This is Good Friday, the day we often thing of Jesus’ death on the cross in order to redeem us. It was a part of the turning point in human history. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the hing on which all of history turns. God began hinting of redemption as far back as Genesis 3, the story of Cain and Able. That message has important implications for us.
God spoke to them and asked them both to bring Him a gift. Even though we don’t see it clearly defined we can be sure that God gave prior instructions about the kind of sacrifice that He wanted. No doubt He wanted a blood sacrifice because it was a substitutionary gift. This was a symbol for them and for us of the kind of death of Jesus would later offer to pay for our sin.
However the exercise wasn’t just about Cain and Able. It was about God telling the story of redemption. That was and is always the motive with God. He is always working in redemptive patterns.
The tendency we have is to think that the reason why we do anything is because it is all about us. You can see from what happened that Cain wanted to play by his own rules. Cain thought he got to decide what his offering should be. After all, he probably reasoned, It is MY offering. He treated the will of God as optional. He believed he could pick and choose what he wanted to obey. The grain cost him little to nothing. He was a farmer. It would grow back next year. He was probably very proud of the grain he had produced.
However, God wasn’t pleased and that was what mattered. To Cain’s thinking his logic was perfect. Although God loved Cain, Cain didn’t get to call his own play.
What about Abel’s gift? Abel presented a lamb. The lamb lost its life. Why? Life is the true price for sin. The Bible says that the wage of sin is death. Remember? God told us that in the beginning! He told Adam and Eve quite plainly that if they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden they would die. They did eat and they set off a tragic chain of events that brought the stain of sin into every part of life. They were excluded from the Garden of Eden and God looked for an offering that would be a substitute for Adam’s sin. This offering was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ substitutionary death for the sin of the world.
Cain missed the point of what God had in mind which was to create a picture of redemption. This was a teaching moment to foreshadow Christ. Cain made it a competition to see who could look the best before God. He was proud of what he could do. When Cain believed he failed he eliminated the competition by killing Abel. After all gaining God’s approval was all about him.
God’s question to Cain was, Where is your brother?
Cain replied to God, Am I my brother’s keeper?
Cain’s implied answer was, I don’t think so.
God’s implied answer was, It is always about your brother!
God is always moving in the direction of redemption. Cain thought this exercise was about meeting the minimum. He thought he could create his own kind of worship and could give offerings at whatever level he wanted to give. It was his life. It was his offering. He could do it his way and no one had better get in his way.He didn’t think his brother had anything to do with it.
In the eyes of God the reason you worship, the reason you love God, love people and live out, IS all about your brother. The reason for redemption is that God wants everyone to know His love. It is not just me and Thee, it is we and Thee.
Sometimes like Cain, we are tempted to think we can give whatever we want and God should and will be happy with it. After all it is mine and I can do with it whatever I want, right?
I don’t have to tithe, if I don’t want to. No one can tell me how to give or what to give. Isn’t that the prevailing thought among Christ followers? The scriptures are clear that all that we have is from God. We are just the stewards, the managers, if you will. Did you know that the average Christ follower gives 3%? Surprised? Pleased? Do you think God is? We like to make our own rules, don’t we?
We may not kill another person because they give more than we do but we might be forgetting that we are our brother’s keeper and that is why we give. We give out of obedience to further God’s mission of redemption. We like Cain might be missing the point.
Let’s learn a phrase today that we will repeat several times. Say this one line at a time and repeat it after me.
I am sent on a mission to share the light and love of Jesus until the whole world knows.
If Cain would have understood this he would have understood the redemptive purpose behind the offering.
We could think we get to choose what we will give and when and how. God may be saying something, but it is my prerogative to substitute something else because after all it is all about me. It’s my life. It is my choice. It is all about me. Jesus loves me, so He will take whatever I choose to give Him.
God is moving in this world in the direction of redemption and if we don’t move with Him we will get left behind. He still loves us but He IS moving and we have a choice. We can go with God or we can stay stuck right where we are.
His love is unconditional. His blessings are totally conditional.
We need to memorize this statement: I am sent on a mission to share the light and love of Jesus until the whole world knows.
This is the motivation behind the first offering and the Good Friday offering. It needs to be our offering too.