CAIN and ABEL
What is the true significance of these first two brothers? Christians understand it to be a story of jealousy which lead to bitterness and murder with eternal ramifications but there is more than meets the eye here. Cain, whose name means spear, was the first born and understood the land. Abel was the second son whose name means breathing spirit and understood life as a God given gift.
Abel was favored by God but He loved Cain just as much (even though he did not believe it). Abel was blessed being the more handsome while Cain looked as dirty as the land in which he toiled. This was the result of the gifts that God blessed them with. Cain was the farmer, Abel the shepherd. Cain’s offerings were from the fruit of his labors while Abel gave of the firstborn, unblemished male sheep. Prayers were heard the same but it seemed that Cain’s were not answered as quickly as Abel’s.
We all know where this is going…Jealousy, Bitterness, Rage, Misunderstanding God’s Love, these are things that were the catalyst to Cain ending Abel’s life. When elder hid from God, Abel’s blood (Spirit) cried out and Cain learned a valuable lesson. Cain would be tortured by his decision until the end of his days understanding that he was cursed and protected by God until the appointed time.
Adam and Eve then had Seth who was a faithful servant of God. He took the place of Abel and was given the blessing that was originally rightfully Cain’s.
What can we learn from this?
1. We see two types of worship through the brother’s, one out of duty the other out of devotion.
a. Cain worship was an obligation to giving first fruits of his labor in a vain attempt to please God with the “look what I have done for you” attitude. He must have learned this from his parents who were still scarred from the loss of the Paradise in Eden. They worshipped out of fearful respect knowing that disobedience would truly mean death.
b. Worshiping out of total devotion and love for God which was reflected in his sacrifices. Abel cared for the flock as if they were his own. He gave a life back to God to show a willingness to return blessings and give God the glory. Abel sought nothing because he understood he deserved nothing.
2. The faith of Cain was works centered and faith of Abel’s faith was justified by love. This is the beginning of the Sola Fida vs Works alone argument. We are justified by our faith, saved by His Blood which obligates us to live out our faith by attaining to be like Jesus. There is the fine line difference in believing in Jesus and Being in Jesus. Works are important as we find by Jesus’ explanation of the sheep and goats but the works of the sheep were not recognized, boasted nor accolades sought. The goats believed and did nothing to make their faith fruitful.
Equating this to today’s church: Attendance in church out of obligation is dangerous and not fulfilling while attendance out of brokenness is recognition that you are not alone, you are loved, and not deserving of forgiveness. The former is a goat who goes just because and the latter, a sheep who recognizes the desire to live a Christ-like life.
3. The third thing we get from this is that jealousy and bitterness are vainly dangerous characteristics that lead to heartache and pain.
Remaining in a state where you blame others for your lack of faith, love, and or a good life leads to spiritual darkness. Letting go of negative feelings releases the soul from darkness.
Cain, at an old age, died from a hunting accident by his own kin. God’s protection did not include from his own family. But Cain did not leave this world without leaving his mark. His descendants would never be satisfied, always searching for truth and forgiveness while wreaking havoc wherever they roamed while placing blame for their ways on others.
Abel’s importance is that he showed us a right way of worship. His devotion and trust in God was increased through his faith and understanding that God though invisible is ever present, all knowing, and all powerful.
Though Abel never received the blessing from his father, however, he blessed the world with his knowledge and understanding of God.