Why Cain Killed Abel:
First in a Not-So-Cozy Series
I’ve always wondered exactly why God was so much happier with Abel’s sacrifice.
“Because it was meat,” is the usual, rather unsatisfactory answer. I like a good steak but I don’t think this was about vegetarians vs. meat eaters.
First of all, we read of provisions for sacrifices other than meat in the Scriptures. (See Numbers 18:9-12 for an example.)
But another reason this answer has never quite been enough for me is that the laws regarding sacrifices hadn’t been laid out yet.
Who told Abel to offer a meat sacrifice?
You want to read something cool?
“It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.” (Hebrews 11:4 NLT)
It was all about the faith!
Abel didn’t learn about sacrifices at the feet of a teacher. He stepped out in faith, doing something that hadn’t been done before, and as a result of that wound up in Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Faith.
Can you imagine what that looked like? “Hey Abel, why are you slitting the throat of your best sheep? A little gruesome, don’t you think?”
Abel was acting completely on faith, stepping out with “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and offering up a blood sacrifice prophetic of that of Christ’s redemption.
This puts his murder in a whole new light.
Yes, Cain was angry that God favored Abel’s sacrifice. But this murder was prompted by something deeper. Abel didn’t die the death of favored brother.
Abel died the death of a martyred prophet.
In Luke 11, Jesus warned the Pharisees and lawyers: “Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.”
When Satan stirred up that jealousy in Cain, the point was not just to have one brother kill another, as hideous as that was.
It was about killing the prophet and killing the message of redemption.
Abel didn’t just sacrifice one of his flock on a whim. He did it “prompted by faith.” In Abel’s sacrifice, we see the first of many representing the permanent sacrifice on the cross.
It pointed to the cross. The prophet Abel, as all true prophets, pointed to the cross.
When Abel stepped out in faith that day, he might as well have posted a “Kick me!” sign on his back.
Satan used Cain to try to stop the messenger.
This is so important for us to remember. When we have a calling, like Joseph did with his dreams, the enemy will do whatever he can to stop that calling. When we have a message, like Abel, the enemy will do what he can to stop that message.
And we can make no mistake. Every single follower of Christ has a calling and a message.
When we choose to step out in faith and carry the message, we have to recognize that Satan’s goal is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10) He is out to stop the dreamer. He is out to stop the messenger. His goal is to kill the message.
So out we go, with a message and a calling – and a giant “Kick me!” sign on our backs. I am really thankful for the victory that is in Christ Jesus.
God, today help me to be Your message bearer, stepping out in faith and sharing Your Gospel with the world around me, pointing people to the cross. Help me to recognize the ways that the enemy comes against me and be victorious in You.