Who is our God? What is He like?
He is a discerning and just judge.
We now enter into the life of the first society. People only one generation removed from Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel, the sons of that first union were now grown and had assumed the responsibility that falls to every man when out from under the authority of his parents. That responsibility is best stated as man’s accountability to God, his Creator. The Scripture is clear as to the time. It was the time to bring a sacrifice before the Lord. It was the time to formally honor and worship Jehovah.
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:3-5)
As we study the passage we quickly see a stark contrast in the sacrifices of the two men, and the Lord’s response to their sacrifice. The Scripture pulls no punches in revealing that the Lord favored one sacrifice over the other. It was Abel’s sacrifice that was pleasing to the Lord. But why? What was the difference in the sacrifices of these two men?
It is obvious that one was a farmer, and he brought of the fruit of the ground before Lord, and the other was a herdsman and brought of the firstlings of the flock. I believe there are two very important observations to make.
First, it appears that both men knew what was acceptable before the Lord. One might ask, “How would they know?” It would only make sense that they learned it from their father, Adam, who witnessed the Lord make a blood sacrifice for the sins of he and Eve in the garden. A precedent had been set, and it appears that Cain could not claim ignorance in this case. That the Lord clearly had an expectation that Cain was aware of is evident from the following exchange:
And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:6-7)
So, the sacrifice was not acceptable, because it was not an appropriate sacrifice for sin. The second observation however, gives us a little more insight into the heart of God on the matter. It is found in the book of Hebrews,
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous… (Hebrews 11:4)
Abel was “righteous” according to God. His sin had been dealt with, because he obeyed God. This was clearly an issue of the heart of each man. Faith is the prerequisite to being accepted by God. It is the only thing that pleases Him,
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
We have been allowed to see from the very first pages of the Bible that our God sees more than our outward acts of worship. He is able to judge, with perfect discernment, the attitude of our heart. Nothing is hid from Him.
Behold our God!