From Eternity Past


Chapter 5—The First Murderer and His Victim

This chapter is based on Genesis 4:1-15.

Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, differed widely in character. Abel saw justice and mercy in the Creator's dealings with the fallen race and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. But Cain permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan's fall—questioning the divine justice and authority. EP 37.1

These brothers were tested to prove whether they would believe and obey the word of God. They understood the system of offerings which God had ordained. They knew they were to express faith in the Saviour whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge total dependence on Him for pardon. Without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sin. They were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice. EP 37.2

The two brothers erected their altars alike, and each brought an offering. Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Genesis 4:4. Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. But Cain, disregarding the Lord's direct command, presented only an offering of fruit. There was no token from heaven to show it was accepted. Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties made Cain the more determined to follow his own will. As the eldest, he despised his counsel. EP 37.3

Cain came before God with murmuring in his heart. His gift expressed no penitence, for it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor, as a favor done to God. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice, but rendered only partial obedience. Recognition of the need of a Redeemer was left out. EP 37.4

These brothers were both sinners, and both acknowledged the claims of God to reverence and worship. To outward appearance their religion was the same up to a certain point, but beyond this the difference was great. EP 38.1