Cain and Abel were the first two children of Adam and Eve.  They were born after their parents sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden.  It seems the boys were raised with an understanding of who God is and His worthiness to be worshipped.  We read in Genesis 4:3-5, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”  While Cain’s offering to the Lord was a product of his own hands, Abel offered that which the Lord really required…he offered the best of his flock.  Hebrews 9:22 tells us that, “…without shedding of blood is no remission.”  I think we can safely say that Abel killed his sacrifice so that his blood might flow out as a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord.  This was, of course, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would one day shed His own precious blood for the remission of our sins.  We read in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 

How did the Lord show “respect” (acceptance) to Abel’s sacrifice?  Perhaps it was as we see in Leviticus 9:23-24, “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”  I can imagine this fire coming down from the Lord in approval of Abel’s sacrifice, yet Cain’s sacrifice sat there untouched.  It was obvious that Cain’s sacrifice had been rejected and this infuriated him. 

After this, we see such a remarkable display of God’s love and patience.  Genesis 4:6-7 says, “And Jehovah saith unto Cain, `Why hast thou displeasure? and why hath thy countenance fallen? Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.’” (Young’s Literal Translation).  God, in His graciousness goes to Cain and appeals to him.  He even provided a sin-offering for Cain to sacrifice to Him, but Cain’s heart was not right.  He had no heart for the Lord, and we will see that he had no heart for his brother. 

Let us read what happened next in Genesis 4:8, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”  I want us to look at this verse in the Young’s Literal Translation.  It is slightly different, and many other translations agree with the YLT here.  It says, “And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, [`Let us go into the field;’] and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him.”  If this translation is accurate (and I believe it is), then we see that Cain acted with pre-meditation towards Abel.  We get the thought that Cain took Abel out to the field where they could be alone and unnoticed, and there Cain took his life.  Did Cain intend to kill his brother?  It certainly appears that he did.  I imagine both brothers had seen their parents offer sacrifices to the Lord and saw how the death and shed blood of the sheep was what the Lord required for atonement.  They both knew what death looked like.

Another clue as to whether Cain knew that his brother would die is found in the fact that he had no repentance for his evil act.  Genesis 4:9 says, “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”  How flippant Cain was towards the Lord when he questioned him about his brother!  No sign of repentance.  No, he displays the rebellious heart that caused him to commit the act of murder in the first place.  How sad that the first person ever born became the first murderer.  Such is the state of the unrepentant heart.

So, why exactly did Cain kill his brother?  We are told in 1 John 3:11-12, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? BECAUSE HIS OWN WORKS WERE EVIL, AND HIS BROTHER’S RIGHTEOUS.”  Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”  Both brothers knew what the Lord required.  Abel obeyed; Cain did not.  Abel acted by faith; Cain did not.  Abel is dead, but his testimony remains and still speaks to us of the consequence of knowing God’s will and doing it. The Lord Jesus, Himself, referred to Abel as being a righteous man in Matthew 23:35.  (433.4)