Sermon #8 Series: Pictures of Grace in Genesis
Title: Cain And Abel - A Picture Of Grace
Text: Genesis 4:1-16
Subject: Grace portrayed in Abel and his offering
Date: Tuesday Evening - June 25, 1991
There were no children born to Adam and Eve before the fall. But there were many born to them after the fall (Gen. 5:4-5). Adam lived for 930 years!One commentator suggested that before he died Adam had as many as thirty-two thousand descendants, including sons and daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. Cain was his firstborn son. But how many sons and daughters Adam and Eve had between Cain and Abel we do not know.
Verse 1 -When Cain was born, Eve thought that he was the promised Messiah, Redeemer and Savior. She cried, “I have gotten a man from the Lord!” Those words might imply that she had already had many daughters. But now she had gotten a man.
Verse 2 - God the Holy Spirit has singled out these two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel, to teach us by example the blessed gospel doctrine of redemption by blood (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22), and to condemn the doctrine of salvation by works. The way of Abel is the way of grace. The way of Cain is the way of works.
This is the line that divides the whole human race. It divides husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. And it probably divides this congregation! All who attempt to come to God must choose either the way of Cain or the way of Abel, the way of works or the way of grace. The two cannot be mixed, or intermingled, at any point, to any degree (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 5:2, 4).
Verse 3-5 - Cain and Abel were not young boys. They were grown men. Evidently, they were heads of households, with wives and children and occupations. Cain was a farmer. Abel was a shepherd.
Several things are taught in this fourth chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 3 we saw the entrance of sin into the world. Here we see the progress of sin and the fruit of sin. In Genesis 3 we saw sin against God. Here it is against man - The man who has no fear of God has no regard for his neighbor - In Genesis 3 we read about enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the sons of God and the children of the devil. Here we see that enmity displayed. Cain, the wicked works-monger, persecuted and murdered Abel, the child of God. But the central, primary thing revealed in this chapter is that God is to be worshipped, and that he can only be worshipped by faith in a blood sacrifice.
Tonight, I want us to look at this picture of Cain and Abel, which has been painted before us by the Holy Spirit and see what he would have us to learn from it.
I. First, THERE WAS A PRESCRIBED PLACE WHERE GOD WAS TO BE WORSHIPPED.
We are told that both Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices to the Lord, to the place of the Lord’s presence. We are not told where this prescribed place of worship was. But it was somewhere east of the Garden of Eden (Gen.3:24).
The J.F.B. commentary translates Genesis 3:24 this way - “So he drove out the man; and he dwelt at the east of the Garden of Eden between the Cherubims, as a Shekinah (a fire-tongue, or fire-sword) to keep open the way to the tree of life.” And I think their translation is accurate for these reasons:
1. The word “placed” in this verse is never translated “placed” anywhere else in the Old Testament. It means “to tabernacle,” or “to dwell.” And 83 times in the Old Testament it is translated “dwell.”
2. The Lord God is always portrayed as Him who dwells upon the mercy-seat, between the cherubims (Ex. 25:17-18, 22; 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 kings 19:15; 1 Chron. 13:6; Psa. 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 6:1-6; 37:16; Ezek. 10:2, 6, 7).
3. And the Lord God has kept open for sinners the way to the tree of life (Rev. 22:2).
· By Covenant Grace (The Lamb slain)
· Under the types and ceremonies of the law (Day of Atonement).
· The sacrifice of Christ (The rent vail).
When the Lord God expelled Adam from the Garden, he appears to have established an altar, a mercy-seat, protected by the Cherubims. The flaming sword, or, as it might be rendered, the flaming tongue, represented God’s presence, the Shekinah glory. Anyone who approached God must worship him at this place by means of a blood sacrifice. There was a prescribed place of worship.
I know that there are no holy places upon this earth. We are not idolaters. “God is Spirit. And they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” True worship is spiritual. It is a matter of the heart (Phil. 3:3).
· We have no material altar - Christ is our Altar (Heb. 13:10).
· We have no literal mercy-seat. Christ is our Mercy-Seat (1 John 4:10).
Yes, I do know that God has always had a prescribed place of worship.
· A place where men and women gather in his name.
· A place where he gives out his Word.
· A place where he meets sinners upon the mercy-seat.
· A place where he dispenses his grace.
A. At first it was the tabernacle in the wilderness.
B. Then it was the temple in Jerusalem.
C. Today it is the local church, the assembly of his saints (Matt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 3:16-17).
This is the prescribed place of
· Divine presence
· Divine instruction
· Divine blessing (Psa. 122:1-9; 133:1-3; Heb. 10:23-26).
II. Secondly, THERE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN A PRESCRIBED TIME FOR WORSHIP.
If you have a marginal reference, look at its translation of verse 3. The words, “in the process of time,” are translated, “at the end of days.”
Though, as of yet, there was no sabbath appointed, it appears that at the end of every week men and women come to the altar at the east of Eden to worship God.
We are not sabbatarians. We are not under the law, in any sense whatsoever. Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath.” Our Sabbath is Christ. We rest in him. But Sunday is “the Lord’s day.” John said so (Rev. 1:10).
· This is the day of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1).
· This is the day of worship (Acts 20:7; Psa. 118:21-24).
III. Thirdly, THERE WAS A PRESCRIBED MEANS OF WORSHIP.
God could be approached and would accept the worship of fallen sinful man. But he could only be approached by means of a blood sacrifice!
It appears that the children of Adam and Eve had been clearly instructed in the worship of God. Adam showed his sons -
· What he had done - Sin.
· What God had done for him - The skins.
· What God had promised - Redemption.
· What God required - Blood Atonement.
· Where God must be worshipped and how - By Faith.
· Abel believed God - Cain did not.
A. What was wrong with Cain’s sacrifice?
1. It was a bloodless sacrifice! (Heb. 9:22).
It was a denial of his need of Christ, the Redeemer. Cain thought he could approach God on his own merit, be his own priest, his own mediator and his own intercessor.
2. It was a denial of sin.
Cain denied his guilt and sin before God. He denied that he deserved condemnation and death under the wrath of God. He approached God on the ground of his own merit and works.
3. It was a refusal of God’s revelation.
God had revealed the way of worship and acceptance and life (Lk. 24:44-47; Eph. 1:6-7). But Cain did not believe God.
NOTE: Cain was not an infidel. He was a proud religionist, a self-righteous Pharisee, an unbeliever. His offering to God was the fruit of his own labor.
B. Why did God have respect unto Abel and his offering?
1. It was an offering of faith (Heb. 11:4).
· he believed God.
· He came to God through faith in a Substitute.
2. It was a confession of sin, guilt, and just condemnation.
Our sins deserve the wrath of God. The only way for a holy God to justify guilty sinners is by the satisfaction of Divine justice through blood atonement - The substitutionary death of Christ.
3. Abel’s offering was a type of Christ, the Lamb of God (Ex. 12:5-6).
· A lamb, the innocent, dying for the guilty.
· A male of the first year, in the prime of life.
· Without spot or blemish, as Christ was without sin.
· Slain, its blood was shed in a violent death.
· Consumed by fire (Lev. 9:24) - The Shekinah.
NOTE: There were only two differences between Cain and Abel: Blood and faith! And these are the only differences between God’s elect and the lost world around us. Our only distinction is the distinction of grace (1 Cor. 4:7).
IV. Fourthly, THE WAY OF CAIN IS THE WAY OF NATURAL RELIGION (Jude 10-11).
It is the religion of works. It gives no comfort, but only misery (Gen. 4:6-8). It is the way of all men and women by nature. It is…
· The way of ceremonies and rituals.
· The way of persecution.
The first human blood to be shed upon the earth was shed by a religious legalist. And the blood he shed was the blood of a sovereign gracer, a worshipper of God. The battle still rages. And the issue is still the same. The way of Cain persecutes the way of faith.
· The way of God’s curse (vv. 10-12).
· The way of wandering (vv. 12, 16).
“Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod.” Nod means “wandering.” There is no rest for the wicked. Not in this world, neither in the world to come.
V. Fifthly, THE WAY OF ABEL IS THE WAY OF LIFE EVERLASTING.
· It is the way of grace.
· It is the way of blood redemption.
· It is the way of faith.
· It is the way of opposition.
· It is the way of life.
· It is the way of acceptance with God.
Here are set before you two ways:
1. The way of Cain (Prov. 14:12; 16:25) - The way of works.
2. The way of Abel (John 14:6; 10:9) - The way of grace.
Which way will you go?