The First Murderer And His Victim

6 min


Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, differed widely in character. Abel saw justice and mercy in the Creator’s dealings with the fallen race and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. But Cain permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan’s fall—questioning the divine justice and authority. From Eternity Past 37.1

These brothers were tested to prove whether they would believe and obey the word of God. They understood the system of offerings which God had ordained. They knew they were to express faith in the Saviour whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge total dependence on Him for pardon.Without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sin. They were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice. EP 37.2

The two brothers erected their altars alike, and each brought an offering. Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Genesis 4:4. Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. But Cain, disregarding the Lord’s direct command, presented only an offering of fruit. There was no token from heaven to show it was accepted. Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties made Cain the more determined to follow his own will. As the eldest, he despised his counsel. EP 37.3

Cain came before God with murmuring in his heart. His gift expressed no penitence, for it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor, as a favor done to God. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice, but rendered only partial obedience. Recognition of the need of a Redeemer was left out. EP 37.4

These brothers were both sinners, and both acknowledged the claims of God to reverence and worship. To outward appearance their religion was the same up to a certain point, but beyond this the difference was great. EP 38.1

The Great Difference Between Cain and Abel

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”Hebrews 11:4. Abel saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and God. He brought the slain victim, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to Christ dying on the cross. Trusting in the atonement there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous and his offering accepted. EP 38.2

Cain had the same opportunity of accepting these truths as had Abel.One brother was not elected to be accepted of God and the other rejected. Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. EP 38.3

Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist till the close of time. One avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other depend upon their own merits. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. EP 38.4

Nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle—that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. It is claimed by some that the human race can refine, elevate, and regenerate itself. As Cain thought to secure divine favor by an offering that lacked the blood of a sacrifice, so do these expect to exalt humanity to the divine standard, independent of the atonement. The history of Cain shows that humanity does not tend upward toward the divine, but downward toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope. See Acts 4:12. EP 38.5

True faith will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adam’s day to the present the great controversy has been concerning obedience to God’s law.In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God while disregarding some of His commands. But by works is “faith made perfect,” and without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.”James 2:22, 17. He who professes to know God “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. EP 39.1

When Cain saw that his offering was rejected, he was angry that God did not accept man’s substitute in place of the sacrifice divinely ordained, and angry with his brother for choosing to obey God instead of joining in rebellion against Him. EP 39.2

God did not leave him to himself, but condescended to reason with the man who had shown himself so unreasonable. “Why art thou wroth?and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” If he would trust to the merits of the promised Saviour and obey God’s requirements, he would enjoy His favor. But should he persist in unbelief and transgression, he would have no ground for complaint because he was rejected by the Lord.EP 39.3

Instead of acknowledging his sin, Cain continued to complain of the injustice of God and to cherish jealousy and hatred of Abel. In meekness, yet firmly, Abel defended the justice and goodness of God. He pointed out Cain’s error and tried to convince him that the wrong was in himself. He pointed to the compassion of God in sparing the life of their parents when He might have punished them with instant death, and urged that God loved them or He would not have given His Son, innocent and holy, to suffer the penalty which they had incurred. All this caused Cain’s anger to burn the hotter. Reason and conscience told him that Abel was in the right, but he was enraged that he could gain no sympathy in his rebellion. In fury he slew his brother. EP 39.4

So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. EP 40.1

The murder of Abel was the first example of the enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman—between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers. Whenever through faith in the Lamb of God a soul renounces the service of sin, Satan’s wrath is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satan’s claim that it is impossible for man to keep God’s law. When Cain saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life.And wherever any stand in vindication of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested. But every martyr of Jesus has died a conqueror. See Revelation 12:9, 11. EP 40.2

Cain the murderer was soon called to answer for his crime. “The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?” He resorted to falsehood to conceal his guilt. EP 40.3

The Punishment of Cain

Again the Lord said to Cain, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Cain had had time to reflect. He knew the enormity of the deed he had done and the falsehood he had uttered to conceal it; but he was rebellious still, and sentence was no longer deferred. The divine voice pronounced the terrible words: “And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. 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.”EP 40.4

A merciful Creator still spared his life and granted him opportunity for repentance. But Cain lived only to harden his heart, to encourage rebellion against divine authority, and to be the head of a line of bold sinners. His influence exerted demoralizing power until the earth became so corrupt and filled with violence as to call for its destruction.EP 41.1

The dark history of Cain and his descendants was an illustration of what would have been the result of permitting the sinner to live on forever, to carry out his rebellion against God. The forbearance of God only rendered the wicked more bold and defiant. Fifteen centuries after the sentence pronounced upon Cain, crime and pollution flooded the earth. It was made manifest that the sentence of death on the fallen race was just and merciful. The longer men lived in sin, the more abandoned they became. EP 41.2

Satan is constantly at work to misrepresent the character and government of God and to hold the inhabitants of the world under his deception. God sees the end from the beginning. His plans were far-reaching and comprehensive, not merely to put down the rebellion, but to demonstrate to all the universe its nature, fully vindicating His wisdom and righteousness in His dealings with evil. EP 41.3

The inhabitants of other worlds were watching with the deepest interest the condition of the world before the flood. They saw the results of the administration which Lucifer had endeavored to establish in heaven in casting aside the law of God. The thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually (Genesis 6:5), at war with the divine principles of purity, peace, and love. It was an example of awful depravity. EP 41.4

By the facts unfolded in the great controversy God carries with Him the sympathy of the whole universe as step by step His great plan advances to its fulfillment in the final eradication of rebellion. It will be seen that all who have forsaken the divine precepts have placed themselves on the side of Satan, in warfare against Christ. When the prince of this world shall be judged, and all who have united with him shall share his fate, the whole universe will declare, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.” Revelation 15:3. EP 41.5

 


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