“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:4 (Read Genesis 4)
Both Cain and Abel offered gifts to the LORD God, Abel from his flocks and herds, and Cain from the fruits of the ground. Why was it that God accepted Abel and his sacrifice but rejected Cain?
Hebrews 11:4 tells us the answer: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
Abel offered his sacrifice in faith. He trusted in the LORD God to accept him and his sacrifice for the sake of the promised Seed of the woman, that promised Messiah and Savior who would redeem him and all mankind from sin and the just condemnation of God’s law.
Cain, on the other hand, though he too offered up a sacrifice to the LORD, did not offer it up in the confidence of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Rather, he went through the outward motions of serving his Maker, but his heart was far from the LORD (cf. Matt. 15:8; Isa. 29:13). Cain’s works are described as evil in 1 John 3:12 and Jude 11. Even though he brought an offering to the LORD, he was not walking with the LORD by faith; and his gift was unacceptable since the LORD looks upon the heart.
Of course, when we read Genesis 4, we learn not only that Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable, but that he hated his brother Abel and killed him because Abel was counted righteous. Those who do not follow after the LORD continue to this day to hate those who walk by faith in the LORD because the witness of the righteous pricks the guilt-ridden consciences of those who go their own way.
Does this mean that Abel was of himself without sin? Not at all! Rather he was counted righteous in God’s eyes through faith in God’s promise to send a Savior to bear his punishment and redeem him from sin’s condemnation (Cf. Gen. 3:15). The lambs sacrificed pointed ahead to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29).
What about you? Do you walk with the LORD God by faith in His Son as did Abel, trusting that God accepts and forgives you for the sake of that Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world? Or do you walk as Cain walked, serving the Lord outwardly with gifts and lip-service while inwardly you are far from the Lord and going another way?
Dear Lord Jesus, Lamb of God who has atoned for my sin and the sin of the whole world by Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgive me, cleanse me and lead me. By Your Spirit, move me to walk with You by faith unto life everlasting. Amen.
[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]