Lesson 2 | Sabbath, 13 July 2019
“The Lord gave Cain and Abel directions regarding the sacrifice they were to bring Him. Abel, a keeper of sheep, obeyed the Lord’s command and brought a lamb as his offering. This lamb, as it was slain, represented the Lamb of God, who was to be slain for the sins of the world. Cain brought as an offering the fruit of the ground, his own produce. He was not willing to be dependent on Abel for an offering. He would not go to him for a lamb. He thought his own works perfect, and these he presented to God.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 35.
1. Who were the first two children born into the world? What were their occupations when they became mature?
Genesis 4:1, 2 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
“Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, differed widely in character. Abel had a spirit of loyalty to God; he saw justice and mercy in the Creator’s dealings with the fallen race, and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. But Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adam’s sin. He permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan’s fall–indulging the desire for self-exaltation and questioning the divine justice and authority.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 71.
Abel’s offering in contrast to Cain’s
2. Seeing himself in light of the divine law, what did Abel offer to God? What did this show about him?
Genesis 4:4 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.
Romans 2:14, 15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
“Cain thought himself righteous, and he came to God with a thank offering only. He made no confession of sin, and acknowledged no need of mercy. But Abel came with the blood that pointed to the Lamb of God. He came as a sinner, confessing himself lost; his only hope was the unmerited love of God. The Lord had respect to his offering, but to Cain and his offering He had not respect. The sense of need, the recognition of our poverty and sin, is the very first condition of acceptance with God. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:3.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 152.
3. Did his brother have the same trust in the Lord? Refusing to obey His will, whom did Cain allow to take control of his mind?
Genesis 4:6, 7 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? 7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
“Cain talked with Abel about their sacrifices and charged God with partiality. Abel interceded with his brother, repeating to him the very words of God’s command to them both regarding the offerings He required. Cain was provoked because his younger brother should presume to teach him. He allowed envy and jealousy to fill his heart. He hated his brother because he was preferred before him. As Cain pondered over the matter, he grew still more angry.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 35.
“The Lord saw the wrath of Cain. He saw the falling of his countenance. Thus is revealed how closely the Lord marks every action, all the intents and purposes, yes, even the expression of the countenance. This, though man may say nothing, expresses his refusal to do the way and will of God.” –Conflict and Courage, p. 26.
4. Being full of darkness and fury, what did Cain do to his brother? How far did he go in the service of evil?
Genesis 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
“He saw his mistake in offering only his own substance before the Lord, without the fitting sacrifice of a lamb, but he determined to vindicate himself and condemn Abel. Satan worked through him, inspiring him with a desire to slay his brother.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 35.
“Although Adam and Eve related with sorrow to their children the sad story of the Fall, their family became a divided family. Cain chose to serve Satan, Abel to serve God. Cain killed his brother Abel, because he would not follow his example.” –The Upward Look, p. 41.
The gift of righteousness
5. Although Cain hated and killed his brother, how did Jesus consider Abel and his shed blood? On what basis did the Lord view Abel as righteous–his actions or Christ’s merits?
Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Luke 18:19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.
“Abel, the very first Christian of Adam’s children, died a martyr.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 33.
“Abel was a believer in Christ, and was as verily saved by His power as was Peter or Paul.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 392.
“… In full faith of the Messiah to come, and with humble reverence, he [Abel] presented the offering. God had respect unto his offering. A light flashes from Heaven and consumes the offering of Abel.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 48.
“Patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs from righteous Abel, looked forward to a coming Saviour, and they showed their faith in Him by sacrifices and offerings. The sacrifice of beasts shadowed forth the sinless offering of God’s dear Son, and pointed forward to His death upon the cross.” –Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, July 15, 1893.
6. What prompted Abel to offer such an excellent sacrifice to God? What is required for one to obtain forgiveness?
Hebrews 11:4; 9:22 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh…. 9:22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
“‘By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.’ Hebrews 11:4. Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous, and his offering accepted.
“Cain had the same opportunity of learning and accepting these truths as had Abel. He was not the victim of an arbitrary purpose. One brother was not elected to be accepted of God, and the other to be rejected. Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 72.
7. In view of this experience, what do we need to learn from Abel about how to obtain righteousness and a good witness? Whose blood, which is more precious than that of Abel, will bring about man’s justification and salvation?
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
“Thank God that He who spilled His blood for us, lives to plead it, lives to make intercession for every soul who receives Him. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. It speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, for Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us. We need to keep ever before us the efficacy of the blood of Jesus. That life-cleansing, life-sustaining blood, appropriated by living faith, is our hope. We need to grow in appreciation of its inestimable value, for it speaks for us only as we by faith claim its virtue, keeping the conscience clean and at peace with God.” –Our High Calling, p. 47.
For additional study
“Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits; theirs is a sacrifice without the virtue of divine mediation, and thus it is not able to bring man into favor with God. It is only through the merits of Jesus that our transgressions can be pardoned. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that without divine grace they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. If they do not accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation. There is no other provision made whereby they can be released from the thralldom of sin.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 72, 73.