Cain and Abel
Hebrews 11:6a, ESV
And without faith it is impossible to please him...
EPHESIANS 4:26, ESV
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger...
Genesis 4:1-2, NIrV
1 Adam loved his wife Eve and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the Lord’s help I have had a baby boy.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Abel took care of sheep. Cain farmed the land.
When God made the first two human beings, he gave them a command: “Have lots of babies and fill my earth!” Adam and Eve got right to work following God’s orders and Eve soon became pregnant. The first human ever born was a baby boy named Cain. A little while later came his baby brother, Abel. As they grew, Adam and Eve gave jobs to their sons to help out the family. Abel was a shepherd who spent his days watching sheep. Their meat was good for food and their wool was great for clothing. His big brother Cain was a farmer, growing plants and vegetables to feed his family.
+ According to Eve, who helped her have a baby boy? (vs. 1)
+ What was Abel’s job? What was Cain’s job? (vs. 2)
Genesis 4:3-5, NIrV
3 After some time, Cain gathered some things he had grown. He brought them as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering. He brought the fattest parts of some animals from his flock. They were the first animals born to their mothers. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering. 5 But he wasn’t pleased with Cain and his offering. So Cain became very angry, and his face was sad.
Giving an offering to God was sort of like giving him a gift. Of course, God really doesn’t need anything. Offerings were simply a way to worship him or say “thank you” for his good gifts. Abel the shepherd offered God some of the best and tastiest meat from his flock of sheep. Cain the farmer offered God some food he had grown. When the brothers brought their gifts to God, he was pleased with Abel’s offering, but not with Cain’s. Why? Did God just not like veggies? Of course he does – he created them! Later this week, we learn why God accepted Abel’s gift, but rejected Cain’s.
+ What did Cain and Abel offer to God? (vs. 3-4)
+ How did Cain respond when God didn’t accept his gift? (vs. 5)
Genesis 4:6-8, NIrV
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why are you looking so sad? 7 Do what is right and then you will be accepted. If you don’t do what is right, sin is waiting at your door to grab you. It desires to control you. But you must rule over it.”
8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” So they went out. There Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
When God accepted Abel’s offering but wouldn’t take his, Cain was super sad and mighty mad! Knowing how Cain felt, God came to offer him a warning. Cain was so angry, sin was like a wild animal, waiting outside his door and ready to pounce! He needed to master his anger. If he let it loose, sin would swallow him in one bite! Sadly, Cain ignored God’s words and let his anger run wild! He took his brother out into a field where they wouldn’t be seen. Without anyone watching, he attacked and killed his little brother. Just as God warned, Cain’s wild anger exploded into a deadly disaster!
+ What did God say that sin wanted to do to Cain? (vs. 7)
+ Cain thought no one had seen what he had done. But who is always watching us?
Genesis 4:9-12, NIRV
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain replied. “Am I supposed to take care of my brother?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground. 11 So I am putting a curse on you. I am driving you away from this ground. It has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you farm the land, it will not produce its crops for you anymore. You will be a restless person who wanders around on the earth.”
God asked Cain, “Where’s your brother?,” but he already knew the answer. After all, he knows everything! He was giving Cain a chance to spill the beans about his deadly deed. But Cain pretended he didn’t know or even care where Abel was. Since Cain wouldn’t share his sinful secret, God spoke it for him. Like he’d done with Cain’s mom and dad, God cursed Cain for the sinful thing he had done to Abel. Cain’s farming days were done. Never again would even a single seed sprout for him. Instead, Cain would wander all over the earth, far away from his family and, sadly, away from God, too!
+ Cain attacked Abel in secret, but God knew what he’d done. How?
+ What curses did God give to Cain because of his sin? (vs. 12)
Genesis 4:13-16, NIRV
13 Cain said to the Lord, “You are punishing me more than I can take. 14 Today you are driving me away from the land. I will be hidden from you. I’ll be a restless person who wanders around on the earth. Anyone who finds me will kill me.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “No. Anyone who kills you will be paid back seven times.” The Lord put a mark on Cain. Then anyone who found him wouldn’t kill him. 16 So Cain went away from the Lord. He lived in the land of Nod. It was east of Eden.
For killing Abel, God cursed Cain to wander the earth, restlessly searching for food. Cain complained about his curses. "This is more than I can take! And anyone who finds me will kill me!" Who was he talking about? Perhaps Cain thought his parents or any of their future kids would hunt him down to get revenge. Killer Cain didn’t deserve it, but God helped him anyway. He put a visible mark on the man to warn anyone who would dare hurt him. So Cain left his home, wandering across the empty earth. He lived his days far away from his loving family and far away from the goodness of God.
+ What was Cain afraid would happen to him? (vs. 14)
+ How did the Lord God protect Cain? (vs. 15)
Hebrews 11:1-6, NIRV
1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see. 2 That is what the people of long ago were praised for.
3 We have faith. So we understand that everything was made when God commanded it. That’s why we believe that what we see was not made out of what could be seen.
4 Abel had faith. So he brought to God a better offering than Cain did. Because of his faith Abel was praised as a godly man. God said good things about his offerings. Because of his faith Abel still speaks. He speaks even though he is dead.
5 Enoch had faith. So he was taken from this life. He didn’t die. “He couldn’t be found, because God had taken him away.” (Genesis 5:24) Before God took him, Enoch was praised as one who pleased God. 6 Without faith it is impossible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him.
Earlier this week, we left an important question unanswered: Why did God accept Abel's offering, but not Cain's? Has not knowing the answer been bugging you? The book of Genesis doesn't actually give us enough info to solve this mystery. But there’s good news. A book from the other end of the Bible has all the details we need!
The Bible book of Hebrews was written a long, long time after the days of Cain and Abel. But just like Genesis, it is part of God’s message to us. Knowing this, we can trust that what the book of Hebrews tells us is true. And these verses from chapter 11 solve the mystery of why Abel's offering was pleasing to God, but Cain's was not.
The reason didn’t have to do with meat and veggies; it had to do with faith! So what in the world is faith? It’s believing that God’s words and promises are true, even if we can’t always see it with our eyes. Faith is trusting that the Lord God is a good God and God’s ways are the right ways.
The writer of Hebrews tells us Abel had faith. He believed that God's words were true. He believed God’s ways were the right ways. Because Abel had faith, God was pleased with the meat he brought as his offering.
That's the big difference between these two brothers. Unlike Abel, Cain didn't have faith. He didn't believe God's words were true or trust that God's ways were the right ways. That’s why God turned down Cain’s offering – he didn’t have faith!
After God rejected his faithless offering, Cain continued to show that he didn’t have faith. He made it crystal clear that he didn’t believe God’s words were true. God said, “Sin is waiting to grab you!” But Cain completely ignored God’s words of warning. Instead of believing God and keeping his anger under control, he let it run wild. Sadly, Cain’s faithless foolishness cost Abel his life.
The book of Hebrews tells us that it’s impossible to please God... unless we have faith! We have no hope of pleasing God at all unless we believe his words and trust that his promises are true. But what does that mean? What do we need to believe?
The most important thing God wants us to have faith in, the #1 thing he wants us to believe, is the good news of Jesus. It’s the good news that God sent his only Son into our world to rescue us from sin. To finish that mission, Jesus died on a cross to pay our curse. And to prove he finished his mission, Jesus rose to life on the third day!
If we want to please God like Abel, we need to have faith. We need to trust that Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins. And the best news of all? God has made a promise: anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved from the forever-fiery curse of sin. Instead, we'll spend forever in God’s good kingdom!
+ Why was Abel’s offering pleasing to God and Cain’s wasn’t? (vs. 4)
+ Why is faith important for you and me?