GodReflection: Faith Certainties
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
It is the second sin recorded in Scripture—the first after the garden exit.
The text doesn’t say if the brother’s encountered God prior to the sacrifice story. However, I suspect they were not in the dark as to God’s expectations and hope for the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Hebrews 11:4).
In the context of Hebrews eleven I would argue that Abel selected and prepared his sacrifice with confidence, assurance and a faithful heart attuned to God.
Genesis chapter four tells us Abel brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering.
In contrast we read Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But on Cain and his offering He [Jehovah God] did not look with favor.
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.”
I doubt the story is recorded to illustrate content and procedure for the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Rather, my guess is that the incident was included to make a statement as to the right kind of heart from which the sacrifice originates.
The Abel and Cain sacrifice story is the first introduction of a sacrificial system that can be trace through all but seven of the thirty-nine Old Testament books and treated by every New Testament author with the exception of James.
The system culminates with Jesus the Son of God offered as a sacrificial lamb for all sin.
So here I am a resident of the 21st century who asks the question, “how is it that Abel’s faith still speaks to me even though he is dead?
How can I sacrifice with an Abel like faith to bring God a better offering than Cain did?
As one who follows Jesus he designed my time on earth to be a walk of transformation—as expressed by Paul—into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Abel’s faith by definition grows out of his confidence and assurance of a gift prepared for Holy God. It was that faith that made it possible to live under the umbrella of righteousness.
It is that faith that speaks to me as a resident of the 21st century. I too want to grow in the act of sacrificial gifts that flow from a heart that is confident and sure of God’s Holiness.
I want to hear Abel speak and react by imitation of him in the sacrifice by faith as I continue my walk.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on By Faith We Sacrifice