Why was Cain's offering rejected by God?

  • Christian Chat is a moderated online Christian community allowing Christians around the world to fellowship with each other in real time chat via webcam, voice, and text, with the Christian Chat app. You can also start or participate in a Bible-based discussion here in the Christian Chat Forums, where members can also share with each other their own videos, pictures, or favorite Christian music.

    If you are a Christian and need encouragement and fellowship, we're here for you! If you are not a Christian but interested in knowing more about Jesus our Lord, you're also welcome! Want to know what the Bible says, and how you can apply it to your life? Join us!

    To make new Christian friends now around the world, click here to join Christian Chat.

Sketch

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2018
1,278
300
83
#1
I don't buy the standard answer on this subject.
Seems worthy of discussion.

Let's explore some theories. Thanks.

The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
 

RoboOp

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 4, 2008
1,424
512
113
#2
It says that Abel brought "fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock" so I would say that he gave his "first fruits" so to speak. It doesn't say anything like that in the description of Cain's offering -- it simply says he brought "some of the fruits of the soil". Those descriptions combined with the fact that right after that it says "the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor" leads me to conclude that Abel gave his best, or first fruits so to speak, to God, and Cain didn't.

Note that God didn't condemn him to hell or whatever for this; he was simply pleased with Abel's offering and not pleased with Cain's offering. But then since Cain was jealous, he went on to commit the ultimate sin -- killing his righteous brother. He could have simply corrected his error and took the Lord's kind advice (and it was very kind of God to actually speak to him with this correction and guidance):

"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

But instead of being convicted about giving his first fruits to God, and heeding the Lord's kind correction about "sin .. crouching at the door", instead he went on to commit the ultimate sin of killing the one who was pleasing God -- his own brother.
 

RoboOp

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 4, 2008
1,424
512
113
#3
So what can we glean from this (about the offerings)? It convicts me to give my first fruits to God, in faith, as men of faith have been doing since the beginning of time, as we see here. And apparently it's an important part of our Christian walk, and a big part of pleasing God.
 

mailmandan

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2014
22,253
11,027
113
55
#4
It was by or "out of" faith that Abel offered a sacrifice. Abel's faith was evidenced by his obedience to God's requirement for sacrifice by which he obtained witness that he was righteous (Hebrews 11:4). His offering was evidence of his faith (James 2:18). Cain, who was of the evil one, instead demonstrated an evil heart by evil deeds, while Abel demonstrated a righteous heart by his righteous deeds (1 John 3:12); and that Abel offered his sacrifice by or "out of" faith and Cain did not. Cain's offering demonstrated a lack of faith. Abel's offering proved something about his faith that was not demonstrated by Cain's offering.
 

Sketch

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2018
1,278
300
83
#5
So what can we glean from this (about the offerings)? It convicts me to give my first fruits to God, in faith, as men of faith have been doing since the beginning of time, as we see here. And apparently it's an important part of our Christian walk, and a big part of pleasing God.
I like what you are saying here.
How do those of us that do not work in agriculture give our "first fruits"?
 

Sketch

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2018
1,278
300
83
#6
It was by or "out of" faith that Abel offered a sacrifice. Abel's faith was evidenced by his obedience to God's requirement for sacrifice by which he obtained witness that he was righteous (Hebrews 11:4). His offering was evidence of his faith (James 2:18). Cain, who was of the evil one, instead demonstrated an evil heart by evil deeds, while Abel demonstrated a righteous heart by his righteous deeds (1 John 3:12); and that Abel offered his sacrifice by or "out of" faith and Cain did not. Cain's offering demonstrated a lack of faith. Abel's offering proved something about his faith that was not demonstrated by Cain's offering.
This scripture below came to mind as I read your post.

I was also considering your statement about Abel giving in faith.
It was (still is) standard practice to keep your best animals for breeding purposes.
To sacrifice them to God is trustring that God will honor it with sustained flock health and vitality.

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
 

Journeyman

Well-known member
Jan 10, 2019
1,691
661
113
#7
I don't buy the standard answer on this subject.
Seems worthy of discussion.

Let's explore some theories. Thanks.

The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
I think God respected Abels offering because it showed the best he had belonged to God.

Even if I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all it contains belong to me. Psa.50:12
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
3,612
2,630
113
#8
I like what you are saying here.
How do those of us that do not work in agriculture give our "first fruits"?
You already know the deal if you've been to any protestant church. :D

CUT THAT CHECK BWOI!
 
M

Miri

Guest
#9
I think it was more of a heart issue

There were various grain offerings in the bible if you want to look them up so I don’t think it was the grain offering outright that was the issue.

Someone already mentioned Abel brought his offering by faith. Maybe cain has other motives.

ie. if I do this god will be appeased and I will feel proud, puffed up, almost like a Pharisee.

When really it should be I’m doing this because I love God.

Abel loved God he had faith in God, that faith and love meant he brought a heart felt offering.

Cain was just doing what many do, bring an offering out of tradition, plus he didn’t want to be outdone by his brother. How do I know, well he was jealous to the point that he killed his brother. Not many feel jealousy to that degree. It must have been an all consuming jealousy. His heart was definitely in the wrong place and God knew it.

Maybe if his heart had been in the right place his Grain offering would have been accepted.
 

PennEd

Senior Member
Apr 22, 2013
10,505
6,839
113
#10
4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore [a]Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother [b]Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And [c]in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.

I don't see Abel, as a KEEPER of the flock, as a work of his hands. Cain was a TILLER, by definition a WORKER.

Cain not only brought the work of his hands, but also brought the fruit of the ground from a cursed Earth.

God SOLELY gave life to the firstborn sheep that Abel brought.

Also, don't lose sight that God does NOT like when the model of our redemption is corrupted. Moses was spanked for messing with that model when he struck the Rock (Jesus) twice.

Jesus is the firstborn Lamb of God. Sacrificed to pay our debt. I believe it definitely IS about Cain messing with that model by trying to please God with the work of his hands, and NOT the work (sheep's life) of God's Hands.
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
3,612
2,630
113
#11
4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore [a]Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother [b]Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And [c]in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.

I don't see Abel, as a KEEPER of the flock, as a work of his hands. Cain was a TILLER, by definition a WORKER.

Cain not only brought the work of his hands, but also brought the fruit of the ground from a cursed Earth.

God SOLELY gave life to the firstborn sheep that Abel brought.

Also, don't lose sight that God does NOT like when the model of our redemption is corrupted. Moses was spanked for messing with that model when he struck the Rock (Jesus) twice.

Jesus is the firstborn Lamb of God. Sacrificed to pay our debt. I believe it definitely IS about Cain messing with that model by trying to please God with the work of his hands, and NOT the work (sheep's life) of God's Hands.
Was Cain the first vegetarian?

Oy vey!
 

Ahwatukee

Senior Member
Mar 12, 2015
11,147
2,371
113
#12
I don't buy the standard answer on this subject.
Seems worthy of discussion.

Let's explore some theories. Thanks.

The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
Hello Sketch,

Forgive me, but you are on a wild goose chase here. From the beginning God has been demonstrating that unless there is a shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sins. And Cain's rejected sacrifice is one of those teachings.

This was first demonstrated when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree. When God found them in the garden they had sewn together fig leaves to cover themselves. However, God went out and made animal skins for them, demonstrating the need for the shedding of innocent blood to cover their sin.

This truth is further demonstrated within the law that God gave to Moses for Israel in all of the different animal sacrifices. This teaching of the shedding of blood for the remission of sin was of course pointing to the ultimate sacrifice, the shed blood of our Lord.

So getting back to your post, the very reason that Cain's offering was rejected was because there was no shedding of blood, but was offering the works of his hands, i.e. by his own efforts. Consequently, unless their is a shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. We are saved, not by our own works, as was with the case with Cain, but by trusting in Christ as the One who shed His blood on behalf of every believer.
 

JohnRH

Junior Member
Mar 5, 2018
367
161
43
#13
I don't buy the standard answer on this subject.
Seems worthy of discussion.

Let's explore some theories. Thanks.

The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
I think it was because Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
13,518
4,822
113
#14
My thoughts...Abel offered the firstling of his flock, and Cain was meant to offer his firstfruits but I dont think he did. He offered those that were of the ground (the ones lying on the ground perhaps?)

As far as sacrifice goes, I dont believe it was (yet) a blood sacrifice..it does not say he offered meat but the fat (the milk? The wool?) although it is significant that the two brothers had different occupations.



Also previously note the punishments God handed to adam and eve,,,it was adams to till the ground and the ground was cursed already. Cain took after his dad. Abel seemed to take after his mother in that both bore children (or animals). Abel was a keeper of sheep. God had previously clothed Adam and Eve in coats of skins, presumably made from sheep? There was as yet no indication that humans ate animal meat before Noah.
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
13,113
2,682
113
#15
I don't buy the standard answer on this subject.
Seems worthy of discussion.

Let's explore some theories. Thanks.

The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
Hebrews 11 says, By faith Abel offered up a more excellent sacrifice than Cain...the Scripture says by faith...faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I believe God told those boys what sacrifice was pleasing to Him. It was a blood sacrifice of a lamb. Abel obeyed, Cain did not. It was not a guessing game.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,958
10,798
113
#16
The standard answer is that Abel's offering was a blood sacrifice.
I don't think that was the reason that Cain's offering was rejected.
They both brought something from the work of their hands.
Was Cain condemned for working the soil rather than keeping a flock?
i think it's unsupportable to say Cain was 'condemned' for working the soil, because:

To Adam He said,
“Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
(Genesis 3:17-19)
it's implicit in the judgement of Adam that he ((and by extension his progeny)) would be engaged in agriculture.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
13,518
4,822
113
#17
A sacrfice doesnt necessarily mean it has to be a blood sacrifice just something that you give up..and note both gave offerings, in genesis they call them both 'offerings' not sacrifices.

We believers are to be 'living sacrifices' to God and also offer up a sacrifice of praise. And also note that when Cain slew Abel, his blood cries from the ground. I dont think Cain thought well if I kill Abel then his blood is a sacrifice to God.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,958
10,798
113
#18
So what can we glean from this (about the offerings)? It convicts me to give my first fruits to God, in faith, as men of faith have been doing since the beginning of time, as we see here. And apparently it's an important part of our Christian walk, and a big part of pleasing God.
Jude puts Cain, Balaam & Korah together:

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
(Jude 1:11)

so we should see something analogous between these three; that's going to be a clue about what was lacking in Cain's offering - is there a connection to firstfruits?
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
13,518
4,822
113
#19
Something for consideration

Check out Hebrews 6:7-8
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,958
10,798
113
#20
4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore [a]Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother [b]Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And [c]in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.

I don't see Abel, as a KEEPER of the flock, as a work of his hands. Cain was a TILLER, by definition a WORKER.

Cain not only brought the work of his hands, but also brought the fruit of the ground from a cursed Earth.

God SOLELY gave life to the firstborn sheep that Abel brought.

Also, don't lose sight that God does NOT like when the model of our redemption is corrupted. Moses was spanked for messing with that model when he struck the Rock (Jesus) twice.

Jesus is the firstborn Lamb of God. Sacrificed to pay our debt. I believe it definitely IS about Cain messing with that model by trying to please God with the work of his hands, and NOT the work (sheep's life) of God's Hands.

while i agree that it's significant that Cain's offering was from '
the sweat of his brow' ((re: Gen 3:19)), as Miri pointed out there are grain offerings ((& even a feast of firstfruits)) prescribed in Moses, so i have reservations about presuming that offering produce from the ground in and of itself is unacceptable.

the point RoboOp made about any language of '
firstfruits' being absent in the description of Cain's offering fits here