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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fame (05/10/12)

TITLE: What's wrong with Cain's offering?
By Garry Stopa


There is a very famous story titled, “Gone with the Wind”. I find it interesting that so many people know of the book but do not know about the book. I for one cannot tell you much about it. I have never read the book---I have never even seen the book. Yet, because of the fame surrounding this title, I know it is a good book.

There is another famous story I would like to shed some light on. Like Gone with the Wind, many people know of this famous story but something about it seems to remain unclear to many. This story takes place near the beginning of the Bible. The story is about two brothers, Cain and Abel. These two brothers were sons of Adam and Eve. Cain tilled the earth, while Abel, his younger brother, was a shepherd.

This short story begins with each of the two brothers presenting God with an offering. Abel provided a firstborn from his flock as an offering, while Cain provided an offering of fruit from his crops. When Cain did not get the same results from his offering that Abel did, he became jealous of Abel. This jealousy led Cain to murder his brother Abel. The complete story is in Genesis 4:1-16.

The question is this; what was wrong with Cain’s offering? The Bible says in Genesis 4:4-5, “the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (NKJV). This portion of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated as “respect”, comes from a Hebrew word pronounced, shaw-aw*. According to Strong’s Hebrew dictionary, this word means, “to look at or gaze upon”.

Why did God look at Abel and his offering and not look at Cain and his offering? To understand this, we need to understand redemption. God did not look at Cain because it would have destroyed him. The Bible says in Exodus 33:20, "You cannot see My [God’s] face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (NKJV). God has always wanted a personal relationship with man. Since the fall of man, sin has prevented this communion with God. To open this door of fellowship, God gave us redemption through offerings.

An offering that provided redemption had to be an animal without flaw. The perfection of the animal would replace the flaws of the person who gave the offering. This would sanctify the person enough for God to gaze toward them. This is why Jesus was the ultimate offering. His righteousness was so perfect that it was payment enough for all humankind. God never has expected us to live up to His standards on our own.

Now back to Cain and Abel. God then said to Cain, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door" (Gen. 4:7, NKJV). The word translated as sin in this verse, is the Hebrew word hatta't*. This word can also be---and often is---translated as “sin-offering”. In other words, "the sin-offering lies at the door."

The Bible does not say that there was anything wrong with Cain's offering; it was probably a good offering. It was a portion of his increase. This would have permitted God to prosper his crops. This offering just did not provide redemption. It seems that Cain had a misconception; if he pleased God with his work, God would not turn away. God had to turn away for Cain’s sake. God told Cain that a sin offering would open the door (v. 7).

God wants to have a relationship with His children. The only perfect solution was to provide the perfect sacrifice---His Son Jesus. God is all about giving.

* Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by JAMES STRONG, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers, Shaw-aw H8159, Hatta’t H2403.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/18/12
Good job with this. It was a well written entry that was on topic, and pulled some "well known" scriptures into play to support the story. Nicely done.

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/19/12
This essay is filled with thoughts and ideas that I hasven't ever pondered. It's great when a piece makes the reader stop and think.

The biggest thing you need to work on is how many times you repeat a word in one paragraph. If you go back and count how many times you used the word book in the first paragraph I think you will be surprised. In the next paragraph you use brother three times and story four. A way to get around this is to tighten your sentences up -- something like this: The Bible tells of the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain the elder brother tilled the earth while Abel herded sheep.
I did a couple of things with this sentence, I tightened it up and used less words. I also tried to substitute action verbs for passive ones like was, is and were.

I'm not sure you really needed the beginning about Gone with the Wind as your story isn't about that at all. Instead the heart of the story told of Cain and Abel and how God needed a perfect sacrifice offering to redeem the person giving the offer.

Your message was a powerful one. I never completely understood why God rejected the crops offering. You did a wonderful job explaining that in a way that makes sense. This is a well-thought out piece that would make an excellent start of a Bible study. Nice job.