In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. Genesis 4:3-5 ESV
All royals have a protocol. Perhaps they receive visitors only on Tuesdays, require the wearing of certain attire, and expect their subjects to approach with a curtsy or a bow. Upon entering the palace, people are usually instructed on long-held traditions by someone on the sovereign’s staff. Such is the case when entering the presence of Queen Elizabeth, for instance. Anyone who gains an audience with her would expect to defer to what is customary, to what the Queen requires.
Cain and Abel had both been made aware of God and of His holiness. They knew that to approach Him, they needed to make a blood sacrifice. He was God, after all. This was Yahweh’s protocol. Abel respected God and brought what God required, the firstborn of his flock. Cain disrespected God and snuffed protocol. With no intention of making a blood sacrifice, he brought fruits and vegetables instead. When God refused his gift, Cain was incensed, and his face fell. He didn’t think God treated him fairly.
I think of another man, also angry, when God required something that seemed ludicrous. God’s command grated against this sinful man’s sense of justice. Jonah was told to go and preach to the Ninevites, enemies of God’s people. After a detour in the belly of a large fish, Jonah repented and obeyed. Many came to trust in God but Jonah did not celebrate. God asked him, “Do you have a right to be angry?” At that moment, Jonah and Cain were similar.
I have strained against God’s ways. My elevated opinion of myself and my distrust of the way He ruled my world fractured my relationship with Him for a time. I was brought low as I was eaten alive by isolation and fear, the undesirable harvest of unjustified anger.
I often live as though I have the right to rule my life. I don’t. I follow Jesus today who only did what His Father led Him to do. Though perfect, He didn’t have a full understanding of every step He was to make. He wouldn’t have God’s complete perspective until He rose from the dead. Yet, my perfect Brother, Jesus, made no autonomous decisions. As a result, He took no wasted steps, enjoyed peace, and learned perfect obedience. That same result is mine as I humble myself to defer to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When I don’t understand You, anger is inappropriate. I extend my faith to trust in You. You are omnipotent and omniscient and when I walk with You, I know perfect peace. Amen