Summary: In continuing our series on Hebrews 11, we come to what happened between Cain and Abel. Today we'll see why Abel made a better sacrifice than Cain did.
IT TAKES FAITH (part two)
INTRODUCTION: In continuing our series on Hebrews 11, we come to what happened between Cain and Abel. Today we'll see why Abel made a better sacrifice than Cain did.
1) It takes faith to make a right sacrifice.
Hebrews 11:4, "By faith Abel offered 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 highlights the fact that Abel's sacrifice was better than his brother's. And because of that, God commended him as a righteous man. We see that his righteousness was preceded by his faith. And we see that the sacrifice he made was out of his faith. So we can conclude that although Abel made a sacrifice unto God by faith, Cain did not. So what happened? How did this story play out? Let's see how Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain did.
Gen. 4:1-5, "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. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."
So we see that Cain made a sacrifice. But then there's a but. But Abel's sacrifice includes the descriptive words, 'fat portions' and 'first-fruits'. These indicate that Abel brought the best he had while Cain did not.
We will be tempted to hold back on God, like Cain did. Abel's faith caused him to think more about his God than his goods. Cain brought a sacrifice of fruits but not the first-fruits. That's the difference. Able brought the best while Cain brought the rest. Able brought the first to the one who was first. Cain brought second-hand fruits to the one who came in second (and you can guess who came in first in Cain's world).
Abel did what was honorable but Cain did not. Prov. 3:9, "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops." Bringing the Lord the best of what we have is honorable. To honor is to respect and admire. There's a saying that goes, "give God what is right; not what is left". Faith enables us to respect, admire and honor the Lord.
In Malachi chapter three, when God told his people they were robbing him he told them to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. They were bringing some but not all. They were making a sacrifice but not a right sacrifice. They, like Cain, brought what they considered to be good enough but yet it wasn't; it was unacceptable to God. it's not enough to bring a sacrifice; it needs to be a right sacrifice-a sacrifice that's driven by our faith. Faith allows me to offer the best of what I have. Faith enables me to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.
2) It takes the right heart to make a right sacrifice.
Making the right sacrifice isn't just about money or material goods; it's talking about ourselves. Rom. 12:1 says we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice; holy and pleasing to God-this is our spiritual act of worship. Able committed his spiritual act of worship; he gave the sacrifice that was holy and pleasing to God. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. So, we don't just give God some of us; we give him all of us.
One school of thought as to why Cain's sacrifice was rejected was that it had less to do with the sacrifice itself and more to do with the heart of the person bringing it. Warren Wiersbe said, “Cain wasn’t rejected because of his offering, but his offering was rejected because of Cain: his heart wasn’t right with God.”
I can see both issue happening here. Cain's offering wasn't accepted because his heart wasn't right. It wasn't a right sacrifice because it wasn't given with a right heart.
2nd Cor. 9:7 says that we should give what we have decided in our heart; not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. Here Paul is challenging the status of our heart. Is the love of the Lord there? Is the faith and trust in the Lord there? Or are we just going through the motions? Are we just giving obligatory offerings?