A Rejected Sacrifice

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:5 KJV).

We are some 6,000 years removed from today’s Scripture, and yet it teaches us a valuable lesson of eternal worth….

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” (Hebrews 11:4). The LORD gave Cain and his brother Abel clear instructions. Only Abel did what God said because only he believed what God said. Abel, a shepherd (Genesis 4:2), “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (verse 4a). Cain, a farmer (verse 2), “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” (verse 3).

Notice what Abel brought—a sheep, a blood sacrifice, and its fat, which is what God said to do. Observe what Cain brought—something he grew. Cain had probably slaved away watering that crop, weeding that patch of ground, and so on. Cain brought the very “best” he could bring—it was the work of his own hands. He rationalized, “Surely, God will accept this fruit of the ground. He knows I put so much effort into it. How can He say no?”

When Cain saw the fire of God come down from heaven and consume his brother’s sacrifice, and yet nothing happened to his sacrifice, today’s Scripture tells us that Cain grew very upset. “How dare You, God! It was my very best, and You do not want it!” Cain probably threw a tantrum and cursed. Eventually, filled with that religious rage, he murdered Abel (verse 8).

Cain symbolizes today’s average religious person, who refuses to do what God’s Word says: “Trust in the finished crosswork of Christ alone and I will save you.” Like Cain, they offer “their absolute best”—tithes, water baptism, acts of charity, penance, church membership, et cetera—things God never commanded them to do for salvation! Those things are “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when compared to Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice of Himself.

And when they die, like Cain, they will be greatly disappointed.