Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
We thank the Lord for the broad range of people that are receiving these devotionals. We are reaching into several countries with them as well. I have been asked to do some teaching on the matter of giving and so the next few devotionals will look at this important matter. I want to make clear that I am not writing these devotionals because I want more people to give to our ministry. Those who receive these need to be led by God to obey Him.
The first account we have about giving in the Bible is found here in Genesis 4. We are not given much background to this chapter. We know from Genesis 3 that Adam chose to disobey God and he chose to become the one God would credit with bringing sin into the world. That is certainly not something to desire, but it is what Adam chose. Adam chose to ignore the importance of obeying the LORD and the result of that was certainly disastrous. God, in His mercy had the answer to this sin. He was not caught off guard. He did not need time to figure this out. He demonstrated His omniscience in all that He did and does.
In Genesis 3:21 we read that the LORD God made coats of skin for Adam and Eve. He also sent them out of the Garden. God killed some animals to make those coats of skin. Death is the result of sin. The shedding of blood is also necessary to deal with sin. God made a covering for Adam and Eve. He gave them a picture of the atonement that He provided through the animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ did not just cover for our sins, He provides the only means to remove our sins.
It is obvious from chapter 4 that God taught Adam and Eve the importance of proper offerings for sin. God never expects something of man out of ignorance. He always gives man clear instructions and then gives man the opportunity to choose whether to obey Him or not.
In chapter 4 we read “in the process of time”. Cain and Abel were not young children at this time. They were grown men who had developed some skills and were self-supporting individuals. Cain chose to become a tiller of the ground and Abel chose to be a keeper of sheep. They were both farmers, but with different interests.
In process of time they chose to bring an offering unto the LORD. Both of them were interested in doing so. One would do so out of love for God. The other would do so out of a sense of duty and with a heart of pride.
We are told that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground. He was a vegetable farmer and he was not going to try to honour God. He was going to give what he had and he was expecting God to accept what he brought even if it was not what God required. Some might suggest that God was not very nice here. After all, Cain was a vegetable farmer. He would have had to make some type of arrangement with Abel to bring an animal sacrifice to the LORD. Why should he have to do that seeing he had good produce to give.
The text tells us that the LORD did not have “respect” for Cain’s offering, but He had respect for Abel’s offering. The Hebrew word translated as “respect” means “compassionate, consider”. God’s definition of compassion is not like man’s. In His compassion He desires man to walk in obedience to Him. In His compassion He shows the necessity of obedience.
Abel chose to follow God’s instructions. As mentioned we are not given much detail about God’s instructions to man up to this point. We know that Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. Abel chose the best of what he had. We read that the LORD had respect unto Abel’s offering but He did not respect Cain’s offering.
Cain demonstrated the nature of his heart in his response to the LORD. He had already shown that his giving was for his benefit, not for God’s glory. Now he showed further that he was not about to take correction, even from the LORD. The pride of man is an evil thing. It was a problem for Cain and it is a problem today as well.
We learn here the importance of a right relationship with the LORD in all things, but in this instance with regard to giving. The apostle Paul stated:
II Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Those who are cheerful givers are those who are saved and walking in obedience to God’s Word. We do not need a poster with a picture of a thermometer or something to try to entice people to give. We need to preach and teach the truth and trust God to work in the hearts of the hearers to be obedient to God’s Word and will.
Cain’s attitude never changed. He hardened himself against the LORD and murdered his brother. Abel is described as a righteous man in the New Testament. His testimony lives on as an encouragement to others to understand the importance of a right heart toward the LORD. Cain is given as a warning of the danger of pride and of selfishness.
Cain chose to blame God for being righteous and just. He accused the LORD of being unjust. He complained about the LORD’s punishment upon him. He had no intention of humbling himself and becoming obedient to the LORD. He insisted that the LORD needed to accept him as he was. He not only faced the LORD’s punishment on earth, but is in eternal torment. It is never wise to argue with the Lord. He is always right. He shows us what is required and He provides the means to be right with Him. Giving to the LORD is a form of worshipping the LORD. God is not seeking to rob man. He wants to bless man in a way that man can never accomplish on his own.