Every act of worship and every offering to God must be acceptable in His sight; this is a universal truth. This is why it’s crucial for us to comprehend why He preferred the animal sacrifice over Cain’s.
For centuries, people have been baffled by this issue, and countless numbers have tried to figure out why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice. The story of Cain and Abel is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible.
It is a story of two brothers—Cain and Abel—who offered sacrifices to God. Abel offered a blood sacrifice from an animal that was pleasing to God, and God acknowledged it, but He rejected what Cain brought as an offering. This has led to many people wondering: why did God reject Cain’s offering and accept Abel’s?
What Offerings Did God Consider Suitable?
The book of Leviticus goes into great detail about animal sacrifice or offering items. The entire second chapter of Leviticus is devoted to the grain or food offering. As an example, “When a person brings an offering to the Lord, he must use choice wheat flour and cover it with olive oil and frankincense” (Leviticus 2:1).
In Hebrew, the type of offering described in Leviticus 2 was known as “minkhah.” The Hebrew word minkhah means “gift, present, thanksgiving, veneration, homage.” The minkhah offering in Leviticus 2 deals with grain, but this type of offering was not limited to grain.
Cain’s sacrifice is the fruit of the ground and vegetables, whereas Abel brought a lamb and the fat portions of his flock’s firstborn as a symbol of faith and sacrifice.
Because of his brother’s righteous act, Cain committed the first murder when he killed Abel, for his evil and his brother’s righteousness differ from each other—the sons of Adam and Eve, who covered their naked bodies with fig leaves in the Garden of Eden.
According to the Bible, He views a blood sacrifice as the most appropriate offering. “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that atones for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). This verse shows us that He considers a blood sacrifice to be the most suitable offering.
A burnt offering is suitable in God’s eyes. The Bible states that Aaron must slaughter the bull in front of the Lord after offering it as a sin offering and a ram for burnt offering, on behalf of himself and his household (Leviticus 9:2). This verse shows us that He considers a burnt offering to be suitable.
Why Did God Accept Abel’s Offering And Reject Cain’s Offering?
In the beginning, He made Adam and Eve. And they lived happily in Eden, until one day when He told them to go out into the world and multiply. So Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant. She gave birth to Cain, who was a farmer by trade.
Cain built himself a farm, where he farmed and grew crops. Later, she gave birth to Abel, who kept flocks of sheep on his farm. Cain’s brother Abel would bring offerings of these sheep to God as a sacrifice—but Cain would not do the same.
Abel’s sacrifice had been acknowledged by Him, but Cain’s had not been accepted. God acknowledges gifts from Abel because it was a blood sacrifice, but He rejected Cain’s offering because it was not.
According to the Scripture, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it, he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4). This verse demonstrates that God acknowledges Abel’s offering because it was made in faith.
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.
And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 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? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:2b–7).
So, why did God reject Cain’s offering? It is not because he prefers meat to veggies, but because he wanted a sacrifice of the heart and mind. In Genesis 4:3-5, God asked Cain what he brought as an offering. Cain answered, “I have produced some of the fruits of the soil for you.”
We can see that the reason He did not accept the gift from Cain was that it was not made with faith or devotion. God reject Cain’s offering and said that he would accept nothing but a sacrifice “of the firstborn of your herd and flock.” Jesus wants us to offer our best to him, not just what we have left over after meeting our own needs.
Is It True That God Only Accepts Animals As Offerings?
No, God does not accept only animals as offerings. God accepts food, grain, and other offerings. “And you shall bring an offering of cereal offerings of your choice, made of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for each ram, and one-tenth for each male lamb or kid of the goats, as a burnt offering,” the Scriptures states (Numbers 29:9-10). This verse demonstrates that He accepts food, grain, and other offerings.
However, it is true that He accepted animals as gifts because they were seen as a symbol of faith, devotion, and sacrifice. The offering of animals was seen as a way to atone for the sins of the people and to show their commitment to the Lord as blood sacrifices.
What Was The Real Problem With Cain And His Offering?
The real problem with Cain and his offering was not the type of offering he gave, but rather the attitude of his heart. He looks at the heart, not the outward offering. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). This verse shows us that He looks at the heart, not the outward offering.
“And in as much as he did not do it in faith, he sinned; for whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). This verse shows us that He was displeased with Cain because of Cain’s attitude for he did not offer his sacrifice in faith. He rejected Cain’s gift because he was not a keeper of God’s commands. “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 27:26).
God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s offering, not because of the offering he gave, but rather the attitude of his heart. God looks at the heart. He was displeased with Cain because he did not offer his sacrifice in faith, and he was not a keeper of God’s commands.
This is a lesson for us today: we should always offer our sacrifices to God in faith, and we should strive to be keepers of God’s commands. May we all strive to do this, so that our offerings may be acceptable in the eyes of Jesus Christ. Similarly, both Abel and Jesus; our substitutionary sacrifice, were killed by the wicked one. An angry evil that made their countenance fall.