2nd January 2023
Read Genesis 4:1-9 and Hebrews 11:4
Message Alan Burke
In the Autumn we were working our way through the book of Romans, or rather we worked our way through the first 3 chapters. Now we turn to the book of Hebrews, although when I say Hebrews we will be spending a lot of time in the Old Testament as we do for we are going to in the next 14 weeks be focusing on Hebrews 11 and those listed in the ‘Hall of Fame’ of those who had faith. My hope is that it will be a help to us all to remands us that while we are still sinners what matters is that we have faith for in Hebrews 11 those listed are rarely role models who we should endeavour to be like, no they are sinners saved by faith alone in Christ alone. Hebrews doesn’t go into their faults and failures, instead it commends them because despite of the sometimes reprehensible people that they were, the carnage that some of them left, they were blessed by God because it wasn’t about them, it was about the kingdom of God and the coming Christ, the Messiah the one to whom they looked. Although Scott focused on those listed here in his devotions in the Autumn there is a lot more to be said and my prayer is that you will have greater knowledge and assurance of what God has done for you in Christ Jesus.
In Genesis 4:1-9 we are told of Abel, or rather Cain and Abel. They were brought up in the same home, they were both taught about God in the home, their parents had conveyed to them the hope that there was in the Christ. We are there told that in the course of time v3, that Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast (Gen 4:1-5).
There is that bit inside us wants to say; ‘that’s not fair’, they both brought their offering, what more do you want? But Hebrews gives us the answer to why Cain’s offering was not looked on with favour and Abel’s was. ‘By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.’ (Heb 11:4)
There's an abiding principle here, in is the same for all human beings, at every point of human history, if you have Hebrews 11 still marked, and we will think about this more in next week, look at Hebrews 11:6 for there we are told…”without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6). We come to the crux of it, it is the same for all of us, as it was for Cain and Abel, it is by faith, faith, faith that we can please God, the only reason why Abel’s offering pleased God in comparison to that of Cain’s offering was faith.
We should not forget there was also Cain and he acts as a warning. Abel’s offering was accepted because it was brought by faith, it was received gladly by God, but Cain’s, well his was a faithless worship. He came, he brought his offering, he worshiped the Lord God but his offering was not looked upon with favour. In this we are reminded here that God cares not only about how we approach Him in the worship of Him, in the form it takes which should be founded and agreeable to His word but also the motivation of those who worship. Cain came and may have done all the right things, he did what he had been taught from his parents, his parents had shown him what it was to worship and he came according to the word of God but he did not have faith. It is only when our hearts are right, that we come by faith that God will look on us with favour. Without faith it is impossible to please God, all of us must know that what matters not is us, it is Christ. Through faith in Christ we can have confident assurance to approach a holy God in-spite of our sin.
Q39 What is the duty which God requireth of man?
The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will. (Mic. 6:8, 1 Sam. 15:22)