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Cain's offering

Query for the Month


November 2004

Next up-date: December 1st 2004 (God willing).

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Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

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Genesis 4:3-5

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect.

 Why didn't the LORD respect Cain’s offering?


The foundation of the plan of redemption is that sin kills! (Romans 6:23.)

But before it does it dims the faculties, especially the mind of reason. For example, the man who was made in God’s image tried to hide from Him behind a tree!

Let’s look at that:


Genesis 3:

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat [he chose to join her]. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened [as their normal covering disappeared], and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden [because of their mind set]. 9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, "Where are you?" [He knew, but needed Adam to show the angels how his mind was now.]

10 And he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself [behind a tree]."

11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?" [A yes or no question.] 12 And the man said, "The woman [whom You made] whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." [Adam blamed his God and his wife both of whom he professed to love.]

13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent [Satan’s agent] beguiled [tricked] me, and I did eat." [It’s his fault.]


The leap into sin had so changed both of them that rather than own up to their guilt they tried to pass the buck on to someone else. This is so normal amongst humans today that we hardly think of it as it really is, a condemnation of another. Eve blamed the serpent, while Adam blamed both God and the former love of his life, yet knowing what she had done, he had chosen to die with her when he took of the fruit. See 1 Timothy 2:14.

So they were changed:

physically, from a robe of light to a covering of fig leaves;

mentally, in that they thought they could hide from the Son of God;

and spiritually, because they would not own up but blamed another for their action.

Therefore, after Adam’s jump into sin, the Son of God had a difficult task to get that thought of death (which is separation from Him as the life-giver) into the sin-darkened minds of His creatures. He knew that the only way to save some of humanity would be for Him to give them a piece of His life so that there would be a counter-measure in them against the temptations of sin. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Therefore His first lesson in redemption was that there needed to be an exchange of lives through "death to self" on our part, and a "death to Him" as God.

This is why the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you wroth [angry]? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door [of your heart and causes the problem]. And to [control] you shall be his [sin’s] desire, and [yet] you shall rule over him." Genesis 4:6-7.

In the New Testament this is expressed as: "If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law [the Ten Commandments] that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. . . . Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." Romans 7:16-21. Paul goes on to say: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law [principle] of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2."

At one time the Son of God was able to explain salvation in greater detail to the exiles in Babylon.


Ezekiel 36:

23 And I will sanctify [show] My great name [character], which was profaned [spoilt] among the heathen, which you have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD [the Saviour], says the LORD GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you [without the ashes], and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony [hard] heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh [a loving one]. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes [the Ten Commandments], and you shall keep My judgments [daily advices], and do them. 28 And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I will be your God.


But it was many centuries before Paul could write, ". . . I am made a minister [helper], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil [explain] the word of God; even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:25-27.

It was not "hid" by any action on the Son of God’s part, but as the result of sin’s dimming effect on the minds of men and women. This brought about the need for a physical picture by which they might see the spiritual reality, for this is not a literal "death" but a spiritual one, although that does not mean that it is not as real. Only as each penitent one responded to His plea and accepted that exchange could salvation be accomplished. So He devised the plan that each person would kill an innocent animal, once, at the beginning of his or her new life as a Christian, in recognition of the fact that it had cost the Son of God a portion of His life to save him or her, and that they too needed to "die" with Him. This was also to be a great lesson for the children of men who were not spiritually minded. Romans 8:6.

So we are told:


Romans 6:

5 For if we have been "planted" [buried] together in the likeness of His death [by water baptism, verse 3], we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 Knowing this, that our "old man" is crucified with Him, that the body [power] of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is "dead" is freed from sin [is no longer under its control].

8 Now if we be "dead" with Christ, we believe that we shall also "live" with Him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin once: but in that He lives, He lives to God [forever].

11 Likewise [in the same way] reckon you also yourselves to be "dead" indeed to sin [once], but "alive" to God through Jesus Christ our LORD [forever].


Being "alive" means being able to do right in God’s power.

While Adam and Eve burnt their animals the LORD saved the skins to clothe them and this gave a perpetual outward picture of the inward condition. "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Genesis 3:21. These replaced the fig leaves they had used in their efforts to look righteous. Verse 7. Now they were "in Christ" as well as He in them. Romans 8:1.

Thus began the animal sacrifices. An innocent animal needed to be killed and burnt on an altar to represent the fact that He, the Sinless One, was treated as we deserve, that we, fallen and sinful, might be treated as He deserved. It’s skin then showed that they possessed Christ’s "robe of righteousness". Isaiah 61:10. It was a picture of the salvation, full and free, that began at the gates of the Garden of Eden. As each repentant one came and made such an offering, so a record was made for the benefit of the peoples of the universe to be used in the judgment. The prophet wrote: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down [placed in position], and the ancient/ of days [God the Father] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire [pulsing with energy]. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set [begun], and the books were opened." Daniel 7:9-10.

To this end it is written: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [God’s opponent], whose names are NOT written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Revelation 13:8.

Therefore, when Cain came with his bloodless offering, it could not be accepted. Not only was it without "death", it was also all of his own making for it was "the fruit of the ground." Thus it completely negated all that God needed to get across to His creatures, that no one can "earn" salvation, for it is the gift of God, the gift of life.

The phrase "in the process of time" (Genesis 4:3) tells us that this was the first offering made by the young men as priests of their new families, and therefore needed to be accurate as far as the ritual taught.

I repeat:

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. "With His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5. This is not fair, but it is equal.

God says,


Ezekiel 18:

26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them [without forgiveness]; for his iniquity that he has done shall he die [the second death]. 27 Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed [and is forgiven], and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die [the second death].

29 Yet says the house of Israel, "The way of the LORD is not equal." O house of Israel, are not My ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?


In the parable of the penny-a-day workers, Jesus made it plain that the householder thought he was getting value from the eleventh-hour labourers, and even if he wasn’t, it was his money to spend after all. Matthew 20:15. So it is with the Son of God.

However, by His life in humanity and His death at Calvary, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if humanity had never sinned. In taking our nature by being born like us, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. "God so loved the world, that He GAVE His only-begotten Son." John 3:16.

He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His unchangeable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word.

For this reason it is written, "Unto US a child is born, to US a son is given: and [yet] the government [of the universe] shall be upon His shoulder." Isaiah 9:6. God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the "Son of man" who shares the throne of the universe. It is the "Son of man" whose name shall be called, "Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

The "I AM" is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," is not ashamed to call Christians brothers and sisters. Hebrews 7:26; 2:11.

In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our Brother. Heaven is enshrined in Christian humanity, and Christian humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love. Thus it is written:

"For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." 1 Peter 2:21-25.

One sacrifice, once in a lifetime, by one offerer – that was the Son of God’s plan. But men have a habit of believing that "more is best", so Satan was soon able to preach the two extremes – either offer to God a gift of your own making, or multiply the offerings to placate Him. Either way he succeeds in spoiling God’s ritual picture. So when Cain came with his offering he was effectively accepting one of Satan’s choices and this could not be used by God as a lesson for future generations. So God rejected it.

As time went on and Satan studied the burnt offering system, he worked to confuse its meaning even more in the minds of men, turning it in some cases into human sacrifice! So, when given the opportunity during the exodus from Egypt, the LORD greatly expanded the sacrificial system to explain many other facets of the plan of redemption. Foremost of these improvements was the religious feast known as Passover in which a man who had had something removed from his life (by circumcision) ate a portion of a roasted lamb which symbolised an infilling of a new life. This was done at home and not in a church.


Exodus 12:

3 Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month [March/April] they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house: 4 and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb [so that it would be totally consumed].

Let’s add the New Testament explanation of this before we go on:

"Your glorying [boasting] is not good. Know you not that a little leaven [yeast] leavens [expands] the whole lump [of flour]? Purge out therefore the old leaven [your errors], that you may be a new [clean] lump, as you are unleavened [as Christians free from the control of sin]. For even Christ our passover [lamb] is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast [in a spiritual way], not with old [physical] leaven, neither with the [natural man’s] leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the [spiritual] unleavened bread of sincerity and truth [through a heart of love]." 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Now back to Moses:

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 and you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [late afternoon]. . . .

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, "Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin [making the sign of a cross]; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will [allow the destroying angel, Satan to] pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over [stand over] the door [He will protect you], and will not suffer the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. . . .

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance [law] of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 but every man's servant that is bought for money [and lives with you], when you have circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and a hired [daily] servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof [John 19:33]. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it [the ceremony].

48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with [live among] you [and join your religion], and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn [circumcised at eight days], and to the stranger [who is circumcised later] that sojourns among you [make no distinction].


After about 1,500 years the new rituals of sacrifices were so distorted by the opposition that they were removed completely and the death of the Son of man at Calvary was substituted for them. Since then the minds of Christians have become more clear and today we can think of either a lamb on an altar or a man on a cross to represent the Son of God at the gate of the Garden of Eden – either will do – so long as we realise that it is the life of divinity that has been offered to, and accepted by, each and every person who has started on the road to redemption.

Unfortunately for God, it is the majority who want their own way!

Unfortunately for us, they are prepared to kill for that choice.

"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." Genesis 4:8. Thus he showed plainly which side he had chosen. He was a liar who confused others’ minds by his actions, as well as a murderer who hated others – a sinner. Jesus said to a group of like-minded people, "If God were your Father, you would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself [wilfully], but He sent Me [gave Me permission]. Why do you not understand My speech? Even because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." John 8:42-44.



Cain’s attempt to make an offering of his own choosing spoilt the Son of God’s plan to teach about the exchange of lives which turns a natural man or woman into a Christian, therefore God could not accept it. It also showed that Cain had rejected the offer of salvation and was determined to help himself. Under those conditions, there was nothing that God could do for him. So right at the beginning of the world two classes of humans came into existence – those who would gladly accept the gift of the life of divinity and those who wilfully reject it.

For the latter, "there remains no more sacrifice for sins [God has no more to offer], but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Hebrews 10:26-27. This of course, is only after the Spirit has made many attempts to get through to the sinner and been repeatedly rejected.

Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from December 1st 2004.

Deuteronomy 12:17  

You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your corn, or of your wine, or of your oil, or the firstlings of your herds or of your flock, nor any of your vows which you vow, nor your freewill offerings, or heave offering of your hand: but you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God shall choose, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite that is within your gates: and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you put your hands to.

Does this text mean that we can eat (use) our own tithe?

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