Why was Abel’s offering accepted and not Cain’s?
Genesis 4:1-8 tells the story; “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And ABEL WAS A KEEPER OF SHEEP, but CAIN WAS A TILLER OF THE GROUND. And in process of time it came to pass, that CAIN BROUGHT OF THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND AN OFFERING unto the LORD. And ABEL, HE ALSO BROUGHT OF THE FIRSTLINGS OF HIS FLOCK and of the fat thereof. And THE LORD HAD RESPECT UNTO ABEL AND TO HIS OFFERING: BUT UNTO CAIN AND TO HIS OFFERING HE HAD NOT RESPECT. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and IF THOU DOEST NOT WELL, SIN LIETH AT THE DOOR. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
One problem with Cain’s offering was that it was a “bloodless” offering. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with BLOOD; AND WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION.” Cain brought of the fruit of the ground — his own works, instead of a blood offering.
Cain would have known about the necessity of a blood offering, because when his folks sinned, the Lord had killed animals, and clothed Adam and Eve with the skins. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make COATS OF SKINS, and clothed them.” Adam and Eve had made themselves coverings of fig leaves, Genesis 3:7, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed FIG LEAVES together, and made themselves aprons,” but those did not cover their sin. A blood sacrifice was necessary. Although that took place before Cain and Abel’s births, they obviously were taught later what had happened. Abel obeyed by bringing an animal sacrifice, but Cain did not.
A blood sacrifice was actually a sacrifice of “faith,” because it looked ahead to the one supreme sacrifice that God would make for man’s sin. Hebrews 11:4 says, “BY FAITH ABEL OFFERED UNTO GOD A MORE EXCELLENT SACRIFICE THAN CAIN, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
Another problem with Cain was his heart and attitude about the whole thing. Genesis 4:6,7 says, “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, SIN LIETH AT THE DOOR.” This was obviously not a “one time problem” that Cain had in his life. He obviously had poor feelings toward his brother from other situations as well. It is doubtful that he would kill his brother the very first time that his brother was commended, and he was not. Usually that is a thing that builds over time, and the feelings continue to get worse and worse. God will not accept a sacrifice that is brought with ill feelings. Matthew 5:23,24 says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; LEAVE THERE THY GIFT BEFORE THE ALTAR, AND GO THY WAY; FIRST BE RECONCILED TO THY BROTHER, AND THEN COME AND OFFER THY GIFT.” Cain obviously did not follow this principle, either.
Cain and Abel’s lives were no doubt ones of friction when they were around each other, because I John 3:11-13 says, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. NOT AS CAIN, WHO WAS OF THAT WICKED ONE, and slew his brother. AND WHEREFORE SLEW HE HIM? BECAUSE HIS OWN WORKS WERE EVIL, AND HIS BROTHER’S RIGHTEOUS. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Cain was living for sin, and Abel was living for God, and that was a constant rebuke to Cain. Proverbs 29:27 says, “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and HE THAT IS UPRIGHT IN THE WAY IS ABOMINATION TO THE WICKED.” That is why Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Those who are bent on sin do not like to be around those who want to live for God.
Are you saved and serving the Lord faithfully? Then do not be surprised at the world’s hatred that will be shown at times. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:13).