4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
I have always wondered what the difference between Abel and Cain’s offerings were? What made one pleasing to God and what made one not pleasing to God? Cain’s worship was not acceptable, whereas Abel’s worship was. The difference between the two offerings is not clear in the passage in an explicit sense. Was it that Cain’s offering was not accepted because it was not a blood sacrifice – there is no evidence for this and it seems that both offerings, in themselves, were acceptable. Cain’s offering of “fruits of the soil” (v.3) was as appropriate for his occupation as Abel’s “firstborn of his flock” (v.4) was for his occupation as a shepherd it seems to me. So I do not think it is the offering that was acceptable or not. It seems to me I should look deeper at the attitude of the giver rather than adequacy of the gift. Whatever the cause of God’s rejection of Cain’s offering, Cain’s response was twofold: (1) anger against God and (2) anger against his brother. This shows something of Cain’s heart.
I am struck by the heart of Cain. What is in my heart? Am I open hearted to God and to others. Do I truly love the Lord with all my heart or do I bring ‘offerings’ that are actually unacceptable because of a bad attitude.
Father, keep my heart clean before You – give me courage to be truly open to You.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta