Brother Royce Ellis
The scriptures are not always written in straight-forward language; after all, itís the pleasure of the Lord to hide a matter, Some one once suggested every scripture contains more than 3 layers. We may not have enough time in this life to prove that, but we do know for certain the words authored by the Lord are to be rightly divided, and we are to find ďhere a little, there a little, line upon lineÖĒ
[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.
Sometimes we can see two solid pillars of truth in what has been written for our learning. With study, we can carefully bridge between the two if the planks we use are strong, and scriptural.
There is a great gap in the continuing story of original sin. Adam falls silent. In fact, little is said of him after he is expelled from the garden. The story jumps to the birth of his first two sons, born sometime after Adam and Eve took up their second residence.
Scripture tells us nothing of Cain and Abel except their order of birth and that they were given to different professions.
Gen 4:1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
And then the story of the offerings:
Gen 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
We are quick to point out the obvious in verses four and five, that is, the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering, but not unto Cain and his offering. Many will conclude the difference is the result of Godís election. Maybe. But thatís not the key lesson to be taken away from this story. We always need to read Godís word carefully. A strong case can be made that Abel is elect and Cain was not, we ought not to head to before the foundation of the world immediately when examining these verses.
Some will argue God didnít respect the offering because it was from Cain, whom the scripture says, he did not respect. Weíve heard it said Cain was lazy and brought only that which he plucked from the ground. Others say God didnít respect Cainís offering because the ground from which it came was cursed, but thereís more going on here.
In order for these two young men to bring sacrifices to God, someone had to instruct them. They didnít just wake up one day and decide this would be something interesting. We can safely conclude their temperaments were as different as their choice of livelihood. The timing of offering was not coincidental. They had been taught.
The Lord himself might have taught them, but in all likelihood it was our silent Adam. We know thereís awareness involved because of the timing of the sacrifice. Cain knew when to bring it to God. Abel knew when to bring it as well. Someone had trained or instructed these young men on when to bring forth a sacrifice, and what to bring.
Abel brought the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof. There had to be an animal death involved. A blood sacrifice. God had respect unto Abel and unto his offering. His sacrifice was accepted.
If Cain had brought the same type of sacrifice Ė the firstling of the flock and the fat thereof, he too would have been accepted. Thatís a bold statement many will take immediate issue with, for elsewhere the scripture calls Cain Ė that evil one.
So how do we know that if Cain had made a blood sacrifice similar to Abelís he would have been accepted? God said so.
Gen 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? Gen 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? How is it one is accepted? We have to look to the sample given us. Abelís offering was accepted, therefore, he did well (was obedient) and therefore he himself was accepted.
Cain had been instructed also, to take the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof and present it to the Lord on a particular day. Abel was obedient. Cain was not. In fact, we have to conclude Cain was knowingly disobedient. Not only did he refuse to take a lamb, (itís no stretch to make the sacrifice a lamb) he deliberately took fruit from the ground that God had cursed as an affront to the Lord. He offered him cursed goods in a mocking manner.
Cain is the first human ever born to earthly parents. He is the first to receive Adamís fallen nature and the first ever to inherit total depravity. In this sacrifice Cain shows off his inherited Adamic sin. Cain is a type of the unrepentant enemy of God Ė us Ė before the new birth. Abel is our type of life after the new birth. Cain, our old human nature, versus Abel, the God-loving spirit imparted to us, a picture of our dual nature and struggle.
Cainís sinful nature allowed jealousy to enter the picture and he became the first to take a physical human life:
Gen 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Gen 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my brother's keeper?
Gen 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Cain in further defiance gives God a blood sacrifice in his (twin) brother.
Would God have had respect unto Cain and his offering had he been obedient? The scriptures indicate he would. But mocking God has a price Ė and in this case, reaping what one has sown, literally. Cainís mocking curse backfires.
Gen 4:11 And now [art] thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; Gen 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. Cursed from the earth. The very cursed earth where you Cain obtained his cursed offering. No more will you easily produce yield you could use to mock God. As a tiller of the ground, even your livelihood shall be against you. We always say you reap in the same garden you sow.
Yet Abelís obedience follows him to this day: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Cainís flaunting of God was Satanís second attempt on mankind. Throw the curse back into the face of God, and slay the righteous servant.
1Jo 3:12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
Sometimes we get so excited when we see something that supports our view we run ahead before laying the planks before the two pillars. Cainís works Ė the only ones we have recorded in scripture, are contrasted with Abelís. Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. That sentence alone tells us itís not the murder of Abel that labels Cain as evil. Itís the comparison Ė bringing forth a sacrifice blatantly abhorrent to the Lord.
He knew better. He had received the same instruction as his brother, for he knew the timing, and it doesnít make sense that someone would have taught him the day of the sacrifice and not the proper accepted sacrifice.
It would be years before the law of sacrifice would be penned down and man would learn about blessings in obedience, and being cursed in disobedience. God didnít give us a day by day account of the early life of Cain and Abelí just a few simple sentences in Genesis, that speak volumes to us about obeying God, true sacrifice, the consequences of Adamís sin and depravity, jealousy, strife, murder, blood speaking, and sin having dominion in our lives.
Cain knew better. And usually, although we are slow to admit it, so do we.