Why did God reject Cain’s offering?

Why did God reject Cain’s offering?

I taught a lesson on Cain and Abel at a Good News Club a few weeks ago, and this question came up. One explanation was that Cain’s offering was incorrect. During the temple system, very specific things needed to be done for a sacrifice to be holy before the Lord. Many people think God also gave the first people, Adam and Eve, instructions for worshipping Him. This is almost certainly true, because otherwise, how would they have known to give sacrifices in the first place?

But, as the Good News Club lesson emphasized, the far more important factor in their offerings was their faith. In Hebrews it says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did (Heb. 11:4 CSB).” Notice how faith is listed as the primary motivation. Abel did it by faith. But also notice how that faith led to obedience—offering a better sacrifice—as faith always should. The obedience, though, was not the primary motivation.

As a side note, this verse in Hebrews also lends even more support to the idea that Cain and Abel knew what to offer. If Abel purposely gave “a better sacrifice” than Cain, then that means he was working to achieve some standard that God had given him.

Cain’s Distrust

Now, knowing that faith is the primary thing here, what went wrong with Cain? Well, looking at Abel’s example, Abel trusted in God, and that led him to do what God said. However, Cain did not trust in God, so he disregarded God’s commands. Yet, oddly enough, he still expected God to bless him! He was so conceited and prideful, that even though he knowingly gave God the wrong sacrifice, he expected God to like it! 

Cain was like one of those people who buy birthday presents for other people that they would like themselves. But… the receiver of the present isn’t usually considered in the equation. So when the other person opens their gift and looks confused or disappointed, someone like Cain would get angry (and maybe even kill someone 😂 — wait… maybe that’s too realistic to be funny…). “You should like it!” they yell. “Do you know how much time I invested in that?!”

Maybe they did invest a lot of time, but they did it out of selfishness instead of love. People who give gifts like that aren’t thinking about would would make the other person happy.

So the reason why Abel’s offering was accepted was because Abel obeyed God in faith. And Cain’s offering was rejected because he disobeyed God in pride.

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One response to “Why did God reject Cain’s offering?”

  1. That’s a concise way of exploring the topic. I did find the “and maybe even kill someone” joke funny. Our human way of dealing with problems is laughable. The example of Cain is a reminder of the importance of having a humble spirit before God.

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