July 12, 2022
Cain & Abel – Lessons from the first brothers. Genesis 4:1-16
Listen to last week’s sermon entitled: Cain & Abel – Lessons from the first brothers found in Genesis 4:1-16.
On July 10, 2022, Pastor Eric shared the story of Cain and Abel, history’s first brothers. Based on Scripture, there are two paths in life: the path of righteousness and the path of wickedness, or the way of Cain.
Read Hebrews 11:4
It is stated in Hebrews 11:4 that Abel is dead, but as a result of his faith, he continues to speak to us today. Therefore, Abel still has much to teach us.
Read Jude 11
According to Jude 11, there is a way known as the way of Cain, an evil path dominated by sin.
Read Genesis 4:1-2
It is not uncommon for details, such as those described in the above passage, to be overlooked. Is it not interesting that Eve stated, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord”? Since this was Adam and Eve’s first natural birth, Eve would have been awestruck by what had transpired. Likewise, we too would be fascinated to witness the creation of Adam and Eve, as one was created from soil and the other was formed from a rib. Cain was born first, then Abel. After the fall of their parents, Abel became a shepherd and Cain, a land worker. It was natural for them to pursue these two occupations, as they needed to feed themselves. Don Stewart said,
Since both the ground and the animal kingdom had been affected by the Fall, the sheep needed to be tended and the ground needed to be worked for food. Source
Neither occupation was improper. It has been suggested that God regarded Abel favourably because he was tending sheep. This statement is not accurate since both occupations were required.
Read Genesis 4:3-5
The story of Cain and Abel has so much to teach us. The two brothers were raised by parents who believed in God. Both God and the devil were well known to them. As Adam and Eve were very aware of spiritual reality, Cain and Abel must have been taught about it by their parents.
Pastor Eric then turned our attention to the offerings that the brothers made to God, which appear to have led to the tragedy.
1 – One offering is regarded favourably and one is not.
Genesis 4:4-5 states that
the Lord had great regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.
The word regard in this context means to gaze. It involves observing and paying attention to something. Thus, God paid attention to one and ignored the other.
It is widely held that God favoured Abel’s offering or sacrifice since it was consumed by fire, just as it was elsewhere in the Old Testament when God accepted offerings and sacrifices in the Tabernacle.
The Lord accepts or rejects an offering based on whether or not it is made on His terms. Offerings that do not meet His requirements will not even be considered. Cain’s offering violated God’s terms, and as a result, He rejected it. Moreover, if our offering fails to meet God’s conditions, it may be rejected.
Read Isaiah 29:13
In this verse, God reprimanded His people for professing devotion to Him with their mouths but refusing to follow Him with their hearts. In other words, they expressed their admiration for God, they gave Him praise, and they cited Scripture; however, their hearts were far from Him. Their worship of God was nothing more than a set of rules taught by men. There was greater loyalty to the rules taught by men than to the rules taught by God. Later, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, who adhered adamantly to their traditions and rules.
Read 1 Samuel 13:8-14 and 1 Samuel 15
First Samuel 13:8-13 reveals that Saul was removed from his position as king due to the presumptuous sacrifice he made in Samuel’s absence. His disobedience violated God’s terms and instructions. This teaches us an important truth: to God, obedience is more important than sacrifice. Despite the fact that men may applaud our actions, this does not necessarily mean that God is in agreement with them. It is our responsibility as Christians to ensure that our offerings, services, and worship are conducted in accordance with God’s terms and not our own. A key component of worship is living in harmony with God’s Spirit and in compliance with His Word.
Read Matthew 5:23-24 and Romans 12:18
In this passage, Jesus instructs us that if we are offering a sacrifice to God and become aware that a brother or sister has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar and apologize to that person before returning to the Lord to resume our sacrifice. Jesus’ message is clear: When we attend church (The act of attending church constitutes an offering.) and remember that we have sinned against a fellow believer and the situation has not yet been resolved, we are to leave and resolve the issue before returning. It is our duty to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. If we fail to follow Jesus’ instructions, we are likely following the path of Cain.
Read Matthew 22:37-40
As Christians, it is important to maintain quality relationships in order to honour the Lord. Jesus taught us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Some people are devoted to God, but fail to love their fellow human beings. There are others who love people but do not love the Lord. If we truly love God, we will give careful consideration to how we live and to what kind of influence we have on the lives of others. Furthermore, our offerings will convey our love for Christ and our gratitude to Him. Those who love their neighbours do not lie to them, cheat them, rob them, covet their possessions, or gossip about them. As followers of Christ, we are interdependent.
Several reasons have been proposed as to why Abel’s offering was regarded favourably by God, while Cain’s was not.
- The offering of Abel was alive whereas Cain’s was not;
- Cain’s offering was weaker than Abel’s;
- Abel had given this offering spontaneously, whereas Cain did so through his ingenuity;
- Abel’s offering involved blood, while Cain’s did not.
The fourth option has substantial merit: Proper worship requires the resolution of sin at the outset, and no resolution of sin is possible without the sacrifice of blood.
Read Hebrews 9:22
The above verse states that under the Law, almost everything was cleansed with blood. Without the shedding of blood, sins could not be forgiven.
Through the shed blood of Jesus 2,000 years ago, we can be made right with God and experience complete forgiveness of sins. It is simply a matter of calling upon His name in prayer. The Bible tells us that if we follow these instructions, we will become God’s children.
Read John 1:12
Upon receiving Jesus as our personal Saviour, we become God’s children and can enter His presence with confidence.
It is important to note that not every blood sacrifice was accepted by God. There have been times when God has refused to accept sacrifices or offerings from His people.
Read Isaiah 1:13 and Hosea 6:6
God clearly states in Isaiah 1:13 that He wants people to cease bringing him meaningless offerings. His desire is to be known by people and to be loved faithfully.
Read Hebrews 11:4, 6 and Genesis 15:6
The exact reason why the Lord regarded Abel’s offering favourably is unknown; however, Hebrews 11:4 indicates that it was by faith that Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain. We are aware that faith is pleasing to the Lord. And we also know that it is impossible to please God without faith. Abraham was also a person of faith. Genesis 15:6 informs us that Abram believed God and, as a result, God considered him righteous.
Read Romans 1:17
It is not the fact that Abel’s offering was an animal and Cain’s offering was not that differentiated them. The difference, rather, was someone who had faith and someone who lacked it. It is important for us to serve God faithfully even when our contribution seems insignificant. As Christians, we are called to live by faith. According to Romans 1:17, those who are in harmony with God live by faith. God is moved by the faith of His people.
Read Genesis 4:4
Abel brought the best parts of his lambs. His offering was an expression of his desire to give God the best he had. He did not simply make an offering: He made an offering of the highest quality.
As Christians, we must ask ourselves if we are giving God our best effort. Is our contribution to the Lord the best that it can be? Our goal is not to achieve perfection, but rather to honour our Master to the best of our ability. Are we prioritizing the Lord in our lives, or are we giving Him our leftovers, as Cain did? As believers, we must remember that we are first and foremost responsible to God.
2 – The giver and the offering are inextricably linked.
Read Genesis 4:4b-5
Not only did God accept Abel’s offering, but He also accepted Abel who made the offering. Abel’s way of life was far more important than the gift he presented to the Lord. There is more to our offering than just what we offer. God accepts our gift based on our heartfelt intentions.
Read Malachi 3:8
The importance of giving cannot be overstated. God holds tithing in high regard. Our offerings and our heartfelt intentions are visible to Him. We should give cheerfully to the Lord in thanksgiving for His many blessings in our lives. As stated in the above passage, we rob God when we withhold our tithes. However, we should not feel pressured or intimidated to give. We don’t have to tithe. It is our privilege to tithe. It is more important to live a life of devotion to Christ than to perform acts of worship. The basis of our giving must come from a life of worship characterized by love, integrity, holiness, and obedience to the Scriptures.
Read Genesis 4:5 and Matthew 23:35
As a result of God’s rejection of both Cain and his gift, Cain became very angry and felt rejected. The Lord asked Cain why he was infuriated and why he looked so sorrowful and dejected. God assured Cain that He would accept him if he obeyed Him, but if he did not, sin would befall him. In the words of the Lord, sin sought to enslave him, but he had to rule over it.
Isn’t it interesting that God did not mention the offering? He was referring to his way of life and heart rather than his actions. Unlike his brother, Jesus referred to Abel as a righteous man.
Read 1 John 3:12
Cain’s deeds were evil, while his brother’s were righteous. Cain is an example of someone who chose evil over good.
3 – If you don’t master sin, it will master you.
Those who do not master sin will be controlled by it.
Read Genesis 4:6-7
The Lord revealed a very important truth to Cain. Despite the passage of time, this truth remains relevant to us today. Sin seeks to control us. If we are unable to rule over it, it will take control of us. How do we overcome sin? We crucify it. The purpose of Jesus’ coming was not to improve our quality of life: It was to give us a new life. It is therefore imperative that we be born again.
Read John 3:3
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Nicodemus, a Pharisee and one of the most prominent Jewish leaders of his day, that it is necessary to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Are you born again? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour? Jesus came to set us free from sin. Sin has the effect of separating us from God and governing the course of our lives. It is for this reason that we must repent of our sins and seek righteousness in our daily lives. Cain lost that battle. Having allowed sin to dominate him, he became enraged to the point of murder. While anger is a normal emotion, we must prevent it from leading us into sin.
Cain committed the first homicide. It was the first time in history that righteousness had been persecuted solely for its commitment to godliness. Despite the passage of 6,000 years, nothing has changed.
Read Hebrews 11:4
While Abel has been dead for thousands of years, his life still teaches us much about trusting God.
Pastor Eric prays that we will all choose to walk in righteousness and faith as Abel did and not follow in Cain’s footsteps.