Summary: Another sermon about people who had a lot to tell but little was written about them. The difference between Cain and Able.

Cain and Able: A shepherd and a farmer




There are numerous names mentioned in the Bible. Some are just names written to show the progress of a generation. Others have a little bit more history and meaning. Then there are the great men. Men we know such as Abraham, David, Paul, Jesus. I believe the Lord used human characters for a reason. In it we see their ups and downs. We see their integrity and we see their failures. But God knew the best way to learn is to learn from experience. And in scripture we see experience. This is what makes the Bible so unique in its writing.

Beginning today and going through the next few months or so, I want to look at some of these Characters. The series is called, Post Cards of People. Enough could be written about these people to fill of a post card. But in each one we learn one of two things, 1) characteristics we should imitate or 2) characteristics we shouldn’t.


Although Adam and Eve had many sons it seems that Cain and Able were the eldest or first born. Some even suggest that they may have been twins. No matter we don’t have to look far to see the sibling rivalry that went on between the two. I don’t believe that the jealously began here with this issue it was something had been building for a long time.

To say the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” would be an understatement in this story. You would think that Adam and Eve learned their lesson with sin and it would be generations from now before sin would be seen again. Oh how important it is that we as parents learn that when we sin we not only affect ourselves but we also affect our children. Sins of the parents on their children.

But as Genesis is the book of firsts, in the firsts brothers we see the first sibling rivalry that turned into the first pre-mediated murder.

God instituted the way in which man was to worship him at that time. Notice it is not given by man but by God and with this man has no right to change it. You know there are some of the things of the church that can change but the things that are God-given the Bible, holiness, prayer, praise, etc. will and should never change. These are God’s.

God instituted a way of worship for Adam and Eve to be taught to their children. And to their credit as parents they did. I would say that at least Cain and Able were giving sacrifices. They were participating. It was not neglected.

Description of story

Some people question the acceptance of the offerings by the Lord. Trying to figure out why the offering of Cain was rejected and the offering of Able was accepted.

The immediate assumption would be the type of offering. Able offered one of his flock while Cain offered from the fruit of the ground. It would seem that God rejected it because it was not a blood sacrifice. Yet as we look into the OT worship system we learn that there were many offerings that God accepted that did not deal with blood. The grain offering mentioned in Leviticus.

The blood is the ultimate sacrifice but God has always made a way in which one could sacrifice to him. It is not about the amount but it is about the attitude in which one gives.

Samuel tried to explain this to Saul when Saul pridefully took the place of the priest and offered the sacrifice. He was worried about what the men thought when he should have worried about what God thought. Samuel said, “ 1 Samuel 15:22 Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

In rebuking Israel for their lack of care for the poor Hosea told them a word from the Lord Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;

No it is not about what the sacrifice is or the amount but it is about the heart that gives it. This is the reason God respected the sacrifice of Able and rejected that of Cain’s.

There is a noticeable difference between the sacrifice of Cain and Able.

1) It was a matter of faith

Whereas Abel’s sacrifice was a sacrifice of faith Cain’s was not.

The Bible says of Abel’s offering that it was “the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof.” Abel’s offering was of the first of the flock but not just of the first but it was of the best of the first. It was the best he had. You could say the best of the best. He knew God and wanted to give him his best. The thing about Abel’s sacrifice was that it was something close to his heart. Able had raise this sacrifice since it was a lamb. He had delivered it and watched it grow. This was something close to his heart yet he still gave it up as a sacrifice.

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