It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4
What shapes a person’s view of God? Much of it lies in their history. Abel’s worldview was largely defined by what transpired in the lives of his parents. I can imagine his childhood. He heard from his mom and dad (Adam and Eve) what it was like to walk with God in a place called paradise. He heard the incredible stories of their assignments which had been joyful and wonderfully productive. He knew the account of his parent’s sin and their expulsion from the garden. The weight of their losses and their regrets had to have hung over their lives like a shroud. He lived with the effects of their grief as well as their longings for how things used to be.
How far away did they move from the blocked entrance to the garden? Perhaps not far. Maybe they went to the perimeter of Eden often to lament their past choices and remember its former glory. We’re not told but if we read the story with our imagination, we feel the tragedy of their banishment and its ongoing effect on their lives.
I suspect that Abel grew up in an environment where sin was taken seriously as were the sacrifices that were needed to atone for those sins. His respect and trust in God emerged out of the ashes of his parent’s choices. While he could have harbored a root of bitterness against God for His divine judgement on his parent’s sin, He didn’t. What God required of him is exactly what Abel provided; the firstborn and healthiest of his flocks. God was pleased with his offering.
Cain grew up in the same family. He heard the same stories. Yet, what a reminder that children can respond so differently though they come from the same environment. He chose to have issues with God. Was there a root of bitterness against God for driving his parents out of the garden? Did he think the curse was unfair? Was he angry with his parents for ruining his life and future? Did his older brother’s respect for God grate against his own misery? Apparently. Cain murdered Abel – making him the first martyr for the cause of Christ.
Abel’s faith was commended by God and though his remains, more than 60 centuries old, have long turned to dust, his voice still speaks. So pleased was God by his sacrifice that he is recounted in this great lineup of faith heroes. The reason for this is worth every moment I ponder it. Such a short story. Such a poignant illustration of a God-honoring sacrifice. Yet how large an impact!
Don’t let me miss what their lives beg to teach. Amen