We considered last time some of the problems with Cain’s offering. Cain had tried to make himself acceptable to God on his own terms based on who he thought that he was and by offering his own works.
Abel made his offering according to what God had revealed, but Cain did not. Cain’s “bloodless” offering was not made in recognition of his sin and need for atonement, but out of pride and an utter denial that he was guilty of any sin. Cain created mankind’s very first false religion, born out of humanity’s innate desire to decide for themselves how they will come to God. This is what Jude is referring to when he warns of those who “go the way of Cain” (Jude 11); they, too, ignore the way that God has revealed that we must come to Him and attempt to earn God’s favor by their own merits.
God Rejected The Offerer
“But unto Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” It wasn’t just the offering that Cain brought that caused God to reject him, it was what was in his heart. Cain himself was not accepted by God, not just his offering. This is important to see. No amount of ritual will make us right with God if our hearts are not right toward Him. It is not the motions that we go through that bring cleansing, but a contrite and repentant heart.
“Samuel said, Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
The prophet Samuel told Israel’s first king, Saul, that rituals do not please the Lord, obedience does. We cannot please God when we disobey Him, regardless of what we offer instead. Cain’s offering from the harvest of his fields was not a “second-rate” offering. In his eyes, it must have seemed a lot more impressive than the little lamb that Abel was bringing to God. But it wasn’t what God was asking for.
What We Must Bring
For us, there is but one acceptable Sacrifice that we can “bring” to the Lord in order to be accepted by Him: the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. We cannot substitute the works of our hands or the harvest of our fields. We cannot be accepted because of who we are or who we think we are. He’s asking us for a Lamb and nothing else will do.
How many people still “go the way of Cain” and bring to God offerings for Salvation that He will not accept? Maybe it isn’t fruits and grains, but money to the Church. Or they are volunteering their time, or even serving in a ministry. Until we first bring the Lamb, we will not be accepted.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published September 9, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]