Learning from the Lives of Cain and Abel

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Genesis 4-5

We don’t really know exactly why God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s, but I think Hebrews 11:4 gives us some insight.

"By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks." - Hebrews 11:4 ESV

Oftentimes, we want to do what seems right to us, rather than doing what God has said. We think, “What’s wrong with eating the fruit of that tree? It looks fine to me.” Or we think, “Why can’t I give God this fruit, I am a farmer after all?”

Yet, faith trusts God. Faith trusts that what God has said is right. Faith believes that God is good and all-knowing and that all His ways are right.

And like Hebrews 11:6 (explaining more about Abel and other men and women of faith) says,

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:6

Who are we seeking? Whose reward do we desire? Who are we trying to please? Are we pursuing our own pleasure and comfort or are we pursuing the Lord?

It’s like the words of Christ that we read in John – “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:25-26 ESV

We must not expect that when you’re living for the Lord that the world will love you. In fact, Abel’s life is an example for us. Like John wrote in 1 John 3:12-13 ESV — “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear." - Genesis 4:13 ESV

Were you taken aback when you read this? I was. When I first read this, I thought, “No, Cain, your punishment is much too light. You killed your brother. You deserve to be killed.” (In fact, Genesis 9:6 says just that.)

But as I’ve pondered it more, I see the foreshadowing of Christ bearing our sins, from the largest to the smallest. Cain deserved death for his sin, and though I’ve never murdered anyone physically, I deserve death for my sins, too. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23 ESV

Yet I couldn’t bear the punishment for my sins any more than Cain or anyone else could.

But Christ bore our punishment in our place, that we can be justly forgiven by a just judge.

"[Jesus] committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:22-24 ESV

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father,

We come to You with hearts of thanksgiving for Your grace that You have lavished on us. We confess the hateful thoughts that we have had in our hearts toward men and women created in your image. We confess that we have often been jealous of others – The relationships they have, the talents they have, the possessions they have, even the faith they have. We confess we have often gone our own way rather than trusting Your character and Your Word.

We thank You for Jesus Christ the only perfect sin substitute, the Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of the world, including me.

We humbly ask You to forgive us and cleanse us through the blood of Christ that was shed for us.

Please, Heavenly Father, give us the strength and wisdom that we need to live like Christ – not repaying wrong with wrong, not repaying reviling with reviling, but overcoming evil with good. Help us to entrust ourselves to You, the only one who judges justly. We pray that our lights would shine brightly – even when the world is yelling at us to turn our lights out. May we shine brightly for You.

In the holy and merciful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

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