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Nothing but the Blood - Cain't Like That     From Nothing but the Blood Audio
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. —Genesis 4

When my son was small, he’d see something on television that was strange and say, “I can’t like that, daddy.” When it comes to blood in Scripture, it’s easy to just offhandedly say the same. But as we saw previously, blood was the currency God chose to redeem us. While blood is certainly easy not to like, its choice must tell us something about the One Who chose it. And almost immediately, in persons number three and four, it appears that God has another message for us.

Scripture tells us that Cain was a farmer while Abel was a shepherd—technically a keeper of flocks. Neither was under any requirement by the Law to provide a sacrifice. The Law won’t come around for another few thousand years until Moses brings it.

Something in these men told them. . .

. . . to take something they should have looked to for security (and, possibly, significance) and put it on an altar and kill it. They had no obligation to do it, but both did.

God had regard for Abel’s sacrifice (of likely a small lamb) but for Cain (and his grain), God had no regard.

Men I trust (like Len Sykes and Billy Graham) teach and believe that God’s lack of regard was because Cain’s sacrifice lacked blood. That would be a convenient conclusion for this Nothing but the Blood series, but I just don’t see that from the text. I don’t refute it, but certain things (discussed in A Rooster Once Crowed on page 58 around the word minkah, along with some of the context I won’t get into here) just don’t press that home for me.

There are two things, though, that I would like to note:

First, notice that Cain isn’t punished for the bad sacrifice, but for killing Abel. This may seem obvious to the casual reader, but it was Cain’s reaction to God’s lack of regard for himself (and Cain’s offering) that led that led to his punishment.

Second, notice that Abel wasn’t the only one to spill blood for God. I want you to hold the “for God” portion of this statement loosely. But Abel spilled the blood of a lamb to receive God’s blessing (at worst) or to show his love of God (at best). Cain spilled his brother’s blood out of a reaction to God’s lack of regard. This is a tenuous connection, at best, but the fact is that Abel spilled a little blood that cost him a lamb and Cain spilled a lot of blood that cost him a brother.

Walk with me for a minute. I believe that Cain and Abel lived full lives. I believe that they had jokes and would recall funny things that Adam did in the evening around a campfire. I believe that they had their hearts broken and were afraid of things. The face that their entire personhood was summed up in this one story (and granted, killing/getting killed by your brother is a pretty life defining moment), I believe, is used by God in Scripture to give us another clue as to Who God is.

In this story, told in the fourth chapter of Genesis—virtually at the beginning—I believe that God is reinforcing to us that He is not bloodthirsty. The punishment exacted upon Cain tells us that God is not pleased with more blood, but the right blood. Even more than that, the heart with which we give it is more important than the quantity of the sacrifice.

Whether giving a lot or a little, God gives us our first clue that although blood is special, and it’s the currency with which we will be redeemed, it is not the blood that God wants. God’s reaction to Cain reinforces what God is not despite what God indicates what man must do.

We have two pieces in a million piece puzzle. Stick around to see what else we can learn from the blood.

I love you.

This is the fifth part in a multi-part post expanding on an exceptional talk Billy Graham gave at the University of Cambridge in 1955 with influences from Tim Keller's sermon series Christ: Our Treasury (The Book of Hebrews). To hear an overview of this material, consider listening to the original Nothing but the Blood audio, linked here (it'll stream from a mobile device), read all the posts to date by clicking #nothingbuttheblood, or hear the most recent version of the Nothing but the Blood talk by streaming it on the player, below. If you'd like to get these posts sent to you via email (and you're not already), click here to register and make sure to tell us that you're a Back Porch Friend.

If you'd like to see more on Cain and Able, consider reading Chapter 4-Those Who Can't Not in A Rooster Once Crowed or other posts partaining to that chapter at #thosewhocantnot.

The next in this series, Part 6. Noah: Blameless & Still Short is available by clicking here.

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