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God’s Questions

Genesis 4:1-16


  1. Questions
    1. The Christmas season is about “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10).
      1. Heaven’s peace has come to earth.
      2. The Savior of the world has been born.
      3. Light has scattered the darkness.
      4. The devil’s regime has ended.
    2. But Christmas also raises questions in the minds of some people:
      1. Why did God wait so long to send his Son?
      2. Was Jesus born of a virgin?
      3. Did Jesus give up or lessen his divine power when he became human?
      4. If Jesus brought peace on earth, then why is there so much crisis and sorrow?
    3. We are born questioners.
      1. The great word of a little child when it begins to speak is “Why?”
      2. Every child is full of every kind of question:
        • about every kind of thing that moves
        • about everything that shines
        • about every change in the little world in which it lives.
      3. Somehow many of our questions must seem like those of a little child to God!
    4. A careful look at the gospels shows that Jesus rarely accepted the questions asked of him.
      1. He exposed them as coming from the house of fear and driven by concern for prestige, influence, power, and control.
      2. It is interesting that Jesus did not give a direct answer to these questions.
      3. He gently put them aside as questions that did not belong to the house of God.
      4. But Jesus always transformed the question by His answer!
      5. He made the question new–and only then was it worthy of His response.


  1. Questions in the Bible are very interesting.
    1. They tell us what the key characters were thinking.
    2. The first question in the Bible was asked by Satan in Genesis 3:1.
      1. Genesis 3:1 – “Has God said?”
      2. Satan’s purpose was to cast doubt on God and his Word, and many of the questions of the world do exactly the same thing today.
      3. Satan wants to hurt the heart of God. Why?
      4. Because God has judged and condemned him for rebelling against God and Satan does all he can to get back at God.
      5. The best way he can do this is to turn the hearts of people away from God and lead them to sin and to follow the way of evil.
      6. He’s still doing that today.


  1. The first question by a man is found in Genesis 4:9 where a Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
    1. Cain’s question was disrespectful and only an excuse to get God off his back.
      • His purpose is to try to deflect God’s attention from his sin!
    2. We still ask that question today when we shirk our responsibility to others!
    3. But it is an important question that needs to be answered because it deals with our basic relationships.
    4. We will try to look at that question later – that’s a whole separate sermon!
  2. But what about the questions that God asks?
    1. When God asks a question, you had better listen carefully!
    2. What God is always looking for when He asks a question is confession – agreement with Him!


  1. God’s Questions
    1. Genesis 3 (To Adam and Eve)
      1. Where are you?
      2. Who told you that you were naked?
      3. What is this that you have done?
    2. Genesis 4 (To Cain)
      1. Why are you angry?
      2. Why had your countenance fallen?
      3. If you do well, will you not be accepted?
      4. Where is your brother?
      5. What have you done?


  1. Genesis 3 (To Adam and Eve)
    1. “Where are you?” – The Question of the Seeking Savior. (Genesis 3:9)
      1. The second recorded question is in Genesis 3:9 where God called to Adam asking where he was. God’s purpose was to seek man and have fellowship with him.
      2. God is still seeking and calling for us today.
      3. There is the alienation (separation caused by sin) from God and that breaks God’s heart.
        1. The separation is seen in Adam running away and hiding.
        2. The broken heart of God is seen in His seeking after Adam (Genesis 3:9).
        3. Be sure to notice that it is not Adam seeking after God, but God is seeking after Adam.
      4. Note God’s question: “Adam, where are you?”
        1. God knew exactly where Adam was.
        2. God knows everything. What, then, is God doing?
        3. God wants people to see where they are in life in relation to Him.
      5. God’s heart had been broken by Adam’s sin.
        1. God saw the great price He would have to pay to complete His purpose upon earth.
        2. God saw that He would have to give His Son to pay the penalty for man’s sin.
        3. But God went after Adam, went seeking after him: “Adam, where are you?”
        4. This is the call of God as the seeking Savior.
        5. God is still calling to us today: “Where are you?”


  1. “Who told you that you were naked?” – The question that brings conviction (Genesis 3:11)
    1. Note Genesis 3:7: their eyes “were opened and they knew that they were naked”.
      1. This could not mean their physical eyes, for the eyes of their body had been opened since their creation.
      2. It must mean the eyes of their heart and mind, of their conscience.
    2. Before their sin, Adam and Eve were innocent, sinless and righteous.
      1. But when they sinned, a radical change took place within their hearts and minds.
      2. They immediately knew that something was wrong—something terrible had happened.
      3. They no longer felt perfect or innocent, sinless or righteous.
      4. Within their hearts and minds they sensed guilt and shame, and they knew—beyond all question—they had done wrong.
      5. The same is true today when people sin – always!
    3. God wanted them to know that they had done wrong, so He asked them the question!
    4. God’s questions call out to us to convict us of our sin so that we will confess and repent!
    5. We need to sense God’s conviction, sense our need for God, sense our need to be reconciled to God, so God asks us questions!
    6. He wants us to seek after Him, not run away from Him.
      1. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


  1. “What is this that you have done?” – The question that precedes God’s judgment (Genesis 3:12)
    1. God knew exactly what Eve had done.
      1. The question, “What is this that you have done?” was not for God’s information.
      2. It was to make Eve think about what she had done and what would happen as a result.
    2. Eve’s sin was a terrible sin against God.
    3. In fact, their sin was the same sin that we commit against God:
      1. Turning away from God and doing what God has told us not to do!
      2. Disobeying God
      3. Rebelling against God
    4. When God created Adam, He told Adam that the penalty of sin was death.
      1. Therefore, God’s question to Eve was a summons to judgment.
      2. Adam and Eve were to appear before the court of God and face the sentence of death.


  1. A person may try to run away and hide from God.
    1. He may deny, ignore, and neglect God.
    2. But the day is coming when God will call him and everyone else before His court of justice.
      • 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)
    3. Every person—all who ran away and tried to hide from God—will be judged and God will ask, “What is this that you have done!


  1. Genesis 4 (To Cain)
    1. “Why are you angry?” & “Why has your countenance fallen?”- The questions that call for self-examination (Genesis 4:6)
      1. This scene from Genesis 4 is a striking scene.
        1. It is a scene of God’s love and compassion.
        2. Despite Cain’s sin of false worship and of unbelief, God was willing to forgive Cain.
        3. In fact, God wanted Cain to repent and to approach God through sacrifice.
        4. God was not willing for Cain to perish, not without God first reaching out and trying to save Cain.
      2. God uses questions to make us to think
        1. Cain’s reaction – He became angry—very angry— he burned with anger.
        2. Cain was angry at God for not accepting and blessing his worship.
      3. When God asks, “Why are you angry?”, you should immediately look at yourself!
        1. Cain should have been angry at himself, for his own unbelief and hypocrisy.
        2. Cain was the one at fault; he was the one who had disobeyed God and approached God in his own strength, with the works of his own hands.
        3. He should have fallen to his knees, begged for forgiveness, and repented of his unbelief and hypocrisy.
      4. The Lord does not yet give up Cain.
      5. In great mercy He puts a question to Cain that implies that there is no just cause for his present feelings.
      6. Neither anger nor frustration in himself is a right feeling in the presence of the just and merciful God, who searches the heart.
      7. God wants us to examine ourselves, submit to Him, and change what has been wrong in our approach to Him.
      8. This is why the Lord asks the next question.


  1. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” – The Question that Guides to Repentance (Genesis 4:7)
    1. To do well is:
      1. to retrace his steps,
      2. to consider his ways, and find out where he has been wrong, and then,
      3. to change what he did wrong.
    2. Notice that the Lord does not immediately reject him, but with longsuffering patience directs Cain’s attention to the problem so that he can change.
    3. This is what God’s questions to us are all about!
      1. Confession – agreeing with God about what the problem is.
      2. Repentance – turning from our evil ways to the right way so that we might be accepted by Him!
    4. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).


  1. “Where is Abel your brother?” – The question that calls for thought. (Genesis 4:9)
    1. God questioned Cain again: “Where is Abel your brother?” (relate to “Where are you?”)
    2. Again, God was not asking for information; God knew exactly where Abel was.
      1. God sees all things.
      2. God knows all things.
    3. God wanted Cain to think about his sin,
      1. God wanted Cain to know about the terrible thing he had done.
      2. God wanted Cain to see so that he would cry out for mercy.
    4. Cain was like so many of us after we have committed some terrible sin: we try to hide our sin and push it out of our minds.
      1. But this is never the thing to do.
      2. Cain missed what every sinner needs: to face his sin and cry to God for forgiveness and mercy.
    5. Cain needed to change his ways before it was too late.
    6. He was soon to doom himself eternally unless he repented and cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness.
      1. “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:21).


  1. “What have you done?” – The Question that points to a coming judgment (Genesis 4:10)
    1. God punished Cain with far less a punishment than he deserved.
      1. But in Cain’s eyes this was, nevertheless, far more than he could bear. He complained,
      2. “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me” (vv. 13,14).
      3. This is the complaint of an unrepentant heart, and Cain was certainly unrepentant.
    2. Revelation 16:10-11 would be a fitting commentary on it:
      1. “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.”
    3. Let me tell you what I think Cain should have done.
      1. What Cain should have done when he heard God’s words of judgment is to have fled to God, rather than from Him.
      2. He should have fallen on his knees and begged God, however great his sin, to forgive that sin and not allow it or anything else to drive him from God’s presence.


  1. There are things that will keep you from seeking God’s forgiveness.
    1. One is your pride, the very thing that got Cain into trouble in the first place.
      1. To bow, to scrape, to grovel before God seems too utterly repulsive to you for it ever to be contemplated, let alone performed.
      2. You would rather go to hell than bow like that.
      3. But that is precisely what you will do if you do not lay your pride aside and come to God on God’s terms.
    2. You may also be held back by hate, though you might not call it that.
      1. Hate is a terrible thing.
      2. You do not possess it; it possesses you.
    3. There are resentment and self pity.
      1. He could not see the enormity of his crime and so actually felt sorry for himself when God punished him with far less of a judgment than he deserved.
      2. Even if you have never committed so great a crime as murder, you have committed a far greater crime against God in refusing to honor Him fully as your Creator and in spurning the very Son whom He sent to die for your salvation.
    4. Can you not see this? Can you not sense your danger?
      1. Sin is driving you from God, whom you think to be the cause of your misery.
      2. You are failing to see that He is actually being good to you and that His goodness is given precisely so that it might lead you to confession and repentance.
      3. God is asking us some questions today!
      4. We must confess and repent of our sins.
    5. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).