Hebrews 11:4 Cain and Abel – by Pastor Don Moore

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hebrews 11:4 by Pastor Don

We have been going through the book of Hebrews, getting a handle on faith.  Our proof text is:

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We then spent time looking at Hebrews 11:4.  If you look at previous posts you will see that we are covering this chapter verse by verse, and looking back to the Old Testament Scriptures that are covered by the verse.

Hebrews 11:4 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.

Able and Cain’s story can be found in Genesis 4.

Genesis 4:1-2 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.

In this day Adam and Eve and their sons knew what they had came from God.  The idea of sacrifice to thank God was already in effect.

Genesis 4:3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.

We will see as this chapter unfolds that Cain brought plants, not animals, as a sacrifice – but we suspect they were not the first fruits, just any old fruit.

Genesis 4:4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,

Abel understood the sacrifice and brought the firstborn of the flock and offered it to God, and God accepted it.  He gave the best part to God.

Genesis 4:5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

Before the Mosaic covenant and the prescribed offerings, the Old Testament people lived according to their wisdom and limitations.  We get caught up in the order of how things were done, forgetting that with God it was a heart issue.  In the case of Cain, even though there were no Mosaic laws, God saw that in Cain’s heart he could care less and was acting out of rote.  But the heart of Abel was more in line with God’s.

Pastor Don reminded us there are sins of omission and commission.  Cain knew what to do right, but chose not to do that.  Abel gave God the best that he had, and purposed in his heart that he would bring it to God.

There is obedience that involves just making the requirement, and then there is obedience that comes from a love relationship with God, wanting to make God happy.

The focus is on the best part of the offering.  Pastor Don asked us what are we bringing to the world, what they had before, or the best part of the offering and worship.

Sin had just entered the world, and at this time Cain and Abel could be 200 to 300 years old.  They lived in the valley with others who were the progeny of Adam and Eve, and there were many children.  As time went by, by the time of the Mosaic covenant, the people were no longer permitted to marry close relatives, for the gene pool had become polluted and the people were weakened.  Sin was beginning to take effect of their bodies.  The Pharaohs of Egypt still intermarried their close relatives and their gene pools weakened.

The wall of separation between God and Cain and Abel was not too thick. They were still talking with God in a close relationship.  Cain had immediate feedback from God regarding his sacrifice.  As sin increased in the world, the wall of separation increased, and a period of darkness began on the earth.

Notice that when God corrected him (as a loving Father would), Cain got angry.

Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

Sometimes we get angry or annoyed at things that shine a light on our weakness.  We need to be serious about examining ourselves.  We at times will be angry about the fact that our own emotional attitude points out weakness and exposes us as we are.  So we put blame on something or someone else to distract from the fact that our weakness was exposed.

If I’ve done wrong, I try to fix it that it looks like my brother made me look bad, but really I was the one in the wrong.  We get disappointed with God and disappointed with everyone around us.  We look at the other person and decide that they are not elevated to where we thought they should be so therefore the other person is the one that God is working on.

Cain would have been better to put his emotions on hold and observe what Abel was doing, and examine what he did wrong.   God was responding to him in love, wanting him to do the right thing.

Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

God hones in on the central point of the problem, not Abel but Cain.  When frustrated we don’t check ourselves out.  Cain should have checked himself out.  We need to learn how to rule over our sin.  It is not always warfare with satan that causes the problem, but we have to check ourselves out.  Don’t let sin in the door, don’t get caught up in pride and false humility.  By faith it is soon over.  By flesh it may never be over.

Cain could have taken verse 7 and turned it into spiritual warfare, when it was flesh warfare.  The devil made me do it, but all he needed to do was to get over his self.

Genesis 4:8  Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Pastor Don wondered what the conversation between the two was that brought about the result of verse 8.  If Cain invited Abel into the field, it could have been premeditated murder. Cain’s answer to the problem was not obedience to God, but rather to get rid of Abel, then God would not be able to compare the two.  The elder brother was conniving.  There is a law of God without the Mosaic law.  Even before the Mosaic law, there was still good and evil.

Genesis 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”  He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God comes down and visits.  Cain answers God’s question with negative sarcasm.  He put up a wall between himself and God because of His guilt.  Sometimes people do not realize that they are doing that when they think they are testing God’s affection toward them, and looking for affirmation.  The premise is will God still love me if I do bad?  Or maybe might makes right.  Can sarcasm really solve anything here?

We pick our enemy – When we seek to destroy the one that you want to have affirmation from it can be deadly.  God could have slapped him down right then and there.  “Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.”  When we try to locate ourselves, we realize that there is physical location and emotional location.

Genesis 4:10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

The earth groans from blood spilt.  God looks at Canaan land and decides that the 12 tribes have to get out of Canaan land and go to Egypt, prophesying they would stay in Egypt for 400 years before they could return. The land was filled with pagan worship, child sacrifice, and idol sacrifice.  It would take 400 years for Israel to reach a large enough population to purge the Canaan land of this sin.  When Moses brought the people to the land, there were over 1 million people, but there was a major level of sin and blood there.

Hebrews 12:24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

God heard Abel’s spirit voice from Abraham’s Bosom.   Both Christ and Abel were keepers of sheep.  Cain chose to till the soil.  With soil tilling there is a sense of personal advantage and materialism that comes from tilling the soil.   Whereas protection and caring arises from caring for the sheep.

Genesis 4:11-13 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!

Notice that Cain mentions that the punishment is greater than he could BEAR, not greater than he DESERVED. When we go through stuff it is because of what we have created in our lives, but God never intended us to go through those things, our wrong decisions brought it on.  We won’t receive change until we change, and we can give ourselves more than we can handle because of our wrong decisions.  Pastor Don told us that we need to be quick to repent and quick to say I’m sorry.   God can send a rescue squad or a crop failure.  But there are two problems when we sow seed from wrong choices, we can receive forgiveness in the supernatural but the ground may not cooperate with us. We may not be productive in certain areas because of what we committed, said and done.  Sometimes we relive our memory, can be distracted  by too much seed, too many mistakes.  In the places we sinned we may not be able to be productive.  We won’t see any level of productivity if we are filled with heresy.  Sometimes we need to go back to the place we failed and make a different choice; sometimes we need to go back and turn up new soil.  (Heather’s comment, in a former Bible Study Pastor Don talked about detours.  Imagine the lower case letter “d” If the straight line of this letter is the path ordained by God, and we make a wrong choice that leads to a detour (the curved part of the letter).  We can make a right choice and get back to the path (straight line) that God planned for us, but we will miss all the points between the curve that we miss because of the detour).

Pastor Don could have continued with his popular music career or he could choose to go back into ministry. He chose ministry.  We need to realize that some things do not bring out the best in us.  For Pastor Don, the popular music career would have led him to areas that would not be beneficial for him.

Genesis 4:14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

Pastor Don asked us what we saw in this verse, and someone mentioned that Cain spoke his own destiny.  We can speak our own destiny.  But this was not the destiny God had given.  What Cain said put up the wall between him and God.  Cain lived out the Words that HE spoke, but God may have said different things if Cain had not spoken his own destiny.

The second point about a spiritual problem is that God can speak productivity into it, giving Cain a way to change to line up with God’s will.  Cain should realize that this is the Word of the Lord for him.  And God can take what was meant for harm and turn it to good, if we line up with God’s will for our lives.

The problem is that we do not receive the Word of the Lord, wanting to hear something else.   But God is clear in His word.  1 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  We, in America, are in need of doing this.

Genesis 4:15 And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

Therefore, God gave Cain what he said for himself.  Yet, God’s mercy and protection is evident in Cain’s life.  The mercy of God never fails.

Genesis 4:16-17 Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.

Enoch comes from this terrible situation.  Even from this sin situation, an outstanding child was born.

Hebrews 11:4 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.

In the faith chapter (Hebrews 11), Abel was declared righteous for he made his offering by faith.  God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Remember, Cain and Abel’s situation happened before the Mosaic covenant.

Have a blessed day.

Heather

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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