Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. 3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. 6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” 8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. 9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” 10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”
As we look at worship through God’s eyes in the lives of Cain and Abel we are reminded of their parents, Adam and Eve, and their choice to disobeyed God’s spoken word. It was this disobedience that affected their worship and instead of walking with Him they were hiding from God. Instead of celebrating His creation they were using it to hide from Him. They have kids and the story continues with the next generation in Cain and Abel, what we do affects others, worship is we not me. Today as we start our journey of worship we see in their story four things that God says about worship, four unchanging realities and four responses by man:
1. The Almighty determines what Is Acceptable worship, not us – Verse 3-4
Unchanging reality number one is that Worship is about obedience and true worship will always be reflected in our response. Is obedience a product of your worship? Spending time with God listening to Him and obeying Him it’s not a response of the emotions but a response of the will. One of the problems with this story is what seems to be missing, God told Cain what was acceptable, but we are not told how God communicated this. Many scholars focus on what we don’t know instead of focusing on what we do know. The point is both Cain and Abel knew what God had said, what was acceptable, and now they have a choice to make – obey or disobey.
Cain’s first response is to disobey, now we don’t know the whole story so we can only guess at what the disobedience was. It could have been that he didn’t give of his first fruits, or that he didn’t give an animal sacrifice, or his heart attitude in giving. The reality is that Cain made it about what he wanted to do instead of what God had told Him to do. Just like his parent he had an obedience issue. So what has God told you to do and how are you responding, are you obeying?
2. The Almighty alone Accepts or Rejects our worship – Verse 5
Unchanging reality number two is that Worship is about God not us. Today most of our worship is self-focused we leave saying “I really liked the worship” but the question is did God like the worship? God is the one who accepts or rejects and He rejects Cain’s gift, again we are not told how Cain knew that God did not accept his gift but God made it clear to Cain and he knew.
Cain’s response is dislike so he becomes angry with the Almighty. Why does he dislike what God says? Anytime we want to do it our way we will always dislike God’s way. Anger is an external emotional reaction to what we are internally protesting. Cain’s anger reflects his protest of God’s clear Will. Anger in our relationships may run over others and be the vehicle we use to get our way but when it comes to the Almighty anger meets its match. How do you respond when God says no you’re not going to do it your way? We are interested in getting our way, God is interested in us getting right. When you get angry people may just let you do what you want but God loves you enough to say no because worship is not about self it is about the Savior.
3. The Almighty examines the Heart. – Verse 6-7
Unchanging reality number three is that Worship is about the heart. God asks Cain an internal heart issue “Why are you so angry?” What is going on in your life? Anger becomes the tree in Cain’s life that he hides behind and which blocks his relationship with God. What is going on inside of Cain now shows up on the outside as God asks “Why do you look so dejected? What goes on internally always affects us externally. True worship will reflect a heart that is more like the Savior than Sin! Galatians 5 reminds us that the fruit of sin is outbursts of anger and the fruit of the Spirit is peace. God gives the instructions for a heart change “do what is right” Cain has an opportunity for obedience, a chance to change direction, he has a choice. Today we can repent and turn back to God and do it His way or rebel, to turn away from God and do our way. This is the “my way or the highway” mentality but we need to remember that God’s road leads to peace ours leads pain, God’s leads to praise ours to a prison. Today we live in a world where we want to sin, to do it our way and have God bless us, we have come to believe that our way is worship. Cain wanted God’s acceptance but he wanted it on his terms. This is a battle of control and we think the battle is between us and God because we want to be in control but it’s between Sin and God you will never have control! God tells Cain that sin wants to control him but he must subdue it and be its master. The truth is that only the Savior conquered sin, so to subdue it means repentance. Who is your master, who has control of your life, Sin or the Savior? True Worship puts us under God’s control.
Cain’s third response is not to repent but to dismiss, “Whatever God!” Cain likes doing things his way and becomes controlled by sin. The result is death. “One day” When we give control over to sin it is just a matter of time before the fruit of sin comes out. James 1:14-15 14 “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Sin always brings forth death. “Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him” Who is in control of your life affects everything both internally and externally. True worship affects all of your relationships.
4. The Almighty judges with truth. – Verse 9-12
Unchanging reality number four is that Worship is about truth, “Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” John 4:23 we must worship “in spirit and in truth” Jesus said to His Father, “Your word is truth” John 17:17. Worship doesn’t just starts with God’s Word, it ends there. It’s not about our feelings but the facts, the truth. So how do you handle truth?
Cain’s fourth response is deceit, similar to his father Adam . When God asked Adam “did you eat from tree” Adam deflected with blame Cain deflects with deceit and a question of his own “am I my brothers guardian?” Here we see the arrogant side of a sin controled life in its challenge to God. How ironic that he uses the word guardian when he had just killed Abel. The truth always comes out just as Abel’s blood cried out. Whatever you bury you will reap and instead of planting crops in the ground Cain was planting blood. When Cain planted sin he reaped separation. He lost people, his brother and parents, his passion, the ground he farmed, and his place, his home. Sin is never productive, Adam and Eve’s sin affected the ground with weeds, Cain’s sin makes it baron. Today through the cross of Christ instead of hiding behind the tree we can be healed by the tree. How will you respond, will you disobey, dislike, dismiss, and be deceitful or will you let God deepen your dependence on Him?