Genesis 4: (NIV 1984 edition)
1 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.”
2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord .
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Here we have the first recorded offerings in the Bible. Though this isn’t a big passage of scripture, it was so important that it is mentioned in the faith hall of fame chapter:
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
Why was Abel’s offering so significant?
Do you remember what Jesus said to Thomas about faith? John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Now think of that in the context of what Abel knew…
Here is what we know about him:
- He didn’t have a Bible
- He wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit
- He and his brother were born into a sinful state
Abel - despite these things - believed in - and loved God. He also took action to show God how he loved Him.
There’s something about a man or woman that will live in a way that is pleasing to God just because they love him… in contrast to people that do the right thing because they are told they must.
Luke 10:27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
Many people are wanting this to be reversed. They want to live how they want and yet want God to prove to them how much He loves them through some sort of experience specially for them.
Matthew 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
God already showed you how much He loves you when he died for you.
You weren’t there - you didn’t see it - but that’s why Jesus responded to Thomas the way He did: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
An offering of faith
Heb. 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice…
Didn’t Cain bring an offering to the Lord as well?
Not everything that is done for the Lord is done in Faith. Even “good” things.
Some people donate something to a church because they bought new stuff, and don’t need the old anymore. They think they are doing something good. This is because they don’t perceive their giving as to the Lord - but rather as to a man or to an institution of man.
If Jesus Himself was here on the earth, and He came to your town, would you haul your used possessions that you don’t want anymore to give to Him as an offering, or to “be a blessing” to Him? I sure hope not. Yet this is the attitude that some people have when giving to His bride (the church).
I’m sure somebody might read this and think “what about the widow’s mite”? We will come to that scripture in 40 books from now. But for the time being, know that Jesus said “but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had”. There is a difference between the person who is wanting to give something so they give a used item of theirs, verses the person who buys something new and gives away their leftovers.
Is it wrong to give away a used possession? Absolutely not… as long as it is in good condition, and is on top of tithes and offering (we’ll talk about these soon). I give away used things, but I try to make sure that they are better than what the person or institution has, or that they are going to be received joyfully and not create a problem for them.
“I gave a car away!” Somebody exclaims about their selfless act of generosity. Meanwhile the car was rusted out, worn out, bottomed out, and just short of going to the dump. You’d be better off selling the car and giving the money as a gift.
Many people do what they want, however they want to do it, in order to get what they want, and then ask God to bless it.
Example: finding a spouse… living in an ungodly way to attract a mate and then ask God to bless them at the altar.
Ladies you can make a man interested in you. If that guy is worth it - he won’t need to see you in your skivvies to marry you.
Faith sometimes requires patience: Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
God can bless whatever you do… when it is done in faith.
Some of the fruits of the soil VS. fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
Someone might think “well how is it fair that God liked Abel’s offering better?”
God doesn’t have favorites - that’s part of His nature.
Only faith pleases God - so when you find somebody that pleased God - you found somebody that had faith. (Hebrews 11:6)
Look at the difference in offerings: Meat vs. Vegetables. It doesn’t matter what country or in what time period in history - meat always costs more than vegetables.
Cain easily could have saved up his potatoes and carrots to trade for one of the flock from his brother Abel.
How about when we worship the Lord: what kind of an offering are you bringing?
Sometimes when I see people in worship - I think to myself that i’ve seen more emotion on a tree stump.
If you look around during praise and worship and see some tree stumps (a person standing there with no emotion on their face, hands in their pockets, or just sitting their waiting for it to end) - it shows that they don’t love the Lord like they should.
Abel brought the best he had - he brought an offering of faith.
Don’t take God casually. Going to church isn’t going to the movies. We live in an entertainment culture and that can easily be carried over into church. People want a 5 gallon bucket of popcorn drenched in butter and a good show in church instead of coming with a heart ready to worship the King of kings.
“I’ll worship if the song is good enough” “I’ll listen if the preacher is funny or captivating enough”
Don’t get me wrong - the worship should be good, and the preacher should do his job well. The point is coming to church with that attitude is not coming in an attitude of faith.
Coming in an attitude of faith is with a determination to worship with all your heart. It’s coming with a hungry appetite for God’s word - so that your faith will grow. It’s coming with an expectation to receive all that God has for your.
Cain plopped some carrots… Abel prepared fat portions.
Have you prepared to come to the Lord, have you prepared to receive, have you prepared to give… or are you a plopper and a tree stump?
V.7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
One of the greatest things about God is His mercy. His willingness to look past our mistakes and give us a second chance.
Cain’s offering wasn’t of faith… yet God didn’t cast him out. God didn’t even curse him. Cain cursed himself by his own actions.
God gives us chances, many of them, to find him and seek after Him. He’s slow to anger and quick to forgive.
When you realize you haven’t been living faith in these areas - don’t get down on yourself - just make a course correction. God wants to forgive you - and help you move forward.
He wants you to live in His favor.
The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering. Abel had God’s favor - and Cain could have had it too.
You might think - how can you say Abel had God’s favor when he was murdered?
- From the beginning of man’s history until now - we know Abel as a man of faith that loved the Lord - he was the first human to enter paradise.
- Jesus referenced the blood of righteous Abel.
- And he is recorded in the hall of faith in the book of hebrews
Cain lived out the rest of his existence with a curse on His life
The offering that you bring to God is a reflection of your heart towards Him (Matthew 6:21).
God wants you to live in abundance and prosperity, but more importantly He wants your heart. If you can’t pass the money test - the test that show’s that He has your heart, and not the stuff that He gives you, you’ll never experience His prosperity.