Imitate Their Faith: Study with biblical texts | week starting october 26

Congregation Bible Study | Study information for the book: Imitate Their Faith


ia chap. 1 ¶1-13 (30 min.)


CHAPTER ONE


“He, Although He Died, Yet Speaks”


1. What prevented the family of Adam and Eve from entering the garden of Eden, and what did Abel want more than anything else?


ABEL looked at his flock of sheep grazing peacefully on the hillside. Then, perhaps he looked far beyond his sheep to a spot in the distance where he could just make out a faint glow. He knew that right there a flaming blade was turning, ever turning, blocking the way into the garden of Eden. His parents once lived there, but neither they nor their children could enter now. Imagine the late afternoon breeze ruffling Abel’s hair as he turned his gaze upward and thought about his Creator. Would the breach between man and God ever be healed? Abel wanted nothing more than that.

2-4. In what sense does Abel speak to us today?


2 Abel speaks to you today. Can you hear him? You might say that such a thing is impossible. After all, this second son of Adam died a long time ago. His remains are long lost, mingled with the dust of nearly 60 centuries. Regarding the dead, the Bible teaches us: “They are conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5, 10) Further, Abel never uttered a single word that is recorded in the Bible. So how can he speak to us?
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have any more reward, because all memory of them is forgotten.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might, for there is no work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the Grave, where you are going.

3 The apostle Paul was inspired to say this about Abel: “Through it he, although he died, yet speaks.” (Read Hebrews 11:4.) Through what does Abel speak? Through faith. Abel was the first human ever to develop that sterling quality. So powerfully did he demonstrate faith that his example is alive, a vibrant standard that we can apply today. If we learn from his faith and seek to imitate it, then the record of Abel is speaking to us in a very real and effective way.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a sacrifice of greater worth than that of Cain, and through that faith he received the witness that he was righteous, for God approved his gifts, and although he died, he still speaks through his faith.

4 What, though, can we learn of Abel and his faith when so little is said about him in the Bible? Let us see.

Growing Up in the Time of “the Founding of the World”


5. What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement associating Abel with “the founding of the world”? (See also footnote.)


5 Abel was born near the dawn of human history. Jesus later associated Abel with “the founding of the world.” (Read Luke 11:50, 51.) Jesus evidently meant the world of people who might be redeemed from sin. While Abel was the fourth human to exist, it seems that he was the first one whom God saw as redeemable. Clearly, Abel did not grow up among the best of influences.
Luke 11:50, 51 so that the blood of all the prophets spilled from the founding of the world may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zech•a•riʹah, who was killed between the altar and the house.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.

6. What kind of parents did Abel have?


6 Though the world was young, a pall of sadness hung over the human family. Abel’s parents, Adam and Eve, were likely beautiful, dynamic people. But they had fallen far in life, and they knew it. They were once perfect, with the prospect of eternal life before them. Then they rebelled against Jehovah God and were banished from their Paradise home in the garden of Eden. By putting their own desires ahead of all else—even the needs of their offspring—they lost perfection and eternal life.—Gen. 2:15–3:24.
Genesis 2:15-3:24 Jehovah God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eʹden to cultivate it and to take care of it. 16 Jehovah God also gave this command to the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. 17 But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” 18 Then Jehovah God said: “It is not good for the man to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” 19 Now Jehovah God had been forming from the ground every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call each living creature, that became its name. 20 So the man named all the domestic animals and the flying creatures of the heavens and every wild animal of the field, but for man there was no helper as a complement of him. 21 So Jehovah God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the flesh over its place. 22 And Jehovah God built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman, and he brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said: “This is at last bone of my bonesAnd flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman,Because from man she was taken.” 24 That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 And both of them continued to be naked, the man and his wife; yet they were not ashamed. 3 Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” 2 At this the woman said to the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. 3 But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die.’” 4 At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. 5 For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” 6 Consequently, the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something desirable to the eyes, yes, the tree was pleasing to look at. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward, she also gave some to her husband when he was with her, and he began eating it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made loin coverings for themselves. 8 Later they heard the voice of Jehovah God as he was walking in the garden about the breezy part of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the face of Jehovah God among the trees of the garden. 9 And Jehovah God kept calling to the man and saying to him: “Where are you?” 10 Finally he said: “I heard your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11 At that he said: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate.” 13 Jehovah God then said to the woman: “What is this you have done?” The woman replied: “The serpent deceived me, so I ate.” 14 Then Jehovah God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild animals of the field. On your belly you will go, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.” 16 To the woman he said: “I will greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in pain you will give birth to children, and your longing will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.” 17 And to Adam he said: “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” 20 After this Adam named his wife Eve, because she was to become the mother of everyone living. 21 And Jehovah God made long garments from skins for Adam and for his wife, to clothe them. 22 Jehovah God then said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad. Now in order that he may not put his hand out and take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live forever,—” 23 With that Jehovah God expelled him from the garden of Eʹden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. 24 So he drove the man out, and he posted at the east of the garden of Eʹden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life.

7, 8. What did Eve say when Cain was born, and what may she have had in mind?


7 Exiled to life outside the garden, Adam and Eve found their existence hard. Yet, when their first child was born, they named him Cain, or “Something Produced,” and Eve proclaimed: “I have produced a man with the aid of Jehovah.” Her words suggest that she may have had in mind the promise Jehovah made in the garden, foretelling that a certain woman would produce a “seed,” or offspring, who would one day destroy the wicked one who had led Adam and Eve astray. (Gen. 3:15; 4:1) Did Eve imagine that she was the woman in the prophecy and that Cain was the promised “seed”?
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.”
Genesis 4:1 Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said: “I have produced a male child with the help of Jehovah.”

8 If so, she was sadly mistaken. What is more, if she and Adam fed Cain such ideas as he grew up, they surely did his imperfect human pride no good. In time, Eve bore a second son, but we find no such high-flown statements about him. They named him Abel, which may mean “Exhalation,” or “Vanity.” (Gen. 4:2) Did that choice of a name reflect lower expectations, as if they put less hope in Abel than in Cain? We can only guess.
Genesis 4:2 Later she again gave birth, to his brother Abel. Abel became a shepherd of the flock, but Cain became a cultivator of the ground.

9. What can parents today learn from our first parents?


9 Parents today can learn much from those first parents. By your words and actions, will you feed your children’s pride, ambition, and selfish tendencies? Or will you teach them to love Jehovah God and to seek friendship with him? Sadly, the first parents failed in their responsibility. Yet, there was hope for their offspring.

Abel Developed Faith—How?


10, 11. Cain and Abel took up what kinds of work, and what quality did Abel develop?


10 As the two boys grew up, Adam likely trained them in work that was necessary to provide for the family. Cain took up farming; Abel took up shepherding.
11 However, Abel did something far more important. Over the years, he developed faith—that beautiful quality of which Paul later wrote. Think of it! Abel had no human example to whom he could look. How, then, did he develop faith in Jehovah God? Consider three solid bases on which his faith likely rested.

12, 13. How might observing Jehovah’s creation have helped Abel to grow in faith?


12 Jehovah’s creation. True, Jehovah had placed a curse on the ground, causing it to produce thorns and thistles that impeded agriculture. Still, the earth generously produced the food that kept Abel’s family alive. And there was no curse on the animals, including birds and fish; nor on the mountains, lakes, rivers, and seas; nor on the skies, clouds, sun, moon, and stars. Everywhere Abel looked, he saw evidence of the profound love, wisdom, and goodness of Jehovah God, the one who created all things. (Read Romans 1:20.) No doubt, meditating appreciatively on such things strengthened Abel’s faith.
Romans 1:20 For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.


In creation, Abel found a solid basis for faith in a loving Creator


13 Abel surely took time to ponder spiritual matters. Picture him tending his flock. A shepherd’s life required a great deal of walking. He led the gentle creatures over hills, through valleys, across rivers—ever seeking the greenest grass, the best watering holes, the most sheltered resting-places. Of all of God’s creatures, sheep seemed the most helpless, as if they were designed to need man to guide and protect them. Did Abel see that he too needed guidance, protection, and care from Someone far wiser and more powerful than any human? No doubt he expressed many such thoughts in prayer, and his faith continued to grow as a result.

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