It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4 (NLT)
“Fratricide” is the term used to describe the act of killing a brother. The Bible tells us that the very first human to ever die died because of fratricide. One brother murdered by another. Abel was a shepherd, and Cain was a gardener. Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift, the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but He did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry. Cain directed that anger toward his brother and killed him.
Now, there are at least five theories as to why God accepted Abel’s gift and rejected Cain’s, but I’ll just mention three:
Theory 1: Their motives were different. Abel’s motives were pure, while Cain’s weren’t.
Theory 2: Cain simply gave something of what he had, while Abel gave the best of what he had.
Theory 3: Animal sacrifice was the requirement. Abel brought a lamb, leading to acceptance, while Cain brought vegetables, resulting in rejection. Subsequent divine revelation would show that the Old Testament sin offerings were all symbols pointing toward Jesus, who would one day come and give His life to save ours. That’s why the sacrifices were essentially a life for a life.
Is it possible that Cain and Abel both knew that God required them to bring an animal sacrifice? Hebrews 11:4 tells us it was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. But why was it faith that made the difference? As we outlined in episode 1, faith is confidence in what you hope for. Abel hoped that God would accept his offering, and he would certainly feel confident if God had told him that it was what He required. The rest of verse 4 says Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed His approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
So, what is the example we can take away from the life of Abel? When God says something, believe it. When God asks you to do something, do it. Bringing something other than what God asked for, hoping that He will bless it, that’s blind hope. Believing His word and acting based on what He has said, now that’s faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to resist the temptation to ignore your instructions. Help us to exercise faith by listening and doing what you have said. In Jesus’ name, amen.
By: Pastor Andrew Campbell