The Lord did not regard Cain’s offering but God did regard the offering of Abel. What was the difference in their offering and why did the Lord have regard for the offering of Abel but no regard for Cain’s offering?
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. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Genesis 4:3-5
We worship the Lord through our offerings to Him. The Lord does not say in His Word why He did not respect Cain’s offering. We know that the Bible says that Cain made His offering at the “end of days”. We know that the Lord wants us to give to Him first and not last.
Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce; Proverbs 3:9
The Lord wants us to honor Him from the first of our days and from the first of our productivity or work. However, there is “something” more than our offering that the Lord wants. There is no mention that Cain offered this “something” to the Lord. When and how we give our offerings to Him are more of an indication of whether or not we have first given Him that “something” that He wants.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16,17
That “something” that the Lord wants first is your heart. Since Cain made his offering “in the course of time” or “the end of days” it seems that he was simply being religious but that his heart did not belong to the Lord. He did not give his treasure to the Lord first and as a result Cain’s heart did not first belong to the Lord.
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
The Lord does not need our offerings. He loves us and we need to give Him first our hearts and then our offerings as an expression of our thanksgiving to Him and love for Him. He wants us to call on Him.
“If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
“Shall I eat the flesh of bulls
Or drink the blood of male goats?
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” Psalm 50:12-15
Cain did not call on the Lord when the Lord spoke to Cain about Cain’s troubles. He went to his brother, Abel. Was Cain feeling sorry for himself? Self pity will often follow anger for anger is often an emotional response to feeling hurt. We do not know but we do know that there were two opposing forces that desired Cain’s heart.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6,7
Not only did the Lord want Cain’s heart first and then his offering but sin also desired Cain. Either we will master sin or sin will become our master. Sin is a cruel master and will make us slaves to it and brings death.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? Romans 6:16
Cain did not go to the Lord but Cain went to Abel. When we mess up we can either go to God and agree with Him about our sin or we can go to someone else. Whether Cain was feeling sorry for himself and looking for pity we do not know but we do know that Cain did not choose the Lord and go to Him. Cain ending up chosing sin. Cain did not love God nor did he love Abel.
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. I John 3:10-12a
However, if Cain had come to God with a broken and contrite spirit then the Lord would have accepted him and he could have then made an offering acceptable to God. Cain would have seen the salvation of God and offered to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving which would honor the Lord.
“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;
And to him who orders his way aright
I shall show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23
There is only one way that we can master sin and that is if we have living within us the only One who has never sinned and not only mastered sin but defeated sin through His obedience and sacrifice to God.
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12
Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross and defeated death for us because He loved us that much and because He still wants us, just as He wanted Cain and Abel. The choice though is still ours just as Cain and Abel had to make a choice. Will we choose to love God or will we choose sin? We have two opposing forces that want our hearts…God’s love is calling us and sin also desires us. Whichever one we choose will be our master and we will end up serving the one whom we have chosen. To not choose God is to choose sin. Cain probably never planned to kill his brother. That is how sin is, one sin leads to another and before we know it we have done things that we never intended to do and it is only because we never chose God in the first place.
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
There is only one response though when we choose God and that is to make an offering that He has promised to accept.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1
When we offer ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ who first offered Himself for us then we will see and the world will see that God’s will is good, acceptable and perfect.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
When we choose the Lord not only will we see how good and perfect the Lord is and how wonderful His will is for us but our countenance will also be lifted up. We will be the happiest people around because not only has our offering been accepted but even more we have been accepted by God.
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? Genesis 4:6,7a
We are accepted not because we have done well, for no one can do what is right in God’s sight, but because we have chosen the only One who did what was right in the sight of God. The Father was well pleased with Jesus and because of Him, the Father accepts us and loves us.
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— II Peter 1:17