DEAR FATHER PAUL: The story of Cain and Abel is told in the Bible in Genesis, Chapter 4. Both were sons of Adam and Eve. They brought offerings from their labor to God. Cain brought vegetable products and Abel brought animal products. In the story God accepts Abel’s offering but rejects Cain’s. Cain becomes jealous and angry then murders Abel. My question: why did God accept Abel’s offering but not Cain’s since both offerings were from God’s own creation? Randy
DEAR RANDY: Thank you for your question. Many of us first learned the story of Cain and Abel as children in Sunday School. It’s an interesting and exciting story that has appealed to people for centuries Their short story has drama, anger, jealousy, intrigue, betrayal, violence, murder, punishment etc. Lots of today’s movies and TV shows aren’t nearly as entertaining or filled with such profound meaning.
I have heard a number of preachers over the years answer your question with the notion that God places a higher value on animals than plants, thus he rejected the crop offering of Cain (possibly grain or fruit) in favor of Abel’s offering of one or more animals. This notion sounds logical except that the Bible clearly teaches that God loves and values ALL of his creation … both plants AND animals! Besides, God himself later established the “Grain Offering” with detailed instructions for its preparation and presentation in the Tabernacle in the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 2. No, there is another reason, a very important and profound reason, even for us in 2019, why God rejected Cain’s offering yet accepted Abel’s. Our answer is found right there in the original story itself in Genesis 4.
But before we go there let me remind you of one of the Kingdom of God’s major spiritual principles that applies here. It’s found throughout the Bible in many places. It’s just this, God looks inside a person, at their heart, not just at their outward words and deeds. I Samuel 16:7 (New International Version) says this “ … The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So what was the condition of Cain’s heart as opposed to Abel? Again, lets drill down a little deeper in our story in Genesis 4 and ask ourselves not WHAT was given, but WHEN AND HOW it was given, for therein lies our answer.
In Genesis 4:3-5 (New International Version) the Bible says, “IN THE COURSE OF TIME Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions FROM SOME OF THE FIRST BORN of his flock. 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.” He later murders Abel.
Again, the difference in the two brothers was their hearts. Cain’s offering was not accompanied by faith, everything was all about him. The scripture says Cain waited until he was sure that there would be enough of his crop for himself (“IN THE COURSE OF TIME” it says) … THEN and only then, did Cain bring his offering to the Lord. No faith was involved on Cain’s part. Enough “time” had passed that his crop was now sure and certain. His crop was most likely already in the barn. He probably thought to himself, “I’ve now got plenty for myself, I’ll take a little to the Lord as an offering.”
Abel, on the other hand, gave his offering in faith. He gave first … “FAT (big) PORTIONS FROM SOME OF THE FIRST BORN OF HIS FLOCK.” Basically Able gave abundantly and WITHOUT KNOWING FOR SURE THAT THERE WOULD BE ANYTHING AT ALL COMING LATER FOR HIM … that any more animals would even be born!
Cain’s offering did not please God because it simply was not made in faith. Abel’s offering DID please God because it WAS made in faith.
So how important is faith to God? You decide. Hebrews 11: 6 (King James Version) says this, “Without Faith It Is Impossible To Please God.”
Are you an Abel or a Cain? Does your love for and your faith in God come first like Abel … or do YOU come first like Cain?
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is Canon to the Bishop of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church’s Mid-South Diocese and is assigned to Christ The King Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia. He is a volunteer Chaplain with the Peachtree City, Georgia Police Department.