Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Cain & Abel
Cain has to be one of the most infamous characters in the Bible. He's known as the first murderer. What he isn't known for is being the first worshipper. And yet...
1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.
2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,
It was Cain who made the first offering. We get it into our heads that Cain & Abel perhaps had a competition to see who could offer the best offering and Cain lost. But that's not what happened, some versions of the Bible state it was at a later time that Abel bought his offering.
Is this an important point? probably not, what is important is that Cain was definitely first and the instigator.
So, what went wrong? Why was it rejected?
Both Cain & Abel had good professions, one a keeper of sheep, the other a farmer. The substance of the offering was OK. There's nothing wrong with offering God grain, seed, flour, oil...it's all stuff prescribed by Moses as acceptable.
So, I ask again...what went wrong for Cain's offering of worship to be rejected? Remember, at this point in time there's no murder been committed, and God isn't judging him for something he will do but hasn't yet.
There's a massive clue later in Hebrews:
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
So, faith plays a part. But how has it played a part?
Romans 10 tells us: 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
We really need to pull this verse apart to get to the bottom of things.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice. By faith. Faith comes by hearing, and we hear through the word of God.
So, working this out, Abel MUST have heard God say something on the subject of worship/offerings/sacrifices and he then offered something after he heard because he acted on his faith.
Sorry, if I'm really spelling this out, it's just so important to get to grips with this simple story and truth before we answer the big question of Cain.
It would have been impossible for Abel to offer anything in faith if he hadn't have heard God.
So, does this mean then that Cain didn't hear God? there was no offering by faith? it was just a good idea he had?
I think the answer to those questions has to be a yes, yes and yes.
But surely God wouldn't reject Cain's offering because he hadn't heard God say anything on the subject and therefor couldn't offer in faith? Would He?
Surely God would look with kindness on any offering of worship. This just can't be the reason that led to history's first murder. Can it?
Let me ask you, what else could it have been?
The book of Romans talks a lot about the flesh and the Spirit. How both are at war with each other. God cannot accept something done from a fleshly heart, or to put it another way, He will only acknowledge an act birthed from the Spirit.
If this is starting to sound a little far fetched to you, think over some of the Bible's greatest stories, how people responded to God and saw Him reward their faith with His presence and power. Then think of people who did things their own way, and the punishments that followed.
To me this story of Cain & Abel is a huge wake up call to Christianity. It says to me that no matter how holy or religious or kindly an activity is your involved with, if the Holy Spirit has not given you the idea, or it's origins are not in the word, God will not back it. Have you ever been involved with outreaches or events that appear to win no souls and see no fruit. We console ourselves by saying we had maybe 1 good conversation, that we know it may take several conversations before someone accepts Christ, and perhaps this was only the first, we put a spin on our events to cover up the obvious failures they are, but really we need to come clean and say it was a failure that the New Testament would not have seen.
So, should Cain have just done nothing? Yes. Again, I think one of the hardest things for a Christian to do, is nothing. He feels he must in some way work for God, do something for Him, go out and start a Church, put on a meeting, look for the bigger and better. but again, if God is not telling you to do this, then it's origins HAVE to be in the flesh, and therefor God will not back them. In fact God is at war against them.
So how do we know when God is telling us to do something?
Most people will acknowledge that when he has spoken to them, they KNEW. You can also read the Word and have a knowledge of His commands to you.
Thinking this through over the months God showed this to me I have come to a place where I realise God won't micro-manage you. He wants to see you make good decisions yourself. He doesn't really have a lot to say on the subject of whether you should have tea or coffee, where white or black, He want's you to make a decision. There are bigger decisions to be made than this though. Such as where shall I live, where shall I work, who shall I marry, and when it comes to the Church, His body, He has a LOT to say and we exclude Him at our peril. It is in this type of decision we need to hear the Spirit talking, and if we hear nothing, to do nothing until we do.
I will finish this lengthy spiel, to just say that there is also a daily walk with Jesus where we need to hear and obey. A time when we will be walking along and the Lord will tell us to do something unusual, to break from our routine or our plans and turn aside and achieve something specific. this might be to talk to someone, to pray for someone, to do a secret act of kindness...it could be anything the Spirit directs you to do. That is when we need to obey and see God back up that act of obediance and faith with His power and presence. What we mustn't do is then think, WOW, that was great, I'm going to do it again to that person now. That is when we get fleshy.