The Way Back

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”  (Genesis 4:8-10)
4 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)
22 But you have come … 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  (Hebrews 12:22-24)
By itself, the story of Cain and Abel can feel a bit depressing. The Lord confronts Cain over his sin but, instead of repenting, Cain rebels against him even further. He lures his brother to a secluded space, attacks him and kills him. Remarkably, the Lord continues to extend mercy towards Cain. He asks him some questions about his brother’s whereabouts that are intended as an invitation to confess and repent of his sin. Tragically, Cain refuses to do so. The Lord therefore decrees that the blood of Abel cries out for justice. Things seem pretty bleak and uninspiring.

That’s why we need the writers of the New Testament to help us. They explain what the Lord wants to say to us today through passages such as this one. At first, the writer to the Hebrews reinforces the fact that sin’s consequences are indeed bleak and scary. He says that the blood of Abel still cries out for vengeance – but then he changes tack. He says that there is a true and better Abel, whose blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

When Jesus was taunted by his enemies on the cross, he cried out in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Instead of calling for justice and for vengeance, his blood cries out for grace and mercy. Jesus is described in John 1:29 as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” because there are two pools of blood in Genesis 4, not just one. There is the blood of Abel which cries out for justice, but there is also the blood of the lamb that Abel slaughtered, which points to Jesus and which cries out for grace and mercy. Like Cain, our own sins cry out God to judge us, but the blood of Jesus cries out for God to forgive us instead. Hallelujah!
1)   What areas of sin are you aware of in your life right now?  How might you be tempted to hide them and to shift the blame, like Cain did in these verses?

2)   How are you going to respond today to the Lord’s warning that those sinful actions cry out to him against you?

3)   Praise God, these verses are no longer bleak and depressing for those who put their faith in Jesus. How can you lay hold of Jesus today as the true and better Abel, whose innocent blood now cries out for your forgiveness?
Father God, I thank you that the story doesn’t end in Genesis 4. Thank you that there is a true and better Abel, whose blood cries out in my defence, even as my own actions cry out to you against me. I put my faith in Jesus as my Saviour from sin. Forgive me, cleanse me and purify me. Help me to enjoy walking in your amazing grace today. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

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