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Cain was a farmer and brought an offering to God from his crops. Abel was a shepherd and brought an offering to God from his flock. God was pleased with Abel’s offering but did not respect Cain’s offering. God rebuked Cain; but instead of repenting, Cain killed Abel. God again confronted Abel and said, “The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.”
Hebrews 11:4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, … and through it he being dead still speaks.
The blood of Abel teaches that God is pleased with people who worship Him by faith according to His word. We should not think, as some people do, that God will be pleased with just any kind of worship so long as it is sincerely offered to the true God.
The blood of Abel also teaches that, like Cain, those who refuse to worship God truly will often resent and persecute those who are righteous.
Hebrews 12:24 refers to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
Jesus’ blood was also righteous blood. Like Abel, He served God obediently. In fact, He never sinned at all. He worshiped and served God obediently all his life.
And like Abel, Jesus was killed by wicked people because of His righteousness. He rebuked people for their sins, and they envied Him because they sought praises from people.
The passage does not say specifically how, but other passages explain ways this is true.
He died, not just as a good man like Abel, but as the sacrifice to forgive other people’s sins.
Hebrews 9:15,22,28 – And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant … and without shedding of blood there is no remission. … [S]o Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Revelation 5:9 – You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation
By this New Testament all people today can serve God and have the hope of eternal life.
Matthew 26:28 – For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Hebrews 13:20)
So God was pleased with the sacrifice that Abel offered, but Abel was slain because a wicked man was jealous. Jesus was also slain because of the jealousy of wicked men, but this became the sinless sacrifice that can provide forgiveness of sins to all people for all time.
It is this sacrifice of Jesus who died on the cross for us that we remember in the Lord’s Supper.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020; www.gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.