Summary: Cain and Abel’s story demonstrates the power of offerings to reveal relationships and invite or reject God’s greatest blessings.
(Thanks to Dr. Roger Thomas for ideas for this lesson from his sermon on Genesis 4: "I Did it My Way")
We began a series on offerings, sacrifices and God’s blessings last week. This morning we will look at the first offerings mentioned in scripture and how things turned out with that. Genesis 4 tells us the story of Cain and Abel, the first children of Adam and Eve.
Speaking of Cain and Abel, there will be a parenting class starting the first Sunday morning in March (Lord willing). Earl Turner is heading that up and the class will be viewing and discussing the Chip Ingram video series and other helpful biblical materials on parenting.
Too bad Adam and Eve didn’t take your class, Earl. Things might have come out better for Cain.
As we begin today’s lesson let’s set things up first. As you recall, Philippians 4 concludes with Paul thanking the church at Philippi for a gift they sent to help him. Paul calls their gift a fragrant offering and an acceptable sacrifice well pleasing to God. Then Paul tells them, “My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” We studied several scriptures about that last week. Offerings and sacrifices involve a giving and receiving expression of worship with God. We actually come into God’s presence and share with Him when we worship by giving offerings. Pleasing God and receiving a blessing from God as we offer gifts to Him is, as you know, still a present Christian act of worship. It’s roots go back to the beginning. What happens when we don’t take this seriously? What happens when we are halfhearted about our offerings? What other matters of our lives are influenced here? Today, let’s go back to the first time we read about offerings in our Bibles.
Let’s go back to the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.
One of the problems with this story is that it can be too familiar. We know it so well we just scan through it as we begin trying to read through the Bible. Today, I want to ask you to slow down and look at this chapter of God’s word carefully. Listen and think about all the relationships. Ask yourself, “What does my offering reveal about my relationship with God and others?”
(Read Genesis 4:1-17)
How many of you recognize these words?
“And now, the end is here And so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full I traveled each and ev’ry highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” Those are the first words in Frank Sinatra’s 1968 song. They logically lead to the last lines:
“For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels... The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! Yes, it was my way!”
Those words describe Cain’s life pretty well. Instead of following God’s way, Cain did things his own way. “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels... The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! Yes, it was my way!”
Notice that after Cain leaves the presence of God there is no more mention of any of his offspring ever bringing an offering to God again. They are all doing things their own way. Like the repeated phrase in the book of Judges: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
One of the powerful things about the worship of offerings is that it makes us evaluate our faith and love for God like nothing else we do in worship.
The first 79 words of Genesis 4 rush us along from Adam and Eve as single parents to their first two sons, their occupations and their coming to worship God with offerings. How many years and events are skipped over in those handful of words? Cain seems to already be married, Abel also appears to be grown and occupied with shepherding flocks. There are other sons and daughters of Adam and Eve who also are old enough to be a threat to Cain for killing his brother. None are mentioned by name.
Cain and Abel come to worship God with an offering. How did they know what to do? Probably Adam and Eve taught them. We don’t know, but that makes the most sense to me. Are you teaching your children about the importance of offerings? Are you instructing them in the will of God so that they can come with acceptable and pleasing offerings as they worship God? Do you tell them how offerings are not optional in our worship? What happens when we decide to worship doing it my way instead of God’s way?