Cain & Abel — Abel’s faith & sacrifice vs. Cain’s jealousy & hatred.
After the sorrow of the Fall yesterday, we move on to see the first consequences of sin. These accounts are simplified so we must not read too much into the detail, but there are important lessons to learn if we will be sensitive to the significance of what is written. This is also where Readings 2 and 3 can help us. Today they are short but important.
Cain grows up to be a gardener and brings “some of his crops” as a “gift to the Lord”, while Abel grows up to be a shepherd and brings “the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock” as his offering. Abel has prioritized God (with the firstborn) while Cain has not. Also Abel’s gift reflects an understanding that the knowledge of good and evil leads to death (Genesis 2:17) so he brings an offering which involves the death of the lamb as a substitute (that is an important precursor of how Jesus will describe His own life and ministry). Cain, by contrast, does not acknowledge that principle.
The account does not tell us how, or why, God accepts one gift and rejects the other, but lest we see God as fickle and moody, we are told how God reaches out to Cain saying: “You will be accepted if you do what is right, but if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Clearly Cain does not heed this advice, but continues to live by his own sinful values. Sin will always make us feel threatened by those God accepts, and unless it is mastered it will lead to more sin.
The last verse of today’s Reading 3 reads: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” (1 John 3:16).
It is only in Jesus that we can live to please God, and only in Jesus is sin subdued. That is our inheritance today if we will receive it. Left to our own motives, we sin, and allow sin to multiply. In Jesus the story changes, and we change too!
Have a great day!