It boggles the mind why this happened. Both of them gave their very best, yet one was “respected” and the other, not, why? Here is the narrative:
Genesis 4:3-5 “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell”
It appears that the tradition of offering to the Lord was already established at that time. And they gave what they deemed to be the best. However, the text says that one was respected and the other was not. First off, what does “respected” in the original Hebrew mean? The root word comes from sha`ah also meaning bewildered or dismayed. From the context, the offering of Cain was not “respected” while that of Abel was. But, why? What could be the reason?
Many have written possible reasons/explanations of this narrative. It is a fact that God commanded the children of Israel at the time of their harvests to present the first fruits of their wheat, barley, olives, and the like to the Lord, and said in Numbers 18:12-13, that the best of these things which the children of Israel offered to the Lord was to be given to the priests as their portion”. So it would appear that up to that point the offering itself was not the problem.” The offering itself was not the problem, really?
Another reason given was based on I John 3:12, speaks of Cain as that wicked one and his works were evil. “We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.“(NLT). Here, the text appears to suggest that Cain, being an “evil one”, for what he “had been doing” can not be respected.
Three things emerge from this narrative;
1. The character description of who and what was the person giving the offering. It says: Cain had “been doing evil things” while Abel was “doing what was righteous“. The person has to be perfect.
2. The origin of the offering itself. It says: Cain offered the fruit “from the ground“, earthy, while Abel offered “firstling of the flock“(firstborn). It has to come from other than ground/earth. The “flock” did not come from “the ground” and had to be “firstling“.
3. Who decides on defining 1 and 2. Only God is the decision-maker about what he “respects” and “like”.
What message was God sending?
Consider the following:
God didn’t like “fruit of the ground“. He didn’t like the fruit from “the earth“,(lifeless) which is related to “hades” or death. Instead, God chose living-representation as in “firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” coming from living progenitor. This presaged the future “Passover Lamb“, the “firstborn among many brethren“ and the “fruit from above/heavenly”. This is the only “true offering” that the Father planned for mankind for reconciliation of all humanity.
Meaning, YHVH/Jesus has to start the process of salvation with his incarnation, receive in-dwelling of Holy Spirit at River Jordan, develop “fruits of the Holy Spirit of power”, die at Calvary for reconciliation of humanity because of Adam’s sin. That, before anyone of us bears fruit of the Holy Spirit, this has to be given first to Jesus after his resurrection then through the in-dwelling in us of this “spirit-power”, Jesus will be “with and abide/abide with us by through the Holy Spirit in us”.
This in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in us develops us to be “one” with the Father as man-Jesus became the first human to be “one” with him.
Before the beginning of time, there was already a planned offering to the Father for reconciliation of mankind; this was an unwritten covenant between the Father and Son. The narrative of Abel and Cain is futuristic. It is an expression of that plan for which the “offering of Abel was respected and Cain’s was not”. However, Abel’s offering was only a “type” and the “anti/type” was still generations later. God the Father is the decision-maker as to what, when, how, where and who that actual offering would be.
There is no better offering, a “sweet savor” to the Father but an incarnated YHVH/Creator, the man-Jesus, the one perfect person/human who would give his life for mankind to pay for the consequence (death) of the sin of one man, Adam (Romans 5:12-21). However, while his death achieved gift of reconciliation for humanity, man-Jesus’ “fruits of the spirit” gained him reward of resurrection into eternal life to then receive the gift of Holy Spirit of power as promised to be bestowed to us for “ongoing creation“.
Original post (Hyperlink version): August 15, 2019.