This ‘Word’ is not restricted only to the Bible, which is the written ‘Word’ of God. The Patriarchs of the Old Testament did not have the Bible to read, so their Faith came via the spoken word – that which was said – uttered – by God.
They knew what was said and they accepted that Word of God, and the Person who is that Word. Faith comes by the Word of God, listening, and acknowledging that He is the Word.
Abel was the first person mentioned in the Bible to die. And yet his death speaks to us today – down through thousands of years. Why is this? It is because he was righteous before God.
Abel was a keeper (or feeder) of sheep, whereas his brother Cain was a tiller of the ground. So, they had separate callings, and potentially both important. However, being a shepherd and feeding the sheep is symbolic of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…’ and as one of many examples we remember Jesus, speaking to Peter, asking him to; ‘…feed My sheep’. And we are not here speaking of animals, but people. So, Abel’s was the higher calling.
To ‘till’ the ground on the other hand, has several meanings; to work, to dress, bondmen, and to serve, and even, to worship the ‘ground’.
Now both these young men were religious and acknowledged the Lord, because they both knew they needed to make offerings to Him. And in so doing, both sought a blessing from the Lord – similarly to Jacob and Esau (even though Esau had sold his birthright to his brother, he still went to claim it).
The reason Abel’s offering was accepted by God is that it would have been made clear to Adam after the fall, that a blood offering would have to be made in order for mankind to regain access back to God – and Life! “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and Without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin. As BI believers, and good Christians, we know that up until that wonderful sacrifice made for us all by Our Lord Jesus Christ – the spilling of His precious blood – the substitute of a lamb or goat was used as we read throughout the Old Testament.
The sheep in Abel’s possession were a gift from God – for He is the giver of life. In Cain’s situation, he had to grow the fruit of the ground. It was a more physical action. You could almost connect these two differences with that of Faith and Works. If we read John 15:14, Jesus tells us plainly; “Ye are My friends if you do whatsoever I command you.” So, there we have it, and plainly Cain did not do specifically that which the Lord had commanded him. Instead, choosing to do it his way – as many have done ever since.
In considering the two offerings of these brothers, I awoke this morning musing on the fact that our local Anglican church – fails to adhere to God’s instructions with regard to the Communion service. Now, instead of sharing the bread and wine, we only have the bread (and that a wafer…)! But, Jesus tells us that; It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4).
Of the Bread and Wine we are told this represents the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Body of Our Lord should be represented by the Church, but the Church without the Life – or Spirit of Christ – which is the Blood (the Life is in the Blood thereof) – is not alive! This is the trouble with many of our churches today! For they – we as God’s people – have gone the way of Cain…
“Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core (Korah). These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude verses 11-13).
In thinking we know best in all things we turn from God and fall into error. We disbelieve His Words, and where are we now? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by HIM; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5)
And that takes us back to where we started; that the Patriarchs of old knew and accepted the Word of God. They would have had no truck with ‘evolution’ or doing things ‘their (Cain’s) way’. So let us be ‘ready, and willing’ to likewise keep our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ – Who will help us to ride out the storm all around us – keeping us safely under His holy wings.