Why Cain’s Offering Was Rejected, Part 1

Genesis 4:5, part 1  

But He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

This verse concludes the narrative on the offerings of Cain and Abel. Putting the content of verses 3-5 together, we learn that Cain brought an agricultural offering that was not pleasing to God, while Abel brought a sacrifice of the firstborn of his flock that was pleasing to God.

What were the core differences in the offerings of the brothers that led to God rejecting Cain’s offering and accepting Abel’s?

There are two major explanations that should be considered for a full understanding. We will cover the first difference in today’s blog post:

The difference in the quality and effort between the two offerings.

As we read in the two previous blog posts, verses 3-4 give us some key clues about the difference in quality of the offerings that Cain and Abel presented to God. Cain’s offering of the “fruit of the ground” is contrasted to Abel’s offering of the “firstborn of his flock and of their fat.” We can deduce that Cain’s offering was an offering that had little care and thought put into it.

It seems that Abel selected and gave his offering with much care and reverence in order to bring God the best available with a humble attitude of worship. Abel’s offering is called “a more excellent sacrifice” in Hebrews 11:4. Cain’s offering likely was prepared in the opposite spirit, most likely thrown together of whatever he had left of his harvest, with little thought given to the quality of what he was giving to God. God is very clear that He does not respect an offering that is of inferior effort and quality (Malachi 1:7-8).

What can we learn from the difference in quality between Cain and Abel’s offerings? The main lesson we can apply today is to always give God our best and worship and honor Him with our maximum effort and energy.

Study the following scriptures and meditate on the quality and heart God wants as we approach Him: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 2 Timothy 2:15.

To learn more of what the Bible teaches us about how to properly worship God, read our article “Private Worship Toward God.”

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