Genesis 4:1-5 (NKJV)
4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”
2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.
4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,
5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
Both had different vocation. One was a herder. The other tilled the soil. They had one thing in common. They loved and cared for each other. Their father, Adam, and mother, Eve had thought them the importance of caring. They knew their role and adequately met the demands of it each day.
“Can you believe it! Today we get to offer our sacrifices to God! To receive His blessing.”
Their eyes glowed with anticipation. Their bodies could not contain their excitement.
Adam had prepared them for this day. They were taught what must be done. Over the years, he repeatedly told them how he received instructions from God about the preparation of the altar, the item to be sacrificed. How to meticulously perform the sacrifice. Adam never overlooked any detail. He was careful to do it according to the instructions he was given.
Today Cain had a surprise up his sleeve. He was going to show them that things could be done differently. He knew the reason for the strict rules. It was an offering of thanksgiving unto God: for redeeming them; for the promise of Adam’s seed that was to provide restoration for humankind. But surely there must be another way to get things done without following the same old dull routines.
Cain went into his field and chose from among the best of his ground provisions. He gently cleaned them. No dirt could be on them. Neither any spot or blemish. The various items he selected presented a rainbow of colours. The succulent fruits and vegetables made his mouth water. It was pleasing to his eyes. His heart warmed.
“Surely this will be pleasing to God,” He thought.
Adam cautioned him to do things as he was told.
“Father, it is time to do things differently. We are a new generation. Let me show you how it must be done. The I AM will be pleased with my offering. He will bless me and thank me for improving the original design.”
Abel was skeptical. He feared for his brother. “Please follow the set instructions. You have waited so long for this. Please let us get it right.” Cain only ignored him. His heart was set on what he wanted to do.
It was now time to make preparations for the offering. The stones were arranged. They were meticulously cleaned, as Adam had instructed. The altar was ready. It were cleared to proceed with the sacrifice.
Abel sacrificed a young unblemished lamb and it’s fat on the altar. While, Cain made an elaborate arrangement of the items from his ground. They glistened in the sun. Both offered prayers of thanks for all that was given to them, for being cleansed of sin. They earnestly asked God to accept their sacrifice.
Within seconds fire descended from heaven. It’s radiance lit up the sky even brighter than the sun. It traveled with lightning speed to the sacrifices. Adam’s eyes widened. He was overcome with emotions. He know what had transpired. There was only one fire. Before the brothers could contemplate what was happening Abel’s sacrifice was lit.
God had indicated his acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice.
Cain was shocked. How could this be? He had put so much effort into the preparation. He had done a thorough job of selecting only the best of his ground produce.
“This is favoritism. I am the firstborn. Yet God favors him over me. My sacrifice was fitting. Mom and Dad and my other siblings love him more than I. Everyone does. I will get even.”
From that moment Cain became jealous of his brother Abel. It hid in his heart. They laughed, played together and chatted but inwardly the jealousy grew. Soon jealously had another friend into its space: hatred and resentment. Cain skillfully masked them. He lied about his feelings. “I do not feel like playing right now” He begun excusing himself.
God saw the unfortunate change that was happening with his son. He warned him. Cain did not listen. Another resident had taken control of his heart: rebellion. He was now determined to take revenge on his brother. Never again will he show him up.
The Price of Disobedience
We know that Cain killed his brother and subsequently paid a terrible price for this act. If we carefully examine the story we will see that when Cain’s downfall started. From the moment he decided to offer whatever he wanted to God. It gave the spirit of rebellion permission to operate through him. It encouraged him to flout God’s requirement.
How often do we act the same. We do things our way and expect God to accept it? Many believers attend church and are righteous in the presence of their fellow believers but at home do not have time for God. Some hold steadfast to the doctrines of man and are swift to declare that they belong to a particular denomination. Worse, they will tell you, you are condemned because you are not of their denomination. Some will quickly tell you about the great architecture of the church, the great oratorical sermons, and the founders that established the teachings. Some will easily recite the rules, principles and guidelines of the denomination but sadly do not take time to become acquainted with the One to whom worship is given.
At the end of the ages will all the good work we do count, if there is no relationship with Jesus Christ or operate with an unbelieving heart? What does He ask of you? Are you giving your all to please Him? Is a Cain sacrifice being made?
Photo credit: Sacrifice of Cain and Abel LACMA 54.12.10, Francesco Allegrini (Italy, 1597-1663)