Acceptable vs Unacceptable Worship

Gen. 4:3 "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."  Previously we noted that God had respect unto Abel, but he had not respect unto Cain.  We noted how that this respect was based on God's covenant.  In addition, God had not respect to the offering of Cain, but he had respect unto the offering of Abel. 

Why did God have respect unto Abel's offering, but he had not respect unto Cain's offering?  What was there about these offerings that God had respect unto one and not the other?  This respect certainly was not based on the effort required to bring it or on the expediency in which it was brought.  Cain's offering required more effort on Cain's part than the effort that Abel put forth in bringing an offering.  Moreover, Cain was first to bring an offering.  Yet God rejected Cain's offering, but accepted Abel's offering. 

First, Cain's offering was of the fruit of the ground.  God had cursed the ground in Gen. chapter 3:17-19: 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; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 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."  Cain brought an offering of that which God had cursed.  No wonder Cain's offering was not accepted of God.  The Creator of the Universe deserves better than to receive an offering of that which He had cursed. 

 Second, the attitude of Cain was wrong.  He brought his offering in order to receive praise from God.  He expected God would praise him for his hard work and diligent effort in bringing forth fruit from the ground.  Yet, when God rejected his offering Cain became wroth and his countenance fell.  He was angry because God did not praise him. 

In contrast, Abel brought an offering of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  How did Abel know what would be acceptable unto God?  The answer lies in what God had shown unto Adam and Eve: Gen. 3:21 "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."  God had made the first blood sacrifice in order that Adam and Eve might be properly clothed.  Thus, God showed that he would accept the blood sacrifice of an animal by His example.  Furthermore, Abel's offering was not to receive praise from God, but was made to praise God. 

What does this mean to us today?  According to Gal. 3:10: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."  Thus, all mankind is under the curse of God because of sin.  If I bring the works of my effort unto God as an offering of worship then I am bringing the fruit of that which God has cursed.  Those who do bring the works of their efforts unto God, saying, "look what we have done" are, in essence, bringing the same type of offering that Cain brought.  They are seeking God to praise them for what they have done.

If, however, my offering is that which is found in Gal. 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree," then I am bringing the true blood sacrifice that clothed my sin with the blood offering of Jesus Christ and made me righteous before God.  Thus, my praise to the Lord Jesus Christ for his sacrificial atonement is, in essence, bringing the same type of offering that Abel brought.  With this God is satisfied.  Furthermore, praising Christ for what he has done is praising God and not seeking the praise of God.

Sovereignty of God in Election 

Gen. 4:1 "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD."  No matter how much we may want something or think we can influence God's choice, the truth is God is sovereign and "he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou" (Dan. 4:35).  Eve said she had gotten a man from the Lord.  The truth is Abel of whom she said nothing was the man from the Lord.  According to the scriptures Cain "was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:12). 

Throughout the scriptures we see this principle of God choosing and not man choosing.  During the days leading up to the flood, we read part of the condemnation of man was that every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually.  Also, all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  This condemnation was all conclusive, yet Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  God's choice of Noah to repopulate the earth after the flood was by the grace of God.  Later God chose a man who was guilty of murder to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage (Moses).  Further, God chose David to replace Saul as King of Israel, even though his own father did not think this would be God's choice as Jesse left David at home to take care of the flock when Samuel came to anoint one of his sons to be the next King.  This pattern plays out throughout the scriptures.