Why did the Lord not look favorably on Cain’s offering?
Brenda asks, “In Genesis 4:3-5 it tells us ‘The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor’ Why did the Lord not look favorably on Cain’s offering?”
One of the most awe-inspiring descriptions I find in scripture is what Peter states regarding Christ, the Lamb of God. “He was chosen before the creation of the world,” (1 Pet. 1:20). The term appears again later. In Rev. 13:8 John, under inspiration of the Spirit, writes “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”
Before God said ”Let there be”… anything, He knew He would make man, man would fall, and man would need a Redeemer. Long before God breathed life into Adam God had already planned for his redemption — and He scatters hints of it all through the Biblical narrative.
The first hint we see in Genesis 3:15. “…he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Called the protoevangelium this passage depicts the ultimate destruction of Satan by the woman-born Messiah. Redemption is hinted at again in that the skins of a slain animal (blood sacrifice) were required to cover the “nakedness” (sin) of Adam and Eve.
We see this truth underscored again in the Lord’s acceptance of Abel’s offering and rejection of Cain’s offering. The distinction lay in what each offered.
In Genesis 4 we read,
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Gen. 4:2b-5)
God is here again teaching that only blood can atone for sin. Abel sacrificed from his flock, but Cain’s offering, ”fruits of the soil,” required no such blood sacrifice, and was refused.
All of this points to the sacrifice of Christ, the One True Lamb of God, the atonement for all who believe, and the one Whose coming we celebrate this day, the child-king born in Bethlehem.
Especially interesting on this Christmas Eve is that it was in the fields around Bethlehem that lambs were raised for temple sacrifice! The shepherds we read of in Luke’s account were very likely tending such animals. David, long before becoming king, tended flocks here as he wrote many psalms of praise and longing. And it was here that God orchestrated the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, “slain from the foundation of the world.”
Merry Christmas everyone!
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