gen 4:5a. These responses by God were totally opposite to those for Cain’s younger brother Abel Gen 4:4b. When Cain realised this humiliating situation, it acutely challenged him.
2B24(a)(iv) When Cain had received God’s CONDITIONAL offer of acceptance
God in grace had given Cain a CONDITIONAL offer of how to become acceptable to Him, along with a solemn warning IF he refused Gen 4:7. So Cain’s commitment to God was being challenged by God’s offer to him as well as by his humiliation and anger at God’s acceptance of Abel and his offering.
2B24(a)(v) When Cain was confronted by God after he had murdered Abel
God’s confrontation of Cain after he had murdered Abel was another acute heart-testing situation for Cain Gen 4:9-10. He was being challenged to admit that he had just murdered Abel!
2B24(a)(vi) When Cain faced a grim future
God’s condemnation of Cain created another acute heart-testing situation for him Gen 4:11-12. He was challenged by his grim future prospects.
2B24(a)(vii) Cain in later life
God had decreed that Cain would be a restless wanderer and unable to grow food Gen 4:12. Yet Cain had found a place to live and was even building a city there! Gen 4:16b,17b. He married and fathered at least one son Enoch Gen 4:17a who had further descendants Gen 4:18.1 These included Lamech whose descendants developed skills in various productive occupations Gen 4:19-22.
In these relatively favorable ongoing circumstances Cain should have been challenged to be grateful to God for His mercy.
2B24(a)(viii) When some people became aware that Yahweh was God’s name
By becoming aware that Yahweh was God’s name Gen 4:26b some people were challenged about how to respond to Him.
2B24(a)(ix) When Enoch became a father
At the age of 65 Enoch became the father of Methuselah Gen 5:21. After that “he walked faithfully with God 300 years”! Gen 5:22. This implies that the birth of his first son, followed by his other children, brought some kind of major life-changing challenge to Enoch concerning his heart-commitment to God.
2B24(a)(x) When the “sons of God” saw the beautiful daughters of humans
2B24(a)(xi) The Nephilim
The offspring of the “sons of God” and the beautiful daughters of humans were the mysterious “Nephilim” Gen 6:4a a Hebrew word meaning “fallen ones”. This implied that their contemporaries faced a moral challenge as to whether they should honour those whose very existence and name arose from profoundly sinful acts Gen 6:1-3.
2B24(a)(xii) Noah was surrounded by the evil people of his generation
2B24(a)(xiii) The people of Noah’s generation saw that he was righteous and blameless
Noah’s righteous life and God’s favour upon him Gen 6:8-9 would have posed a constant challenge to his contemporaries to copy his ways of thought and action rather than follow the increasing corruption around them.
1. Cain probably lived for hundreds of years like others of his time Gen 5:3-32. So he would have still been alive after many generations of his descendants had been born! Why else would he have been building the city called “Enoch”? Gen 4:17b. Surely it was the place for them all to live.(Return to reading).