GOD’S STANDARDS OF ETHICS
If you are doing what is good, shouldn’t you hold your head high? And if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door — it wants you, but you can rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)
Although there are many ethical statements contained in Genesis, as teaching for Yahveh’s people, this statement, focusing on (Kayin) Cain’s casual behaviour, appears to be very striking. What does it say to you? Do you see the connection between Cain’s behaviour and his focus on love for Yahveh?
In contrast, let’s examine (Hevel) Able’s behaviour, as we read in Genesis 4:3-5 – In the course of time Kayin brought an offering to Adonai from the produce of the soil; and Hevel too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat. Adonai accepted Hevel and his offering but did not accept Kayin and his offering. Reading this passage carefully, we note Cain seemed to bring just any source of grain that was produced; he did not take the time to determine what grain was perfect and what was deformed or impaired, while Able took the time and care to bring the first-born from his herd of sheep, along with the fat. This took time and care, to ensure everything would please Yahveh. So, what did Cain do that appeared to anger Yahveh?
We know Yahveh has established certain ethical standards for His people. We see these standards being introduced in the first three chapters. Some of these standards are not as clear as others, in that they are told in story form. However, early readers or listeners of these passages would have an understanding of what they meant.
For example, let’s go to Genesis 3 and (Chava) Eve’s encounter with the serpent. As we have read, in Genesis 2, Yahveh ordered (Adom) Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree, found in the middle of the garden. The serpent, having encountered Eve, who seems to have a piece of forbidden fruit with her, says: “Did God really say, ‘You are not to eat from any tree in the garden’?” Here, the demon, who has entered the mind of the serpent, is challenging the role of the Tree of Knowledge from being part of Yahveh’s plan and replacing it in Eve’s mind as a tool, a piece of knowledge. Thus, the ethical shift is evident: Yahveh has given a command, which is to be obeyed within the bounds of our love for Him; the serpent has removed this command from Yahveh’s love and placed it into a category, which may be manipulated. This is the role of temptation, in our lives.
Whenever we are faced with temptation, we come into contact with something which removes a command from God’s love and places it into a form of a tool, which may be manipulated and used to further one or more of our desires. For example, imagine we are all married; when we see someone of the opposite gender, we may feel attracted. This is the emergence of desire into our conscious mind. At this point we are faced with a temptation to break our marriage vows and pursue the person, who catches our attention. We are facing the same temptation as did Eve and Adam. Now, our ethical standard is about to be challenged. If we give into the temptation, as so many do, and begin to plan a pursuit, we have fallen into the clutches of that temptation. Note what Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, said about adultery, in Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. This is when the temptation takes hold of us, and we are trapped.
It is important to realize two understandings of the word temptation. First, by its very definition, temptation is a test; it tests our ethical standards. Second, temptation will not confront us, unless there is a desire to which it can apply a test. Remember, as reported in Matthew 4, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, was confronted with three temptations by hasatan, the adversary. Were there desires present within Him for nourishment, protection or power? Clearly, from the Scripture, there were not. Thus, when hasatan artificially placed those three temptations before Him, His resistance came through in His love for the Father. And, at that moment, He showed us the way for us to resist temptation, which comes through desire or artificially through hasatan – cling to our love of Adonai Elohim, our Lord God, and His ethical standards.
Beloved, Yahveh’s ethical standards are there to help us remain kadosh, holy, set-apart for Him. This is what Torah is all about – creating a high ethical standard of behaviour that we are to strive for. We may never reach that standard, but is this any reason not to strive?
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=A+Journey+Through+Torah+%3A+An+Inroduction&ref=nb_sb_noss