Putting God's Word into Practice…

Hebrews 11:4 ~ By Faith, Abel

on April 10, 2013

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.  And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.  Hebrews 11:4

The story of Cain and Abel’s sacrifices can be found in Genesis 4:1-16 in greater detail.  Cain was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve.  He was a worker of the land, a farmer.  Abel was younger, and he was a keeper of sheep (a shepherd).  Both men offered a sacrifice to God. Cain gave of the bounty of his land–I’m sure it was a plentiful and beautiful gift!  Unfortunately vegetables don’t bleed!  And God’s requirement for a sacrifice involves the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins.  (They would have known this because God Himself instated the plan when He shed the blood of an innocent animal to provide a suitable covering for their parents in the Garden of Eden after they ate the forbidden fruit!) Only the sacrificial death of a perfect lamb has the power to forgive sins, therefore God accepted Abel’s offering, and Abel was commended by God as righteous!  

Abel’s faith, sacrifice and righteousness are a foreshadowing of the coming Christ. John the Baptist proclaimed of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  When we are covered by Christ’s sacrifice, we are acceptable to God.  There is no other way! No other hope! No other faith!

Cain became bitter and jealous of Abel for receiving God’s favor, so he killed him!  He shed the blood of an innocent man and tried to hide from God.  Abel’s faith saved him from eternal separation from God, but it did not save him out of his earthly circumstances.  Faith offers eternal protection, life and joy; but it does not always equal earthly protection and healing.  (As a side note: people who teach that God is withholding healing or good because of a lack of faith are mistaken! The physical death of a saved person IS eternal healing!)

Isn’t it cool that one of the first human beings to exist on planet Earth still speaks to us today through the commending of his faith in God and his willingness to believe that righteousness could only come through sacrifice?

Cain’s life still speaks to us too.  Cain believed God existed–he even talked with Him.  But Cain did not seek God.  He refused to do things God’s way, rebuffed opportunities to repent, and rejected God’s presence.  In fact Genesis 4:16 says, “Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and SETTLED IN THE LAND OF WANDERING, east of Eden.”  Cain settled for far less–settled for wandering.  Isn’t that a good picture of our culture today?  Maybe that’s how you feel about life sometimes–just wandering through, day in and day out.  

Faith in Jesus Christ is the only answer.  He saves us out of wandering and wondering; gives us confidence, freedom, joy and hope.  Through faith in His sacrifice on the cross we are made acceptable to God!

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