Summary: Offerings follow the character of the worshipper. God looks not into the hands of a man but the heart of a man. We can't satisfy God by our mere offerings but by the broken heart and humble spirit. God is after a man or woman who is living with love and devotion to God and fellow human.
This year we are going to meditate under the Theme: “A cloud of Witnesses”(Hebrews 12:1). We will be thinking numerous personalities of the Bible from the perspectives of Faith journey. This Sunday we have two personalities before us to learn. They are first brothers on the earth, representative of good and evil. They are Cain and Abel. Cain was a tiller of the field whereas Abel was a keeper of the Sheep. Both were occupied, both were earning, both were sincere on their duties. Both were working personalities. Both were excelling and experts on their God-given jobs (Genesis 4:2). Both were born to the same parents. Both were taught by the same mother, nourished by same father.
In the course of the times, means on the day of worship, i.e., on Sabbath day. Cain initiated the worship. He brought an offering to the Lord. Abel also joined in the worship, he brought the firstlings from his flock. Both brought offerings from their respective fields of work, according to their vocation and availability. The author of the Epistle of the Hebrews puts these beautiful lines: By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice(better sacrifice, pleasing sacrifice) than his own brother Cain. This act made him as righteous and God approved his sacrifice. He still speaks after death (Hebrews 11:4). Abel brought the fat portions God accepted Abel and his offerings but Cain and his offering were rejected. So Cain killed Abel.
Cain means a possession, a spear, an acquisition or gaining. Eve named her first born as Cain because she acquired from God. The story of Abel and Cain is found in Sura al-Maa’ida (5:27-31). Islam calls them as Qabil and Habil. Quran teaches that Abel brought the best and Cain brought the rotten and spoiled vegetables. Bible does not teach us that understanding. He was "a sullen, self-willed, haughty, vindictive man; wanting the religious element in his character, and defiant(rebellious) even in his attitude towards God."
Woe to them! if they take the way of Cain (Jude 11). Way of Cain consists of hatred, enmity, anger, unaccountability and non-reliable and not trustworthy. He was Condemned by Yahweh, he became "a fugitive and a wanderer over the earth" (Genesis 4:14). According to the book of Jubilees “Cain died at the age 730 years, he murdered his brother with a stone and he was killed by stones by the collapse of his house”.
1 John 3:12 expresses that we shouldn’t be like Cain because he was an evil one and murdered his brother. It's only after we stepped outside of our comfort zone then we begin to change, grow, and transform (by Roy T Bennett, Author: The light in the Heart).
Abel (Heb: Hebel) means vapour, breadth, what ascends, grassy place or meadows. There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Jesus refers to him as "righteous" ( Mathew 23:35). The blood of Christ calling for mercy and the blood of the murdered Abel calling for vengeance. "The blood of sprinkling" is said to speak "better things than that of Abel"(Hebrews 12:24) because Christ offers forgiveness and eternal life whereas Abel prayed for justice and vindictive(Genesis 4:10).
3 BETTER SACRIFICE
Rabbi Maller: “We are not told why God favored Able and not Cain and it isn’t important. Throughout life we will have to deal with failure and rejection. Cain deals with rejection by scapegoating and killing his rival. Cain takes his rejection as a personal insult. Cain should try another offering, or another time, or another way.
Our moral learned response makes us into the Image of God. God sometimes doesn’t favor us in order to challenge us to grow stronger in taming our wild infantile urges. Our urges which are against the Holy Spirit must be tamed, controlled, disciplined and directed by our morally educated will to do good.
Religions are human responses to our awareness of the Divine but our particular forms of worship are not as important as our responses to other human beings. To be jealous of another person’s religious worship is a great sin that leads to even worse sins. The only way religions should compete is through seeing which religion produces the highest percentage of people who in their everyday life are kind, responsible, loving, and charitable to all human beings”.
So offering was not the problem but their attitudes(Genesis 4:5). “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely”(by Roy T Bennett, Author: The light in the Heart).
a. Loving Sacrifice:
Deuteronomy 6:5 calls us to Love the Lord YHWH with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. God is concerned about our mind, thought and attitude than the amount and kinds of sacrifices we make. Giving to the needy must be in secret (Mathew 5:3-5).