What was God trying to say to Cain?


#1

So in Genesis, it talks about how Abel offered God the first of his sheep, and Cain offered God some of his crops. If I’m understanding it right, God was pleased with the sheep, but not with Cain’s offering.

Why didn’t God like Cain’s offering of his crops? Were they bad crops? I know later in the old testament it talks about cereal offerings, so why didn’t Cain’s offering make God happy? Was it just that He liked Abel’s offering better?

Then God says, “Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”

What exactly is God trying to say here? Is He telling Cain to try again and make a better offering? I mean, I’d be pretty crestfallen if God rejected my offer to Him. :confused:


#2

Any sacrifice has to be: The best that you have & your hope for the future; and lay it at the feet of God.

Able did that.
Abraham did that.

Cain made an offering, not a sacrifice


#3

I think he might have offered God the junk left over bad parts of his crop. He tried to offer God junk that he would not feed to his dog and would have otherwise thrown away and Abel gave his best. :slight_smile:


#4

Part of it is Cain’s heart. God tried to correct him about the rejected sacrifice. Cain ignored God and proceeded to murder Abel.

Genesis 4:6-7 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”


#5

Sounds like it to me. John says that Cain slew Abel because his works were evil, while those of his brother were just (1 John 3:12), and we read in Hebrews that “by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4). Cain gave God a part of his goods, but he did not give Him his heart.

It is also likely that Cain’s evil works manifested themselves in his offering, and so he didn’t divide it properly.


#6

[quote="JonathonofOhio, post:5, topic:323041"]
Sounds like it to me. John says that Cain slew Abel because his works were evil, while those of his brother were just (1 John 3:12), and we read in Hebrews that "by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Hebrews 11:4). Cain gave God a part of his goods, but he did not give Him his heart.

It is also likely that Cain's evil works manifested themselves in his offering, and so he didn't divide it properly.

[/quote]

I agree. :thumbsup:


#7

It seems that God was challenging Cain to elevate his spiritual level.

Cain is a "worker of the ground." His livelihood comes from the ground (adamah) from which Adam was created and civilisation developed. Since civilisation needs agriculture to thrive, Cain is "stuck" to the land and the society built upon it.

However, Genesis describes Abel as a "watcher of sheep," a nomad. Not only can he survive on his animals' meat and milk beyond the confines of civilisation, he's also free of its negative influences because does not depend on the perishable land. Instead, he depends on God.

The offerings reflect the brothers' different backgrounds. After years of tending to his flock, Abel chooses the best animals and seperates the fat portions from the meat. It's neither quick nor easy work, but he understands that God provides food and water for the sheep. In contrast, Cain presents God with the "fruit of the ground." It's not a bad offering, but it's not very good. He offers God the same thing he would have eaten himself, without seperating the choicest produce. It's lazy worship, and when you think of it many of us do the same thing. We're not ungrateful, but we forget that God is the ultimate source of our blessings and deserves our best effort.

Returning to my original point, I think God wanted Cain to elevate himself: "If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up?" It didn't mean he had to become shepherd, but he needed to break negative influences of civilisation. Sometimes the land will perish, be it in drought, flood or bad harvests, but God is eternal. Rather than plan God around his work, Cain needed to plan his work around God.


#8

[quote="Bezant, post:7, topic:323041"]
However, Genesis describes Abel as a "watcher of sheep," a nomad. Not only can he survive on his animals' meat and milk beyond the confines of civilisation, he's also free of its negative influences because does not depend on the perishable land. Instead, he depends on God.

[/quote]

Man was not permitted to eat meat until Noah was given permission by God after the flood. Abel might have drunk milk but, he certainly did not eat meat. :)


#9

[quote="Zekariya, post:8, topic:323041"]
Man was not permitted to eat meat until Noah was given permission by God after the flood. Abel might have drunk milk but, he certainly did not eat meat. :)

[/quote]

Really? I have never heard this before, could you please provide a reference for this...


#10

Thank you all for your responses. :)


#11

As I understand it it was the motive - not what Cain offered. It’s kind of reiterated in the parable of the widows mite. It’s not what we give, but rather the spirit in which it is given.


#12

[quote="Zekariya, post:8, topic:323041"]
Man was not permitted to eat meat until Noah was given permission by God after the flood. Abel might have drunk milk but, he certainly did not eat meat. :)

[/quote]

You are correct. :) At least God permitted Abel to eat animal products; there are few options in the desert for gluten-free vegans. :p


#13

In The World's First Murder [a thirteen part story by Rabbi David Fohrman] one gets some interesting insight into this tale. I don't know how much is Jewish tradition and haow much is just his speculation, but it holds together well. You will have to chase around the site a bit to get all the installments.


#14

[quote="pollynova, post:1, topic:323041"]
So in Genesis, it talks about how Abel offered God the first of his sheep, and Cain offered God some of his crops. If I'm understanding it right, God was pleased with the sheep, but not with Cain's offering.

Why didn't God like Cain's offering of his crops? Were they bad crops? I know later in the old testament it talks about cereal offerings, so why didn't Cain's offering make God happy? Was it just that He liked Abel's offering better?

Then God says, "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."

What exactly is God trying to say here? Is He telling Cain to try again and make a better offering? I mean, I'd be pretty crestfallen if God rejected my offer to Him. :confused:

[/quote]

As others have said, God is addressing the moral disposition of the one making the sacrifice. "Then the Lord said to Cain, “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.”" - Gen 4 6-7

Leviticus instructs Priests similarly " No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’” Lev 21 21-23

Paul also stresses the need for inner cleanliness in offering the Eucharist "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Cor. 11:27–28).

The Code of Canon Law that governs us today also indicates *"A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to . . . receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible" *(CIC 916).

Cain brought a curse upon himself and his descendents by offering sacrifice unworthily.


#15

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