Summary: An acceptible sacrifice to God is faith that issues in obedience.
1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.” 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
A great deal transpires in the first two verses of Genesis 4 that is not specified for us.
Adam has relations with his wife, she has Cain, then she has Abel, and Cain is a grower of produce and Abel is a shepherd. That’s what we’re told there and nothing more.
So we’re taken from Adam and Eve freshly evicted from the Garden of Eden, to having two grown sons with their own businesses, all in two verses.
This makes me wonder at some of the speculations we hear now and then that try to provide some sort of psychological evaluation of the central characters of the Bible.
It seems that type of public speaking has been popular in recent years, where the speaker decides to be a profiler, as though he is a trained psychologist working for the FBI or something, and based on the sketchy information given us in scripture he wows his audience with speculations about a doting father and a scheming mother and so forth.
“Well you see, Cain, being the firstborn, had a lot of responsibility put on his shoulders and he also proved to be a disappointment to his mother. You see, she thought he was going to be the one promised by God in Genesis 3:15 and when that didn’t seem to be the case she began to pay less attention to him. So when Abel came around Cain resented his little brother, who was doted on by Adam and given pet sheep at an early age, so Cain held this underlying grudge and it turned him into a bitter, rebellious soul whose resentments roiled and festered until in a burst of anger he killed his brother in the field.”
Of course they would tie all that in with some supposedly connected reason why he offered an unacceptable sacrifice and so on, and if the listener is not careful he’ll leave the place feeling like he has really been given some insight into the psyche of this dysfunctional family and will have missed the point of scripture altogether.
Listen. Eve gave birth to a boy and named him Cain. At some later point she gave birth to a son and named him Abel. Cain was a grower of crops and Abel was a herder of sheep. That’s all we’re told. Don’t read into it what isn’t there and don’t listen to the crackpots that need to give it a T.V. miniseries type of spin in order to sound like they have anything to say.