January 5: Abel: Worshiping in Faith

SCRIPTURE

Hebrews 11:4
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

OBSERVATION

Dead men do tell tales.  James Moffatt wrote, “Death is never the last word in the life of a righteous man. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like the fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.” Man leaves this world either a Paul or a Nero.

From many thousands of years ago, Abel speaks to us about faith. 

Abel Made a True Sacrifice

  • By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain. (11:4a)
  • “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Gen. 4:3-5).

A Place to Worship

Cain and Abel had a place to worship. Because they brought offerings, some sort of altar must have been used on which to make the sacrifices. It seems perfectly consistent with God’s grace that, from the beginning, He would have provided for some means of worship. A place where man could come for forgiveness and atonement.

A Time for Worship

There seems also to have been a time for worship. “In the course of time,” means literally, “at the end of days,” that is, at the end of a certain period of time. It may be, therefore, that God had designated a special time for sacrificing. God is a God of order, and we know that in later centuries He did prescribe definite times and ways of worshiping. The fact that Cain and Abel came to sacrifice at the same time also suggests that God had specified a particular time.

A Way to Worship

I also believe that God had designated a way to worship. Cain and Abel would know nothing about the need for worship or sacrifice, much less the way, had they not been told by God—perhaps through their parents. It is inconceivable that Cain and Abel accidentally stumbled onto sacrifice as a way of worshiping God. The fact that God accepted only the one sacrificial offering also seems to indicate that He had established a pattern for worship.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with a grain or fruit or vegetable offering. The Mosaic covenant included such offerings. But the blood offerings were always first, because only the blood offerings dealt with sin.

Here is where the life of faith begins, with a sacrifice for sin. It begins with believing God that we are sinners, that we are worthy of death, that we need His forgiveness, and that we accept His revealed plan for our deliverance. That is the beginning of the life of faith. It was in such faith that Abel presented his sacrifice to God. And it was because of such faith that his sacrifice was acceptable to God.

When Abel did what God said, he revealed his obedience and acknowledged his sinfulness. Cain, on the other hand, was disobedient and did not acknowledge his sin. Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain because God had prescribed a blood sacrifice. Somehow Abel, and Cain as well, knew what God wanted. The difference between the two was that Abel gave what God wanted, whereas Cain gave what he himself wanted. Abel was obedient and Cain was disobedient. Abel acknowledged his sin. Cain did not.
 
Abel approached God and said, in effect,“Lord, this is what You said You wanted. You promised that if I brought it, You would forgive my sin. I believe You, God. I acknowledge my sin and I acknowledge Your prescribed remedy. Here it is.” Cain had the same knowledge of God’s requirements, but decided to worship in his own way. In the tradition of his parents, he did his own thing. In effect, he was denying his sin.

God is not arbitrary or whimsical or impulsive. He was not playing a game with Cain and Abel. He did not hold them accountable for what they could not have known or could not have done. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because he knew what God wanted and obeyed. Cain’s was rejected because he knew what God wanted, yet disobeyed.

Abel offered a better sacrifice because it represented the obedience of faith. He willingly brought God what He asked, and he brought the very best that he had.

 
UNDERSTANDING
What is God saying to me? 

The verse is simple and clear that there was one thing that made Abel’s sacrifice better: his faith. If we come to worship or seek God, we must truly believe that God exists, and that he will reward us for seeking him.

At times I lack faith. I come to worship or prayer and wonder if God is really hearing me, or if he is really pleased with my worship or if he will answer.  I feel convicted thinking about this because it was his lack of faith that caused Cain’s sacrifice to be rejected by God.

 
 
LIFE APPLICATION
 
What will I do about it?

I will continue asking God to increase my faith. And, I will meditate on this verse today.

God, I confess that I believe you exist. I believe you hear me when I pray. I believe that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection I have complete access to you, I have your favor, and my worship is pleasing to you. I believe that as I type this now, you hear my heart and answer. Thank you for your great love. Please continue to increase my faith. Amen.

 
-Levi Thompson
 
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