Today’s sermon, by Faith Abel

Opening:

 

But let’s talk about the new series. We are going to look at Hebrews 11 which is often called the “Hall of Faith” or the “Triumphs of Faith,” or “Faith in Action.” We are going to look at a verse and then talk about the person. So, we are going to get into the Old Testament. We will look at Abel and then Enoch, Noah and many more of these people in the Old Testament. Sometimes we will have to wonder, “How in the world did this guy or gal get into this list in the New Testament?’ To that we must remember that God uses imperfect people to accomplish His will. We must remember that a little bit of faith goes a long way.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a film version of C. S. Lewis’ book by the same name. In this scene, the children who have once again been summoned to Narnia—Lucy, Edmund, and Edmund—team-up with King Caspian aboard the royal ship, The Dawn Treader.

During their journey, Lucy, the youngest of the children, encounters a book titled The Book of Incantations. This mysterious book boldly promises to provide “an infallible spell to make you the beauty you’ve always wanted to be.” Despite her vibrant faith in Aslan (who represents Christ), Lucy has always struggled with a deep wound: she feels inferior to and jealous of her beautiful older sister Susan. Tempted by her desire to become more beautiful, Lucy speaks forth the spell. Suddenly, a mirror appears on the page directly across from the spell. As Lucy looks into the mirror, she realizes that her face has been transformed into the face of her sister. She decides to tear out the page and hide it.

Later, in a dream, Lucy pulls out the page of the mirror and recites the words at the top, “Make me she, whom I’d agree, holds more beauty over me.” Suddenly, in the dream, the spell works to transform Lucy into her sister Susan. However, by being transformed into her sister, Lucy discovers that she never existed.

As Lucy stands before the mirror, horrified, Aslan appears, and the film has the following conversation:

“Lucy,” says Aslan.

“Aslan,” she replies.

“What have you done, child?”

“I don’t know. That was awful.”

“But you chose it, Lucy,” he tells her.

“I didn’t mean to choose all that,” Lucy answers. “I just wanted to be beautiful like Susan. That’s all.”

Aslan tells her, “You wished yourself away, and with it much more. Your brothers and sister wouldn’t know about Narnia without you, Lucy. You discovered it first—remember?”

“I’m so sorry,” Lucy says sadly.

“You doubt your value,” says Aslan. “Don’t run from who you are.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Fox 2000 Pictures, 2010), directed by Michael Apted, chapter 13; 0:50:19—0:51:12; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

We are going to look at jealousy today. Cain jealousy kills Abel.

In Genesis 3 we have the devil slithering around as a serpent, talking, tempting and distorting the Truth and Adam and Eve fall into sin. Then we come to Genesis 4 and we have a description of sin as an animal crouching at the door with a desire to overtake an individual, what an image.

In Genesis 3 we have the “why.” Why do these bad things happen, why sin? In Genesis 4 we have the “what.” What is happening that is sinful. Chapter 3 gives the cause and chapter 4 the effect.

In Genesis 4 we have this picture of sin wanting to overtake Cain, like a snake, a lion, a bear crouching, ready to pounce. Though I want to come to that picturesque image of sin, I mainly wish to focus on sacrifice. It is fitting that this sermon series begins a week after Easter because we see that Abel gave an acceptable sacrifice.

Let’s look at the passages, turn to Hebrews 11:4:

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.

 

Turn to Genesis 4:1-7:

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.”Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. TheLord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was 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.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

The Theme:

By Faith Able presented a more acceptable sacrifice.

Application:

Are we religious or righteous? Do we serve God out of duty or because we are pursuing righteousness? We’ll come back to that.

  1. First let’s talk about Cain and Abel.
    1. Adam and Eve have a son and name him Cain.
    2. Adam and Eve have another son and name him Abel. There is no mention of a time lapse so it is possible that these two boys are twins. I imagine, though I cannot prove this, that they grow up together. I imagine that they work together. I imagine that they played games together, wrestle, share a tent or bedroom. I mean, we do not know what it was like back then, but I imagine that as brothers they were together a lot. Now, later on we read that Adam and Eve had many other children (Genesis 5:3), so they had other people to hang out with, we also know that when Cain is banished in Genesis 4:13-14 Cain is concerned about the other people killing him, so we know there were many others. Still, I imagine these two boys are brothers and there might have been a bond when they were young. It seems like they were also the first two boys of Adam and Eve. It seems like they were the first two children of creation.
    3. How do people do such evil?

The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. In Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century, Jonathan Glover estimates that 86,000,000 people died in wars fought from 1900 to 1989. That means 2,500 people every day, or 100 people every hour, for 90 years.

In addition to those killed in war, government-sponsored genocide and mass murder killed approximately 120,000,000 people in the 20th century—perhaps more than 80,000,000 in the two Communist countries of China and the Soviet Union alone, according to R. J. Rummel’sStatistics of Democide.

Excerpted from our sister publication Christianity Today, © 2007 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit ChristianityToday.com/ct

Ron Sider, “Courageous Nonviolence,” Christianity Today(December 2007)

  1. I find this very cool.
  2. Abel was a shepherd.
  3. Cain was a farmer.
  4. These were common professions. I read, “Both professions were known in early society; sheepherding and agriculture provided an occasion for a natural rivalry. The Sumerian tale of Dumuzi and Enkimdu depicts a rivalry between the shepherd god and the farmer god over marriage to a woman, but it ends in a peaceful resolution.”
  5. In Genesis 46:32; 47:3 the Israelites were shepherds.
  6. In Genesis 4:3-5 we see their sacrifice and how it worked out and did not work out.
  7. Cain brought a sacrifice of the ground. Abel brought a blood sacrifice.
  8. Later on there were grain sacrifices by Israelite law, so that was not a wrong thing that Cain did.
  9. We read here that Abel brought of the first fruits of his flock. I think this is key. Abel did not pick the animal that was lame, or the smaller one; no the sacrifice was one of the first born. It was as if Abel was saying, “God, I love you so much, I am making this sacrifice.”
  10. Cain and Abel knew immediately God’s pleasure and displeasure with the sacrifice. That is interesting. How did they know? I read maybe there was fire that came down out of Heaven and consumed Abel’s sacrifice. That did happen in the Old Testament.
  11. ESV Study Note:
  12. Although Cain and Abel have contrasting occupations and present different types of offerings to God, the present episode is not designed to elevate herdsmen over farmers, or animal offerings over plant offerings. One way to explain why God had regard for Abel and his offering, but not for Cain, is to posit that Abel’s offering, being of the firstborn of his flock, is a more costly offering, expressing greater devotion. Another way to explain the difference is first to observe that both offerings are recognizable parts of the later Levitical system: for Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground (v. 3), cf. Deut. 26:2 (an offering expressing consecration), and for Abel’s offering of the firstborn of his flock, cf. Deut. 15:19–23 (a kind of peace offering, a meal in God’s presence). But at no point does the Bible suggest that offerings work automatically, as if the worshiper’s faith and contrition did not matter; and Cain’s fundamentally bad heart can be seen in his resentment toward his brother and in his uncooperative answers to God in the rest of the passage. Several NT texts derive legitimate inferences from this narrative, namely, that Cain demonstrated an evil heart by his evil deeds, while Abel demonstrated a pious heart by his righteous deeds (1 John 3:12); and that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith and was commended as righteous for that reason (Heb. 11:4). Gen 4:2
  13. They make the sacrifice and Cain was mad that God did not show pleasure in his sacrifice. Cain’s face changed. He was angry. I see this in verse 5.
  14. àI think of how Mercedes can get angry and even obstinate with myself or Meagan. This is true even though we are the obvious two in charge.
  15. àGod is in charge and this is how Cain reacts.
  16. àAdditionally: Was Cain offended?
  17. àWas Cain hurt?
  18. àWas their additional instructions for offerings that Cain disregarded?
  19. And his face fell.” The idiom means that the inner anger is reflected in Cain’s facial expression. The fallen or downcast face expresses anger, dejection, or depression. Conversely, in Num 6 the high priestly blessing speaks of the Lord lifting up his face and giving peace.[1]
  20. In the next few verses God speaks to Cain.
  21. That is where we have the illustration of sin crouching at the door and the desire of sin is to overtake you.
  22. Cain ignores this and kills his brother.
  1. What is an acceptable sacrifice today?
    1. Abel gave an acceptable sacrifice and that begs the question, what is acceptable today?
    2. Don’t go slaughtering your pet. Jesus is the only sacrifice.
    3. All of our sacrifices missed and that is why Jesus came and died for us.
    4. However, we must respond and we must not respond to Jesus out of duty but love and devotion to Him.
  • Now, let’s talk about religion vs. righteousness. These are applications which I made personal.
    1. These must all fall under one major application of religious versus righteous.
    2. The religious person goes to God and serves God out of pure duty.
    3. The righteous person goes to God and serves Him out of love.
    4. The religious person thinks that he/she can earn Heaven by duty.
    5. The righteous person accepts Christ’s righteousness, surrendering to Him.
      1. It seems that Abel’s sacrifice was not pure duty, but pure love. I will give a sacrifice out of love not duty.
        1. This means that I must love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, and soul. (Matt. 22:37-40)
        2. I must love the Lord with all my being. I must love the Lord with who I am.
        3. I must give God my love in devotion and sacrifice.
      2. 1 Cor. 10:31 is fitting: eating and drinking, in everything I must do them to the glory of the Lord. I must do them to love the Lord.
      3. Abel gave out of the first fruits. I must not give God my last, but my first.
        1. This applies to money. This means that I must give God my first in money.
        2. This applies to my energy as well. I must not wait until I am tired to read devotions and pray. I must give Him my best time.
        3. I must not stay out late on Saturday night or up late and fall asleep in worship.
        4. I must give God my best.
        5. I must prepare for my time with God and prepare for worship.
      4. Abel seemed to have an attitude that was not only duty but faith in loving God. I must have an attitude of faith in loving and committing to God. I must ask God to take away my constant drive to make my relationship with Him simple duty and not relationship.
      5. Hebrews 12:24: The blood of Abel was a temporary sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice is forever. I must trust Jesus.

Close:

 

In the film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, a daring archeologist who travels the world in search of treasures. In this film, Indiana and his father are searching for the Holy Grail, the cup reputed to have been used by Christ at the Last Supper.

Indiana’s father is shot just at the end of their quest. With his father dying, Indiana’s search for the Grail takes on new intensity, because the cup is said to bring healing to those who drink from it.

With his father groaning in the background, Indiana walks ahead, following an ancient book that gives clues to guide him through a maze of obstacles to the place where the Grail is hidden. He comes to the brink of a chasm deeper than the eye can see. There is no visible way for him to cross the chasm.

Indiana is faced with the impossible. All he sees is the sheer cliff edge and the vast gulf beneath him. Then, as he studies his guidebook, his face relaxes in realization, and he says, “It’s a leap of faith.”

With his father whispering, “You must believe, boy, you must believe,” Indiana looks straight ahead, gathers his courage, and slowly raises one foot into the empty air in front of him.

With a thud, his foot lands on solid ground. The camera pans to show Indiana standing on a narrow rock bridge, deceptively carved to match the exact outline of the ravine beneath it.

Overcome with relief, he quickly crosses the chasm and discovers the Grail on the other side.

Elapsed Time: Measured from the beginning of the opening credit, this scene begins at 01:46:50 and ends at 01:48:45.

Content: Rated PG-13 for violence.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Lucasfilm, 1989), rated PG-13, written by Jeffrey Boam, directed by Steven Spielberg; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California

 

 

Hebrews 11:4:

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.

Thousands of years later Abel was remembered.

 

Trust Christ’s righteousness and we will live for eternity with Him in paradise.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 4:5–6.

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