Abel -- A Worshipping Faith
In Hebrews 11, we are told that "By Faith", Abel offered God a more excellent sacrifice than his brother Cain. We are also told that God testified of the excellence of his gift. What are we to make of this? Let's look at it more closely.
One of my favorite things that Pastor Sam says goes like this: One day he was asking God about the Pygmies in Australia and Africa and he wondered how God could hold them accountable to be saved when they had never heard the Gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit answered him and said "How do you know they haven't heard? How do you know what I have or haven't told them? I am able to visit and speak to whomever I choose. I'm God." The principle here is quite unmistakeable. God can speak to anyone, anywhere, and anytime through His Spirit. We are wrong to just assume that they don't know and aren't held accountable. I personally believe that this was the case with Cain and Abel.
The Bible says that "in the process of time" or when the time had come that they brought their sacrifices to the LORD. They must have come at the same time to the same place because Cain saw that Abel's sacrifice was accepted while his was not. He saw that Abel pleased God while he did not. When Cain confronted God about it he was told by God, If you did well, wouldn't you have been accepted? And if you didn't do well, what do you expect? Your sin lies at your door.
So, even though the story is sparse on the details, here is what I believe: God established the sacrifice. The shedding of blood for the remission of sin could not have sprung from the mind of man. God told them when, where and what to bring to satisfy Him. I cannot believe that Abel got lucky because he was a shepherd and Cain got the short end of the stick because he was a farmer. No. Just like the Holy Ghost speaking to the heart of the pygmy, He had instructed these brothers on how to approach Him. Abel came to God after putting flesh to death. Cain couldn't bring himself to yield to that. Surely his acceptance required the works of his hands. He toiled in the hot sun. He planted. He watered. He steadfastly thought to Himself, "I know what God said, but surely He's mistaken. I'll show Him what He really wants." Wait till he sees what I can bring Him." Abel trusted God and he said to himself "Surely the Lamb is enough."
Then Abel came to God in Trust and Obedience and He worshipped with a pure heart. I can hear what some of you are thinking: Come on Pastor Ed, How do you know that Abel worshipped? Although the shedding of blood by itself can show obedience, without the proper yielding of the heart, sacrifice is nothing more than needless slaughter and will never be accepted by God. The entirety of the Old Testament teaches us that. The fire of the Holy Ghost confirmed the heart of God as Abel's sacrifice was consumed and his faith was approved. The works of Cain's hands lay there dead, proving nothing more to God than stubborn disobedience.
As children of God, there is nothing more powerful than to give Him exactly What He wants, Where He wants, and When He wants it. Although the story of Cain and Abel is short, there is a reason why it starts the story of faith told in Hebrews 11. It teaches obedience, trust, worship, and above all else, that no matter how much of our works we think we should bring, the Lamb will always be enough!
Pastor Ed Brewer