As we continue our study on the subject of FAITH, particularly in this very popular chapter of the Bible, we’ve discovered that there is a template of FAITH – the substance is the foundation, what we can stand upon; it is the substratum upon which we have that HOPE of Eternity. The evidence of things not seen is the assurance we have, based on the substance we have received. According to this writer, the substance of FAITH is the Word of God and the evidence is the conviction we must have when we hear the Word of God. It’s for this reason that Apostle Paul emphasized that FAITH comes by continuously hearing the Word of God. In plain terms, a message must come from God (that’s the foundation) and the conviction is ours.
By this, the writer stresses that the elders (our ancestors), became endorsed by God. Again the audience here (the unbelieving Jews) was being encouraged to respond to the Message of the Gospel. The writer had concluded that Salvation was about the Soul and not the flesh, the other side of which is PERDITION. He continued in his presentation by giving various examples of the many ancestors who got endorsed by God through the FAITH presented in verses 1 through to 3.
The first example he cited was Cain and Abel. One would have thought that the writer would mention Adam and Eve as his foremost example but he couldn’t because Adam and Eve did not require FAITH. This is because up until they SINNED, they were in the Garden of Eden. They were in the presence of God and the moment they were pushed out of the Garden, the Bible declared that Adam knew Eve and gave birth to Cain and Abel. This happened not in Eden but outside of Eden when they had become SIN. Since the fall, Humanity started to long after and for God – who had FAITH as the only criterion for acceptance and guaranteeing a return to the Eden. The writer had no choice but to start from their fruit (Cain and Abel); they were in SIN; they became the representatives of the human race who would eventually need God for the remission of their SIN.
Faith (believing and responding to the message of the Gospel) is the only thing God will accept from anyone who wants or desires to access Him.
Now our focus in this presentation is on Cain and Abel, most especially on how Abel got God’s endorsement and why Cain didn’t. Cain and Abel were born on the same day to the same parents. By election and for posterity, Cain became a farmer and Abel, a shepherd. They must have been educated about God and the reason to offer sacrifices to Him. The fact that both brothers brought sacrifices to God indicates that they believed in Him. They had not seen Him but through the things God created, they got drawn to Him as mere living creatures.
When they arrived at the altar with their sacrifices, one was accepted (Abel’s) while the other was rejected. Cain was a symbol and an embodiment of WORKS. He brought a sacrifice from his sweat and from the ground that God had cursed. Abel did not bring anything but blood from an animal signifying what we call GRACE today. GRACE is the resultant effect of the blood that was shed by our Lord Jesus as the final and perfect sacrifice for humanity. We are not saved by FAITH but we have been saved by GRACE through the vehicle of FAITH. In plain terms, Abel offered a better sacrifice obtaining the righteousness of God compared to his brother Cain.
From this story, we have come to learn that the only thing that could deal with SIN was the blood sacrifice. Cain was angry that God didn’t endorse him. He complained to God about this and God told him that he could do the same as his brother, Abel. Cain refused to obey God but wanted to access the GRACE on his own terms. There is no way anyone could access God on their own terms; this was a lesson for the unbelieving Jews that were been addressed by the writer. The unbelieving Jews did not want to part ways with Judaism even after so many presentations by the writer stipulating that Judaism had become obsolete and could not take away SIN.
They want to access God by all means possible but not in accordance with His Will and Ways. They were bent on following their own way leading to perdition. The issue here is not that they doubted the existence of God; they knew and were convinced that God existed but wanted to forcefully worship Him on their own terms. God had presented Jesus through the message of the Gospel but they decided to obtain that access through the shadow that Judaism offered.
The writer was indirectly telling these unbelieving Jews that they reminded him of Cain who maintained his own way and will, rejecting the way provided by God. The book of John described the ordeal of how Jesus came to His own people but all He got was rejection.
The subsequent reaction from Cain was to kill his brother even after God gave him a chance to right the wrong; he would rather do things his own way and eventually he killed his brother. He was also driven away from the presence of God, stipulating the consequence of rejecting the Message of the Gospel – perdition.
Cain can be compared to any religious man/woman who believes in the existence of God but decides to approach God on their very own terms and not on God’s terms. Faith is the only vehicle that can make the message of the Gospel a reality in any life. The true act of FAITH is obedience and acceptance of the finished work of Jesus at Calvary. Apostle Jude was spot on when he described such people as, “people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother.”
The unbelieving Jews listening to the writer couldn’t argue. Maybe they might think to change their minds and respond to the message of the Gospel being presented to them. Cain’s punishment also spells out the fact that SIN is severely punished (incase his hearers might want to know).
“Prophets may plant it with their pretended revelations, martyrs may water it with their blood, confessor after confessor may defend it with his learning and with his courage, time may endear it, literature may protect it, and kings may keep guard about it, but he that rules in the heavens, and cares not for human might, shall certainly grasp its trunk, and, pulling it up, even though it be strong as a cedar, shall hurl it into the fire, because he hath not planted it. Yes, every hoary system of superstition, every ancient form of idolatry, every venerable species of will-worship, shall be certainly overturned, as God is true.” – C.H Spurgeon.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!