The boys had grown into manhood. They had been accustomed to watching their parents year after year bring an offering unto the Lord throughout their childhood. It was God Himself who had killed the first animal in the Garden, spilling its blood to provide a covering for their parent’s sin, who had disobeyed the instruction of the Creator concerning the forbidden tree. The time had come for the sons to bring their own offerings to the Lord.
Abel was a keeper of the sheep; Cain, a tiller of the ground. Abel worked with the animals all year long; feeding them, watering them, keeping watch over them. Cain was a man who had his hands in the dirt; planting seed, watering plants, harvesting crops. In the process of time both brought their offerings to the Lord. Abel brought the firstborn of his flock, a lamb without spot or blemish; Cain brought his best fruits and vegetables from his garden. God accepted Abel’s offering; He rejected Cain’s (Genesis 4).
Although Cain spent many long hours in the hot sun cultivating his plants, keeping the weeds from choking them out, and tenderly plucking the fruit from the vine, his offering was not what God required. It was understood even at that time without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin; God had demonstrated that in the Garden on that fateful day Adam and Eve found themselves spiritually naked before God, their sin obvious for all to see. It was the shedding of blood that would be required for anyone to receive God’s covering for their sin.
Knowing God’s requirement, Cain determined to forego God’s plan and conceive his own plan for redemption. He thought his plan of good works would be sufficient and God would be accepting of him. But God was not, to the point of banishing Cain from His presence after Cain’s anger at God’s rejection of his offering resulted in Cain murdering his own brother. God had warned him sin lay at his door if he refused to follow God’s commands.
All throughout the Old Testament the Temple sacrifices were conducted under God’s direction as described in the Book of Leviticus to provide what was needed to be accepted by God and for one’s sin to be covered. But then came Jesus in the New Testament… the perfect Lamb of God who was to be offered once for all time for the sins of man (Hebrews 7:22-28). No more animal sacrifices would be needed as His blood was more than sufficient to make man whiter than snow. Jesus said “I am the Way… no man comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14) Any other way devised by man attempting to come into a right relationship with God the Father is unacceptable, just as it had been for Cain. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is able to cleanse us from all sin (I John 1:7).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
But according to His mercy He saved us;
by the washing of the regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Ghost.”