Why didn’t God like Cain’s offering?
At first glance, it seems that both men gave to the Lord part of what they had worked to produce. Yet God prefers Abel’s offering to Cain’s. Why?
I’m not sure there is a definitive answer, but there are a few clues…
A Portion vs. The Best- The wording is interesting in that it states that Cain simply gave a part of his crop, while Abel brought the “firstlings”, and the fat of them… Which would be the best of the best. It doesn’t really definitively say that Cain DIDN’T bring the best, but it’s interesting that it was made clear on Abel’s offering…
The Blood- There is a difference in the types of sacrifice. The animal sacrifice includes the shedding of blood, a requirement for atonement, while the plant sacrifice doesn’t. That may have been the issue… And the way God asks the question after his ruling on the offerings, it sounds like Cain may have known WHY his sacrifice was unacceptable, even if we really don’t.
The Heart- This is where I think we can really learn something… There is almost definitely an attitude difference here, between the two brothers. Scripture says that God didn’t just accept one offering and decline the other, it says that he accepted “Abel and his offering”… The man, and the offering the man brought. Maybe that’s why Cain was so angry… It wasn’t just a disapproval of the offering, but a disapproval of the man who brought it.
Cain is instantly angry with God and his brother after he and his offering are rejected. Again, there’s nothing to say that Abel wasn’t rubbing it in his face either… But Hebrews 11:4 tells us that by faith he offered a better sacrifice than Cain. So faith was a factor as well. And the Blood and the Best could have been heart decisions. Perhaps he had instructions from God to offer a blood sacrifice for atonement, and by faith he did.
Ultimately we know that Cain ultimately kills his brother, which he plainly knew was wrong, and displays that rather than mastering the sin crouching at his door, which he was warned of directly by God, he allowed it to consume him. Rather than DEVOTE himself, allow himself to be consumed with the task of bringing God an offering that would be pleasing to him, he allowed sin to consume him.
To make application… We need to offer God our best. Not just a pittance… a part that we’re willing to do without. We need to realize that without the blood of Christ, we have no right to assume that we’re worthy of being heard, or accepted. And our hearts have to be motivated by faith and obedience in God’s word. We need to do it his way, in his time, for his glory. And allow ourselves to be fully devoted to honoring God and living a life acceptable to him.
Don’t make an offering for the sake of making an offering. Make obedience by faith your priority, and discover true worship.