Cain and Abel

Daily Reading – Genesis 4

There is never a gain with sin, only loss. In chapter 3, Adam and Eve rejected God’s blessing and pursued pleasure against his will. The father of lies promised them satisfaction through disobedience, but the sin brought only despair.

But God, who is rich in mercy, makes a promise that brings them hope:

“I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

In chapter 4 and Adam and Eve have children. Following God’s promise, they might be thinking one of their boys could be the one who would crush Satan’s head and secure redemption.

These boys grow up and bring offerings to the Lord. One is accepted by God and the other rejected.


Hebrews 11:4 and 11:6

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Ultimately faith was the difference between the sacrifices. But this faith is also reflected in the offerings.

By faith, Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his flock. Because Abel had faith, he brought the best portions of the best animals. Later in their history, God will have Israel dedicate the firstborn of all families and all flocks to Him since they represent God’s provision and have the position of greatest honor.

Cain’s offering stands in contrast to that of Abel. God was not pleased with is offering because it was not presented in faith. Cain’s lack of faith is reflected in the description of his offering. Cain brought “some of the fruits of the soil.” (NIV) The lack of detail about the quality of the offering is very different from Abel’s offering of the “fat portions” of the precious “firstborn”. Cain’s heart was not in it, so he did not bring his best.

When God confronts him and says he is not pleased, Cain’s anger burns. His response to God further proves his lack of faith and humility.

Yet God is patient with Cain.

God is the one true “Wonderful Counselor” and a great question asker. He comes to Cain and says, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?”

Cain is confronted with his sin, but does not repent. Instead, he continues in prideful rebellion.

Let’s take a moment to look at what the two different sacrifices represent.

First, Cain brought forth the toil of his hands described as “some of the fruits of the soil.” As he struggled against the thorns and thistles of the cursed earth, he brought forth some fruit by his own effort. This is not enough to please God, for “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” to God. (Isaiah 64:6) Acceptance with God does not depend on the offerings he can produce by the toil of his hands. It is by faith a man finds favor with God. So Cain’s offering represents the work of man accomplished by his own desire and effort.

Abel’s offering was brought in faith, and the substance of his offering also reflects the kind of sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:22

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Abel’s offering was the shed blood of an innocent firstborn animal.

God will continue to teach Israel the lesson that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins. (Gen. 22- sacrifice of Isaac, Exodus 12- Passover, Leviticus 16- Day of Atonement) However, Adam and Eve had already seen this principle modeled after their own fall into sin. In Genesis 3:21 God sacrifices an innocent animal and uses the skin to cover their shame. Perhaps Abel learned this story from his parents, but his offering of blood from the firstborn of his flock is a precursor to the lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.

Abel’s sacrifice is not the only blood spilled in this story. The innocent blood of Abel is shed by his brother. Abel is a child born of Eve with whom God was pleased. He is rejected and killed by his brother. Yet because of his faith, though he is dead, his blood continues to speak.

Hebrews 11:4

by faith he still speaks even though he is dead. 

Someone greater than Abel is still to come. A man who would rejected by his brothers and put to death unjustly. However, God raised him from the dead and today his blood speaks a better word than even the blood of Abel.

And for those who believe…

Hebrews 12:22-24

(We) have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

We have come to Jesus, the hero born of Eve (Gen. 3:15) with whom God was well pleased. And though he was rejected by his brothers and put to death, God raised him from the dead. And today his blood speaks a better word than even the blood of Abel.

God expects our sacrifices, but all he requires of us is faith.

John 6:28-29

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

The quality of our faith will be proven by the sacrifices we bring to God.

Romans 12:1-2

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Luke 9:23

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

If we truly have faith, we will present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. What we do everyday, even in little moments and brief interactions, is a reflection of what we believe about God.

James 1:18

“I will show you my faith by what I do…” James the brother of Jesus.

The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme found in all of Scripture of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son. 

Luke 24

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 


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