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  • Writer's pictureJoseph A. Bias

Godly And Acceptable Worship – Part 1

"And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So, the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, 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.” Genesis 4:3-7

Godly and acceptable worship is not haphazard or anything goes!

See Genesis 4:1-15


I imagine, what most people, who know anything about the Bible, can tell you about Cain and Abel is that Cain killed his younger brother, Abel, because he was angry with him, and that he was angry, because God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. While some of that is true, there is much more to be learned from this story.  Was Cain angry because he and his offering were rejected or because Abel and his offering were accepted. What angered him most?  Apparently, it was Abel’s acceptance. Cain hated him because he was accepted for his obedience to God, while Abel was rejected for his disobedience.   


Consider this. Bringing and offering to God is an act of worship. So, it was Abel and his act of worship that was respected by God.  Cain and his (offering) act of worship was not respected by God. So, Cain became very angry, and directed his anger against Abel, but Abel was not the one who rejected Cain’s offering.


Secondly, God was not angry with Cain. He rejected Cain and is offering because Cain did not bring an offering according to what God must have revealed to both of then that was acceptable to Him.  Cain rejected God’s way for the sake of his own. And in so doing made an empty insincere gesture of worship toward God according to his estimation of what God deserved. 


What God rejected was Cain’s unwillingness to relinquish his pride and arrogance and learn from his error and correct it. God said that Abel’s offering was acceptable and Cain’s was not. What Cain needed to do was get his heart and his obedience to God’s will in the right place. Hear again what God said to Cain.


“So, the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, 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.’ “


God said, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?”  The question Cain should have asked God was “What then, do I need to do to do well?”  Instead, he chose to be judge, jury and executioner against his righteous, innocent brother, motivated by arrogance and pride.


Cain and his offering were rejected because it was not in his heart to do what was pleasing to God.  He did what was pleasing to himself and rejected God. He could have, at any time, purchased or exchanged some of the best fruit of his labors for an animal of the best of his brother’s (Abel’s) flock, then he could have offered to God an acceptable sacrifice in humility and repentance.


Instead, he chose to wrap himself in his perceived “victimhood” of “injustice” and lash out in anger and violence against his brother who had done him no wrong.  Following in the ways of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience to God, which brought death into the world, its first fruits, anger, violence and murder were born in their firstborn son, Cain.


Thus, the curse of sin was sealed. From the beginning of this story Cain was operating out of the nature of sin. From that moment to the days of Noah, sin and death ruled on the earth.


So, fast forward now, to the time of Moses and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. There, in the wilderness Moses was given specific instructions from God to build a Tabernacle of worship where He, YHWH would dwell with His people.


It always amazes me when I read through the Book of Exodus particularly the instructions God gave to Moses concerning the building of the Tabernacle and all the fine detail about the fabrication of every element of the structure of the tent, the Holy place, the Holy of Holies, The Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat,  the specific use of Gold, Silver and Bronze in the furnishings and the utensils, the exacting detail of all the types of fabrics, threads, woven cloths and skins of animals to be used, the exact types of precious stones to be woven into the priestly garments, the High Priest’s garment for Aaron and those for his sons to wear when serving, the rituals of cleansing, the purification, and consecration of all the sacred and holy things, and in particular the consecration of the priests in their various offices of service, the Veil separating the Holiest of Holies from the Holy Place, the Golden altar of Incense, the Table of Shewbread, the Golden Lampstand, the bronze altar of burn offerings, and the brazen laver outside the Holy Place.


Nothing was left to chance, caprice, nor the whim of the fabricators, or the ministers. There were precise measures, specific types of substances, exact weights, clear and well-defined functions and purposes for everything that made up the Tabernacle, and the order of Tabernacle worship.  


A distinction was made between what was ornamental and what was decorative and what was essential to a specific function. There were precise days, weeks, months and years prescribed in which certain acts of worship were to be offered up to God. And then after all these things were done and the Tabernacle was erected and worship commenced in it, it only remained assembled for a time. At various times it must all be disassembled, packed up, according to exacting standards, and carried in specific ways to the next place of their encampment, and reassembled again and again, wherever the Pilar of Cloud came to rest. 


There were no short cuts, compromises or “good-enough-for-now”s allowed, on penalty of death to the transgressors of the Law. There were no opinions entertained, or acquiescence made to the preferences of anyone’s personal tastes, or style. The only person’s pleasure that mattered was God’s. Worship was to be done His way, according to His timetable, by His command, for His pleasure, by His precise instructions. 


No committee was empanelled to come up with a scheme of their own. Repeatedly, God instructed Moses to see to it that everything was done according the pattern shown to him in the Mountain. Exodus 25:9; 25:40;26:30; 29:35; 31:11; 36:1; 39:32; 39:42; 40:16;


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