St. Paul, in Hebrews 11:4, tells us that “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”
If there is any dependence to be placed in grammar and the laws of language, there must be a good sacrifice, if there be such a thing as a more excellent one.
Most of us have passed a hasty judgment upon Cain; and because we find him the first murderer, we conclude there was never any good in him. A little charity and sober reflection would greatly help the inquirer after truth.
Let it be first remembered that both Cain and Abel appear as worshipers of God. Both bring an offering. Cain came with the fruits of the ground–something that was allowed in the Levitical worship ages afterward; but Abel, with a profounder view of the atonement comes with the lamb and with blood!
Now let the reader mark that while God said that sin lay at the door of a man whose gift was not accepted, and whose worship was not received, He did not say that the offering of Cain was a sinful one. There was sin at the door of Cain; it may have been in his not apprehending and emphasizing the blood as he should, and as Abel did. Anyhow, God, in view of what redemption was, and how it was to come, was compelled to pay peculiar respect to Abel’s offering.
In His own Word He says it was a “more excellent sacrifice,” Just as Paul, after describing a certain kind of spiritual life, tells us there is a more excellent way.
The thought is wonderfully impressive, that there is a more excellent way of approaching God, and a better sacrifice.
Cain is a type of a large body of worshipers of God today, who come with the fruits of Christian living. Busy lives, religious activities, great performances in and for the Church, seen at times so stressed that the “blood” is almost, if not altogether, lost sight of. A preacher making his report on the floor of a Church assembly, and telling of the many conversions he had witnessed, was brought up sharply with the words: “How much money did you collect?”
Cain is still at the altar. The fruits are still brought up in abundance. We do not condemn it; we simply affirm there is a better sacrifice.
There are Abels in the Church who have gone to the heart of the atonement and seen its glory.
They exalt the blood every time, and at all times; the blood at the beginning and at the ending; the blood now, always, and forever; the blood for justification, and the blood for sanctification.
No wonder God accepts them, and peculiarly blesses them. Cain, who still lives, notices these things. He sees a more excellent sacrifice has been offered, gets irritated and angry over the shining face and glowing experience of the Abels of today, and again raises his hand and strikes at, or strikes down in some way, the more spiritual worshiper, the man who has been more blessed than himself.
If, as a worshiper today, one is disturbed and angered over the deeper experience of another, that very irritation declares the existence of something that ought not to be, and that God wishes and is willing to remove.
“Sin lieth [or croucheth] at the door,” was the word of God to Cain. Something, indeed, of a dark nature is crouching in the heart of a follower of God who would strike or in any way hurt a man whose main fault is, that he is in the enjoyment of a profounder knowledge of God, has a more intimate union with Christ, and has a secret that all have not, who name the name of the Lord.
By John G Lake