The Sacrifice of Cain
It is written,
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
Genesis 4: 3-5
I wish to talk to you about the sacrifice Cain brought to the Lord. I believe that Cain brought the best of what he had to offer to God. He had worked long and hard by the sweat of his brow to produce what he believed would be a pleasing sacrifice to God. Yet when he offered his personal best God did not show respect to his offering like He did to his younger brother Able.
The questions we need to ask of our Lord is,
“Why did God have respect to Abel’s offering while he did not honor Cain’s?”
I believe that the answer lies in the fact that God had made it known to both brothers what manor of offering He wished to receive. By faith, Able believed God and sacrificed the best of his flock while Cain chose to do what was right in his own eyes. Perhaps both brothers did not understand why their Lord required blood to be shed for an offering but by faith Able obeyed doing as God commanded while Cain ignored God’s directions. In the end, what made one offering acceptable and one offering unacceptable was simple obedience.
I believe the root of Cain’s unacceptable sacrifice was rebellion or the desire to do things “his way” rather than simply trusting and obeying the instructions that God had given. Remember, the world was still relatively perfect and they may have never experienced the death of any animal. When God required them to kill in order to make an offering perhaps Cain thought God’s request unreasonable or unkind. Cain may have thought the object of an offering was to just to give your best as a present to God. Perhaps Cain failed to understand the true significance and necessity of shedding blood and of giving life for life. We read further,
“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
Encouraging Cain to do things according to His plan God promised that if he did right his sacrifice would be accepted. However, God also warned that if He continued to go his own way that he would fall prey to sin.
Many Christians are still making the sacrifice of Cain in their lives by doing what they figure will be acceptable to God rather than doing things God’s way. We bring our personal best to God and offer it to Him believing that He will accept what we do simply because we have tried very hard. However we find that God does not answer us as we desire when we fail to obey.
For instance, I was once in love with a beautiful red headed girl and desired to marry her. I was in engineering college at the time when we met and we had planned to finish school, wed, and live a happy life together. However, during my studies God called me to go to Bible College and learn His word. This dismayed my fiancé very much because it made our future together one of uncertainty rather than security. I prayed and prayed and as it were brought the sacrifice of Cain to God promising to do anything else but attend Bible College if he would let me marry her. Unfortunately, God did to respect my offer to do anything “but” what He wanted. I became angry at God because he did not respect my “offering”. The hours I spent in agonizing prayer did not lift the spirit of conviction until I said in my heart, “nevertheless, not my will by thy will be done”. .
By faith, I went to Bible College, lost my girl friend, but eventually gained a wonderful and godly wife who also graduated Bible College with me. The only acceptable offering was “obedience” and when I simply did as I was told God respected what I gave.
The reason that many people find that what they offer to God is not accepted is because they do not offer according to His will. While God has asked them to do one thing they, in their rebellion, seek to offer a substitute. We fool ourselves into thinking that our much effort will cause God to accept our version of what He wants while in reality only what God originally asked for will satisfy Him.
Sometimes whole churches are built upon the sacrifice of Cain doing something they believe is acceptable to God while ignoring what He really wants done. When a church is in rebellion to God it ultimately does much more harm to His people than good and God does not accept the works of their hands.
Moreover we read in the book of Genesis,
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
When people or churches do not repent of the sacrifice of Cain they fall prey to jealousy of those who offer according to God’s pattern. Jealousy leads to hatred and hatred leads to murder. Unwilling to accept that what they have done is not pleasing to God they seek rather to destroy those who are. It is rebellion that opens the door to such intense and ungodly emotions and allows otherwise “nice” people to act like the devil towards their brethren whom they profess to love.
In conclusion, we must seek to know what God wants us to do and then endeavor to do His will faithfully. We must leave off doing those things in our lives which we hope He will allow us to substitute for true obedience. If God has called you to do something that you have, in your rebellion, refused to do nothing else that you offer to God will be acceptable until you decide to simply “do things His way”.