Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. (
Anyone who has had more than one child can tell you that each one is unique. Even in the case of “identical” twins, you will find distinctions among the similarities. As no two snowflakes are identical, so each human is different. Sometimes they are as different as night and day. That was certainly true of two brothers—Cain and Abel. One was faithful (full of faith) and the other was faithless.
The results of sin’s curse became readily apparent. When a bouncing baby boy named Cain emerged from the womb, Eve gave him that name because she saw Cain as the fulfillment of God’s prophecy that her seed would vanquish the Serpent (
Gen.3:15). Instead, Cain would prove to be of the Serpent’s
spawn. Another baby was born—Abel—and
his name meant, “vanity,” suggesting that Eve was already disappointed by the
way Cain was turning out.
The brothers were different in their choice of vocations—one becoming a tiller of the field and the other a tender of the flock. But, the primary difference in the two was spiritual—seen in the fact that Cain’s offering was rejected, while Abel’s was received.
Hebrews 11 gives us the Holy
Spirit’s explanation, “By faith Abel
offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained
witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he
being dead still speaks.” (v.4) Abel was faithful and Cain was faithless. Why did Abel have faith and Cain did not? Again, we turn to the New Testament, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing
by the word of God.” ( Rom.10:17) Apparently, God had given His Word to Adam
and Eve, when He clothed them in animal skins—that the work of man’s hands
cannot atone for sin—it required the shedding of blood. Cain might have purchased a lamb from his
brother, but he rejected the Word of God and God rejected his offering. Jude
11 speaks of “the way of
Cain,” which is the way of false teaching—a religion of self-righteous works
rather than the righteousness which comes by faith. Cain’s angry response rather than humble
repentance disclosed the depravity of his heart. Cain saw no need to bring a blood sacrifice,
but had no qualms about shedding his brother’s blood.
We could say more, but let me close with this—everyone reading these words is either faithful or faithless. Your spiritual forebear is Cain or Abel. None of us can be forgiven without responding in faith to the blood of the Lamb of God—the Lord Jesus Christ. The two are as different as night and day—the faithful entering God’s Eternal Day, while the faithless is cast into, “outer darkness.” (
Matt.25:30). We are the seed of the Serpent or sons of
God. Read 1 John 3:10-19 for further
insight. Who is your spiritual father?