Sacrifice: a surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil
We were studying Cain and Able this week. Genesis 4 is a short and powerful chapter. Two brothers born of the same family, but distinctly different. We marveled at how little detail is included in the account leading to debates and conjecture over what made Cain's sacrifice unacceptable. Some say it should have been a blood sacrifice, but others suggest the blood sacrifice was being made by Able for his family. He after all kept watch over the flocks and would have been the one to identify the firstborn. We see in Exodus blood offerings were shared even between neighbors, so it is not unlikely that Able's sacrifice was acceptable for the whole family. Exodus 12:3-4 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor... that being said, this theory is plausible. We also know the Bible tells us that God Judges the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and others think this was strictly a heart issue. Maybe he was grumbly in his heart not understanding why he would take his best produce to set it on fire and so instead gave to God what we would consider seconds at the market. We really don't know as the account in Genesis is brief. Perhaps there is a blessing in the brevity. It is discussed again in other places in the Bible such as Matthew 23:35 where Christ himself refers to Able as "righteous Able" and Hebrews 11:4 states "by faith Able offered a better sacrifice than Cain," but what made that distinction is a bit mum. Perhaps the brevity of the passage is an encouragement by God not to get lost in the weeds? If we focus on what we do know, we see in Gen 4:6 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.” The fact that God tells him to do what is right, means he knew what God wanted him to do and he chose not to do it. Grey areas don't exist with God. He lovingly reasons with this man. He gives him a speech that has, please choose right capped off with you can do this. You are bigger than this temptation. It is a talk that many fathers have had with their boys that frequently ends with a hug and/or a slap on the back. It is also one of those places in the Word that you see God's heart as He lovingly and patiently reasons with him. Sadly Cain does not rise to the occasion. Rather than improving, he killed Able and removed the light that shone on his darkness . (John 3:20-21) He ends up being driven by God from the presence of his family and God Himself. I find it particularly interesting that he acknowledges that he will be a "restless wanderer." A life lived without God is purposeless and restless. A popular slogan is, Know God, know peace. No God, no peace. There is much truth in that. People pontificate about where he went and who he married. I don't expend a lot of energy on this in that that it is irrelevant. They all died in the flood. So what is the critical take away? God is not the hippie anything goes God that is peddled as opiate of the masses these days as a means of filling coffers. The "Burger King God" theoretically standing to the side saying "have it your way." That God doesn't exist in reality. The God that does exist, is a loving father that has expectations of His children. He is very clear about them. You find them reading the Bible. I love the assigned acronym Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It is so much more, but yes, that too. It is all in there. Exodus 20 is a great place to start. Sacrifice is throughout the Bible. It is there right from the start when Adam sacrificed his rib for Eve and is further seen in the story of Abraham and Isaac which is being highlighted in the movies now. Esther sacrificed her safety. Ruth sacrificed being with her family. Moses sacrificed position and power. Joseph sacrificed comfort when he spurned Potiphar's wife. Noah sacrificed his time and reputation when he took God at His word and built the ark and most notably, Christ sacrificed everything. He is who we follow. As a follower of Christ, sacrifice can take many forms. Maybe it is the job you really want that conflicts with church, so you don't take it. Or it could be a wrong relationship. That friend who is steeped in sin and encourages you to come along for the ride, but you instead hold them at a safe distance while praying for them to find the Lord. For some it is not eating, drinking or smoking something. It is guarding your eye gate and ear gate by choosing to not watch or listen to things that don't honor God. It is giving to others as there is need. It is also taking the time to share God's Word with those God puts in your path. There are so many ways that we can set aside self for God, but one thing is certain, the life of a believer will always be marked by heartfelt sacrifice. A huge blessing is that a life lived this way requires no Jesus Loves Me t-shirts, baseball caps or fish on your bumper to identify you as a child of God. The light you shine will require no introduction. It will permeate everything you do making your life pleasing to God and a beacon to those seeking Him.1 Thess 4
All good things. Have a blessed week!
A Living Sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.