Religion vs Relationship

…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And 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. Genesis 4:2-5

For years I have heard that the reason that God accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s was because Abel offered a blood sacrifice to the Lord and Cain did not. What if I told you that that idea was wrong?

The problem with this explanation is that the Hebrew word for offering is “minchah” which does not mean a blood offering. It is actually a bloodless offering. Therefore, blood was not required for this offering. It was an offering of thanksgiving.

So, what made the difference between Cain and Abel? There is something that is very significant here. It was the quality of the offering.

Both brought an offering without being commanded, it would seem. Both brought an offering from their labor. But, there are two clues into Abel’s offering. The first is that his offering was a firstborn from the flock. To emphasize the quality he offered the fat. The Hebrew word for fat, “cheleb”,  can also mean the choicest or best This word is also used in Numbers 18 in offering the best oil, the best of the new wine and grain.

Cain’s offering does not have these same descriptions. It was worship that was not from the heart. I have to question the description of “in the process of time,” a description that does not go will with fruit. Could the fruit have been rotten? Or, was it a matter that Cain waited to make sure that he had enough for himself before he offered his fruit.

Established very early in scripture is that the value of our worship is determined on the value it is to us or what it cost us – a sacrifice of praise. This is a great example of the contrast between relationship with God and religion.


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