Everyone likes drama. It's evident from all of the entertainment in the world today that something in human nature is drawn to experience heightened emotions of pleasure or pain, although vicariously. The first people created, Adam and Eve, experienced the two greatest extremes possible — first paradise and later, an agonizing separation from all that had been life and peace. They departed from the place where the loving care and warming comfort of God could reach them. This did not just happen when they left Eden, but before that time, when they both did deeds independent from their Creator.
Eve had hearkened to the voice of the serpent, a voice that questioned the motives and kind intentions of her God. When she took in those thoughts to become her very own, her hand followed her heart to pluck fruit from the forbidden tree. Then she knew good, she knew evil, and worse, she was aware that evil was now a part of her character. She was tasting the juice of the forbidden fruit, something she had never before known in her childlike innocence in the Garden. She was tasting the bitterness of fear and guilt. Too late, she desperately sought help from Adam.
Created to be his helper, she was now a tool in the hands of the serpent to be Adam's destroyer. She found him, the look on her face betraying what she had done. She didn't want to hurt him, but supporting and building him up was the last thing on her mind. She was on her way to death, out of the Garden, having to make it on her own, and she was unprepared for it. How did she approach Adam? Did she come pitifully pleading, reasoning, demanding? Perhaps all of this and more, whatever it took to not be alone. She wasn't consciously trying to hurt Adam; there just wasn't any room to consider what was best for him, only what was best for her. She was headed to the frightening prospect of death, and her only hope was for Adam to go with her. They were one flesh.
Poor Adam was faced with the worst possible situation, aside from his own death. But for her sake, he even chose that. This was his rib, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and his soul felt ripped open. What could he do? He really loved her like his own self. He already felt in death, just because she really was. If only she had sought him out! How different life would now be on planet earth!
Adam had surely passed on to her what God had told him about that awful tree, but it looked so good! So because she did not trust the words of Adam over her own thinking, the Evil One grabbed hold and injected her with a lethal dose of his venom, his independence from the God of all living. Eve, "the mother of all living," was now independent from the God of all living; she had taken her fate upon herself, and it was too late. She had been deceived. Now what could the man do for his injured wife who was stabbing him in his heart with an unwilling hand?
"O Adam, don't do it! Don't be guilty of the same thing! Cry out for your Creator to help you! Seek His wisdom, not your own!" But instead the fruit found its way to Adam's mouth, set in its tortured frown, and dripped its bitter juice upon the tongue of man, as it has ever since.
Then the worst possible thing happened — God came. They frantically dashed into the bushes, the branches tearing at their hastily-constructed "clothing" of fig leaves. Somehow they had hope that they could escape His notice, perhaps until they had time to stretch their imagination, try out their skills at reasoning, until they could construct something more sophisticated, more rugged, so that they wouldn't have this fear. But no time for that now. It couldn't be avoided, as the inquiring voice outside the bushes reached their sweating ears. Now they knew that He knew where they were — as if He hadn't known all along.
How painful it must have been to face the One who had thought and thought before fashioning them. Now He had lost His special treasure to the thief, and how could He get it back? Why, they didn't even know that He still loved them! So damaged was their relationship with Him now, but He had to find a way. Before their eyes He slaughtered an animal to prepare clothes suitable for their long hard trek through death.
They had to leave; there was no place for them in paradise with a guilty heart. It was no easy matter to cleanse them; it would require much suffering before they could come back. The fascinating horror of the animal's blood dripping onto the ground forever burned into their minds the message — the wages of sin is death. It was so hard for them to have hope, for they could only dimly hear their Creator's voice.
Yes, there was hope; but because they had both committed deeds that sprang forth from mistrust, independence, and lawlessness, He could not get that hope through to their now-hardened hearts. So they wondered if He loved them, even though He constantly was displaying His care in so many, many ways. But it was so hard to understand His ways! For now they had to leave ... home.
They were not readily received outside the garden. It was strange, lonely, fearful. But if they had stayed in the Garden there would have been no way for them to change, to suffer and find forgiveness. They would have become an eternal defilement to Paradise, just the way the Evil One desired.
Yet they found some comfort. From the woman was brought forth Adam's seed, a little baby born through pain. Eve forgot the pain as she nursed the firstborn human-being, a joyful gift to help remind her of His kind intentions. They named him "Gotten One," because Eve had exclaimed, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord!" We know his name as Cain.Later, she gave birth to Abel, and so began the struggle of raising children. Cain began to work the soil, sweating to grow crops, while his brother Abel labored with the flocks. They were all too familiar with what had happened to their parents in that far-off paradise, and so it was clear to them both that they owed something to God. They set out to pay Him a sacrifice.
Because Adam's sin did cause the ground to be cursed, the ground offered up its fruit only through much effort. By plowing, harrowing, planting seed, watering, weeding, harvesting, threshing, grinding, and roasting, Cain now had a sacrifice of grain which he offered up to God. Everything was done just right, and he was sure that God would be pleased.
Abel took an animal from the herd, and slaughtered it upon a simple altar. It is difficult for modern man to comprehend why ancient man felt moved to offer such a blood sacrifice, but to Abel it was clear. The life that was in the blood of that animal had to be poured out to express something deep in his heart, to express that Abel knew he was under the bondage of sin, the curse of rebellion, and his spiritual plight would not easily be corrected. It would require blood — a life for a life. The blood of the sacrifice was a cry from Abel's heart to give himself totally to God, because Abel knew he owed everything to his Creator, from the air he breathed to the body that breathed it — all was His, and Abel desired to acknowledge and honor His Creator.
With Cain, something was missing. He set out to give God the very best of his labors, fulfilling the requirement of sacrifice not from the sense of a deep personal need for fellowship with God, but because he knew that it was the right thing to do — what was expected. Abel's sacrifice was to please God. Cain's sacrifice was to satisfy the right principle. Their true motives soon came to the light.
Abel walked away from his sacrifice with peace, because his heart was found to be humble and needy, but Cain sensed disappointment. He walked away from all the hard labor of his sacrifice feeling angry, and very jealous. Yet he was not without help with his wounded feelings, his sense of God's unfairness and undeserved alienation. God loved him deeply, and spoke words of encouragement and also a warning to help him overcome the sin that was crouching at his door. But the firstborn son of the whole earth would not humble himself and pay heed. To Cain's resisting heart, it was all God's fault for not receiving the sacrifice, a senseless and undeserved prejudice. Proud and self-sufficient, Cain was angry enough to strike out at God Himself. At the first opportunity, Cain destroyed the closest thing to God in all the earth: he murdered his brother Abel.
This simple tragedy is taught in every Sunday School throughout the world, because of its seemingly obvious moral: don't be jealous, don't be mad, don't do this, don't do that. Yet the truth of this story remains couched in a mystery. It is shrouded from understanding, as the world and its religions go on offering up independent, uncalled-for sacrifices, seemingly righteous, until a nerve is touched and unbelievable hatred springs up. Anyone with a grasp of Christian history can explain some of these happenings, perhaps.
Cain was a man of good works. He looked to sincerely improve their lot in life. By coaxing the uttermost from the reluctant soil, he sought to improve their status as fallen refugees cast out of the Garden. He tried to better himself and improve the fallen flesh of mankind. The fruit of his work appeared very good, but it was not accepted. Why were his good works not accepted? Is there no room for the improvement of man? Are not good fruits acceptable?
Well sure, if they are truly good works prompted by Him. But there are certain requirements that must first be fulfilled. God accepts the works of our hands only when the blood of a sin offering has first been shed. A life must be offered first, then the fruits of our labor may follow and be accepted. Cain's offer of a grain sacrifice first did not confess that his fallenness had any consequential effect upon his own ability to please God. He did not take into consideration that his own motives might be impure, that he needed salvation from his sin, his independence. Cain did not sense the darkness and loneliness of sin as Abel did. So his sacrifice was a proud confession, made in the pride of the Evil One himself. He was met with rejection, for God could not meet him there at the altar, though it had cost Cain much wear and tear on his flesh. His fallen condition stood in his way, and God could not ignore it.
As far as Cain was concerned, the grain offering was his own personal property, a gift to God. But Abel knew that he had done nothing to put the blood in that animal which he sacrificed. He knew that salvation was an act of mercy on the part of the Creator. Abel trusted God, knowing that only He could lift the curse upon the ground. Cain was determined to erase the curse by his own efforts. Isn't that just like modern man?
Cain went out from the presence of God with a religion of making the ruined world a better place to live: building cities, inventing harps, constructing great structures of brass and iron, celebrating man's triumph over creation with art and music — in short, cultivating the cursed ground. The fallen societies of man strive relentlessly to achieve nirvana, but they are a sinking ship increasingly riddled with impure motives. Utopia seems to be within reach only to those who cast off the "excess baggage" of restraint imposed by the Word of God. Man is not evolving into a higher form of excellence; he is de-volving into being his own god. He makes a very poor one indeed.
This, then, is the religion of Cain: a seemingly honest attempt to please God, but harboring bitter envy and strife underneath its polished exterior. It's just as the Master Yahshua expressed when He exposed the Pharisees as being the ones whose ancestors murdered the prophets, and then built pretty tombs for them. These outwardly pious Jews disowned the deeds of their ancestors while honoring their memory and faith. They worshipped Him with word and tongue, but not in deeds and truth. When their true motives were brought to light, they showed themselves to be sons of Cain. They murdered God in the flesh.
It is sad to read the story of world religions, with all of their many injustices. Yet ironically, none of them stands out more than Christianity. It is shocking to discover how the blood of innocent people has been shed to "preserve the faith." Or even if certain protesters were not so innocent, just to proclaim that the deeds of Christianity were not accepted before God brought the swift sword. Christians work diligently to make the world a better place, and probably many do so because they are only doing the best that they know how. But the Gospel condemns any labor on the part of those who profess to follow Messiah, if they seek to build up anything but His Kingdom. Whether or not Christians do so in ignorance, they are being led to patch up a sinking boat whose captain is the enemy of God, the serpent that started the rebellion, the great dragon of old.
God spoke to Cain, saying "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10). What about the voice of all of the blood that has been shed throughout all of Christianity's bloody history? Does that voice still cry out? Start talking about it effectively enough, and you will be the next martyr for speaking your conscience.
"Well, that was all a long time ago; times have changed; you can't hold me responsible for what those people did; I'm different," they say. And this is the point. Just as the Pharisees refused to acknowledge any connection with the sin of their ancestors who murdered the prophets, no one in Christianity will take responsibility for their forefathers' murderous deeds. There is no blood sacrifice in God's law for murder, and that is why "her sins have piled up as high as heaven" (Revelation 18:5).
Will you acknowledge that Christianity's guilt is upon her? We sincerely hope so, for your sake. If you do, there is only one thing you can do to be washed from your involvement in her sins, even though you have not done the actual deeds:
Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord, “and do not touch what is unclean, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
What soil does your plow bite into daily, the cursed or the blessed? Cain's offering was a bribe to get out from the penalty of sin, which is death. Is it possible for us to try and persuade God to forgive and accept us on the basis of our hard work to please Him? Yes, we all suffer from Adam's fall. But no matter how we toil, it's just not good enough. We still miss the mark.
So where is the blessed soil? Where, like righteous Abel, can we offer up our lives daily as a continual sacrifice? Where can the works of our hands be accepted because we are forgiven from our wretched involvement in a lost world? Where can we have no connection with the slaughter of the innocent? Where can we go to find the good land, where our talents, abilities, possessions, and very substance can be offered to our fellow man as brothers sharing, and rejoicing in a common salvation with a good, unstained conscience?
Do not stop until you find it.