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On Hebrews 11: Abel

This week, I am leading a team from Covenant Life Church on a missions project in New Orleans. As a missions team, we are studying Hebrews 11, the so-called “Hall of Faith” chapter. In addition to studying it corporately in our team time, each day we are going to study one of the characters named in Hebrews 11. To start with, on Sunday, we will be studying Abel. Each day I will post a devotional out of Hebrews 11 for your reflection.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks – Heb 11:4.

Read: Genesis 4:1-7

Interact: Why did God accept Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s? Why did God accept Abel and not Cain?

Reflect: Accepted. A simple word that provides the hinge between Cain and Abel. Hebrews 11:4 twice says “acceptable” and then “accepting” with respect to Abel’s gifts to the Lord. Conversely, in Genesis 4:7, the Lord asks Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Cain did what he was supposed to do. He made the sacrifice. In fact, the closest we get to a qualitative difference is that Cain’s sacrifice is described as “an offering,” whereas Abel’s is described as “firstborn” and “fat portions,” seemingly indicating that Abel gave his best, not just some. But even to get caught up there is, I believe, to miss the point. It was more than a qualitative difference. It was a difference in faith. As Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please” God. Cain and Abel both made sacrifices. They both did what they were supposed to do. Only Abel’s was accepted. The difference: Abel’s gift and his life were marked by faith. Cain’s gift and his life were not. The offer was before Cain to do well. He did not, as we find out in the rest of the story. And the difference: Abel walked in faith, the only way to please God.

Respond: Is your life marked by the faith that pleases God and makes your life acceptable to him? Pray, asking God to teach you to walk in faith, making your sacrifices, and your life, acceptable to God.


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