Two Classes Develop

Chapter 5

Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam, represent the two great classes of people who will live on the earth from the fall of man to the second coming of Christ—the righteous and the wicked, the believers and the unbelievers. Cain and Abel differed widely in character. Abel had a spirit of loyalty to God; he saw justice and mercy in God’s dealings with the fallen race and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. By contrast, Cain cherished feelings of rebellion and murmured against God because of the curse that had come upon the earth and the human race as a result of Adam’s sin. Following the same reasoning that had led to Satan’s fall, he gave way to the desire for self-exaltation and questioned divine justice and authority.

These brothers were tested, just as was Adam, and given the opportunity to show their loyalty and willingness to obey the word of God. They knew that without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sin; that the system of offerings had been appointed by God; and that by offering the firstlings of the flock as a sacrifice, they were showing their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement. They understood that these offerings were an expression of their total dependence on Him for pardon and that by following the divine plan, they were giving evidence of their obedience to the will of God.

The two brothers made their altars just alike, and each brought an offering. Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock, as the Lord had directed. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. But Cain, disregarding the Lord’s direct and clear command, presented only an offering of fruit. There was no sign of favor from heaven to show that it was accepted. Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the manner in which He directed them, but his appeals only made Cain the more determined to follow his own way, As the eldest, he felt above being advised by his brother and despised Abel’s counsel.

Cain came before God, bitter and dissatisfied in his heart. He was willing to offer the fruit of his ground, but he would have nothing to do with offering the blood of animals. He refused to show repentance for his sin and faith in a Saviour by making the offering God had appointed. He refused to acknowledge his need of a Redeemer.

Cain obeyed God to a point. He obeyed in building an altar and in bringing a sacrifice, but he gave only partial obedience. The most important part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out. His gift expressed no sorrow for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would show weakness on his part to follow the exact plan marked out by God. Instead of feeling a need, he presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure God’s approval.

From Adam’s day to the present time, the great controversy has centered around the issue of obedience to God’s Law. In all ages, there have been those ‘who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. The Scriptures declare, however, that it is by works that faith is made perfect; that without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.” James 2:22, 17. He that professes to know God, “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. True faith, which depends wholly upon Christ, will be revealed by obedience to all of God’s requirements.

When Cain saw that his offering was not accepted, he was angry with the Lord and with Abel. He was angry that God did not accept his substitute in place of the sacrifice divinely appointed, and angry with his brother for choosing to obey God instead of joining in rebellion against Him. Even though Cain had disregarded His divine command, God did not leave him to himself. The Lord said to Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” The choice lay with Cain himself. If he would trust to the merits of the promised Saviour and would obey God’s requirements, he would enjoy His favor. But should he continue in unbelief and sin, he would have no ground for complaint because he was rejected by the Lord.

Instead of acknowledging his sin, Cain continued to harbor jealousy and hatred for Abel. He angrily blamed his brother and tried to draw him into an argument concerning God’s method of handling things. In meekness, yet fearlessly and firmly, Abel defended the justice and goodness of God. He pointed out Cain’s error and tried to convince him that the wrong was in himself. He pointed to the mercy of God in sparing the life of their parents when He might have punished them with instant death. He pointed out that God surely loved them, or He would not have given His Son to suffer the penalty which they had incurred. All this caused Cain to become even more angry. Reason and conscience told him that Abel was in the right, but he was irate that one who had been unwilling to follow his counsel should now dare to disagree with him and that he could gain no sympathy in his rebellion. In the heat of his anger, he slew his brother.

Cain hated and killed his brother, not because of any wrong that Abel had done, but “Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” I John 3:12. So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. Abel’s life of obedience and unswerving faith was to Cain a continual rebuke. “For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. The brighter the heavenly light that is reflected from the character of God’s faithful servants, the more clearly the sins of the ungodly are revealed and the more determined will be their efforts to destroy those who mar their peace.

The murder of Abel was the first example of the hatred that God had said would exist between the serpent and the Seed of the woman—between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers. Through man’s sin, Satan had gained control of the human race; but Christ would enable them to break from his control over them. Whenever, through faith in Jesus Christ, a soul leaves the service of sin, Satan’s anger is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satan’s claim that it is impossible for man to keep God’s Law. When Cain saw that he could not control Abel, moved by the spirit of the wicked one, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. Wherever there are any who will stand in support of the righteousness of the Law of God, the same spirit will be shown against them. It is the spirit that through all the ages tried to kill and destroy the disciples of Christ. The cruel things that are done to these followers of Jesus are done by those over whom Satan and his hosts have control. Because they cannot force them to surrender their loyalty, they hate them; but it is the rage of a defeated enemy. Every martyr of Jesus has died a conqueror.

Cain the murderer was soon called to answer for his crime. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain had gone so far in sin that he had lost a sense of the continual presence of God and of His greatness and omniscience. So he turned to a lie to hide his guilt.

Again the Lord said to Cain, “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.” God had given Cain an opportunity to confess his sin. He had had time to consider what he had done. He knew the greatness of the wrong he had committed and of the lie he had spoken to hide it; but he was rebellious still, and penalty was no longer delayed. The divine voice that had been heard in appeal and warning spoke the terrible words: “And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.”

In sparing Cain’s life, God showed the whole universe an important lesson. The dark history of Cain and his descendants show what would take place if sinners were allowed to live on forever, to carry on their rebellion against God. The patience of God only brought about a more bold and disobedient disposition in the wicked. Fifteen hundred years after the sentence pronounced upon Cain, the universe witnessed the result of his influence and example in the crime and pollution that flooded the earth. It was clearly known that the sentence of death pronounced upon the fallen race for the transgression of God’s Law was both just and merciful. The longer men lived in sin, the more depraved they became. The divine sentence cutting short a life of unrestrained evil and freeing the world from the influence of those who had become hardened in rebellion was a blessing rather than a curse.

Satan is constantly at work, with intense energy and under a thousand disguises, to misrepresent the character and government of God. With extensive, well-organized plans and marvelous power, he is working to hold the inhabitants of the world under his deceptions. God, the One infinite and all-wise, sees the end from the beginning; and in dealing with evil, His plans are far-reaching and comprehensive. It is His purpose, not merely to put down the rebellion, but to demonstrate to all the universe the nature of the rebellion. God’s plan is even yet unfolding, showing both His justice and His mercy and fully vindicating His wisdom and righteousness in His dealings with evil.

In the world that existed before the Flood is seen the results of the government which Lucifer had tried to establish in heaven. “The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. Every emotion, every thought and desire, was at war with the divine principles of purity and peace and love. It revealed the awful depravity that was the result of Satan’s policy to remove men from the control of God’s holy Law.

God carries with Him the sympathy and approval of the whole universe as step by step His great plan moves to its complete fulfillment. As the great controversy progresses, by the facts as they are unfolded, God is revealing the principles that form the basis of His government, which have been falsified by Satan and by all whom he has deceived. God’s justice will finally be recognized by the whole world, though the admission will be made too late to save the rebellious. In the final destruction of rebellion, it will be seen that all who have forsaken the divine law have placed themselves on the side of Satan in warfare against Christ. When the prince of this world shall be judged, and all who have united with him shall share his fate, the whole universe as witnesses to the sentence will declare, “Just and true are thy ways, Thou King of saints.” Revelation 15:3

This chapter is based on Genesis 4

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