Summary: Abel’s example challenges us to live our Christian lives by faith
Shiloh Bible Church
Faith’s Hall of Fame: Abel
Cooperstown, NY. Those of you who are baseball fans know that it is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ten years ago, back in July of 1998, my son Joel and I visited Cooperstown. We had tickets to the Hall of Fame game at Doubleday Field. The Baltimore Orioles played the Toronto Blue Jays and beat them 7 to 1 in an exhibition game. The Orioles are my son’s favorite team so it was a special treat to see them play. Before the game, we visited the Hall of Fame. We had a great time looking at all the exhibits. The Hall of Fame includes …
· 35,000 bats, balls, uniforms, and gloves
· 130,000 baseball cards
· 500,000 photographs
At the Hall of Fame, you can view such treasures as …
· Jackie Robinson’s 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers jersey
· The bat Babe Ruth used to hit his record setting 60th home run back in 1927
· The most valuable baseball card in the world—the T206 Honus Wagner card—worth 2.8 million dollars
By the way, if you come across some old baseball cards in a trunk in your attic, you might want to find out what they’re worth before you sell them at a yard sale for 50 cents!
Well, the Hall of Fame contains many baseball treasures. But the centerpiece of the museum is a room called The Plaque Gallery. There the plaques of all 278 members of the Hall of Fame line the oak walls—including such Yankee greats at Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle.
In Hebrews chapter 11, we walk into a gallery. But it’s not lined with the plaques of baseball’s greats. Rather, it’s lined with the plaques of Old Testament greats—men and women of faith.
In Cooperstown, we have Baseball’s Hall of Fame. In Hebrews 11, we have Faith’s Hall of Fame. And the first plaque that we come to bears the name of an Old Testament All-Star—a man by the name of Abel.
His plaque is engraved with these words in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”
The writer of Hebrews is referring here to an event that transpired in the early history of man. Let’s refresh our memories this morning by reading the original story. Keep one finger here in Hebrews 11 and turn back to the first book of the Bible—Genesis chapter 4.
Genesis chapter 4 tells the story of …
1. THE SACRIFICE OF ABEL
Genesis 1 records God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. Chapter 2 records God’s creation of man. And then chapter 3 records man’s sin and the terrible consequences that followed that act of rebellion against God.
And so in Genesis 4:1 we read: “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’ Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 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 firstborn 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.”
Now, if you’re like me, when you read this story, the question that immediately comes to mind is: “Why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?”
Well, there are 3 possibilities. The first has to do with the …
· Type of Offering
Abel brought what God commanded; Cain did not.
You’ll remember that after Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes were opened and they were ashamed of their nakedness. So they wore fig leaves to cover themselves. God confronted our first parents and delineated to them the consequences for their disobedience. But He also gave them the promise of One who would come and defeat the serpent, Satan. And so God says to Satan in 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
And then God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins. We read in 3:21: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
Now, some Bible teachers think that God did this to illustrate a principle—that an animal had to die in order for them to stand in God’s presence. Adam and Eve would have then communicated this principle to their children—that the way to approach God is through an animal sacrifice. And that’s why Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable, but Cain’s bloodless offering was not.