Bible verse and the Spirit of Prophecy insight
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
4 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:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 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.
Abel was determined to worship God according to the directions God had given. This displeased Cain. He thought that his own plans were best, and that the Lord would come to his terms. Cain in his offering did not acknowledge his dependence upon Christ. He thought that his father Adam had been treated harshly in being expelled from Eden. The idea of keeping that sin ever before the mind, and offering the blood of the slain lamb as a confession of entire dependence upon a power outside of himself, was torture to the high spirit of Cain. Being the eldest, he thought that Abel should follow his example. When Abel’s offering was accepted of God, the holy fire consuming the sacrifice, Cain’s anger was exceedingly great. The Lord condescended to explain matters to him; but he would not be reconciled to God, and he hated Abel because God showed him favor. He became so angry that he slew his brother.Ellen G. White – Pamphlet 154 p.20.1
Present day application
Many who read about the offering of Cain and Abel for the first time get overwhelmed with some sort of sympathy for Cain. After all, since he was a ‘tiller of the ground‘ and he brought the best of his harvest, why would God not accept his offering? I must admit that at a first glance, it appears that God has been too harsh to Cain. Furthermore, why does God warn Cain that he is not far from yielding to sin? Is what we sacrifice really so important to God? Does it not suffice that we give of our best to him? If you have just started to read the Bible for the first time, and you struggle to understand this passage, then this post is for you.
Much has been written on this topic, as it is usually one of the first hurdles for the first time Bible readers. Sadly, some get so crossed with God that they stop reading it at that point. Personally, I have struggled with it for quite some time. It appeared to me that Cain was punished for being a gardener, as opposite to Abel being a keeper of the flock. There are two main points to which we have to turn our attention to if we want to understand why things turned so sour between Cain and Abel.
Firstly, Cain did not follow the example that God himself gave his parents right after they have sinned. The aprons which God provided for Adam and Eve were made from an animal’s skin. This implied that blood has been shed to cover their shame. An innocent creature had to die as a consequence of their transgression of God’s command. This was God’s way of showing them how deadly are the consequences of disobeying His laws. It was also a show of God’s love towards them, as it pointed to His own Son’s sacrifice for our sins.
Secondly, have you ever asked yourself why Abel decided to be a ‘keeper of the flock’? Why not a gardener like his brother Cain? Is there something wrong about being a vegetarian? And this is where many get surprised: Abel was a vegetarian too! How do I know this? Because animal flesh has not been on human’s menu in those days. It was only after the flood that God permitted the consumption of animals. It begs a question though: why was Abel a shepherd? There can be only two reasons. The primary one is that he understood and followed the model of sacrifice as presented by God to his parents. Whilst the secondary, a more practical one, is that we had a very first division of labour happening there. Cain provided for his family in the form of food, while Abel focused on the clothing business (aprons made from an animal’s skin).
There have been Cains and Abels ever since, and there will be until the very end. Cain underestimates the destructive nature of disobeying God’s commands. He believes he can please God by doing his best. Abel follows the divine instructions and sacrifices the best of his flock, even though killing an innocent animal which he himself has raised must have been hard. We need to understand that this is about our attitude towards sin, God, and His son Jesus. Sin is deadly, even though sometimes we cannot see its consequences straight away. But God, who knows the beginning from the end, knew how the sin problem will grow. Just look at the world today… the result of Adam and Eve disobeying one simple command is catastrophic.
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