Who Are Cain and Abel?
Cain and Abel are the first two sons of Adam and Eve in the Hebrew bible, the Old Testament. Adam and Eve are the first parents of the human race according to human history. Cain was the first human born and, the first murderer according to the bible.
Biblical Story of Cain and Abel
According to the biblical text in Genesis 4:1-17, Cain is the firstborn son of Adam who is a tiller of the ground ( a farmer) and his younger brother Abel was a keeper of sheep (a shepherd).
They both offered sacrifices to the Lord. Cain brought the “fruit of the ground to the Lord” while Abel also brought the “firstlings of his flock” and of the fat to the Lord.
The Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice but did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. This made Cain furious and became jealous of his brother Abel and sought to kill him.
He killed Abel his younger brother and pretended as if nothing happened.
As we all know that God looks at the heart, nothing can be hidden from Him. The Lord asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” he responded and said “I do not know.
Am I my brother’s keeper?” That was even a sign of disrespect. It could be one of the reasons his offering was not accepted.
A verdict was issued against Cain by God in, Genesis 4: 10-12 “And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
Cain became a restless wanderer, dwelt in the land of Nod and fathered the line of descendants beginning with Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.
Differences between Cain and Abel Sacrifices
The obvious difference between the two sacrifices is that Abel’s sacrifice was an animal sacrifices (blood sacrifice), while Cain’s sacrifice was fruits of the ground (bloodless sacrifice).
Although, some Christian writers are of the opinion that Cain’s offering was not accepted because it was not a blood sacrifice like Abel’s.
Instead, Cain brought the fruit of the cursed ground, the work of his hands. As we know that animal sacrifices had been instituted before this time and blood sacrifice is the only acceptable offering God would receive.
Cain and Abel’s role can be seen in the rest of the scripture. Cain is seen as wicked while Abel is called righteous man.
He was called righteous Abel by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew 23: 35 saying, “that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar”
Apostle John also wrote in I John 3:12 “not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Why was Abel’s offering accepted and Cain’s offering rejected?
I believe both of them (Cain and Abel) must have been given specific instruction by God on how to carry out their sacrifices in which Cain ignored.
God have respects for Abel’s offering and reject’s Cain offering was ultimately His own reasons and pleasure.
The King James Version (KJV) of Genesis 4:3-4 says “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering”
Emphasis on Cain: he “brought an offering of the fruit of the soil to the Lord.” While Abel brought of the “firstborn” of his flock and of their fat.
The book of Hebrews 11: 4 explained the reason why Abel had the “more acceptable sacrifice” than Cain was due to faith and this was what Cain lacked.
This testimony can also be confirmed in early part of the same chapter where it mentioned that “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”, Abel loved God more than his flock.
Hence, he freely gave a fat portions (his best), entrusting himself to God that He can resurrect “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions offered”. This was commended as righteous by God by accepting his gifts (Genesis 4:4).
The difference between these two gifts is that Cain gave a generic gift while Abel gave one of the most—if not the most important gift that was available to him.
The quality of the gift itself might mean a little but the purpose for giving the gifts matters.
Cain’s anger and bad countenance could also be the reason his offering was rejected. It is of this fact that God responded Cain in Genesis 4:6-7 “So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
We should recognize that the Lord, search the heart, test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. Cain’s heart attitude and performance were unacceptable by God.
He knew his own actions were bad and could change them. The evil in Cain’s heart was further exposed when God asked him the whereabouts of his brother, Abel in which Cain replied, “I don’t know. . . . Am I my brother’s keeper?
On the hand, Abel had a proper motivation and a genuine relationship with God which was based on faith. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.
Abel’s sacrifice was referred to as excellent due to Abel’s faith while Cain’s was rejected due to lack of faith.
Hebrews 11:6 which says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Why did Abel kill Cain and how was he killed?
In the biblical story, Cain has several reasons for murdering his brother Abel. One of the obvious reason was out of envy and jealousy because God accepted Abel’s offering instead of his.
Later in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Although, another son was born to replace Abel and the name of his son is Seth.
What is the similarity between the death of Abel and the death of Jesus Christ?
Both Christ and Abel were killed by wicked men.
What is the difference between the blood of Abel and the blood of Jesus Christ?
The blood of Christ speaks remission of sins (that is, it speaks a better things than the blood of Abel) Hebrews 12:24. While Abel’s blood cried for vengeance (Genesis 4:10).
In the New Testament, Jesus’ sacrifice is compared to Abel’s. The text claimed that Abel and Jesus shared the same concept of faith in God, which Cain apparently lacked.
What does Cain and Abel story teach us in modern day Christianity?
According to biblical accounts, we can only serve God on His terms not on our own terms. We must recognize that there is a right way to do things. Just like Cain, he brought his best but his best was not God’s best.
God not only choose a day of worship, but a way of worship. Neither can we worship in any old way we want or offer whatever sacrifice that is pleasing to us.
In order for our worship to be acceptable, it must be pleasing to God and must be done on His terms.
We must learn to control our anger and resist envy at all times as believers. Our actions are an outward physical statement of our inward thoughts.
The character of Cain cannot be emulated and also had a wrong heart. Jude 1:11 referred to this act as Cain’s thinking and way of life.
Cain was angry against God and envious of his brother Abel. We must be cautious when we become envious of others. It can lead us to do the wrong things.
Having a bad thought is a sin; letting something that we think about become something that we dwell on and finally act out is also a sin.
We must also know that there are consequences to every actions we take. As we go about our daily activities, be mindful of the instant punishment received by Cain for killing his Abel.
We might not see the immediate consequences of our wrongs sometimes but that doesn’t mean we won’t and we have the power to do the right thing.
The story of Cain and Abel is still relevant to the modern day Christianity. God continues to show His love to those who strive to live the way of righteousness.
As I John 1:9 states “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
He reminds us that even in spite of our weakness, He is a God of grace and mercy. Through God’s mercy, He allowed Cain to start a new life in a different place and He marked him to prevent him from being killed.
God is a God of second chance. He is always faithful and just to forgive when we run to Him because His will is for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of His truth.
However, you cannot continue in sin and ask for grace to abound. Always follow the pathway of righteousness, you will never regret doing so.