Cain and Abel launched the human race into a fallen world created by the sin of Adam. Their characters were symbolized by their offerings. They were the product of the same home, brothers made in God’s image. They both sensed the value of bringing a sacrifice to God. They were, no doubt, taught to do this by their parents, and they had certainly heard the story many times of how their fallen parents covered themselves with fig leaves, but God had clothed them with animal skins. His requirement is a blood sacrifice. They understood the meaning and clearly knew what God required. But the two men were very different.
When the time came, Cain rebelled! It’s that simple. He brought the works of his own hands as an offering to God. He brought “fig leaves.” It was as though he was saying in a quiet way, “I remember that you, God, covered my parents with animal skins. You demanded a blood sacrifice, but I’ll come to you my way. I’ll bring my own offering.” Satan’s venom was pulsating through his veins. His offering was a product of his pride. It’s as though he was saying, “Look what I have grown myself.”
Abel, on the other hand, was different. By faith, he brought a blood sacrifice to God. He knew that God required death, which was symbolized by the shedding of blood. He had a spiritual nature, a spiritually fertile mind, that Cain did not have. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s (Hebrews 11:4). No surprise!
Cain became furious. God gave him every opportunity to make things right, to bring the right sacrifice. At this point Cain knew precisely what God required. God told Cain that sin was waiting at the door to devour him, but it was not too late to offer the right sacrifice. Cain had no excuse at all. However, he wanted to do things his way. His rebellion ultimately led to murder. Rebellion and murder were already in his heart.
John pulled off Cain’s mask and revealed his true identity. Cain rebelled against God and killed his brother because he was of the evil one (1 John 3:12, NASB). John’s words are clear, powerful, and cannot be misunderstood. John clearly spelled out the major difference between true brothers. In fact, Jesus called Abel “a prophet.”
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:34-35)
A prophet is one who speaks for God. What did Abel say? Nowhere in Scripture do we find any words ever spoken by Abel. He spoke with his actions. He brought the right sacrifice. Cain was from the source of Satan, the seed of Satan, and Abel was of God. Jesus confirmed the truth that Satan’s seed is alive and well on this planet. He spoke these powerful words to the Pharisees.
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44)
As amazing as this must sound, every human being comes into this world under the power of darkness.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)
I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:16-18)
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
God must remove Satan’s blindness and allow the gospel to penetrate the mind. Satan’s world is in rebellion against God (Romans 3:10-18). The entire human race is spiritually dead and yet blind to this fact. God is in the process of calling some, like Adam and Eve and Abel, to Himself. If He did not, none would come (1 Corinthians 2:14; John 6:44, 65). Salvation is of God!
Cain’s rebellion led to the murder of his brother and the retributive judgment of God. Cain went out from God’s presence (Genesis 4:16). This is an ill-omened statement. It becomes the seed truth for life without God, the root of secular humanism. Secular means “not religious,” and humanism is the belief that man has the answers to his own destiny.
This entire scene points clearly to the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only means of forgiveness. Just as Cain clearly knew, so do we. No one can ever receive forgiveness before God except through the offering made by Jesus Christ (John 14:6).