The source of hostility experienced by humankind has a long record and an intricate web of linked causes and ascription of causes. The highly charged concerns that human beings experience in the contemporary world are as a result of something more central and at the heart of people. Abel and Cain were brothers, but brothers who felt humiliated and threatened by actions and attitudes of each other. They were brothers who sought for exceptional favor and blessings from the same Creator they worshipped in distinctive ways. However, God accepted the sacrifice presented by Abel and rejected that of Cain. The rejection of Cain's sacrifice and acceptance of Abel's sacrifice demonstrate the need for people to choose between salvation and eternal torment, righteousness and wickedness.
The story of Cain and Abel follows upon the tale of sin of humanity, and represents humanity's further estrangement from God. The anecdote of Cain and Abel is one of the earliest conflict stories in the Bible. Structurally, the story of Cain and Abel developed around series of conceptual and verbal contrasts. Such paired contrasts acts as a rhetorical device that reflects a deeper prototype intrinsic in the Christian dialogue. Biblical episodes are often framed as contrasts between figures such as Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Mary and Martha. By pairing or sibling rivalry, the bible writers wanted individual Christian to choose between what is good or bad, or choose between eternal torment and salvation.
Cain was the elder son of Eve and Adam and he was the first child born of human being the Holy Scriptures. Cain was a farmer and he grew grains and vegetables while his brother, Abel, was a shepherd. Their parents, Eve and Adam, informed them regarding God's message that they should present a lamb of sacrifice to God as a sign of appreciation for all that God had done for them and as a sign of repentance of their sins. Abel wanted to present an exceptional sacrifice to God and he therefore, selected the best lamb from his herd and presented it to his Creator. It was very difficult for Abel to present his most desired and expensive possession, but he want to try as much as possible and fulfill the message of God. By choosing the best lamb from his herd, Cain thought that his brother was impractical for presenting the best lamb as a sacrifice to God. Cain did not sacrifice a lamb but instead he presented leftovers from his harvest of grains and fruits. He failed to sacrifice a blood sacrifice as requested by God, "But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast (Genesis 4: 4-5, NIV). After the presentation of the offerings, God accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected the sacrifice presented to him by Cain. God indicated his approval for Abel sacrifice through sending fire that consumed Abel's sacrifice. Cain watched as Abel offering got burnt while his sacrifice of grain and fruits burnt a bit, but never caught fire.
God did not reject Cain's offering because it did not contain blood, but because he presented some and not the best of his harvest. Moreover, God rejected Cain's offering because he made it without considering the person receiving the offering. Cain did not show the required humility, reverence, obedience and special care while considering and presenting his offering. Instead, he offered it in a giddy and nonchalant manner indicating that since the one receiving the offering special then the sacrifice needed not be special. On the contrary, Abel's sacrifice was exceptional because he chose the fat lamb and the firstborn. He took his time to select the best lamb from his flock. While it is not easy to tell whether God rejected Cain's offering because it was not the best or inadequate, Cain did not offer his sacrifice out of faith and his sacrifice was not the best, "By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Hebrew 11: 4, NIV). Through faith, Abel trusted that God needed the sacrifice of a blameless life to approach and please Him. Acceptance of Abel's offering was an autonomous choice of God, but he considered the attitude and the manner in which the two brothers presented their offerings.
Cain reacted erroneously towards his brother following rejection of his offering. He got spiteful of him and his envy led him to killing his own brother, thereby making him the first killer in the bible. The jealousy of Cain that led to the murder of Abel rose from his trepidation of fraternal responsibility and loss of his blessings to Abel. Brightrights were crucial to the eldest son in a family. Being the firstborn of his family, Cain felt threatened by his younger brother. According to 1 John 3: 12, Cain killed his brother because of his evil deeds. This implies that Cain's offering was wicked and presented in an evil manner, " Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death" (1 John 3: 12, NIV).
The offerings offered by Cain and Abel disclosed the temperament of burnt offerings through which the two brothers worshipped their God. Cain's attitudes had a hand in God's rejection of his sacrifice. The compelling upshots of the two brother's way of worship concern motive and not the substance. From a spiritual stance, Cain's offering was not unsuitable, but the manner he presented was questionable. The intention of worship was to honor God, but instead the two brothers were isolated through their mind-sets. The hearts of the brothers were to God, the most important aspect. Substance was an insignificant component of worship.
The story of Abel and Cain loosely links to the preceding story of the fall of human discussed in Chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. The story assumes the subsistence of other persons and an organized society in which distinct professions exist, and sacrificial cult developed. The tale bears all the marks of reduction to the bare necessities. The issue of the story rests wholly on Cain's sin and his subsequent punishment. In addition, the original story highlights the animosity amid people of divergent vocations and backgrounds, particularly shepherds and farmers. From the story, the pastoral way of life triumphs over that of farmers. The proof of this assertion is the acceptance of Abel's sacrifice and rejection of the sacrifice presented by Cain. By presenting unequal pairs, the story highlights righteousness and wickedness of people. It highlights what aspects makes people lose the joy of the kingdom of God and what aspects makes people righteous and becomes God's people.
Cain became jealous of his brother and he eventually killed him. He demonstrated a weak character and instead of turning to God and making things right, he allowed resentment and anger to control him. Cain chose to become disobedient and engaged himself into sin. God presented a choice to Cain to change his ways and accept and honor God, but he chose the wrong direction. God makes available choices to His people and allows them to evaluate their conscience. Cain rejected God and he received a severe chastisement whereby he lost his livelihood and became a wanderer. The upshots of sin are strict, but God allows people to choose between sin and salvation. By use of two different yet related people, God shows how sin and righteous are linked. They are two different factors that lead to different outcomes.
The pairing of the two different brothers helps in development of the story besides demonstrating the enigmas surrounding offerings and sacrifices in the Old Testament. From the period when Abel and Cain made the initial offerings to God, other Jewish including Abraham and Noah also presented animal sacrifices to God in any place they found suitable. However, when Moses presented the Ten Commandments to the Jews, among the novel rules stipulated that Jews must not offer sacrifices to God in any place apart from the God's chosen places."Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. (Deut 12:13-14, NIV). From the first sacrifice offered by Cain and Abel, God commanded that people offer sacrifices and offerings in holy places only.