November 10, 2017
Genesis 4:2-5, 8
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The numbers in the Bible have meaning! For instance, three is the number of the Trinity – God’s number! Seven is the number of perfection! Six is the number of fallen man – one always short of perfection! But I want to concentrate on the number two! And it occurs many times in Scripture, so this will be a series. We will start with parts of Genesis 4:2 through 5, and verse 8:
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And
…Cain brought an offering of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought
of the firstlings of his flock and their fat. And the LORD respected Abel
and his offering. But He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain
was very angry….Now Cain talked with Abel…when they were in the field…
[and] Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Two…! Two brothers; two ways to approach God; two responses of the LORD; two reactions to the LORD’s responses; two results that forever affected humanity!
This is not the first example I could have used for Two…! For Adam and Eve would make for a good discussion. But they have often been the focus of studies, where Cain and Abel have taken more of a back seat. So let’s look at Cain and Abel…
• Two brothers – We learn from verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 4 that Cain was Adam and Eve’s firstborn. Abel was born sometime after.
✞ God had promised our first parents as He announced to the snake in Genesis 3:15 (the proto evangelium – the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Of course, this refers to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who had His heel bruised by the crucifixion, but crushed the head of Satan – a death blow! (See John 12:31; Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:10).
✞ From what Eve exclaimed when Cain was born, “I have gotten a man from the LORD…” (Genesis 4:1), she must have thought this was the One who would defeat the devil and restore humankind to paradise!
• Two ways to approach God – Each brother brought an offering according to his livelihood: Cain brought an offering of the ground and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock.
✞ It is logical that the brothers thought, “This is what I do. This is what I will bring to God.”
✞ But, as God said in Isaiah 55:8 and 9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are
My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
▸ Why is that? Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart [of fallen sinful man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ”
▸ And so our thoughts are bent, crooked, and totally missing the mark of God’s standard! What is His standard? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “…you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Only in Christ can we reach the Father’s standard! And it consists of Jesus’ perfection – given freely to us upon receiving Him as our Savior! It is never earned! (See Ephesians 1:6; 2:8, 9).
• Two responses of the LORD – Why did He accept Abel’s offering, but reject Cain’s?
✞ Cain first – his offering was of the fruit of the ground – vegetables!
✞ Abel’s offering was of the firstlings of his flock – involving the shedding of blood!
▸ All the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially when blood was shed, point toward the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (see John 1:29, 36), whose “…blood cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:9).
▸ God had already shown what was necessary for a sacrifice when, as it says in Genesis 3:21, “…for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” This necessitated the first sacrifice of blood for the covering of man!
▸ Although it does not say, there was probably further instruction given to Adam and Eve (and maybe also to Cain and Abel) concerning proper sacrifice!
• Two reactions to the LORD’s responses – both concerning Cain!
✞ The first is what God wanted Cain to do! In Genesis 4:6 and 7 (God’s Word to the Nations), the LORD said to Cain:
Why are you angry, and why do you look disappointed? If you do well,
won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do well, sin is lying outside your
door ready to attack. It wants to control you, but you must master it.
In other words, “Don’t give in to sin! Turn to God and let Him handle it! ”
✞ But Cain gave in to sin! He let his anger take control and murdered his brother! Why? Because, as it says in I John 3:12, “…Cain…murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” Well, that’s one way to handle the disappointment of not winning – kill the one in first place! We know from further study of the scripture that Cain never repented of his sin! (See Genesis 4:9-17). And he fathered a godless line of descendants! (See Genesis 4:18-24).
• That brings us to our last point: Two results that forever affected humanity!
✞ Abel has always been an example of a Godly person following the right way! (See Matthew 23:25; Hebrews 11:4).
✞ Cain not only fathered a Godless line of descendants, he has forever been held up as an example of what not to be and do! As it is written in I John 3:11 and 12, “…we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother.”
You have two choices! Follow the right one!