In Genesis 4:4 ESV, God accepted Abel’s offering, and in verse 5, the Bible states that Cain became extremely furious and disheartened. As a consequence, in verse 8, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him while they were in the field. The reason behind God’s preference for Abel’s offering over Cain’s remains unclear. Why did God choose Abel, the younger brother, instead of Cain, the firstborn?
Could it be that God chose Abel’s offering because it included a lamb with its high-quality fat, whereas Cain only presented produce from the land? This notion gives the impression that God is a father who prefers consuming meat and fat and, like most men, disfavors vegetables. What might have been the issue with Cain’s offering?
The act of offering animal sacrifices, particularly lambs, on the altar in the Old Testament, symbolizes the concepts of penance and forgiveness. The book of Leviticus extensively discusses this practice. However, in the New Testament, Hebrews 10:4 and 11 emphasize that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, these sacrifices only provide temporary coverings for sin, leading to their constant repetition, as described in Hebrews 10:1-3. Moreover, animal sacrifices represent the hope for the arrival of the Messiah, who would be the Redeemer of the Hebrews, which for the Christians, is Jesus.
In Genesis 4:4, Abel presented the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering. The Lord accepted his. Abel’s offering indicates that he comprehended the significance of sacrificing blood to attain forgiveness of sins, as mentioned in Hebrews 9:22, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, He recognized that he needed to have his sins covered before he could approach God’s throne and be accepted. Additionally, through his sacrifice, Abel demonstrated his faith in the future arrival of the Promised Messiah, as taught by his parents, Adam and Eve.
So Adam and Eve, as parents, must have shared the story of Genesis 3 with their children (Deuteronomy 6:7), in which they sinned against God in verse 6, resulting in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden and God’s presence in verse 24. However, in verses 8 and 9, God searched for them and in the end ultimately pardoned their sin through the animal sacrifice that He provided. Notice verse 21, God didn’t just give them a new cloth when the animal skin was to be put on Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness, there was more there. The LORD had just sacrificed an animal and its skin was used as a tunic for Adam and Eve. According to Jewish tradition, the animal’s skin was still bleeding when it was placed on Adam and Eve, and its blood touched their skin, signifying that their sins had been forgiven and their nakedness had been covered. Furthermore, through the blood of the sacrifice, God protected them from the counterattack of evil.
It’s possible that when God sacrificed the animal and used its skin as clothing for Adam and Eve, He also spoke about the Messiah who would ultimately fulfill what was merely symbolized by the sacrifice, as mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Later, Adam and Eve probably shared this story with their children as a lesson that they must offer animal sacrifices, like the one that God provided, to reconcile themselves with God, to be accepted. This sacrifice demonstrated their belief in and faith in the coming of the Messiah.
Hebrews 11:4 explains that Abel’s sacrifice was favored by God over Cain’s because by faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. According to Hebrews 11:6, it is impossible without faith to please God. Abel’s actions demonstrated his faith, which aligns with the message of James 2:26, that faith without works is dead. Abel’s offering also suggests that he had obeyed his parents’ teachings from the story of Genesis 3. Therefore, it’s not surprising that God was pleased with Abel’s offering and had regard for him, as stated in Genesis 4:4.
In contrast, Cain’s offering was not accepted by God. And Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time, Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground. Genesis 4:2-3. Cain, being a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. There is nothing inherently wrong with offering the fruits of our labor to God. However, Cain’s offering was not given in obedience to God’s commands, as Abel’s was. Cain should have followed his parents’ teaching and obeyed God’s instructions for approaching Him. As we know from the story in Genesis 3, this involved animal sacrifice. Cain’s refusal to offer an animal sacrifice, like his brother Abel, revealed a stubbornness and a belief that he could come to God on his own terms, rather than obeying God’s prescribed way. If Cain had traded some of his fruit for Abel’s lamb and offered an animal sacrifice as God had instructed, he would have shown that he had faith in God and His ways.
There are some who believe that Jesus is not the sole path to God the Father in Heaven, contrary to what John 14:6 states. People often use the adage “all roads lead to Rome” to support this idea. However, imagine if someone were to enter our home without using the front door, which is the proper entrance. For example, they might enter through a window or break through a wall or the roof. Would we welcome them as guests or consider them to be intruders and thieves? Similarly, why do we expect God to accept us into His home in Heaven if we refuse to enter through the proper door, which is Jesus, as stated in John 10:9? Heaven may be intended for humans, but just like Cain, we shouldn’t force our way in without going through the Door. We should avoid being seen as thieves by the Owner of the House by using the Door to enter.
God accepted Abel’s offering of a sacrificial lamb, which demonstrated his faith and obedience. Cain, on the other hand, arrogantly attempted to gain acceptance by his own means and without following God’s instructions. This prideful attitude represents our own disobedience towards God and His Word. As a result of his actions, Cain was expelled from God’s presence and serves as an example of the consequences of disobedience. Despite being the firstborn and entitled to a double portion of the inheritance, Cain’s disobedience cost him his place in God’s presence, as described in Genesis 4:11.
However, the account of Cain and Abel goes beyond a mere competition of their offerings. Rather, it is a tale of the first recorded murder in the Bible, where Cain kills his own brother out of jealousy and rivalry. This sibling feud serves as a classic example of enmity that dates back to the first family in the Bible. Interestingly, according to Jewish traditions, both Cain and Abel were at fault in their story. While various interpretations exist among Jewish Rabbis, some even blame Abel as much as Cain.
According to some interpretations, when Cain took Abel into the field, they argued over the ownership of the land, and in a fit of emotions, Cain ended up killing Abel. It was a feud over a property. Another interpretation suggests that Abel had a female twin when he was born, and Cain believed he was entitled to marry Abel’s twin because he was the eldest son. However, Abel insisted on not letting go of his twin and believed that he was more entitled to marry her since they were born together.
At the conclusion of the conflict, for reasons that may vary, Adam and Eve, their parents, urged them to bring their dispute before God for judgment. This is why they both offered sacrifices to God in Genesis 4. However, Cain was in trouble as God favored Abel and his offering, which infuriated Cain and led him to kill his brother.
Despite the varying interpretations of the story, the rabbis themselves were uncertain about which interpretation was correct., the fact remains that Cain killed Abel. Ultimately, the Bible presents Cain as a bad brother who failed to fulfill his duty as the eldest sibling and take care of his younger brother, demonstrating the terrible reality of sibling rivalry. The sin of disobedience that began with the eating of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3 quickly escalated to murder in this family drama. It serves as the first example of such a heinous act in human history.
Think about the quote below from the link above.
The Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” and he said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper? (ha-shomer achi anokhi?)” (Genesis 4:9-10) A parable: To what is this similar? To a thief who stole things in the night and was not caught. In the morning the gatekeeper caught him. He said to the thief, “Why did you steal those things?” He said, “I am a thief and I didn’t let down my profession, but you, your profession is to guard the gate, why did you let down your profession? And now you ask me this?” And this is what Cain said (to God): “I killed him [because] you created in me the evil inclination. But You — You are the keeper (haShomer) of all things, why did you allow me to kill him? You are the one who killed him — You who are called I (Anokhi), for if you had accepted my sacrifice as you did his, I wouldn’t have been jealous of him!” (Tanhuma Bereishit). Here, the biblical retort in which Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” has been turned on its head. The word in the text is Anokhi, a somewhat uncommon form of the word meaning ‘I,’ which is, strikingly, also used at the beginning of the 10 commandments, as in, “I am the Lord your God….” The rabbis understand Cain’s use of the word ‘Anokhi’ here not as first person singular, but as another name of God. “Isn’t Anokhi (God) the guardian of my brother?” he retorts in response to God’s question, thereby proving, as it were: “It is God (and not I, Cain) who had the task of watching over my brother Abel, and therefore God who failed him.” Superficially, it sounds like the last-ditch retort of a condemned man, but Cain’s response is actually quite ingenious. The world has scarcely begun, and the first human-on-human attack has just taken place, but does Cain accept the blame for this crime? Not only does he liken God to a guard (a shomer) who failed his duties, but he also reminds God that since God created the inclination to commit evil, then God is ultimately responsible!
Is that so? Didn’t God actually warn Cain in verses 6-7, why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
God’s warning to Cain serves as evidence that his heart had become disloyal and turned towards evil.
James 1:12-16 said, blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
Proverbs 4:23, keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Yes, regardless of our own situation and circumstances, WE ALONE must guard our hearts! We are solely responsible for guarding our own hearts, not God. It is our duty to do so, as it is easy for us to turn toward evil. We must acknowledge that our hearts are evil, very deceitful.
Jeremiah 17:9-10, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Do we continue to hold God responsible? Perhaps we would even argue that it is His fault for creating individuals like ourselves! The issue at hand is that, no matter how valid our accusations may be, He remains God and we remain human. Is it possible for us to contend against Him and emerge victorious?
Lamentation 3:39-40, Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
1 John 1:8-10, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2 Chronicles 7:14, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.