Just received this from my friend Paul…
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:2-5
Why did the Lord look with favor on Abel’s sacrifice but not on Cain’s? Both were appropriate sacrifices since Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. They both gave of the fruit of their hands. Later God would seek sacrifices of both flocks and grain. So why did God like Abel’s sacrifice?
Could it be that Abel’s sacrifice involved blood that would point us to Jesus? We know nothing of why they would sacrifice or if God had spoken to them before this regarding their sacrifice. Without a previous precedent, they would have no way of knowing what would be “better” so they both gave their best. Consequently, I have trouble blaming Cain for giving a fruit offering.
Herschel is an attorney (…and a friend of mine). He helped me to look at this from a different perspective. Perhaps I am putting too much emphasis on the material sacrifice. Look closer at the ones making the sacrifice. Does the one making the sacrifice have any bearing on the sacrifice? I think that is a key point.
“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.”
If God is not pleased with the action, what was it that made Abel’s sacrifice more favorable to God? Herschel brought me back to Hebrews 11:
4 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.
Could it be that it was Abel’s faith that made the difference? We may offer a great sacrifice that is laudable to all who see, but isn’t it faith that actually makes the sacrifice worthwhile?
Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.