Sunday, November 25, 2012

Abel, As an Example

The example of Abel
Image Source: The Providence Lithograph via 
Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.”  Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. 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. So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (NKJV)

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (NKJV)

Abel was the second person born into our world. Eve was not as excited at the birth of Abel as she was at the birth of Cain hence she called him “vapour” or “vanity” which is what Abel means – unlike Cain which means “behold a son”. Abel’s name was like a prediction of what his life was going to be. 

There are a number of things that make the life of Abel very distinct:

1. He was the first person described as offering sacrifice to God. 

What is a sacrifice?

sacrifice or offeringThe story is told of the pig and the chicken that went to Church and heard the Pastor was going to do his birthday. Each offered to donate towards the birthday. The Chicken offered to donate eggs and asked the pig to give bacon so that the pastor would have a good breakfast. The pig looked at the chicken and said: “Do you understand what you are saying? To you egg is an offering; to me bacon is a total sacrifice!”

What type is yours? Your sacrifice is expressive of your relationship with God, and your assessment of God. David declared: “No, but, I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I  offer burnt offering to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” (First Samuel 24:24) What sacrifice do you make to serve God? Abel made a sacrifice that was acceptable.

2. Abel was the first person to whom God’s gracious acceptance of his sacrifice was declared. (Hebrews 11:4) 

How did God declare this acceptance? By an audible voice? by visions at night? by dreams? By an inward peace or by fire from heaven?  I reckon that both of the last two alternatives were there – fire consumed the sacrifice and Abel had inward peace and contentment. It is a blessing to be accepted. If our sacrifice is going to be accepted as Abel’s, we need to offer it correctly – See Romans 12:1-2

3. Abel was the first who was persecuted and martyred for Religion.

How terrible the history of religious persecution! It started right in the family. His own brother, Cain hated Abel with a deadly hate and rose in anger and envy and killed his brother. Abel was slain on account of his faith and religion. He thus, became the first of the martyrs.

4. Abel was the first to taste the bitterness of death.

He was not the first creature to die. He had probably seen other animals die, seen their death struggle and decomposition; none of them has a tomb. Abel was the first to enter the tomb – a home that would be for all men. He was the first man to die.

5. Abel was the first to be received into the heavenly state.

First to pay the penalty of sin. First to enjoy the blessing of immortality. The first human being redeemed who passed through the gates into the celestial city (Not the one at Imeko :D ). The first to enjoy the martyrs crown, and to dwell with God. He is the first, of the multitude which no man can number, to be smitten by the agent of Satan on earth,  and welcomed by the hosts of glory.

Lessons Learned from the life of Abel

What then are the lessons of the life of Abel? What challenges do we leave for ourselves?

1. We see the importance of right relationship. 

Cain offered a sacrifice. He was religious. He worshiped God. If you like, he attended Church service – but he was not rightly related to God and therefore his sacrifice was rejected. A right relationship with God must be both revealed as in the sacrifice that Abel offered and it must be accepted. There is no other sacrifice than that which had already been offered – the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

2. A true religion or relationship with God may involve us in suffering. 

It is not problem-free, rather, it has to be characterized by suffering. Christ reminded His disciples –”If the world hates you, remember it hated Me first” Later on Paul would encourage us to endure suffering when he said; “through tribulations we shall enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Jesus again said: “Whosoever will be My disciple shall take up his cross and follow Me.” The Cross has never been easy. Abel did not find it easy to be rightly-related to God.

3. True religion or relationship will be amply and eternally recompensed. 

This is our consolation. While here, you will enjoy the peace of God; over there, it will be eternal life. Here, you will have His protection and peace –”Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. Over there, ever present with the Lord.

God bless you all.

No comments:

Post a Comment