Advertisements

Tag Archives: Creation

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?“]

Advertisements

What Was Wrong With Cain’s Offering?

"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:4-5)

“Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:4-5)

More often than not, the explanation for this particular enigmatic passage of Scripture always seems to focus on a distinction between the quality of the two offerings that the brothers gave. Most of the preaching that I have heard on this subject boils down to the idea that Abel gave of the “firstlings” and “fat” of his flock (v. 4), while Cain simply gave “an offering” unto the Lord. The interpretation is that Abel gave his best and Cain gave what was left over. The lesson inferred, of course, is that we must be careful to give our offerings (that is, money) of our “firstlings and fat” (that is, lots of money) to God (that is, to the specific ministry of the preacher giving the message).

While such an interpretation might be conducive to filling collection plates, I honestly do not see that the text lends itself to such an analysis. Certainly there are no adjectives given when Cain’s offering is mentioned; the words “juiciest”, “choicest”, and “ripest” do not appear in the narrative. But the words, “And Abel, on his part also brought…” are included. The context would seem to indicate a parity between the quality of the two. I personally do not believe that it was the writer’s intention to suggest that Cain was guilty of “cherry-picking” the best fruits for himself. The deficiency with Cain’s offering wasn’t that he was giving God shriveled grapes and freckled bananas, the problem went much deeper.

They Knew What God Expected

The first, and perhaps most crucial, thing that we should understand is that the two brothers were not acting on their own initiative when they brought their offerings to the Lord. They weren’t just bringing a “gift” to God simply because they loved Him. God was not acting like a partial parent who plays favorites with their kids. “In the process of time” they brought their offerings. Process of what time? The time appointed by God to bring their offerings. God had given them specific instructions on how this was to be carried out. The writer to the Hebrews says that Abel acted out of faith when he brought a more excellent sacrifice (Heb. 11:4) to God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), you cannot act in faith based on something that you have never been told! Even though we do not have it in the text, God must have given the brothers instructions and consequently held them accountable for obeying what He had told them.

The Problem Was With Cain Himself

We can find the first clue to why Cain and his offering were rejected if we look carefully at the very first verse that mentions him:

“Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, I have gotten a man child with the help of the LORD.” (Gen. 4:1)

God had said that from the woman would come a “seed” that would crush the devil underfoot (Gen. 3:15). Therefore, when Cain was born, she exclaimed, “I have that seed, here he is!” The name Cain itself means, “Possession.” Her thought was that she had been given the promised seed in her firstborn son. Can you imagine the doting that must have gone on in that house? I am not saying that Eve was to blame for Cain’s behavior, but I am certain that she didn’t help matters. She was so fond of Cain and so adoring of him that she named her second son Abel, meaning a “vapor” or “breath.” She really considered him to be a nobody. Cain grew up to be a man filled with pride, he saw no need for salvation himself, he thought that he was the savior!

It is interesting to note that Abel was a shepherd in a time before people had begun to eat meat (Gen. 9:3). His only purposes for keeping the sheep was for sacrifice and the wool that they provided. It is very likely that God had instructed both men to bring a sheep from Abel’s flock (it is certainly reasonable to assume that Abel ate of the fruit that Cain gathered, as well) for a burnt offering. Yet Cain brought the works of his own hands to God. He was relying on who he thought he was and his own works to make him acceptable to the Lord. God has never accepted anyone on this basis, and He still doesn’t today.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 5, 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?“]

How We Must Approach God

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24)

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)

Adam and Eve had obtained, of a sort, what they had thought they would obtain by disobeying God. In Genesis 3:22, the Lord declares that the man has indeed, “Become as one of Us, to know good and evil…” But what a wretched “god” he had become! He now  possessed within his character but one attribute of divinity, and certainly not one of the more desirable.

Knowing good and evil carried far more responsibility and burden than it did privilege and comfort. How truly wonderful a state it would be for man to forever remain ignorant of the horrors and atrocities that sinful rebellion brings! Our minds are filled with the thoughts and memories of terrible things that we wish we had never partaken of, witnessed or even knew about.

But innocence, once lost, can never be regained. Once we become aware of our nakedness, we cannot become “unaware” of it. Once humanity became stained by sin, there was no reversing the outcome. With a single act of disobedience – death, sickness, infirmity, guilt, remorse, and every type of imaginable suffering entered the world. It would have been the most deplorable act of cruelty for God to allow Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in such a condition.

So God drove them from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). They were now barred from the place that had been their home; the place through which they had roamed freely and without a care. They were now separated from the God with Whom they had previously directly communed. They were not denied access to God, but the way in which they must approach Him had now changed.

“And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 25:18-22)

When Moses was later given these instructions for constructing the Ark of the Covenant, it must have reminded him of this picture from the Garden of Eden. The Cherubims stood guard over the holiness of God, which must be approached in the prescribed manner. The sin that stains us prohibits us from coming to God on any other terms than those which He lays out. After Adam and Eve’s sin, man must first deal with his sin before he can enjoy communion with God. He must offer a sacrifice, a substitution on his behalf; that his sin might be covered before he can meet with God “between the Cherubims.” God would kill an animal Himself in order to make coats of hide, so that the man and woman would be covered (Gen. 3:21). In so doing, God would show the way in which man must approach Him thereafter.

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

For man today, the prescribed manner in which we must come to God is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not offer the blood of animals for the covering of our sins, but the blood of Christ for the remission of them. He is the perfect Sacrifice, given once and for all, that allows us to come into the presence of God. There is no other way that we can approach Him.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 3, 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?“]

Crushed Heads And Bruised Heels

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

In Genesis 3:15 we have the very first prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Right in the midst of a passage that records the judgment of God, we see a glimmer of hope, a beacon of light that penetrates the hopeless despair that comes with the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the devil.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan accomplished his goal of enticing Adam and Eve to rebel against God. The Lord tells him that he shall continue to “bruise the heel” of man, but the day is coming when his own head shall be crushed. From the woman shall descend One who shall claim the ultimate victory over the devil.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will come to Earth as a Man and succeed where this first man has failed, indeed where all men have failed. The constant struggle between man and the devil, characterized by bruising the heel of the one and the head of the other, will be forever resolved in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ultimate defeat of the enemy of mankind.

“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:20a NKJV)

It is of great assurance to know that the enemy of our souls is a defeated enemy. Certainly, he will continue to strike at our heels, but it is God who crushes him under our feet. Jesus Christ has dealt with him and continues to deal with him, we need not fear the enemy.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published August 29, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

[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?“]

%d bloggers like this: