Solomon in his book of Ecclesiastes concluded that, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecc 12:14). This serves to remind us that whatever we do we are answerable to God. For the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. David in his Psalms said, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in the tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2). It is understood then that only those who fear God and keep His commandments, do what is right, pure in mouth and minds are qualified to draw near to God.
To the Chinese there is a common saying that if you look upwards you have no shame to face God and if you look down¬wards you have no remorse to face man. This is their basic principle in life. We, as worshippers of God must lead a life compatible to the gospel of Christ. Our character must be upright before believers so as to bring glory to God. The Bible says, “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts” (Prov 20:27). The Psalm of Asaph also says, “I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit” (Psalm 77:6). Self-examination is a conscience given by God. We must do it often lest the lamp in our heart be extinguished.
I. The Lord God Asked Eve What She Had Done
Eve had gone against the commandment of God by eating the forbidden fruits and after that she was afraid to see God. When God called her she replied that she was naked and therefore, she dared not see God. The Lord God asked Eve, “What is this that you have done?” Eve replied that the serpent had beguiled her and she ate (Gen 3:1-13). Because Eve had sinned and in turn had also led Adam to sin. Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sin (Rom 5:12).
Eve, tempted by the serpent also because of her own lust. She was not watchful but had given way to Satan. James pointed out, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death” (Jas 1:14-15). Actually, when Eve saw the fruit which was beautiful and could be consumed as food she had an urge to eat it and this gave the devil an opportunity to tempt her. When she had taken the fruit and eaten it she also gave it to her husband to eat.
God’s commandment is absolute and pure and it will not change but it was a pity that Eve did not look upon it as something important and this had resulted her sinning. The Lord said that His words were Spirit and Life (Jn 6:63). He said again, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (Jn 15:10). Eve did not keep the commandment of God. She had departed from the love of God. What a pitiful state of affair.
II. God Asked Cain, “What Have You Done?”
Man started to kill during the second generation and the one who was killed was the younger brother.
After Cain had killed his own brother, God inquired Cain of his brother; to this he said he did not know and he even questioned God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” But God said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Gen 4:9-12). Will not God inquire of Cain whose hands had killed his own brother? Will God let Cain go unpunished?
The killing of Abel by Cain accounts the first bloodshed of mankind. Eversince there happened countless numbers of killings and murders. Therefore, God in His Ten Commandments forbade people from killing each other (Exodus 20:13). The Bible teaches us to love one another. One who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 Jn 4:20). The Bible also records, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:14-15). We learn from here that as brothers and sisters we should love one another, and if we hate each other it amounts to killing each other.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that any one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift.” (Matt 5:21-24).
Peter said, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart” (1 Pet 1:22). So let us not love in words or speech but in deed and in truth, that our hearts may remain peaceful before the Lord. We must truly love one another for love can cover a multitude of sins. Cain had no love for his brother and this led him to the killing of his brother.
III. Samuel Said To Saul, “What Have You Done?”
The Israelites were at war with the Philistines. Saul had no patience to wait for Samuel and he offered the burnt offering himself. When finally Samuel arrived and asked Saul, “What have you done?” Apparently, Saul had done something which had violated the commandment of God and this had enraged Samuel to reprove him, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you; for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever” (1 Sam 13:8-13).
After this incident Saul was still not repentant. Later God had commissioned him to destroy all the Amalekites including their animals but Saul did not do as he was told by God. Saul had compassion on Agag, the Amalekite King and Saul also kept some of the best animals. When questioned by Samuel, Saul replied that the animals that he had kept were for the burnt sacrifice to God. And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam 15:22-23).
We learn from here that it is important that we should be submissive to God. Saul was disobedient to God and so he was rejected by God and deprived of his kingship and also lost his life. So, let Saul’s downfall serve as a warning to us. Learn the way Jesus had submitted Himself to God. Paul in his epistle to the Phillipians said that, “though Jesus was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). Indeed, the Lord had received the bitter cup whereby fulfilling the will of the Lord (Matt 26:42). We, too, must carry His yoke and follow His example (Matt 11:29).
IV. The Boatmen Asked Jonah, “What Is This That You Have Done!”
Jonah, a prophet to Jeroboam II, King of the Israelites (2 Kings 14:23-27). God sent him to the city of Nineveh to warn the people to repent for this wickedness had come up before God. But Jonah did not obey God’s commands, instead he boarded on a ship intending to escape to a place called Tarshish. However, God had sent a great storm tossing the ship to and fro to a dangerous point causing the ship nearly to capsized. The passengers on board the ship were very frightened, each one calling to his god to save them. When the storm did not stop they resorted to the casting of lots to find out who was the cause of the trouble. The lot fell on Jonah. The boatmen asked Jonah, “What is this that you have done!” Jonah told them unre¬servedly how he had tried to escape the commission of God. Finally, Jonah told them to lift him up and throw him into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for them (John 1:1-15). It is hard to imagine that a prophet like Jonah could also fail to carry out the will of God.
King David in his psalm wrote, “0 Lord, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!” (Psalm 139:1-3,7-8).
God also makes such remark thought the prophet saying, “Am I a God at hand’, says the Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ says the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jer 23:23-24). God’s eyes are everywhere. We must submit to His will and not to shirk our responsibility.
Jonah had avoided God because of his self-righteousness. He had reasoned with God that what he did was right but according to his own judgment (John 4:1-9). Paul in his epistle to the Romans wrote that, “For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom 10:3). So, Jonah’s self-righteousness and his rebellion against God may wel1 serve as a warning to us.
Paul said, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:17). Though the four people men¬tioned: Eve, Cain, Saul and Jonah had offered God to different degrees, nevertheless they had committed a common error, ie, they had disregarded the will of God; they had acted on their own will instead of the will of the Lord. They regarded themselves more than God.
As disciples of Christ, we must act according to the will of the Lord as Paul did, he said, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:8). The correct interpretation of Paul’s state¬ment here is we must obey God unto death, a total sacrifice. Therefore, we must spend more effort in spiritual training so that we may grow up into maturity and we would not be deceived like a small child. When we have equipped ourselves with the truth we shall be able to discern between the good and the bad then slowly we shall attain perfection.