Lectionary Text from Matthew 23: 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Matt 23:36-39 (KJV)
Read also, Genesis 4: 1 And 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.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. 16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
This latter, from Genesis, is an account which hails back to the dawn of time and the beginning of the generations of the human race. It is taken from a Book of the Bible called ‘Genesis’, and appropriately so for genesis is a word meaning origin or beginning.
When the name of Cain is uttered – the first child born on earth, and seldom is it uttered, what thoughts are evoked by its mention?
Not thoughts of virtue or loveliness, but thoughts of murderous treachery. Cain was a treacherous murderer of the worst kind. He murdered his own brother and he did so over jealousy of a political, economic and religious nature.
Some of our most destructive wars have had false religion as their cause (or rather, more truly, the excuse).
When Eve conceived her first son, Cain (possession), she considered this to be the man who would redeem the sins of his parents as promised in Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”
The seed of Satan, whose head would be crushed by her seed seemed to be fulfilled to Eve in her firstborn. “I have gotten a man from the LORD”
When Abel was born a few minutes later, there was no particular response from Eve other than to call him Abel (or breath). Just a breath, whereas Cain was a POSSESSION!
Abel was a Godly son and a prophet of the Lord. Christ makes reference to this fact in Matthew 23: 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
2……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.
Why would Cain’s offering not be accepted. He did offer it with a good heart….didn’t he? No! He did not! He knew that a Lamb had to die to make a covering of his parents’ nakedness – Gen 3: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
A sacrifice represents an offering to cover our sins and weaknesses, but Cain’s was totally unacceptable and he knew it.
We read in Hebrews, Chapter 9: 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Further more, the source of Cain’s offering was a cursed source: Gen 3: 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
So, please, do not mimic modern preachers and excuse Cain for his goodwill. He had none. His self-righteousness was evidenced by his not feeling a need to make a worthy sacrifice for sin. He is much like most modern Christians of today.
So out of jealousy, Cain murdered his brother – his only brother.
I witnessed a few years ago a famous evangelist and false prophet, Benny Hinn, saying that he would kill all those who objected to his brand of false preaching by mowing them down with a machine gun. See how false religion and false motives can incite us to evil?
The blood of Abel cried to the Lord from the ground. When our bodies die, we still exist…the part that makes us who we are … our souls, our spirits. This part is indestructible for it is the essence of US. And this part of us will live forever, either in the bliss of Heaven, or in the eternal fires of Hell.
What makes you different from Cain?
Do you offer to God a proper sacrifice of mere possessions?
Or do you claim the blood of His Son, Jesus, as your offering. The blood of goats or lambs will not avail. They were mere foreshadows of the guiltless sacrifice to come.
Heb 9:11 ¶ But Christ, having come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands (that is to say, not of this building), 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.13 For if sprinkling the unclean with the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, 13 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who 14 through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Our pitiful claims to live for God are revealed as wretched rags and odorous garments by the evidence of the fruit of our works. If we love God and His Creation, we will obey Him and listen to His Voice.
And when we fail and sin, we must confess and repent. We must claim the blood of the innocent Lamb shed from before the foundations of the world as our sacrifice, not the mere works of our hands. Regardless the good we do for others, without the Love of Christ, it is a perishable and stinking ointment. Only His righteousness will avail in the dark and cloudy day. Here is hope from the words of the prophet:
Ezekiel 34: 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
If you know not the voice of the Shepherd when He calls, how will He find you?
Study to make your salvation sure. Amen!