As we make our way through Genesis chapter 4 teaches us that the sin of Adam and Eve in disobeying God and thinking they knew better than Him is present in their children. The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). The disease of sin affects all human beings. We see this sin expressed in rivalry and anger and jealousy and that this sin escalates. The story of Abel and Cain is a warning to not allow sin to grow and develop but to face it quickly and repent of it. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord (Gen 4:3-4) but God looked with favour on Abel and his offering but not Cain and his offering & Cain’s response was jealousy. Abel brought the fat portions or the best portions of the animal and Cain brought some offerings of fruits of the soil.
The reason for why God accepted one offering and not the other is not about the respective merits of meat offerings verses cereal offerings. To understand what is happening here we need to apply the interpretative principle – Scripture interprets Scripture. The Bible displays a profound unity because God is the ultimate author and so when one part of the Bible is not clear we should look to another section for clarity. In Hebrews 11:4 we are taught that Abel offered his offering by faith and this was a better offering. This is a reminder that when we come to the Lord we approach Him on the basis of faith and trust in His goodness and mercy. We can’t manipulate God or elicit favour from Him based on what we do. For the New Testament Christian we are able to approach God through faith in Jesus and His offering of himself on the Cross. In 1 John 3:12 we learn that Cain’s actions and motives were evil. So Abel offered God his best. This is what faith does. Faith helps us recognize that God is our creator and He is good and He deserves our best not our leftover time or energy. This passage also speaks of one of the most deadliness sin – jealousy and rivalry. Cain was angry because Abel received God’s favour and we are told he was downcast. God saw this and appealed to Cain that God’s judgement is fair and just but the great problem was that sin was crouching at his door 4:6-7. This is a sad passage because sin unchecked grows and takes hold of Cain and so he kills his brother. Sin is deadly and we must guard against it and not allow bitterness or unforgiveness or jealousy to grow in our lives. Our church fellowship is very important because the Lord has provided people who can keep us accountable and pray for us and help us see God’s way when our sin has blinded us to our own deceit. But we also see in this passage God’s mercy because God allowed Cain to live. It is amazing in v10 because the Lord says that the blood of Abel cries out from the ground where Cain killed him. It is a cry for justice. In Hebrews 12:24 we are reminded that it is the blood of Jesus speaks a better word because the blood of the Lord Jesus in His death for our sin offers forgiveness. It is wonderful how the crisis of this chapter and revelation of our sinfulness lead us to Jesus and His mercy in dealing with our sinfulness and offering us hope and forgiveness,
Rev David O’Mara