I couldn’t believe it. The discussion guide we use in Emmanuel UMC’s adult Sunday school class, which has been pretty good up to now, completely “whiffed” in its explanation of why God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s.

Genesis 4:2 …….And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 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 wasn’t because Abel gave the first fruits of his flock and Cain brought “some grain,” and any Old Testament Jew reading the passage would instantly know the real reason.

The story of the brothers’ sacrifices really begins in chapter 3 with Adam and Eve. The word translated “evil” in the name of the tree means more than just abusing someone. The meaning also includes things like pain, sickness, fear, hunger, anger, jealousy, cold, etc. In short, “evil” represents all the bad things that could possibly happen. None of those things were in the world yet, and they had no experience with any of them.

When Adam sinned (it wasn’t Eve’s sin; she wasn’t created yet when God told Adam not to eat the fruit), their first experience with “evil” was fear. I’ve written a lot more about it on my website www.pastorjerrylive.org, and my book, What God Can’t Do.

Anyway, they covered themselves with leaves, but God covered them with animal skins. Animals die when their skins are taken off, so one individual died to cover the sins of another. Look up the “Day of Atonement” and the term “scapegoat” for more background.

The term sin means, “to miss the mark,” and how far we miss it by really doesn’t matter. There won’t be any sin in Heaven, so if God wants us there, we gotta get rid of that sin.

A fella named Paul wrote that, “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” Aha! That’s it. When somebody sins, somebody has to die, since the “penalty for sin is death.” The shed blood proves that someone has died in connection with that sin, either the sinner, or his Redeemer, Jesus.

Without Christ, all will pay for their own sin. That’s why the New Testament focuses so much on the Blood of Christ cleansing the sins of the “redeemed,” and why this was such a huge blunder of the study guide editor.

So back to Cain and Abel. The sacrifice of Cain was bloodless, which means he was saying to God, “I am without sin.” God was angry with Cain for saying that, and He’s not going to be happy with anyone else saying or implying that either, but that is the message the world blares out day and night. God gave Cain another chance to “do the right thing,” and continues to do so with the world. But not forever.

A fella once told me that an oral agreement is worth the paper it’s written on. In other words: nothing. So is a “bloodless sacrifice.”

Author's Bio: 

Pastor Jerry L. Lewis is married (same girl 42 years), a retired career schoolteacher, and loves to write and speak. Other careers have included building contractor, missionary in New York, and United Methodist pastor in Ohio. He designed and built his own website to provide self help and guidance, and also to promote his first book, “What God Can’t Do.” His writing is mostly non-fiction. You’ll probably find him writing or in the back garage hatching up some new “labor saving” invention.
website http://www.pastorjerrylive.org
and http://www.theeffectivelife.com