Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 2
Cain and Abel
Genesis 4:1 – 5:24
Ok let’s pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and that would be in Romans chapter 3 and verse 24. We want to have a little more discussion on that word “Redemption,” and/or “Redeemer.” So now let’s look at that verse again.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
In other words there is a way whereby God will purchase back that which He lost, back there in the Garden of Eden. You want to remember that when Adam and Eve were in the Garden they belonged to God, and they were in perfect fellowship with Him weren’t they? But when sinned entered, that fellowship was broken and God lost control of them because they had come under control of the god of this world, old Satan. So immediately God institutes a way whereby He can buy the human race back to Himself, and we call that redemption.
And you’ll find that all the way through the Old Testament when God purchased Israel out of the slavery of Egypt, and that is also a beautiful picture of our own salvation. We too as sons of Adam were slaves of sin; we’re in the slave market of Satan. I guess you could say that God’s hands are tied because He has given us that free will. Now God will do everything He can to bring us out of that slave market, but first we have to want to. See, God cannot force you and I out of that market. Remember when we were created, we were created with a mind and will, as well as a set of emotions. And when God extends his love toward us, then He can rightfully expect us to love Him in return. But we don’t have to love God in return, we don’t have to do anything, but He’s made it all possible.
Now Paul here in this word redemption actually goes into a physical, literal setting, and he uses a word that was so common in the days of the Roman Empire and the slave market. If you know anything about ancient history, slavery was just part and parcel of everyday living. These Roman Legions would make their journeys up into Europe, and wherever they went conquering, they would always bring back slaves. This is also what finally made the Roman Empire so corrupt, because the Roman citizens didn’t have to work. These slaves that were constantly being brought in did all the manual work, and for little or no wages, it was slavery to the utmost. Of course that gave rise then to softening of the Roman physique and they finally fell apart, and then they were conquered.
So let’s talk about this slave market that the Romans had. I like to picture some young teenagers that had been taken prisoners maybe up in France, or Germany or some other country, and they bring them back to Rome. They are put into the slave market for people to purchase. The end result for those not bought, are to be made sport of by the lions in the coliseums, I’m sure you remember that from Roman history.
So far as a person coming into the slave market, if someone didn’t come along and buy them out, the end was death! They didn’t have much to look forward to, but let’s take for example an attractive brother and sister, maybe they were both captured at the same time, and the Roman legion brings these kids back to Rome. Let’s say they are in the prime of life, 18 or 19 years old, they’re lovely kids, but they’re now slaves. So they’re in this slave market with nothing to look forward to except death in the coliseum.
But along comes a benevolent Roman, who is well to do. Now in the Roman slave market language there were three different words, and it doesn’t hurt to remember them. The first word was “agerozo” The second word was, “exagerozo” and then the third word was “Lutroo.” Now those were the Greek words that were constantly in use in that Roman slave market. I’m not up much on the stock market, but I know they too have their own language. I know you can sell short and buy long, and take options, and so forth. Any way they have their own language, but so did the Roman slave market.
Now if they wanted to “agerozo” someone who is in this slave market, it was sort of like the stock traders do today. They’ll buy stock in the morning and maybe it goes up 2 or 3 points in the afternoon and they sell if for the profit. . In other words they have no real intention of hanging on to that stock, they’re just playing the market. Well they could do the same thing back in Rome with slaves. They could buy a slave at 8 o’clock in the morning and could leave that slave in the market, hoping that maybe later in the day the market would go up and they could resell the slave and take a profit. It was kind of a sport to these traders.
But the next word “exagerozo” we will use the – ex – means out. Now they also have the prerogative that if this rich Roman would come down to the slave market and pay the price of redemption, but he could also say, “I’m going to take that slave out of the market, I’m going to take him home with me.” Now let’s take that brother and sister, these two beautiful kids, but now they’re slaves, and are in the market. So this rich Roman comes and pays the price, and he takes them out of the market, and takes them home with him. But this Roman is very benevolent, and has a big beautiful home, and he gives each of these kids a beautiful room in his home, and gives them a whole wardrobe of beautiful clothes, and gives them also just light labor that they must do taking care of his landscape. He’s really a good master, and he’s done everything for these two lovely teenagers.
Then one day he comes along and says “Tell you what kids, I’ve also gone one step further, I have also now given you “Lutroo.”’ What does that mean? Freedom! And he tells these kids, “You are now totally free. I have bought you out of the slave market, I have paid the price for Roman citizenship for you, and so far as I’m concerned, you’re free to go any place in the Roman Empire, and do whatever you want to do, because I have paid the full price.”
Now under those kind of circumstances, here these two kids fresh out of the barbarian nations of northern Europe, and they have never had it this good before, they’re eating like they’ve never eaten before, and now this master says, “You’re free to go and do as you please?” What do you suppose these kids would say? They would say, “Master I’ve never had it this good before. I’ll be your slave, and servant for the rest of my life if I can just stay right here and serve you.”
Now isn’t that exactly what God has done. See, God went into the slave market of sin and bought you back. Even though, like I said in the last lesson, it’s a constant invitation, in fact I like to put it this way. All along this river of life there are doorways of escape that we can get out of that slave market. We can let that benevolent individual in the person of the Lord Jesus Himself buy us out of that slave market, but we have to agree that we want to get out. God can’t force us out. So all along this river bank of life, we’ve got these doorways that have signs across the top of each that says, “Whosoever will may come!” The redemption price has been paid, and all we have to do is take the way out,then as we understand all that God has done for me, what should be our logical reaction? “Lord I want to be your servant for the rest of my life. After all you’ve done all this for me, and I’ve never had it this good before” But how many Christians do that? Precious few.
Now getting back to what I mentioned a lesson or two back with regard to Calvinism and as to whether or not we do have a choice about salvation, I like to put it this way: On the front of this doorway of escape for the lost, is that sign “Whosoever will may come,” but after we walk through that door of freedom of salvation, if we could look back at the other side of that door, then we would see another sign that reads, “Chosen before the foundation of the world.”
You know the rest, as that says it all. I had a lady in my class who has been a missionary all her life, and she is now retired. I gave that illustration to her, and she said, “You know I have never heard it put any better.” But you see for a lot of people it’s a problem when we point out the fact that God has chosen us long before the world was created, He knew (foreknowledge) that you and I would be His. But also remember we can’t cancel out that “Whosoever.” So this just kind of covers both sides of that door. From the front side is “Whosoever will may come.” Absolutely nobody is left out, but when we decide to go through that door, and except His remedy for our sins, then what can we see? Oh He chose us before we were ever born. Now you just think about that, and the more you think about it the more thrilling it becomes.
Now then let’s go back to Genesis chapter 4.
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Can, and said, I have gotten a man (child) from the LORD.”
And after Eve realizes that Cain wasn’t the Redeemer yet, for I imagine the Lord made it plain that Cain certainly wasn’t going to be the Redeemer, although Eve had the right concept, because this is the way the Redeemer would come. But in verse 2 she has another child and she calls his name Abel.
“And she again bare his brother Abel….”
Now one of the first rules of thumb in Scripture is that all the way through the Bible you’ll always have first the appearance of what we call the natural, and then that is always followed by the Spiritual. And you can follow that all the way up through Scripture.
1. Cain as you well know never became a Spiritual individual.
He remained the natural, and he was born first. Abel, on the other hand, was the Spiritual one of the two, and he was born second.
2. Another one we could look at would be Isaac and Rebekah’s children,
Esau who was born first, the natural, and this brother
Jacob who was the Spiritual believer.
3. Then we could look at King Saul, the natural who was the first king of Israel,
but not a believer, and then the second king of Israel, King David
the Spiritual who was a believer.
4. And if you want to go to the Book of Revelation and the finalizing of
God’s program, first we’re going to have the appearance of the
anti-Christ the natural and then the appearance of
the true Christ, the Spiritual.
So remember this as you study your Bible that it’s always the natural and then the Spiritual. So here in chapter 4, we have Cain the natural, and his brother Abel is going to be the Spiritual.
“And Abel was a keeper of the sheep, (a Shepard) but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (a farmer, and evidently had no livestock) 3. And in process of time…”
Now let’s stop right there, because the Hebrew indicates that what happened was that God had instructed this little family, Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel, on how to approach Him. In other words God didn’t just send them out of the Garden and let them fend for themselves. God still has their spiritual needs at heart. So after a time of instruction when He had made it so plain as to what they must do to gain fellowship with Himself. “And again remember the premises that we’ve been holding up, there had to be a blood sacrifice, and it had to be accompanied with faith.”
Now as you know by now I’m always reviewing, so what’s our definition of Faith? “Taking God at His Word!” Now let’s look at these two young men. We find Cain is now farming, raising things from the ground, and his brother Abel is a herder of sheep.
“And in process of time (God had told them plainly what they must do) it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.”
In other words the things that He had worked for by the sweat of his brow. Whether he brought a bundle of grain, or whether he put a bouquet of sorts together of various flowers and vegetables we don’t know. But we do know it was definitely a sacrifice of things that he had raised from tilling the ground.
“And Abel he also brought of the firstlings (or the best) of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Do you see those two different sacrifices? Cain’s sacrifice is one that cannot shed blood. It is something that grew from the ground. Abel on the other hand brings the best of his flocks, a blood sacrifice. Now let’s read verse 5.
“But unto Cain and to his offering he (God) had not respect. And Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell.”
Now lets go back to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11 for just a moment.
“By faith (by taking God at His Word) Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by (that faith, not by the sacrifice) which he obtained witness that he was righteous,…”
Now that word righteous, too many people shrink from it, and think I’ve got to be holier than thou, and walk around like I have a halo on my head, but that’s not what righteous means. Righteous, just simply means that now we’ve been put on a footing with God that we can communicate with him, and God has declared us right with Himself.
“…by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying…”
See Abel didn’t have to go back and brag. God had now made it clear that Abel had made himself accepted with God, and even though sin had made it’s mark yet by virtue of his faith and obedience in sacrifice, Abel was right with God.
Now what about Cain? Let’s come back to Genesis chapter 4, and I’m always amazed at how many people who have been in Church all their life, have never caught why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, and Cain’s was not.
“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
See, it’s just like the human race today. Mankind has not changed a bit. When people are shown from the Word of God that they’re out in left field with whatever they may be practicing, what’s their first reaction? Oh they get mad! And the first thing that struck Cain when God rejected his offering was what? Well why not, and he got angry. But you see God is so gracious, and so kind. God doesn’t just go ahead and zap Cain, but rather He pleads with him, so let’s look at it now in verse 6.
“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? (angry) and why is thy countenance fallen? 7. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?…”
Do you know what God is saying to Cain? Cain if you would just listen to what I say, and do what I tell you to do, then I’d accept you. See here we boil down to the man of faith in Abel, and a man destitute of faith in Cain. Abel remembered what God said to do to be accepted, and what was that? Bring me a blood sacrifice and I’ll accept you! Abel did it. Why? He believed what God had said!
Cain on the other hand rationalized. Here he’s a farmer, and doesn’t have a flock of sheep. Here in Oklahoma we can picture very readily that maybe on the other side of the mountain was Abel with his sheep, and Cain said, “There’s no reason I should make my way over that mountain and barter with my brother Abel for one of his sheep. Surely if I do the very best I can, if I put together the most beautiful sacrifice for God, surely He will accept it.” But you see that rationalizing, and not doing what God said to do.
Now think about it? Isn’t that what the vast majority of people are doing today. Instead of coming into the Bible and seeing what God clearly says through the Apostle Paul in this Age of Grace, what we have to believe for salvation, as found in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10, they rationalize and say, “Well look, if I do such and such, or live in a such and such behavior pattern, surely God will accept me.” Listen, God is not going to accept that person anymore than He did Cain! It has to be God’s way!
Now let’s quickly finish verse 7, and we’re going to see God is going to go one step farther as He always does, and now He tells Cain:
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, (In other words if you want go yourself and find a sacrificial animal and bring it to me, I’ll go you one step further.) sin lieth (or a sin offering) lieth at the door….”
Now it’s unfortunate that the King James Version doesn’t make that plain. But the same Hebrew word for sin is the same Hebrew word for sin offering. And if you put that in verse 7, and I’m not the only one that does that, but if you read it like this.
The Lord saith, “if you doth not well, a sin offering lieth at the door, and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
Now the best illustration I can give here is: Remember when Abraham was going offer Isaac, and God stopped him, but Abraham still had to have a sacrifice, but what had God provided for that sacrifice right behind him? A ram was caught in the thicket. God had provided it, and He had done the same thing here. He’s telling Cain in so many words, “Cain if you go back home, right at your tent door, I’ve provided a lamb. That lamb is not going to argue with you or run from you, and that lamb will succumb to you, and all you have to do is go pick it up, and bring it to me, and I’ll accept you.”
Now isn’t that plain? But does Cain do it? No, because Cain is self willed, and Cain doesn’t believe a thing that God says. I also use the same word of Esau as well as Cain, they were destitute of faith. They just could not believe what God said.
Now did I make that plain enough? Why was Abel accepted and Cain rejected? Because Abel brought a blood sacrifice and Cain brought a bloodless sacrifice. Cain brought what he thought God would accept.
Now bringing it into our own present time. Look at people all around us, and you can ask them why God should let them into His heaven, and you’ll get all different answers because they’re rationalizing, and refusing to just simply consider what has God said, and when we do what God says, that’s FAITH.