Genesis 4: 1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
This is important for many reasons. God wants to remind us of a primary truth—what it takes to please God and be accepted by him. The elements are here. Creation was fresh and young. Mankind was a very small population—Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. The name Cain means “acquired of the Lord” while the name Abel means “one who feeds.” What Abel did when he approached God feeds our soul.
God has given us all a special gift with our life. Here we see the first family. We see the first farmer in Cain and the first shepherd in Abel. Everything we now know goes back to this beginning. Cain had to learn how to keep the ground under the curse upon it. The animal kingdom was affected by the curse as well. Abel had to deal with that. These children were born into sin because of the sin of their parents. They had to be accepted by God. In order for there to be civility, God had to be included in what they did. We don’t read of an altar set up, but before there was a temple or tabernacle with their altars, there was a family altar. In order for sins to be forgiven, God showed the requirement when he killed animals for their skins to give Adam and Eve a covering. Their own covering of fig leaves wasn’t enough. There had to be a sacrifice. In time, a Savior would shed his blood and make the perfect way.
Cain and Abel realized the need to offer something to God. They learned from their parents what it took. No doubt there was a family altar. Both Cain and Abel brought their offering to the Lord. What we present to the Lord is important. Hebrews 12 tells us that Jesus was the sacrifice providing the altar in himself. As altar and Savior there is no reason to miss heaven. We know where to go and who to see.
The standards for respect are low. Worldly respect is something people try to command by the way they look, talk and walk. We can’t command a thing. I don’t care how you look and dress and what respect you get from the world. Be concerned about the respect of God. That’s what matters. That garners his approval. Does God approve? Is he pleased with you? We must first show him respect and give him what he wants, not what we want. Cain gave little thought to the requirements and gave what he wanted. It was not what God expected. We must meet God’s expectations. Cain’s offering was not accepted by God. His mistake was picking from what he grew in his gardens. God deserves our best and won’t take leftovers. He wants the first part. Cain felt he was going God a favor in sharing his garden with the Lord. You’ll never be accepted by God if you don’t give him the first part. Jesus said seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. It’s not about sharing our lives with God. We don’t share anything with him. In fact, it is he who shares what we have with us. He gave it to us.
Abel brought the firstlings of his flock. He considered what God required and chose the best animal he had. He shed its blood because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. He slew the innocent. Something without sin had to be slain on his behalf. His offering was accepted by God. We cannot give God a piece of our lives. We must give it all to him. Abel brought the first, the best and received God’s acceptance and respect. He lost his life because of it. His jealous brother murdered him. Because of his acceptance by God, he went to heaven. You may lose out some here on this earth, but you will gain heaven.
Are you giving God the first, the best? Put your all on the altar.