Christian educator, former librarian, and mother of three, Claire Abraham proclaims the Word of the Lord in gratitude and love.
Cain and Abel Offer Sacrifices
Adam and Eve were very sad when they left Eden, but soon God brought happiness to their lives. Eve bore a son, whom she called Cain. A little while later, she had another son, named Abel. These were the first brothers.
They grew up side by side, but they could not have been more different. Cain took up his tools and began to till the soil with his father; he became the first farmer. Abel, on the other hand, roamed the hills with his flocks as the first shepherd.
One day, they both decided to offer some of the food they had gathered as a sacrifice to the Lord. Cain brought some fruits and vegetables he had raised from the ground, while Abel slaughtered a lamb and placed it on the altar.
God sent them a sign. The Bible does not say clearly what it was. It might have been a wave of spiritual emotion, or a bolt of lightning, or He might have even spoken to them, but after the sign, both of them knew that God liked Abel's sacrifice more than he liked Cain's.
Cain was angry.
God Tells Cain to Fight His Anger
The Bible does not tell us exactly why God liked Abel's offering better, but we can gather some clues from what happens next.
Maybe Abel offered the sacrifice with humility and joy, while Cain was prideful in his offering, or resentful that he had to make it at all.
Some people who study the Bible say that Abel understood that offering livestock would become very important to the Jewish people. They even suggest that Abel realized that it was the blood of Jesus that would save all mankind. Cain offered fruits and vegetables, which don't have blood. However, I think Cain's reaction tells us a lot about why God preferred Abel.
Cain goes off and sulks, and God speaks to him.
"Why are you so angry? Don't you understand? If you do the right thing, I will love you and accept you. But watch out! Your anger is dangerous. You must make good choices, or you may do something terrible. Sin could destroy you."
God already knew that Cain was a hothead. He could be tempted to do evil things. He warned him about this serious flaw, and urged him to make the wise and virtuous decision. Maybe this was the reason why God chose Abel's sacrifice - because He knew that Abel was a better person, and He took the opportunity to call Cain out on his evil nature.
Cain Kills Abel
Unfortunately, Cain did not listen to God. He let his anger fester, and one day while they were out in the field, Cain killed his brother Abel. According to the Bible, this was the first time anybody had ever died, and Cain may not have even understood that he would end Abel's life by hitting him that hard. Sometimes sin is like that. You make a bad choice, and you don't mean to cause great harm, but it causes some real tragedy and pain for other people. That's why you have to learn to control your emotions when reacting to other people, no matter how much they upset you.
God Banishes Cain
God Punishes Cain
Now Cain learned the same lesson that God had taught Adam and Eve. There's no hiding from God. God called out to Cain.
"Cain, where is your brother, Abel?"
"I dunno. What, do I have to babysit him?"
"Don't lie to me! I have seen his blood on the ground. Now that ground is cursed to you. You are a farmer, but nothing will ever grow for you again. Your punishment is roam the earth, away from your family and away from me."
Cain was overcome with grief and terror. He couldn't grow crops? How was he going to live? And what if his parents had other children? Wouldn't they eventually hunt him down and kill him?
"I can't stand this punishment! Anybody who finds me is going to kill me!"
"No," said God. "I'll fix that." He put some kind of mark on Cain that protected him, and Cain went off to live to the east of his family. He never saw his mother and father again.
How Abel Showed His Love for the Lord
Later Passages in the Bible Explain More About Cain and Abel
St. Paul wrote a letter to the Hebrews. He told them that God liked Abel's sacrifice better because it was made with faith. He loved the Lord and had faith that God was good. Cain may have been trying to impress God for selfish reasons, but it wasn't a true love offering.
St. John suggests that Cain was already deep in the practice of evil by the time they offered the sacrifices, while Abel was a righteous man. God saw into their hearts, and he could tell which of them offered him sacrifices out of love, and which one was just going through the motions.
God sees through all pretending and knows each of us better than we know ourselves. The best offering we can give Him is a sincere and contrite heart.
KC McGee from Where I belong on May 24, 2021:
Claire Abraham, I'm glad I took the time to read this. Easy to read and right to the point. Only one of just a few articles I've read regarding Cain and Able.
Blessings to you.