By Gail Peo
Do you remember the curse placed on the serpent in Lesson 5?
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”Gen. 3:15
In Lesson 6, we see that partially played out. Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve was a tiller of the ground, a farmer. Abel, the second-born son was a keeper of flocks, a shepherd. Cain brought “some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord; Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flocks. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” Gen. 4:3-4
Before you throw insults at Cain, don’t you wonder why Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s was not? Was it because Cain’s offering involved no blood? The Law hadn’t been given in Cain and Abel’s day. But later it was revealed that blood was required for forgiveness of sin. Hebrews 9:22 reads “. . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Was God looking forward to that later revelation when he rejected Cain’s offering? I don’t think so.
In the Old Testament, God instituted multiple offerings that involved no blood. See Exodus 23:14-19 for a description of three of them. The first difference between Cain and Abel’s offerings is that Abel brought the first and the fat portions–the best of his flocks. There is no mention of Cain’s offering being of his first fruits or his best fruits. In Exodus 23:19 God gave the Law through Moses, saying: “Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
Was God looking forward to that later revelation when he rejected Cain’s offering? I don’t know. Jen Wilken likes for us to be comfortable in the unknown, so I am right on track. I will say that bringing the first fruits back to God reflects an attitude of gratitude for what God has already provided, trusting him to continue to provide for the rest of the season. Giving the best portions back to God shows respect and honor for his position in our lives.
Cain’s response to God’s rejection gives us more insight into why his offering was rejected. “Cain was very angry. . . . Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6-7.
The question is, what did Cain do wrong? In order to find acceptance with God, Cain was told to master his anger. He was up against a formidable foe: sin, who wanted to master Cain. Recognizing the strength and source of his opposition should have made him alert and caused him to run to the Lord. Instead, he settled his plan to get rid of his brother.
1 John 3:12 says, “Why did he (Cain) murder him (Abel)? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” Cain was jealous of his brother, not thankful for God’s provisions. Jealousy then led him to murder. I am stunned by Cain’s violent action against his brother. But should I be?
In Matthew 5:21-22, we read, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, Raca (empty-head; you idiot! my translation) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Clearly, God sees anger and jealousy toward others as murder in our heart.
We need to guard our hearts against sin. The seed of the serpent is at work against us. Its desire is to master us. But God desires for us to master it, recognize the strength of our opponent, and flee from him. When we run to our heavenly Father, he’ll give us the strength to overcome temptation and perfect love to overcome our insecurities and jealousies.
Cain was not the seed of woman who would crush the serpent’s head. God would send someone else.
“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”Hebrews 11:4
Even though Abel is dead, his faith still speaks to us today.