Death spread to all, yet the way to life is clearly made known (Rom. 5:12-14). Cain and Abel became prototypes, marking the way to life and the way of death, the way of darkness and the way of light. Their lives put into place two large pieces into the new heaven and new earth puzzle. The brothers, through their offerings to God, launched a vivid “can’t miss” contrast of the result of corrupt human seed. They were brothers. They were the product of the same home. They were both made in God’s image. This was made evident by the fact that they instinctively knew the value of bringing a sacrifice to Him. They had no doubt heard many times how their fallen parents had hidden their guilt from the face of God by covering themselves with fig leaves.
God had countered by covering them with animal skins, thus making a vivid can’t miss contrast – God requires a blood offering. They both understood the meaning behind the animal skins and clearly knew what God demanded. But the two men were different – very different. Now it was time to expose the difference. So how did the sacrificial service to God go? When the time came, Abel by faith followed the clear path of blood, but Cain rebelled! It’s that simple. Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord (Gen. 4:3). I catch here a small glimpse of the strong bent in sinful man toward “the worship of the earth” that would surface later through a man named Nimrod. Cain was saying, “God, I remember that You covered my parents with animal skins. You obviously demand a blood sacrifice, but I will do my own thing; I will approach you my way. I will bring my own offering.” It is just a thought! The “I will,” corruption may have been pulsating in his brain. Sound familiar! Satan’s venom of pride and power was clearly within him.
Abel, on the other hand, was different. He knew beyond question what God required. By faith, he brought a blood sacrifice to God. He knew and he followed through. Unlike Cain, he made the right choice. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. No surprise. “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Heb. 11:4).
Cain became furious. This is what I want the reader to understand. God gave Cain every opportunity to make things right, to bring the right sacrifice. God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door ready to consume him (Gen. 4:6-7). All he had to do to prevent that from happening was bring the right sacrifice, bring a blood offering to God. Cain then knew without any doubt what God required. He already knew but God was making this plain to us. God told Cain that it was not too late to bring to Him the right sacrifice. Go do it! Cain, however, wanted his own way, and he seized it. Evidently filled with pride and power – he seized it. He rebelled! He clearly and knowingly sinned against God. And as always, sin leads to death. He hated his brother, and he killed him. And why did Cain murder Abel? Because Cain’s works were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 Jn. 3:12).
Rebellion and murder were already in his heart; his offering and actions just expressed it. The apostle John pulled off Cain’s mask and revealed his true identity. He said that Cain rebelled against God and killed his brother because he was from the source 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 the brothers. Jesus, on the other hand, 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” (Matt. 23:34-35).
A prophet is one who speaks for God. It was never recorded that Abel ever said anything. Yet, remember the words of the writer of Hebrews: “And through it [the blood offering] he, being dead, still speaks” (Heb. 11:4). He spoke by his action. In fact, he shouted! He brought the right sacrifice – a blood sacrifice.
This is a can’t miss illustration pointing to the shed blood of Jesus Christ as payment for our sin. But 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 astonishing as this must sound, every human being comes into this world under the power of darkness – born into Satan’s kingdom through Adam’s corrupt seed. In order to live with God forever, one must be removed from the kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom of light. This can only happen through a new birth. God “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” (Col. 1:13-14)