Reading Gen 4:1 – 11
A married couple were in a terrible accident where the woman’s face was badly burned. The doctor told the husband that they couldn’t graft any skin from her body because she wasn’t strong enough for such a huge procedure.
So the husband offered to donate some of his own skin. However, the only skin on his body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from his – well, buttocks. And we are allowed to use that word in church, I checked.
The husband and wife and doctor agreed that they would never ever tell anyone where the skin came from.
After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the woman’s new beauty. She looked more beautiful than she ever had!
One day, she was alone with her husband, and she was overcome with emotion at his sacrifice. She said, “Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me. There is no way I could ever repay you.”
“My darling,” he replied, “think nothing of it. I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss you on the cheek.”
And so, today we are talking about acceptable sacrifice!
But seen as it’s father’s day – I’d thought we’d have one for the men.
The first sermon I ever preached was on Genesis 4 as in our reading this morning. It was 12 pages long – I don’t know how anyone survived! Did you know there’s a very fine line between a loooong sermon and a hostage situation?
Anyway, when I preached that first sermon, I was reasonably young in the faith but God’s call to Ministry was already burning in my heart – as it had been doing right from the first day I gave my life to Him.
God had always been there. I knew that. I had experienced other Christians and church and knew God wanted me to be His – and, that Satan wanted me to be his!
I, tried to live in the middle! I just wanted to live my life on nobody’s side.
But Jesus says;
Matt 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
There really is no middle ground! Jesus says – you’re with me, or you’re not, you’re in or you’re out. And if you are not with me, then you are in the enemy’s camp.
With God it is all or nothing. And long before I came to Christ, I knew that. But I wasn’t ready to give God my all – I was more attracted to what the world had to offer, or rather seemed to offer. And so my life was a terrible conflict being pulled in two directions. But God, never took His eyes off me for even one second. And the day came when I chose Him and chose to be His – the decision was – yes Lord, I give you everything, it is “all”. And I realized God’s call had been on my life even before the beginning of time.
Last week we looked at;
1 Pet 1:1 – 2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood; Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father – but, I still had to say yes! And God wasn’t standing back, looking on from a distance, seeing how I got along on my own. Thank goodness He didn’t leave it up to chance – He was doing everything possible to get my attention every moment of every day! And I knew that – and that’s where the terrible conflict came in! God was giving me His all – and I had to give Him my all.
And when I finally asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior He literally came into my life in a most beautiful and powerful and gentle way! And I wanted nothing more than to give Him my all. By then my life was a real mess – but God started the process of lovingly putting me back together and making me into something new!
And of course I was reading the Bible, I was hungry for more of God and to live this new incredible life. And as one does I started reading the Bible from the beginning! Lots of exciting stuff and things to learn – and then I came to Genesis chapter 4! Cain and Abel – and this stopped me in my tracks!
Why was Cain’s offering not acceptable to the Lord and Abel’s was?
Does this mean we do not get to choose how we want to worship God, and what is acceptable to God – that it is God who tells us what He wants?
And this story is in the Bible for a reason and so what does God want us to know?
Heb 4:11 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though his is dead.
Abel still speaks – this story still speaks? God does want us to know something! This story is important. And I don’t know why He want wants us to look at this passage today – but He kept bringing it back to me, over several weeks now, and so our hearts need to be open.
In the Garden of Eden God provided everything! God and man walked in perfect relationship! But man rebelled against God. Man listened to the Evil one instead of God. Man wanted what man wanted above what God wanted – and that perfect relationship with God was broken. Sin entered the world. Corruption entered the world. Decay entered the world.
And no longer was everything provided for Adam and Eve. No longer where their daily tasks fully refreshing and a delight. Now they had to struggle against nature and the elements for even the basics, food, clothing, and shelter. And so life began outside the Garden. Adam and Eve had children – Cain became a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd.
And it seems they understood that they had to make “offering” to God.
Offering – some sort of tribute or a sacrifice? And so why was Abel’s offering acceptable to God and not Cain’s?
The greatest difference was that Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not. Abel offered with an understanding and obedience to God’s will, to God’s glory, and in total dependence upon God.
Cain did what he did as a religious observance to try and gain credit with God – to impress God, to get God on His side, instead of being on God’s side.
What is this faith that Abel had – a deep conviction of the Truth and understanding of the true nature of man’s relationship to God and dependence on God and confidence in God and Trust in God?
After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden when man rebelled against God – God killed an animal and took it’s skin to cover Adam and Eve’s shame (Gen3:21). This was the beginning of animal sacrifice for sin – an understanding that something had to die, and that the animal died in the place of the sinner. The understanding was that the sinner put his sin on the animal and then it was killed before God. This was a sacrifice acceptable to God – and a picture of what God was still yet to do. God came to earth as a man to be the perfect sacrifice once and for all.
And God placed all our sin on Jesus, and He died, paying the price for that sin.
Abel made an sacrifice to God that was acceptable to Him, because of who God is.
Abel was a repentant believer. Cain was unhumbled, his confidence was within himself – I deserve God’s favor was his attitude.
Abel’s sacrifice, was an animal substitute for his sins. Abel came in humility before the Lord, knowing he was created and answered to the Creator.
Cain – came with pride! Look what I have done by the work of my hand. Abel brought of the first born of his flock – he gave of his very best. Cain just brought some of the fruits of his field.
We are told that God looked in favor on Abel and his offering. But on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. God was looking at the man – his heart, and his offering.
And God’s response;
Gen 4:6 – 7 Then the Lord said to Cain – why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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.
Cain was very angry and in a dark mood!
After Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, God gave him the solution and encouraged him and gave him the chance to right his wrong and try again. Cain, do it my way – But Cain refused!
For Cain to master the sin lurking at the door to his desires, he would have to give up his jealous anger so that sin would not find a foothold. But Cain gave in to his own desires and temptation, he gave in to his anger, and it led him to even greater sin – even murder. The heart of Cain was selfish and worldly and full of pride and arrogance.
But what I find most surprising is – Cain was angry with God, and he took it out on his brother! Maybe he thought if he got rid of Abel his problems would go away. Obviously there was already anger in Cain’s heart – and he thought he could pretend before God, but God cannot be fooled!
And his actions affected all his family for hundreds of generations to come.
And so are you in any way angry with God – that’s ok, He can take it, but you need to come to Him and not take it out on those around you. And if you have anger in your heart it’s a clear indicator something is wrong – in your heart!
Abel doing it right, had shown up Cain for who he really was. He obviously somehow believed his anger was justified – but not to God.
And we know when our good is really just not our best before God.
But the good news is that God is on our side, desperately trying to help us make the right decisions and live a new life in Him. And God has shown us how we are to worship Him and what is acceptable to Him. We have to come to Him with the right heart, and He does the rest. The good news is that in this story there is Abel. And so maybe there is much we can learn from Cain, but so much more from Abel. The focus of this story is Abel, not Cain. Abel still speaks, not Cain.
And there is a serious warning – sin desires to have you, but you must master it! And in God you can.
Prayer – God we want to give you of our very best and worship you are you desire, as you deserve – you alone of worthy. Jesus you said, if anyone wants to be your disciple, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow you – becoming like you! Please teach us to be fully yours and to give your our all.