The Way of Cain vs The Way of Abel

The way of Cain vs The way of Abel:

And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. (Genesis 4:3-5)

Here’s an interesting question that had me puzzled for a long time growing up. Why was Cain’s offering rejected and Abel’s offering accepted? In the Genesis account, the reason isn’t explicitly stated, however a deeper study into God’s word will help us better understand why God rejected one offering and accepted the other. This article aims to answer this question by delving deeper into God’s Holy word.

Similarities between Cain and Abel:

To start us off, we will look at the similarities between Cain and Abel. Growing up, both brothers would have been raised in the same household, they would have had the same upbringing and the same instructions. Both Cain and Abel were hard workers, where Abel was a keeper of flocks (shepherd) and Cain followed in his father Adam’s footsteps being a tiller of the ground / farmer (Genesis 4:2). Both boys had the highest privilege of direct communication with God (Gen 4:3). We also see in Genesis 4:3 that God had set an appointed time of worship and both boys would’ve been instructed by their parents on how to approach God in worship. However, the big difference we see in the Genesis account between the two brothers is the nature of their offerings.


The way of Abel:

Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering (Gen 4:4). Abel’s offering involved the shedding of blood through the sacrifice of an animal. Not only did Abel offer up an animal, but it was the first born and the verse adds ‘and of their fat’ which is viewed as the best part of his flock (Lev 3:16). Abel offered his best unto God. The shedding of blood was necessary because it was an act of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with a Holy God. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4) By faith Abel’s offering was better because he understood his sin nature. He understood the prescribed method of worshiping God according to God’s way rather than his own way. The act of Abel’s offering showed his humility and obedience which pleased God.


The way of Cain:

’But He did not respect Cain and his offering (Gen 4:5a) Cain’s offering involved the works of his hands and unlike Abel, it wasn’t even the best portions of his fruits. God rejected Cain’s offering because it lacked faith. His offering was rejected because Cain did not worship God according to the prescribed way that would’ve been taught to him. God rejected Cain’s offering because it was bloodless which showed he did not recognise his own sinful nature. The way of Cain (Jude 1:11), is rejecting God’s way and trying to please Him another way. And when Cain’s way was rejected by God, rather than humbling himself, repenting and asking for forgiveness, Cain got angry. And this anger led him to murdering his brother. 1 John 3:12 tells us, ‘Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.’ Cain was defiant, wicked and disobedient and God was not pleased with him.


So why the shedding of Blood?

According to Hebrews 9:22b …without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. The shedding of blood was necessary because it shows us the seriousness of sin and the need for a sacrifice to bring about forgiveness of sin. Genesis 3:21 states, Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. God made garments of animal skin for Adam and Eve, showing the shedding of innocent blood to cover their nakedness. This was the first death ever recorded in the bible. God had to show them the seriousness of sin, and the need for both physical and spiritual covering. We remember that Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with plants, by their own efforts but they still felt shame and vulnerability. God Himself provided the animal skins to cover Adam and Eve, foreshadowing the atonement for sin, which required a sacrifice. Leviticus 17:11 states, ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’

No sinner can enter the presence of a Holy God without a blood sacrifice. The shedding of blood represented one person dying in the place of another, serving as an act of atonement for sin. This was a foreshadowing of Jesus as the lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.


What can we learn from all of this:

The reason why Abel’s offering was accepted and Cain’s offering was rejected was because Abel was seeking forgiveness and reconciliation of his sins and he worshipped God according to God’s way. Cain on the other hand did not recognise his sinful nature and did not worship according to God’s way but rather Cain’s way (Jude 1:11) which was the wrong way. What we can learn from Abel is that we are to recognize our sinful nature, we are to humble ourselves and acknowledge our need to be reconciled with God. We must understand that God has given us one way to be reconciled back to Him and that is through His son Jesus who was the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of all our sins. We are to come to God through faith in Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. We are reminded with Jesus words as He says, ‘I AM the way, the truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John14:6).


The Bible is clear, we must put our faith and Hope in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins. He makes it very clear that He is the only way to being redeemed back to God. There is no other way, and we must learn from Cain and not try to do it our way. Sin has come at a cost and the cost of sin is death. Scripture says, ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid this heavy price for us through the shedding of His blood on that cross. If you haven’t made the decision to follow Jesus, we encourage you that by believing in His death, burial and resurrection we have an opportunity to be in right relationship with God. Turn to Jesus, repent of your sins, and trust in Him for your eternal salvation while you still have time. 


Shalom and God bless

The Holy Bible

Fresh Truth Ministries


Blue Letter Bible

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