Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Some believe that Cain and Abel were twins, Cain being the oldest. This is based this upon Genesis chapter 4:1 where it says that Eve conceived and bore Cain. In verse 2 Eve bore again his brother Abel but the word conceived is not used.
At any rate, Cain was the firstborn. Cain followed his father Adams profession and was a farmer. Brother Abel raised sheep. At a certain time, the boys presented their gifts to God. Abel offered the firstborn of his flock. Cain brought God an offering from the fruit of the soil. God respected – had regard for or looked with favor upon — Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.
Cain and Abel. Twin boys. Same parents. Same religious upbringing. They must have known what God expected as far as offerings were concerned. Cain brought the fruits of his labor, Abel brought his. Yet Abel’s was accepted, Cain’s wasn’t. Why? Some teach that God required that all offerings must be blood sacrifices Cain would have had to get an animal from Abel or from some other source in order to make an acceptable offering. From this side of Sinai and the resurrection, we know that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). But there is nothing in Genesis chapters 1 through 4 which hint of what God required at all. Both boys appeared to be making free-will offerings.
Why was Cain’s offering rejected? Here is my speculation. Remember that the bible is a spiritual book. What the Spirit say? God regards the heart of man. God regards obedience over sacrifices. Cain had no regard for the word of God. Rather than reflecting, meditating, offering prayers to God over the matter of his rejected offering, Cain became angry. Angry at God, angry at his brother. Murderous rage. Where did this come from? God could see the roiling seething blackness of Cain’s heart. With such a heart, Cain came before God with an offering and to praise!
Cain and Abel, if they were twins would have shared DNA (Adam and Eve were genetically pure) and therefore would have been identical physically. Same looks, same height, same voice but they had two different hearts. Cain ignored the warning of the Spirit, let his anger fester and and finally he killed his brother. And He lied to God. Lied to the Holy Spirit in effect. He also was insolent to God Cain said, Am I my brother’s keeper. The Hebrew word translated keeper is Shamar. This word originally was applied to a Shepard out in the field erecting a fence or barrier made of thorn bushes around his sheep to protect them.
Cain was in effect was saying, “Why you asking me where Abel is? I am not the one watching over him and protecting him. You are!” Is it still a mystery why Abel’s offering was accepted but not Cain? Still God was gracious to Cain and spared his life from avengers.
Our works. Our tithe and offerings, our bible study, our church attendance, our witnessing, all our work for the Lord matters not a thing if our heart isn’t right. When we come to the alter for prayer, offering, or praise yet there is within our hearts anger, unforgiveness, or the knowledge that we have wronged another, should we expect God to hear our prayers, accept our gift or our praise? We should at once confess our sins and repent, ask forgiveness, or make amends with the brother we have wronged. Then we can enter into the presence of our God.