Today we begin Genesis Chapter Four.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
Today we will go over one of the more famous stories in the Bible.
The story of two brothers named Cain and Abel.
The older brother was Cain and the younger was Abel.
In this chapter of Genesis, we witness the first murder ever recorded in the Scriptures as we see Cain become so enraged with jealousy over his younger brother that he ends up taking his life.
It all began on a day when Cain and Abel had brought offerings to the Lord.
Cain was a farmer who had offered up to the Lord a crop from his fields.
Abel was a shepherd who had offered up a sheep.
What happened afterwards is that the Lord looked with favor upon Abel’s offering but for some reason he was displeased with Cain’s offering.
The simplistic Gentile interpretation is that since only blood can atone for sin, Cain’s offering was not appropriate because it was an agricultural sacrifice and did not involve the shedding of blood.
I don’t think this interpretation is correct.
First, while it is true that only blood can atone for sin, sacrifices were also offered up for other reasons besides sin atonement. For example, sacrifices could be offered to express gratitude to God for all of His blessings. Sometimes they were presented to ask God to provide victory during an upcoming war or for divine help in overcoming a difficult situation. In this situation, there is no mention that Cain and Abel had committed any specific sin necessitating the offering up of a blood animal sacrifice.
Second, I don’t see anywhere implied where God rejects produce sacrifices in favor of animal sacrifices. In fact, in the Book of Leviticus, produce sacrifices are introduced as an acceptable part of God’s sacrificial system.
So what’s the real reason why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice?
I believe the answer can be found in the teaching of first fruits as explained in the Book of Deuteronomy.
“Take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket.”-Deuteronomy 26:2
Keeping this idea in mind, let’s compare the nature of Abel’s sacrifice with Cain’s sacrifice.
ABEL: “…Abel too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat.”-Genesis 4:4
CAIN: “In the course of time Cain brought an offering to Adonai from the produce of the soil.”-Genesis 4:3
So Abel brought the first fruits of what he had and that was acceptable to the Lord.
However, in contrast, the Scripture tells us that “in the course of time” Cain brought his offering to the Lord. Actually, if you look at the original Hebrew, literally it says “in the end of days“! It doesn’t mean the end of one day but means after the end of many days later Cain finally brought an offering to the Lord.
THIS WAS A BIG NO-NO!
When we give to the Lord, we are supposed to give our first and our best and we’re supposed to give it immediately because delayed obedience is disobedience.
What Cain did was that he looked at what he had in his crops, and then AFTER determining that he had enough finally gave an offering to the Lord. Such an attitude betrays a lack of faith.
So the reason for the Lord’s disfavor has nothing to do with the fact that Abel gave an animal sacrifice and Cain didn’t.
It wasn’t what Cain gave.
It was how he gave what he gave.
He disobeyed by not giving the first fruits of his crop offering.
This was disobedience plain and simple and reflected a lack of faith in his heart.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”-Hebrews 11:4