The Hall of Fame of Faith Series #3
Dear Visionary Leader:
In Hebrews 11:4, we read: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks.”
Abel being dead still speaks today. He preached his own funeral. What we see in Abel is a shadow of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we continue walking in the hall of fame of faith, we come to Abel, who represents the dedication of faith.
The Old Testament is a book of shadows that point to New Testament truths. For example, in Colossians 2:17, the Bible tells us that the Old Testament is a shadow of things to come. A shadow must have light and it must have something to shine upon. The light is the Old Testament Scripture and it shines upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
The angle of the light determines the sharpness of the shadow. In the early morning, the casting of shadows are not real clear and they’re somewhat distorted. By midmorning the shadows become clearer. At high noon, objects stand directly on top of their shadows. In the Old Testament, we have shadows pointing toward the Lord Jesus Christ. However, when Calvary came in the New Testament, then it’s high noon. What we’re going to see in this story of Abel is the beginning of these shadows that are pointing to the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 11:4, we read, “By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice.” This story is found in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 4:1-8, we read the story. “Adam knew Eve his wife; and conceived…”. Now Adam and Eve, obviously, the first humans upon the earth. “… and she conceived and bare Cain,” Cain was her first born. “… and I have gotten a man from the Lord. Eve again bare his brother Abel.
Abel “was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” One was a shepherd and one was a farmer. “And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But, unto Cain and his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
What we have here is a shadow of the cross in the offering that Cain and Abel made. Two offerings: Cain offered the fruit of the ground, vegetables, to the Lord. Abel offered to the Lord a slain lamb of the firstlings of the flock. The Bible says that God accepted the offering of Abel, but He did not accept the offering of Cain. We are going to learn from Genesis chapter four and Hebrews chapter eleven some powerful contrasts.
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
What we have here is a shadow of the cross in the offering that Cain and Abel made. Two offerings: Cain offered the fruit of the ground vegetables to the Lord. Abel offered to the Lord a slain lamb of the firstlings of the flock. The Bible says that God accepted the offering of Abel, but He did not accept the offering of Cain. We are going to learn from Genesis chapter four and Hebrews chapter eleven some powerful contrasts.
I. WE HAVE A CONTRAST IN THEIR WORSHIP
There two are young men worshipping God. One is worshipping in Spirit and in truth. The other is worshipping by His own ingenuity. In Hebrews11:4, we read. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice.”
What was the difference? All religions are not of the same value. In the world today, we’re looked upon as politically incorrect if we don’t put our arms around everybody else and say, “Your religion is just as good as mine”. It is not true. God has respect unto Abel’s offering, but to Cain’s offering He did not.
All people, particularly Christians, are supposed to be tolerant today. I believe in tolerance in some areas, but do not believe in tolerance that sacrifices truth. Furthermore, there is nothing so intolerant as the intolerance of those against us who believe there is a fixed standard of right and wrong. There is a true religion, and there is a false religion. Our world does not need more religion. It has too much religion. This world needs Jesus!
There are approximately 9,900 different religions. Some of these religions have many gods. The Hindus have three hundred million gods.
We divide Christianity into thousands of different denominations and fellowships. Yet, there are only two religions in the entire world: true and false. There is the religion of grace and the religion of works. There is the religion of Cain and there is the religion of Abel.
In Hebrews 11:4, the writer states, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” What was the way of Cain? The way of Cain was the way of good works. It was salvation by his own effort. He was a tiller of the ground. God said, “You are going to till the ground by the sweat of your brow. Cain offered to God what was his own toil, sweat and effort.He came to God with this offering of vegetables and fruits.
No doubt, there was fragrant fruit, lovely flowers and tasty vegetation. Cain offers all of this to God because he’s been out there, plowing the ground. The Bible says, “Cursed is the ground, of the sweat of your brow, when you till the ground.” Cain has offered his own work to Him.
In Jude verse 11. “Woe unto them for they have gone the way of Cain.” What is the way of Cain? It is to try to save yourself by your own good works rather than by the grace of God. It represents culture rather than Calvary.
In Hebrews 9:22 we read, “without shedding of blood, is no remission.” There is no salvation apart from the shedding of blood. What did Cain offer? Vegetables.
People may say, “We have our own religion.” So did Cain. Others may say, “I’m looking for a religion that suits me.” So did Cain. Cain died and went to hell. “Woe unto them for they have gone after the way of Cain.” Most of the people in the world don’t need religion. They need to turn from religion to Jesus Christ. A lot of people are ego maniacs strutting to hell, thinking they are too good to be lost.
What did Abel offer? The Bible says Abel offered of the firstling of his flock. In Genesis 4:4, we read, “And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock…”. Abel’s offering was based on a blood atonement.
Earlier I said, people need to turn from religion to Jesus Christ. Religion is what sinful people do for a holy God. The Gospel is the good news of what a holy God has already done for sinful man. In Hebrews 11:4, we “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice.”
Where did Abel get the idea of bringing a blood offering to almighty God? It was a shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ, but where did he get that idea? When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves. What is that? The fruit of the ground. What did God do? God came into the Garden of Eden and God made them coats of animal skin. How do they get coats of skin? Blood had to be shed. Where did Abel learn the idea that it takes the shedding of blood for remission? He learned it from his parents.
Abel was a prophet of God. In Luke 11:49, we read, “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay 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 unto the blood of Zacharias.” Abel is called a prophet of God. Abel was a martyr who died for his faith.
Adam and Eve had two sons; one a martyr, one a murderer. Abel was a prophet. He understood the Word of God. Now, you say, “Did he really understand about the Lord Jesus Christ?” In Acts chapter 10:43, we read “To him, Jesus, give all the prophets witness.” Now if Abel was a prophet, and he was, and the Bible says, “to Jesus give all the prophets witness.”
In the Garden of Eden, just outside the gates of Eden, was a man named Abel who offered a spotless lamb that is a picture, a prophecy of Jesus who is to come. Isn’t the Bible a wonderful book? Don’t get the idea that these people are just plowing with sticks and didn’t know anything. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was not an afterthought. It was not an emergency action.
God had the redemption by blood in His heart before He ever made the world. In Revelation 13:8, we read, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him whose names are not written in the book of life from the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Jesus was in the heart and mind of God from the foundation of the world. Before He swung this world into space, God had redemption by blood in His mind.
People say, “Christ is my example.” No, He has to be our Savior. We are not saved by learning lessons from the life of Christ, but by receiving life from the death of Christ. God says when I see the what? The blood, I will pass over you. Without shedding of blood is no remission of sins.
Throughout the Old Testament, God was pointing toward Calvary. All of the shadows, types and lessons were leading us to Calvary. The river of blood begins in the Garden of Eden and ends at Calvary. When Jesus bows His head and dies, his blood redeems the world.
II. WE HAVE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR WORSHIP
In Genesis 4:5-6. “But unto Cain and his offering God had not respect. And Cain was very wroth.” In plain English – he was ticked off. He was angry. “And his countenance fell. And the Lord said to Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?”
God did not have any respect for Cain and all of his good intentions and all of his good works. The difference between Cain and Abel is the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness.
No doubt some people, think that God should have said to Cain, “Well, you tried, and you didn’t get a hundred percent for your grade on the test, but I’m going to grade on the curve.” God doesn’t grade on the curve. God doesn’t just give “A” for effort. God will not overlook sin.
You know, there are people that say, “Well, God’s too good to punish sin.” However, God is too good NOT to punish sin. If you had to go through all the lectionaries and dictionaries of the world to get a word that would describe God and put it into one word, of course that would be impossible. However, if you had to choose one word above all other words it would be the word “holy”. Holy means that God is a holy God. God never has, God never can, God never will overlook sin. If God overlooks sin, God would topple from His throne of holiness. God would cease to be a righteous God.
In Romans 3:25, the Apostle Paul says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”
What is the definition of sin? Coming short of the glory of God. The gap between the glory of God and us, that’s sin.
In Romans 3:24, we read, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.”
What does the word “propitiation” mean? It means “satisfaction.” Nothing can satisfy the righteousness of God, the holiness of God, except the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our sin will be pardoned in Christ or punished in hell. When a guilty man is acquitted the judge is condemned. If God were to let sin go unpunished, God himself would become a sinner. We are saved by grace.
Abel was killed by Cain, but he didn’t cease to exist. “He being dead, yet speaks.” For the child of God, death is not a period, but a comma. Abel still lives on.
III. WE HAVE A CONFLICT OF THEIR WORSHIP
In Genesis 4: 5, 8: “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very angry, wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou do not well, sin lieth at the door.”
Sin is like an animal, crouching at the door. God says, if you do what I tell you to do, you’ll do well. God is no respecter of persons. “… Sin lies at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire.” Sin is ready to devour him.
“And thou shalt rule over him.” That is, if you’ll do right. “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, that while they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
The first murder was over religion. A religious crowd crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve had two sons, one was a murdered, the other was a martyr.
Why did Cain kill Abel? Because his heart was not right with God. No man can be wrong with God and right with his fellow brother. False religion is characterized by force. Our faith is characterized by love.
Take a moment to think about what is happening in the world today. You think of the people who are being murdered in the name of religion. Perhaps Cain was too refined to offer a blood sacrifice, but he was not too refined to plunge a knife or whatever into his brother’s bosom.
In John 16:1-4. Jesus said:
“These things have I spoken unto you, that you should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever kills you will think he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, that ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
The word “martyr” and the word “witness” are the same word in the Greek language. Death doesn’t make martyrs; it just simply reveals them. What is our true faith? True faith is never based upon force.
Islam is an idea, like Communism is an idea. And you cannot kill an idea with a bullet or a bomb. The only thing that will kill an idea is a better idea. The greatest idea is the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe there are times when we need to go to war, but not to spread the Christian faith. We spread the Christian faith with love.
Dr. Ravi Zacharias wrote:
“The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian, where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state. Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. And where a Muslim who renounces faith in Islam to believe in anything else risks death.”
That’s the difference friend between true religion and false religion. The salvation of Jesus Christ is by grace through faith based on the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Cain slew Abel. Cain was the loser, not Abel. Abel won the martyr’s crown. There are two religions in the world. The true and the false. The difference between these two religions is the difference between heaven and hell.
A person may say, “I believe there is another way other than the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.” If there is another way other than the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then why did Jesus die? The Bible says if righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain. If a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, could be saved any other way then Calvary was a blunder.
Why did God let Jesus die on that cross if there’s another way? Why not take the other way? Why did He allow His Son to die in agony in blood if there’s another way? There is no other way. Hebrews 9:22, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” There is a red river of blood that flows through all the Bible. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking