Why Cain Killed Abel: The Not-So-Cozy Series

Why Cain Killed Abel:

First in a Not-So-Cozy Series

BeFunky_stone-wallHow much have you thought about Cain and Abel? Beyond just as a sad, brief story between Adam & Eve and Noah in your Bible story book?

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.

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On darts, missiles and clenched jaws…

Ephesians 6

I don’t think the shield of faith is supposed to give you clenched jaws.

But judging by my tense shoulder muscles and that old familiar TMJ ache, that’s where I’ve been attempting to carry the shield of faith this week.

Or not.

People hear “spiritual warfare” and they think of head-spinning, pea-soup-spitting, gutteral-noise-making, wild-eyed people requiring some super-hired holy person with great Scriptural knowledge.

Warfare in the spiritual realm doesn’t usually look like that.

“Fiery darts,” by the way, translates as “missile, dart, javelin, arrow.” We’re talking weapons of all sizes. Sometimes you get missiles, sometimes darts.

The missiles are ones that we often think to pull out the shield for – “Run for shelter! That’s a biggie!”

The darts? Not so much.

      “What am

I

    going to do about this?”
      “Where
    is that going to come from?”
      “How can

I

    take care of that?”

Clenched jaws. Sore muscles.

What is it about the little things that makes me forget that I already have a shield of faith?

When we see the Greek word “faith” used in the Bible, it is always from God. It is never something that can be produced by people. That thrills me. I’m not so great at this on my own. The Roman shield to which Paul referred was big. I have full protection.Shield of Faith

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

Cool, huh? And there’s more.

Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

My problems right now aren’t huge. Not in the grand scheme of things. But they are big to me. And you better believe that the enemy is going to utilize every negative thing in my life to make me worry, to fill me with anxiety, to make me walk around with a clenched jaw.

Fiery darts. Shield of faith. Flaming missiles. Shield of faith.

And Paul said it quenches them. Extinguishes them. Puts them out.

Neither Paul nor Jesus said the problems automatically go away. The darts (or missiles) aren’t necessarily the problems themselves. Usually, it is the way the enemy uses your problems. Jesus said we “will have tribulation.” But He promises peace – “that in Me you may have peace.”

Peace.

Just the word itself brings a calming breath.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Paul says the shield of faith extinguishes the attacks of “the wicked one.”

And because we don’t always recognize problems as attacks, we don’t always realize we need to fight them.

Life’s problems may be just that. Life’s problems. But we are told to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8)

He is going to take advantage of every situation.

What didn’t strike me until writing this, is that this verse immediately follows the one I have claimed as my own since fourth grade:

“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Another breath. The jaw relaxes.

The preface to that is verse six: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”

Cares and tribulations come. We are assured of that.

I have to humble myself before God.

Then when I’m humble enough to realize that I can’t fix it on my own, I’m able to cast my cares on Him. In faith.

“Can’t do this on my own, Lord.”

    “God, please, help me to trust.”
      “Father, will you fix this? It’s a mess.”

Because He cares for me. He wants me to. I’m really not being a pain when I ask for His help.

That’s all part of vigilance. Of being steadfast in the faith.

It’s hard to hold up my shield of faith when I’m holding on to a pack of troubles!

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