Men and Women of Faith: ABEL

Continuing our long-term series on the characters of faith found in Hebrews chapter 11, Scott Woodburn spoke on the story of Cain and Abel, focusing on the faith displayed by Abel. Before stepping into the Word of God, however, Scott briefly shared his testimony, recounting how the Lord saved him as a young man when he came into contact with both Christian company and with the glorious Gospel.

Moving on to Genesis 4, where we read that God accepted the offering of Abel, we also find that the offering of Cain was rejected. This made Cain very angry, against both his brother and against God. Driven by his anger, Cain then killed his own brother. As with many who read the Scriptures, Scott shared how he first, as a young child, sympathised with Cain. Why should his offering be rejected? Why would God treat him so unfairly? But as Scott grew in his knowledge of Scripture, he began to realise that there was a far deeper understanding to be had of this passage. Allow the Bible to interpret itself, which is how it is meant to be, we read in Hebrews 11 that Abel came to God by faith. Abel came believing in the holiness of God and the importance of the sacrifice.

Cain, on the other hand, did not come with either faith or a sacrifice. He came his own way, of the work of his hands, in a faithless and selfish act. This is key to why Cain's offering was not accepted. The sacrifice is critical, as it points back to Genesis 3 and the clothing of animal coats provided to Adam and Eve. It was from innocent animals who had to die that a 'covering' might be made for sin. This set a standard that only the shedding of blood could atone for sins; only the sacrifice of an innocent party could satisfy the wrath and justice of God. That standard was what was ignored by Cain.

The sacrifice also points us forward. The sacrifice of an innocent lamb, for the sins of an individual, is a beatiful picture of the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The Lord Jesus, in dying on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the whole world, became the ultimate sacrifice - the final sacrifice. In Christ, those who trust in Him have been set free from the stranglehold of sin. We have been redeemed by faith. We have been redeemed from sin by the faith that saved Abel, the same faith that saved Abraham and the faith that saved Paul.

The story of Cain and Abel is not about Cain, and how unfairly he was treated. It is not even about Abel, and how he was accepted of God. It is about Christ. It is about His love, His suffering and His redeeming power through His precious blood. Are we trying to get through life our own way, relying on the favour of God on our good deeds? Do we reject the notion that there can only be one way to get to Heaven and insist on testing God with alternatives? Or do we humbly accept our own worthlessness, as Abel did, knowing that Christ alone has the power to forgive sin. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Impossible. Abel had the joy of being the first believer to be received into Glory, as the redeemed of God. Be sure that you will join him, by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.

"...to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Heb 12:24

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