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Why Did Cain Kill Abel?

"And 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 slew him." (Genesis 4:8)

“And 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 slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)

Last time, we saw that Genesis 4:7 left Cain with a decision to make: to obey God or to disobey God. In verse 8, we see which decision he made. It would seem that Cain’s problem was really with God; after all, it was God Who had rejected him. Why did he turn his anger, then, toward Abel?

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

There is a definite correlation between how a person views God and how they treat those around them. One simply cannot revere God while abhorring the people whom God has created. When we truly love and extol the Lord, we will be compelled to love our brethren. As is exhibited by Cain, we see that the opposite of this is also true.

People with disdain for God have always hated those who love Him. Wherever there is repudiation of God’s righteousness, there is invariably contempt toward those who honor it. The arrogant despise the humble. For what great crime did the religious authorities in the Lord Jesus’ day desire that He be put to death? No crime that He committed, but because their own deeds were wicked (John 3:19). Those who walk in darkness yearn to extinguish any light that illuminates their own sinfulness.

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12)

Genesis 4:8 is quite remarkable, not only for what it says, but what it does not say. Cain talked with Abel. He had already decided in his heart what he was going to do after God had so graciously reached out to him. He had already rejected God’s offer of reconciliation. But there is no outburst toward Abel after God meets with Cain, no assault on him at the time. No, he talked with him. I am of the opinion Cain never even mentioned his conversation with God to Abel. Cain went on as if nothing was wrong and pretended that he harbored no ill will.

“And it came to pass…”

There was no immediate reprisal made against Abel. Instead, Cain bode his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. They were in the field together, away from others. Cain wanted no witnesses to his horrific act. Abel trusted him, he went with Cain into that field, never suspecting the fate that would befall him that day.

Isn’t this the way that it so often happens in our lives today? Our greatest harm comes not from those who stand in declared opposition against us, but from those who claim that they stand by our side. It is usually our “friends” and “brothers” who give the greater cause for concern than those who assert that they are our enemies. The most insidious attacks made against the children of God have not come from those who never set foot inside a church; they come from those who sit in the pew beside them.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 16, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[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?“]

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What Was Wrong With Cain’s Offering? (Part 2)

"But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:5)

“But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. And Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:5)

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,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[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?“]

Adding To The Word Of God

"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." (Genesis 3:2-3)

“The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”  (Genesis 3:2-3)

In Genesis 2:16-17, God tells Adam that he is free to eat from every tree in the Garden of Eden except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. His command to Adam is, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Now, in Genesis 3:3, Eve tells the serpent that she and Adam are not to eat of it neither shall they touch it, lest they die. Does this really mean the same thing or is her re-wording of God’s command significant?

At first glance, the distinction might seem trivial. After all, had she never touched the tree, she certainly would not have been able to eat from it. And, if the tree was off limits as a source of food, what would the point be of touching it? The problem when we begin to make subtle additions to God’s Word is that small, subtle additions inevitably will lead to larger ones. What might seem insignificant and immaterial can easily lay the groundwork for entire extra-Biblical doctrines to eventually arise.

This exact thing has happened. The Pharisees had developed such a legacy of making minor additions to the Law given to Moses that, by the time of Jesus, they had entire volumes of nothing but man-made traditions. They proceeded to accord these traditions with equal (and oftentimes, greater) importance to the actual Words that Moses had been given. Eventually, they ended up neglecting and violating God’s Word in exchange for these modifications that bore little resemblance to the inspired Scriptures.

“Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29, emphasis added)

The same thing has also happened since our Lord’s Resurrection. Countless cults and pseudo-Christian “denominations” have originated from a small group or single individual making subtle modifications to the inspired Word of God. Many have taken away from God’s Word, but many have also added to it. The tell-tale sign that this has occurred is when anything is taught to be required in addition to faith for Salvation. Anytime someone teaches that faith plus anything is what saves a person, you can be certain that they have added to the Word of God.

God has never given a commandment to mankind that was unclear or ambiguous. There are certainly parts of Scripture that are not easy to interpret and that can be difficult to understand. But when it comes to something that God has specifically told us to either do or not do, then His Word is crystal clear. There is a tendency for people to want to add to the requirements of God for Salvation because Salvation by faith in Christ alone is unappealing to the natural man. It does nothing to gratify our own fleshly desires for self-righteous piety nor does it exclude those we consider to be the most vile of sinners. For many people, it just seems far too easy and straightforward to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, they feel that there must be something else that they themselves are required to do, some portion of the price that they themselves must pay. Since the Word of God contains no such edict, they simply insert such stipulations and add to it.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published August 20, 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?“]

The Golden Calf And Aaron (Exodus 32)

Last time, we looked at the Children of Israel’s fall into idolatry by worshipping the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. Today, let us consider how Aaron, the High Priest, responded to their request to give them a “god” to worship:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” (Exodus 32:1-5)

What was it that persuaded Aaron to go along with the people’s plan to sink into idolatry? Was it fear for his own safety if he refused? Was it his pride which caused him to jump at the opportunity to become the new leader of the nation? Did he, perhaps, agree with the sentiment of the people and was all too eager to assist them in their folly?

In defense of his actions when later confronted by Moses, Aaron tells him, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil” (Exodus 32:22). So, in essence, he blames the people for his compliance. Yet Verse 25 reveals that Aaron, by going along with their plan, “let them get out of control.” Moses told him that he “brought great sin upon them” (Verse 21). Aaron shared in the responsibility for the nation’s great sin.

We cannot, of course, determine Aaron’s intentions, but it does seem that he may have started out wanting to remain faithful to God while still appeasing the people. Some have speculated that his instructions for the Israelites to turn over their golden earrings may have been a bluff, hoping they would reconsider their request when they realized that it would cost them something personally. But often misguided zeal can be some of the most fervent. I heard of an evangelical minister who once observed Mormon missionaries, diligently going door-to-door to share their message. “It is a shame”, he commented, “that they will do more to promote a lie than we will to promote the Gospel.”

After the Golden Calf is constructed, Aaron proclaims that the following day there “will be a feast to the Lord” (Exodus 32:5). Although he has just crafted a lifeless idol, he is willing to devote and dedicate it to the worship of the True God. He planned to let the Golden Calf tangibly represent the unseen God of Heaven. In short, he was willing to compromise the clear instructions which God had given in an effort to placate the wishes of the congregation.

How often does this happen in our churches today? How often do church leaders compromise the Word of God in an effort to be “seeker-friendly” or, “ecumenical?” We don’t want to scare away non-believers investigating our Faith and we sure don’t want to offend tithing parishioners, so we go along with their requests even when we know that it is contrary to the will of God and the teaching of Scripture. Isn’t this the same thing that Aaron, who was the leader in charge during Moses’ absence, was doing? We give in and compromise because we don’t want to offend church members or chase off visitors.

It is worth noting what it was that Aaron fashioned the gold into: a young bull. This was a common symbol used throughout Egypt at the time and represented the deity Apis. This would have been a familiar likeness for an idol since the Israelites had seen it all over the land in which they had been enslaved. Aaron borrowed the religious and philosophical methods and approaches of the world. Even the debauchery which the people sank into as they danced before the idol was reminiscent of similar festivities practiced among their pagan former masters back in Egypt. They took what was clearly pagan and ungodly and slapped a different label on it by “dedicating” it to the Lord.

The parallel for this is also clearly seen in many of our churches. We borrow methods from popular psychology, non-Christian mystical religions, and atheistic academia and put a “Christian” label on it. We employ worldly approaches to attempt to “minister” to people because we want to be relevant and seem in touch with the God-rejecting world around us. We’re afraid to stand up for the Word of God because we don’t want to be accused of not being intellectual or scientifically minded. So we build our own golden calves and pretend that we are still worshipping God when we bow down before them.

May all who lead in every congregation bearing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ refuse to compromise the Word of God nor violate the instructions of our Lord in an effort to satisfy the whims of man.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**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?”]

For Our Learning (Romans 15:4-13)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

One of the most unfortunate tragedies in the Body of Christ today is the ubiquitous ignorance of the Word of God. The fact of the matter is that most Christians do not really know much of what the Bible says and very few really even care. While there is a great deal of activity going on in the average church, solid Bible teaching is seldom part of the program. We have our potluck dinners, our men’s and women’s meetings, our song services, and our fundraisers; but where is the teaching of God’s Word? Sure, we typically have a brief message given by our pastors where one or two verses are pulled (sometimes seemingly at random) from Scripture as a sort of “introduction” to something that may or may not have much to do with the topic of the context, but a systematic examination of the Bible is entirely absent from most churches today.

Yet the Bible, God’s Word, is the vehicle through which the Lord communicates patience, comfort, and hope. The God of patience and comfort (as Romans 15:5 is better rendered; consolation in the KJV is translated from the same word in the Greek as comfort in Verse 4) conveys to us patience and comfort through the Scriptures. The Bible should be read, re-read, studied, examined, dissected, and applied to the heart of every child of God. It has been written for our learning. Even portions of the Word which have fallen into obscurity from neglect and desuetude were originally included in the Canon of Scripture for the express purpose of the spiritual education of the believer. Many Christians question what relevance the Old Testament holds for those in Christ, since we are no longer under the Law of Moses, but the truth is that it has much and in many ways. We must remember that the Old Testament was exactly what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he said, whatsoever things were written aforetime. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul tells them concerning the events of the journey out of Egypt recorded in Exodus that:

“…these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)

We can learn much about God and how He cares for us by looking at how He interacted with those who came before us. By studying the lives of people such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Ruth, and David, we can learn about the provision of the Lord during our own trials and triumphs. The writer to the Hebrews lists a “Hall of Fame” of great heroes of the Old Testament in Hebrews 11. Why?

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Ultimately, it is the Lord Jesus Christ Whom we should see behind all of the examples given to us throughout the Bible. And that is precisely what we are being shown in our text here in Romans, as well. What was written aforetime should lead us to glorify God and to be like-minded toward one another as Jesus is toward all of us. He is our Great Example of how we are to treat one another, as Verse 3 of Romans 15 showed us concerning the relationship between “strong” and “weak” believers, and Jew and Gentile. For though the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus was directed primarily to the Jews (verse 8; cf. Matthew 15:24), the ramifications of His sacrificial death and resurrection are efficacious for the Salvation of the Gentile also, as verses 9-12 confirm.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:27, 32)

As He did for Cleopas and the other, unnamed disciple travelling with him, the Lord Jesus will open up the Scriptures and teach each of us the things which pertain to Him. God wants us to understand His Word and learn from it the wondrous truths and promises He has for us. But we must spend the necessary time getting His Word before us and letting the Holy Spirit apply it to our lives. The purpose of this website is to study and examine the Word of God by moving methodically through it, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse. Because it is all relevant to us and is beneficial for our spiritual growth and learning. I am grateful to all of you who regularly read these studies and I pray that they serve as a thought-provoking resource for your own personal study of the Bible.

May the Lord richly bless you in your study of His Word. To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

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