Meat and Vegetables

1 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—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. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”  (Genesis 4:1-7)

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.  (Genesis 3:21)
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
Many people struggle to understand the story of Cain and Abel. The two brothers both bring sacrifices to the Lord, so why does the Lord accept one sacrifice and reject the other? It can’t just be because the Lord prefers meat to vegetables – and it isn’t. When we read these verses slowly, we can see why Cain’s sacrifice was wrong.

Cain gets angry with the Lord for rejecting his offering of vegetables, so the Lord rebukes him gently, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” The Lord is reminding Cain here that his parents have already taught him what kind of sacrifice is required to bring forgiveness for our sin. The Lord had warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 that the penalty for sin is death. When they tried to avoid death by covering up their sin with clothing made from vegetation, the Lord gently corrected them. He sacrificed an innocent animal on their behalf, and then clothed them with the dead animal’s skin in Genesis 3:21. The Lord reminds Cain that Adam and Eve have passed this knowledge on to him. The penalty of sin cannot be dodged by working hard with our own hands. It can only be forgiven through faith in the blood sacrifice of the coming Saviour, about whom the Lord prophesied in Genesis 3:15.

Abel understood this. As soon as he became aware of his sin, he brought an innocent lamb as a blood sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord counted Abel’s faith in his slaughtered lamb as faith in the Lamb of God who was yet to come. Cain knew what he should do, but he persuaded himself that he could find his own way back to God through the work of his hands and the sweat of his brow. That’s the problem with any religion that isn’t all about the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, the only Saviour. It doesn’t matter how sincere people are. It doesn’t matter how much they fast or how much time they spend on religious activities. If it isn’t faith in the blood of Jesus, then God rejects it, as he rejected Cain. Hebrews 9:22 insists that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
1)   How would you answer a friend who said to you, “Jesus can’t be the only way to God – that’s really prejudiced. Every world religion leads to God in its own way”?

2)  In your own words, how would you explain to them why it is Jesus alone who can save us from our sins?

3)   When Peter urged a group of Jewish rabbis to accept Jesus, he warned them in Acts 4:12 that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” What would it take for you to speak with similar courage to your friends who haven’t yet put their faith in Jesus?
Father God, I find it sobering that you rejected Cain’s sacrifice. Many of my friends are trying to work their way back to you without faith in the death and resurrection of your Son. Help me to grasp why there is no salvation outside of the blood of Jesus, and give me the courage that I need to proclaim this to people. Save people through me. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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