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By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. ~He 11:4

The biggest difference between the Old and New Covenant would be the Old Covenant was kept through the ritualistic practicing of the Laws, whereas the New Covenant was kept through faith. Hebrews Chapter 11 cited many giants of faith from the Old Testament which testified the forefathers of the Hebrew Christians who gained the Lord’s favour through faith. It was through this faith that they believed in God’s promises, experienced His miraculous works in their lives, and also received abundant blessings from Him. For the Hebrew Christians to receive the same blessings, they ought to model after them taking on the same journey of faith. What they should have done immediately was to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and to depend upon Him to live their daily lives.

Among the cloud of witnesses mentioned by the author, notably was Abel, who offered a better sacrifice by faith. Abel was Cain’s younger brother, and they were sons of Adam and Eve. The book of Genesis chapter 4 verses 1 to 16, gave an account of these two brothers. Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil for a living. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord, and Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock as offering. However, the Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but not on Cain and his offering. So Cain became very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” One day when they were out in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Why did the Lord find favour only with Abel’s offering and not with Cain’s offering? Several explanations had been given. One of them explained that the offering of Abel was the image of the sin offering that the Lord would institute in the future, and the offering required the blood of an animal as a sacrifice. However, there are some difficulties with this explanation. No doubt Abel was righteous, but for him to have understood that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” and thus chose to make an offering with an animal, would have stretched the argument too far. The sacrificial system was something that would only be established by the Lord for the Israelites in the next thousands of years. Considering that all things spiritual are initiated by God – never through the realization of man – and more often than not require clear teachings, detailed explanations, and repeated reminders, prior to comprehension. For Abel to have understood the sacrificial law from the far future would have been highly implausible.

Otherwise, could it be a mere coincidence that Abel kept flock? And offered something which managed to please the Lord? Absolutely not! Both Cain and Abel made an offering from the fruits of their labour, if the Lord were to judge based purely on a “coincidence,” would He not be deemed unjust? If this had happened, Cain would have deserved our utmost sympathy for he was dealt with unfairly by the Lord.