What’s so bad about Cain’s offering? This story troubles us right? I would be a little mad too! The writer of Hebrews tells us that Cain didn’t give his offering in faith, perhaps begrudgingly. Either way God just tells Cain to do better. Cain’s response should have been real simple: “Yes, Sir!”
But instead Cain is jealous and maybe frustrated with God. Maybe he thought it wasn’t fair. Instead of applauding his brother or desiring to make His Creator and Provider happy, he could only think of himself. Sound familiar? God even warns him to not let his envy get the best of him. Sure enough, perhaps because he can’t kill God, he kills something God loves, his brother.
It’s hard to be wrong and to admit it. When we don’t deal with it we make it worse for ourselves and others. God is merciful. He is for us. He was for Cain. He even had mercy for him after his horrendous sin. When we doubt that, we can look to His love in action; Jesus on the cross for us.
Consider those you you envy. Instead, thank God for their blessing. What grudges are you holding? Say them to the Lord. He forgives relentlessly.
Abel’s blood calls out for justice. It declares wrongdoing. It condemns Cain as a murderer of his own brother. What signs in your life speak against you? An angry neighbor, an ex-wife, a scar?
The writer of Hebrews connects this first murder to Mt. Sinai where the Israelites were first given the Law and Ten Commandments. He refers to the lightening and thunder that accompanied God’s words. The people of Israel were afraid to approach Him.
The Law is good. God loves justice and so should we. We should be afraid of God and punishment. There is clearly absolute right and wrong that are not just the result of some arbitrary social construction. Otherwise, why do all cultures and religions throughout history follow nearly identical moral codes?
Fearing God and feeling guilt isn’t irrational. Yet God has come down from the heavens. God has put away His frightening face and taken on our flesh so we may approach Him, no matter our guilt. That’s why the angels say, “Do not fear.”
More than that, God has bled real blood. But a blood that speaks better than Abel. Although it’s the same story. Cain couldn’t kill God, so he killed Abel. But God doesn’t escape our anger or Cains. He let’s us kill Him in Jesus, our brother, our God.
The blood spilt on the cross doesn’t just accuse us as God and brother haters, it heals us. It doesn’t just speak law and condemnation but forgiveness and grace. God laid down his life for Cain and for you! He received our anger. He turned the other cheek. He loved His enemy. He turned it into grace. He buried it forever and transformed death into resurrection.
Friend, you can approach God with all your sins. It’s why Christ died. You can eat and drink with Him in holy communion. Do not be afraid! Christ’s blood speaks a better word than Abel’s. You are forgiven.