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Living by Faith (Vol 20) - Abel's Message

Sunday English Service - 2 DEC 18


Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11 and I will read to you verse 4 and then we'll go to Genesis chapter 4. We’re going to look at first 16 verses in Genesis chapter 4. We’ll first read Hebrews chapter 11 and begin here at verse 4. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. We've been studying about living by faith mainly from Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews chapter 11 is a famous chapter on faith where the heroes of faith are listed. First three verses give us a definition of faith and a brief description of how faith works. And then from verse 4 onwards he begins to list the various heroes of faith and points out to their exploits of faith. The first person he goes to is Abel. Abel is the first person from the very first family, the son of Adam and Eve. And regarding him, he says, that he offered to God, a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. And by which he also obtained witness that he was a righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts. Then he says, “Through it, he being dead still speaks.” We said we'll look at this passage in three different ways. One is the first statement, by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. So, in the first sermon on this verse we talked about why Abel’s gifts that he brought to God were considered more excellent than Cain’s. It is not because that Abel’s was a blood sacrifice, which is another opinion that is there out there, but a lot of scholars do say that it is not whether it's a blood sacrifice or not, it is about whether it was offered in faith. The manner in which it was brought was more important here in this passage. We do agree that without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin, and the concept of bloodshed with regard to forgiveness of sin and redemption is important. And we believe in it in this church wholeheartedly. I just got through preaching a series on the blood of Jesus. So, we have no problem with that. But this passage is talking about faith.

Faith is the emphasis on this passage and so when it's talking about what Abel brought as a gift to God, it was the faith that was important rather than that it was a fact that it had bloodshed in it. So, Cain brought and Abel brought, both of them brought gifts and Abel’s was brought by faith Cain’s was not. So, we talked about that. Then we talked about the second aspect which was that he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. What is there to testify about his gifts? Last two weeks I talked about how Abel’s gifts were described as the first and the best. And God testified about his gifts. God was very pleased about the way he honored Him in his heart. His gifts reflected his thoughts about God, and we talked about that.

Now today, we're going to talk about the third aspect which is that being dead Abel still speaks. We're going to look at what Abel’s message is to the world today. To the sinners, to the believers, to the society at large, what is the message that Abel has got to give today because the Bible says that though he's dead he still speaks. That’s very strange really because when Abel was alive, he never uttered one word, nothing is recorded about him speaking any word. It's not that he didn’t speak but no words are recorded from Abel’s mouth here in the Bible. Plenty of words from Cain. Cain said this and that to God and so on. All of that is recorded. It is strange that not one word is recorded as spoken from the mouth of Abel yet the Bible says that after being dead, he's now speaking. So, the Bible considers this fact of Abel’s message, the dead man Abel’s message is very important. And how do we get to know what Abel is speaking? Can we hear it? Can we understand his message? Where do we see his message?

So, let's turn to Genesis chapter 4. I just want to go through it just like a story today so that you can see his message come out of it beautifully. It is there all over in chapter 4. In chapter 4, let me read to you from verse one onwards. First five verses I thoroughly dealt with it in the earlier weeks. So, I don't want to pay much attention to it, even though I want to mention just one thing about it. But then from verse 6, we're going to talk about the whole murder that took place, the murder of Abel, and all things related to that. So, let's read from verse 1. Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. I want to stop there, and just comment a little bit there before we go into verse 6 onwards.

Now, in these five verses, which we've already dealt with thoroughly, there are some things that I just want to point out very specially today, that is, even though this family is the first family, Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and these are two boys born to Adam and Eve, earliest people that you could find, in the earliest times of human history, and society has not become very large at all, the first family, just a few of them in existence, even at that time, they have found out there are some definite truths that are very well known to them. What are those truths? From these five verses, we understand that both of them brought their offerings to a particular place. They both came together to present their offerings to God. So even back then, when there has not been a church, not been a system of worship established, and not any known temple or place of worship as such, still, it seems like there was an established place where offerings were to be brought even back then, even in Abel’s days and Cain’s days. Now, we know later on God says, “Bring the tithes and offerings into the storehouse,” and all that. We hear about storehouse then we heard about temple where they brought their offerings, and so on. But that is much later. This is way before all of that. They bring their offerings, it seems like they brought it to the same place. So, there is a place that is established.

Secondly, there was a definite time that was appointed for them to bring offerings, it looks like, because it mentions, in the process of time it came to pass that they brought these offerings. Now, we take this term ‘in the process of time’ very casually. But in the process of time they say literally means that at the appointed time basically, and different people talk about it in different ways. Some of them say that it could be the harvest time when the harvest came in. And, they had something to give, and so on. Whatever it is, there was an appointed time. So, there was some kind of an appointed place, there was an appointed time. And the third thing there was an appointed way in which they need to come and present their gifts to God. Not only a place and a time, but a way was specified. And the way can be seen in the verses where we read about how Cain brought of the fruit of the ground to the Lord, but Abel’s offerings were quite different. He brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat, the firstlings and the fat.

Now, the modern translations you'll find that he brought the first and the best, the firstlings and the fat. It doesn't mean much to us these days. We live in a modern world, we know what all this is all about. But if I use the word first in the place of first born, and in the place of fat, if I use the word best, immediately you’ll understand. Exactly that's what it's meant by that. The concept is this, that they were supposed to bring to God the first and the best. Somehow it has been taught to them. We don't know exactly how God taught it to them but I think it's very real because when you read the Bible, you begin to know God and how He works. When He drove them out of the garden of Eden after they sinned that seems to be the most tragic day for human beings, Adam and Eve, driven out of the garden. They cannot enjoy the wonderful, lush garden that God has planted Himself and made for them, and all the things that are available ready for them there. They were driven out of that. They cannot come. Guards have been placed that the garden. They cannot enter the garden again. Their sin has alienated them from the very presence of God.

Even in the midst of that punishment, that great punishment of being driven out of the very presence of God, still, it seems like God reaches out to them and has shown them a way, by which they can return. It's not like eternal banishment from the very presence of God, so that they can never return. When He sent them away it seems like He has told them, “Look, you have rejected Me out of your life.” That was their sin. They couldn't commit any other sin in the Garden of Eden. They were just two people. They didn't get drunk or they didn’t steal anybody's anything. They didn't kill anybody, they didn’t commit such sin. What kind of sin did they commit? The only sin that they could commit is a sin against God. God gave them one commandment. He said, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the day that you’ll eat you'll die. Enjoy all the fruit from all the trees, but not of this one tree.” But they decided to eat of that one tree that God forbade.

Now, by doing that they have rejected God's lordship because that was the issue there. Why did He tell them not to eat? Because that issue had to do with God's lordship over their lives. “Am I your Lord or not? If I am your Lord, then obey this one commandment. That's the only way it can be known that I am your Lord. You are the lord over all creation. I've created you and made everything for you. All of creation belongs to you, for you to govern and rule over them and dominate them. But you must have me as Lord. And the only way you can see that you have me as Lord is that you obey this commandment.” The one commandment was the public sign of their subjection to the Lord as God over their lives. When they disobeyed that commandment, they clearly meant that they do not want God in their life. They don't want Him as Lord over their lives. And that is what got them out of the garden and alienated them from God.

Now, they lost all the blessings, they’re out and God told them, “Listen, even though you are now out, again you can make up your mind. Again, whenever you choose to come back to Me you can come back to Me. The only way you and I can have a relationship is that I need to be Lord over your life. You need to submit to Me, you need to listen to Me, you need to listen to My word. And now how are you going to come back to Me? Again, I'll give you a way. The way is this, bring your first and the best. Thereby show your faith through your works. Show what you have in your heart towards Me. Show Me that I am the one that is your Lord and your God, that I matter to you the most in life. By your deed you show Me that.” So, this is graciously the way that God has kept open for them, even though the door to the garden was shut, the door to a relationship with God was still open, they can come back and they can again come back to enjoy the life that God has intended for them and come into the blessings again. And the door was open through this one provision. That is why they started bringing offerings to God.

Now, that is why what they brought was very important. That is why there was a time, there was a place, there was a way, the manner in which they must bring it. All of these things were important. That is why when they brought God could look at them and say, “I accept this, but I don't accept that one.” He looked at the Abel and said, “I respect your offering. I will honor you because you’ve honored Me. I receive you into My fellowship.” And He can look at Cain and say, “No, I cannot honor you. I cannot respect you because your offering does not reflect your heart being right towards Me. Your offering does not reflect the fact that I am the most important person in your life. No, you've the nature of your father and mother, they rejected Me and you are still in a state of rejection. I cannot accept you.” God could look at both of them and accept one and reject another. Not arbitrarily, because He has already taught them what is right. That is why He could point blank tell them which one is accepted and which one is not accepted.

Now this is what happened. And verse five says, when Cain found out that God did not respect his offering Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. That means his face showed that he hated the fact that he got rejected by God. Now begins the sad story. Now begins that big revelation of many things. Now, if you want to understand the story, the saga of mankind, relationship with God, if you want to understand sin, if you want to understand how to come to God, if you want to understand how to establish a relationship with God, how to again serve God and come back to God and enter into a life of relationship with God, and you if you want to understand what sin can do to man, there is a big revelation here. Chapter four is an amazing chapter of revelation. It is unbelievable how in one of these earliest chapters of the Bible we have so much revelation concerning man, God, sin, the way of salvation, faith, and so on.

So, let's read from verse six. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” So, this is amazing to me. Cain has not done what God told him to do. He just brought something, he has his own way about Him. We'll talk about the way of Cain later on. The New Testament writers talk about the way of Cain. It seems like Cain and Abel have become a big subject of preaching in the New Testament days. You hear the New Testament authors several times talking about Cain and Abel story. I was listening to TV news the other day, they were talking about Cain and Abel also, but I don't know if they understood the story as they should understand it. Everybody seems to know something about Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel is a very important story. And the New Testament authors make a big deal out of it and they draw lessons from it. They talk about way of Cain, I'll read it to you later on.

But the thing is, it's amazing to me right at this point, when I read verse 6, that God could have simply forgotten about Cain because he’s useless case. God clearly kept an option open for them to come back to Him. They are people that have rejected God already. It's a family that has gone out from God's presence. Now, they're welcome back on this condition. They need to again choose to put God first. And God has left His option open before them. And again, Cain follows the same path of rebellion. God could have said, “I'm finished with you, get lost.” And He could have reached out to Abel and said, “Abel, you and I belong to one party. We are together buddy. Let's get along together fine. Forget about this fellow, your elder brother. He’s no good. He’s never going to make it. You and I, let's be friends. Let's carry on a relationship.” I thought God would do that. But God leaves Abel, even though He accepts him, he pays total attention to Cain at this point. He goes to Cain and He says, “Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen?”

Now immediately, I get this revelation of God that Jesus gave to us when He talked about how he left the ninety-nine and went up to the one that was lost. God is always the one who reaches out to the sinner. He’s always after the person that is unworthy, sinner, rebellious. God is like a good father. He's got a father's heart. He wants to reach out to the sinner, bring him back, because He made him. He gave him life. He gave him a whole world. His love has given to him a whole lot. So, God doesn't want them to just go to waste. God doesn't leave him to perish in his rebellion. God doesn't leave him to go and just wallow in his sin and get destroyed. God wants to save him. God is interested in the salvation of man, bringing man back to himself, rescuing man from the devil's hands. So, God reaches out to Cain, the bad guy. He doesn't go after Abel because Abel is all right. He's got his heart right. He's been in with God. So, he’s not got a problem.

God reaches out to Cain. He says, “Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? Look at verse 7. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Its desire is for you or toward you, but you should rule over it. What a description of sin. They say, this is one of the hardest verses in the old testament to translate. They offer something like 25 different ways to translate this verse because it's a difficult verse to translate from the Hebrew to any language they say. And one of the best translations that you have available in English they suggest NASB, that is New American Standard Bible, that translates it best they say. So, let me read to you verse 7 from NASB since you’re English speaking audience. You're fortunate that you have so many translations, and you have this option to look at these things. If you do well, listen to this, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. 

In the earliest chapters of the Bible, sin is described as a wild, ferocious animal, crouching in a position, ready to pounce on the prey. Ready to come upon the prey and tear the prey apart and destroy the prey. That is how sin is described. “Sin is crouching at the door ready, waiting,” He says. He’s telling Cain, “Cain, it's not too late. Just because I've rejected it doesn't mean that you're ever rejected, that you can never come back to Me, you can never have the blessing of God. No. It means you set your heart right. You repent, you turn around, you do what is right. Do what I told you. Set your heart right. You have still a chance.” If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? This translation says. “Your countenance is fallen now; the countenance can be lifted up if you do well. If you turn around and do what is right everything is going to be alright. Yours also will be accepted. I'm not partial to Abel. I've no reason to be partial to Abel. The only thing that pleases Me about him is he did what I told him to do. And you have not done what I've told you to do. You know, just like Abel knew what you're supposed to do but you have not done it. He knew what he’s supposed to do and he's done it. I like his obedience. I don't like your disobedience. Your disobedience is the sin. Your rebellion is the sin. You set your heart right, never too late. You can come back, I want to accept you. I want to make it right.”

When I used to be in school, I used to think examinations are the worst thing in life and they are designed to fail you. So, we used to talk to one another, “Be careful. They're trying to fail you.” When I grew up, I found out they're not trying to fail me. The whole time the teacher was trying to pass me. The teacher was trying to teach me, make sure I understand so that I pass. If I failed, she'll be discredited. It's not good for her to have students fail. God is more than a teacher, He’s like a father. If a son fails, the father is the one that suffers more. So, we are like sons and daughters of God, children of God. Our success is very important to God. When we become a prey to the devil, when we fall into sin, when we go and get destroyed because of our rebellion, we walk in our own ways, and don't do the will of God, and our life is ruined, God is not glad about it. God is not pleased to punish us and send us to hell and all of that. No. Even though sometimes it is presented like that, it is not at all. I think God is very grieved in His heart when one fails, when one rebels, when one goes away from God, when one becomes a prey of the enemy, the devil, and becomes an instrument in his hands to do things against the will of God. God does not want it. God doesn't will it, doesn't wish it. God is always reaching out to sinners. God is most gracious. God is most patient, long suffering. That is why sometimes we have rebelled and rebelled and rebelled for so many years and still He kept reaching out and reaching out and reaching out and at one point we turned around. Thank God for that. His mercy knows no end. His goodness knows no end.

So that's what God is. So, God says, “If you do well, your countenance will be lifted up. If you don't do well...” Now, listen to the warning God gives to Cain. “If you don't do well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is toward you.” That means it would like to eat you up, it would like to swallow you, it will like to tear you up. Sin would like to get into your life, will want to destroy your future, will destroy your happiness, will destroy your peace, will destroy everything good that God wants you to have, sin wants to have you. Isn’t that the biggest truth, I think? Sin really wants to have us, aiming at us, really hoping like an animal waiting for the deer to come and the opportune moment jump on it, pounce on it. And just catch that thing by the throat.  I saw one of the best pictures for the decade is the picture of an animal catching the throat of an antelope and its little ones are running away. And as two of these animals come and catch the throat, the mother is looking to see whether the children have escaped. Amazing. Only concerned about their escape, not concerned about this life being lost here. Just looking at the little ones running away. Probably happy about it. They say that the one who took the picture went into depression because of that picture. It became the picture of the decade it seems.

Now, love is expressed by human beings and even animals in so many ways. But all of this love originates from God. God is the essence of this love. God is love. If you can see the love of this little animal and be so touched by it, and if a human being can be so moved by love, have you ever seen God's love? God's love is such that He cannot see one sinner being lost. He reaches out to the sinner with all of His strength, appealing to him, and pleading with him to listen to Him. So, He says, “Sin is crouching at the door.” Sin is described as a wild animal, waiting to tear the prey up. And He says, “Watch out. Its desire is for you. But you must master it.”

So, at any point in a person's life, the way it's described here, sin is crouching at the door, it’s describing it like a person mostly. In Tamil Bible actually, it mentions sin as a person... avanudaya aasai unnai patri irukkum. That’s the way the Tamil translation comes. Its desire is toward you, it says. The Tamil people have translated it as his desire is towards you. Very interesting. Sin is the embodiment of Satan himself. It's not just sin wanting to have you, the devil wants to have you. That's the meaning. The devil wants to swallow you, eat you up. The devil wants to finish you. That's the message coming out there. And you must master it. You're not supposed to lose to the devil, you must master it. God wants you to be the winner. So, there’s at any point two people at your door, one is knocking on the door and that's Jesus. He’s saying, “Open the door of your heart. I will come in and I will be your host. You will lack nothing, and I will be with you. I will take care of all your needs, I'll be more than enough for you. You will live the right kind of life, you will have a right kind of future, you will enjoy the blessings of God in every way in this life and in the life to come in a real way. But there is another person knocking on your door, crouching at the door. He is desiring to have you and that is the devil, that's the way the Bible talks about in the earliest chapters. And that is the devil in the form of sin and sinful rebellious nature crouching, and if you give place to that and walk away from God, and choose your own way, rather than the way of God, then that sin will have you and that sin will not build your life and make you happier. That sin will remove every happiness, every peace, and all the good things from your life and leave you completely as a dead man or dead woman. Because that is what sin can do.

But you know, the devil always gives a good presentation outside, that sinful life is good. It's enjoyable. That's how they used to talk about it when I was young. Young kids used that, “Don't worry da. Nobody sees. Everybody does it. Just enjoy yourself. Don't be uptight, just enjoy yourself. These religious people call it sin. But this is just human being’s nature. And you need to enjoy some of these things. Have fun with this. Don't miss out on this fun. When are you going to enjoy these things? When you're old?” That's what they told me. Some of these fools. I thought they were so wise in those days. They said, “When are you going to enjoy? Think about it. Think about what you're missing. Wow, what a nice thing you're missing. What a pleasure you're missing. Don't worry, nobody knows about it. I won't tell anyone.” He’ll be the first one to tell. You can bet on it. “I won't tell anyone.” But the truth is this, see, we're all deceived. We pay attention more to the pleasure that comes out of it and we forget everything about what it can do. He says nobody will know it and we get deceived by it. “Alright, if we can do it without nobody knowing it, then it will be good.” Well, if you do it, without anybody knowing it still one person knows it. That's the problem. One person surely knows it. That's you. Right? That spoils the whole thing. Because you know it, you can't sleep anymore.  Because you know it, you can't have happy married life anymore. Because you know it, you can't live in peace anymore. Because you know it, you cannot have rest anymore. Because you know it, you have to hang your head hereafter. Because you know it, it bothers you so much. Because you know it, your performance in your work is affected. Because you know it, it affects you in every way.

I remember when I was in college, they came and talked to us. It was a big talk about that philosophy that you can live your life loose and do whatever you want and it doesn't really matter. Really just people have made too much out of these things. Just forget about it, have fun. That kind of philosophy was very common in America, particularly at that time. So, they were trying to have people come and talk to us about it. So, I remember a couple of people came and talked, and they said this, these guys who are in the field of medicine and psychology, and psychiatry and so on. And they're Christians and they were dealing with these subjects. And they were talking about life and how we need to live it morally, and so on. Which was the problem. Which people thought is not such an important thing. What does it matter? After all, you're having some fun. That's the way the people looked at it. And they gave a talk I'll never forget. They said that people that are having problems, marital problems today, that doubt each other's integrity and faithfulness are people that are themselves morally not right, lived an immoral life, that is why they doubt their partners. And usually they end up doubting their partners for the rest of their lives. Because they think they are like that they think the partner may also be like that, that's the logic it seems. Because they think they have done these things, they think, “Well, he may have done that also, she may have done that also. How can you think that your husband or wife are so innocent? This is the kind of logic that goes into mind and once a person gets caught in that, it's like a vicious cycle. You never get out of it, you're caught and you’re spun around with it. Until you lose your mind, lose your peace, and lose your family and lose everything, because suspicion becomes very big evil then that never lets you rest, never lets you have peace, never lets you have a real union of joy and peace and happiness. They talked about that. How the moral life now, how you live it is so important. If you don't live it right it affects you. It has the potential to affect you for the rest of your life, where you will never be able to solve it,” they said.

That was scary, the way they were talking about. They’re giving statistics about it and showing how real it is to deal with that problem. But if you lived a life that is morally right and kept away from doing wrong things, how you will have a very happy, healthy, peaceful, good marriage when you get into it later on. It made sense to me completely. We need more people talking about that than these fools giving us lectures. It is because nobody says anything about that is in the church or in our schools and colleges, these guys that become, all of a sudden, bishops... I used to travel from here to Tambaram to college, it's a long ride. Oh, my goodness, you should hear some of these guys talk about things, philosophize about, “Oh this is that, da, this is this da. You don't know, I know this. Listen to me.” Full of nonsense. That is why it is better to come to church. It's less expensive than hospital and mental institution, you can solve a lot of problems. Because when you come to church, you find the real way of life. The revelation of God is such. The revelation concerning human life, God, man, sin, how life ought to be lived, is amazing in the Bible. In the earliest chapters of the Bible, the revelation of sin as the embodiment of Satan himself, wanting to tear us up and destroy us completely, take us and literally eat us up and finish us, is a description that is amazing, that you find in the earliest chapters of Genesis.

All right. Let's go back to this verse that we’re reading. You should rule over it. So, two people standing at your door. One is the devil in the form of sin, in the form of various temptations. Temptations are always there, and we're all human beings, we are always tempted. But the question is, are you going to yield to the temptation and go the way of Cain? Or are you going to yield to God and give your life to God, and open your heart to God, and allow God to bring His power to help you to win against all of these things? You must rule and the only way you're going to rule over the power of the devil is through the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Jesus, the power of salvation, the power of new nature that is given to you by new birth, and a relationship with God. The Christian life comes with the proper equipment to live that life. Now you have a new potential as a Christian life. Once you open your life’s door to God and allow Him to rule and reign and open the door to the Holy Spirit to come and be your Lord and guide you and lead you, now you have a new kind of potential. A potential to live the right kind of ways. It doesn't mean that you're not going to be tempted anymore. It's going to mean that you are going to successfully counter all those temptations and live for God and succeed in this life.

So now listen to this. Now Cain talked with Abel his brother. Verse 8. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Now, after all this talk that God gave, after God literally pleading with Cain saying, “Hey, why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, everything is going to be all right. Be careful, sin is crouching at the door, its desire is to have you but you must rule over it. And I'm here. I'm waiting on you. I want you to open your heart to Me. I want you to put your faith in Me. What are you going to do Cain? Decide, decide for the better, for your future, decide.” After hearing all this, it's like going into a church or to evangelist’s meeting and hearing the most powerful message about sin and Satan, and about God and His goodness, and walking out of there saying, “Well, we'll see it later on. I'm going to just do whatever I want to do.” Cain was a typical chap like that. He's like that. God Himself like an evangelist pleading with him saying, “Don’t open your door to the devil. Open your door to Me. Have faith in Me. Trust in Me,” God is saying. And he’s shutting his door on God after God pleading with him and giving him a revelation about the sin crouching at that door waiting to nab him. He walks out of there and becomes a prey of the devil. Takes his brother to the fields and goes along with this desire that the devil has put within him to kill his brother. This evil desire to go and murder his brother. Yields to that emotion, that mentality, that mindset. Yields to the thought. The devil has captured his mind, his thought, his emotion, goes out there after hearing God's word, God speaking to him, walks out of there and sins. Completely commits a murder. Can you believe that?

Now there's a lot of people that feel sorry for Cain, I found out among Christians. There have been times when people come and say to me, “Poor Cain brother, made a mistake. Yeah, sure, he made a mistake. But God shouldn't have punished him so much.” The whole picture they got out of this whole story is that God is a horrible, punishing God that the first time you make a mistake, He's going to come up with a cricket bat and knock your head off and kill you. But poor Cain, he's just a human tempted in going his own way. Shouldn't God have given a chance to him? My Bible I read it differently, I think. I read it and I see God as the most amazing patient God, gracious God, God of goodness and mercy and loving kindness, giving him all the rope that He can give him, pleads with him. Didn't even go to Abel. He went to Cain only and concentrates on him to win him to Himself. But he killed his brother Cain.

Then the Lord said to Cain, listen to this. “Where is your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?” He's full of rebellion, this rudeness in talking to God. “Am I my brother's keeper?” He says. And He said, “What have you done?” God says, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.” See, now he finds out that having done this murder he cannot escape. He cannot hide from God. He cannot hide the truth. He thought nobody will know. He thought, nobody's going to see. Now God knows and God says, “Your brother's blood is crying to Me out from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth,” He says. Now listen to this, “Which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.” So, there is a revelation of God's will first, that is how you must bring your offerings, how you must honor God, how much you must have the highest place for God in your life. And those kinds of things. The revelation of how to establish a relationship with God, by honoring Him. God said, “Him who honors Me, I will honor.” And then there is a revelation about God's graciousness and goodness. Even when you make a mistake, even when you have done the wrong thing, God is reaching out to you. And then there is a revelation of sin granted by God. God is revealing the nature of sin and warning against falling to sin, becoming a prey to sin, and opening your heart to sin, sinful thoughts and emotions, how it will destroy you, and how it will ruin you. All of that is there. All of this is granted to Cain.

He says, “You're cursed from the earth which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you should be on the earth.” He's got the biggest problem now. He’s a tiller of the ground. He's a farmer. But farming is not going to work for him. No matter where he goes and tries to farm it's not going to grow anything. See, he thinks he can kill his brother and go forget about it. Like one fellow said, “Well, I can kill him and go to jail for a few years and then it’s history. I'll just live happily ever after.” No. Bible doesn't teach it like that. You live it with it forever. For all your life. You live with your guilt, and with your sin, and with your shame and with all the thing that pricks your heart all the time, all your life. That's the way sin works. Sin will never leave a person. You cannot run away from sin. You cannot put it back. You cannot remove it from your life. The only way to get rid of it is to come to God and confess it and Him wash your heart and your mind and your emotion, your thoughts with His precious blood and make you clean and make you whole supernaturally by the blood of Jesus. There is no other way to be made clean.

There is no other way. If you think you can sin and then go on live in peace, it's not possible. That's what he thought. He thought, “It's over. Well, if God sees me and punishes me it's going to be for a while and then after that everything is going to be all right.” A lot people say things like that. “Well, I can kill you. At worst maybe 10 years jail but after that I'll be free again.” Well, you will never be free again. That's the truth. Somebody must tell the truth. You'll never be free again. Listen to this. Now, he goes from one place to another, he becomes a vagabond. Wherever he tries to carry on his profession it’s not working out. The ground is cursed. Every time he plants something in the ground and it refuses to yield, he thinks about his brother because God said, “This ground which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand will not yield the fruit from it hereafter for you.” So, every time he tries to make the earth yield and it doesn't work, he has to think about his brother. Every day of his life, wherever he went, no matter how far he went. The Bible says he went to the east side somewhere to a place called Nod, and lived there, faraway place but I'm sure he never forgot Abel. Wherever he went he remembered Abel and what he did to Abel. He sinned against Abel, the murder that he committed and so on.

And then verse 12 says, “When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” Again, it says that. And now Cain says, listen to this, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” Now, he’s appealing for lesser punishment, still no repentance. He’s a very postmodern guy. “Listen, you got to understand my circumstances.” This is the way they appeal in the court nowadays. “You got to understand my circumstances. At that time my circumstances were such and such therefore I appeal that my sentence is brought down and mercy shown to me.” That's the post modernism that we live in. We have very nice ways of stating these things. Just little sick of here. Little head and mental issues, and this and that. So, I need to be shown some mercy. So, he appeals to God. He says, “My punishment is too great for me to bear. Why don’t you have a little mercy on me? And look at God. That's why I said, don't ever plead for Cain. Don't ever take the side of Cain. This guy deserves nothing. If God totally destroys him, sends him to hell, he is worthy of that punishment.

But look at the mercy and the compassion God shows again and again, “Surely, You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” Look at him, his sins are coming to haunt him. He killed his brother, now he's got to watch his back all the time. He can never sleep in peace. Somebody may come and kill him, that possibility is always there. He’s created his own problem, we see. And the worst thing is that he has gone away from the presence of God. There is the revelation of what life is like when you live away from the presence of God. When I was studying about this, I looked at a picture, there is a website where you can look at pictures of these earliest stories from the Bible, some great painters of old have painted like 600 years ago, especially during the Reformation period, and so on. They've highlighted these truths. I wish I had brought it. I wanted to do it. Maybe one day I'll show it to you of Cain running away from his brother’s body which is lying dead, and Adam and Eve finding the body, and Eve literally bowing over the body and covering the body, and Adam standing there in horror, and Cain running away. And the highlight of the painting, a famous painter and poet from England had done it. A highlight of the painting is this, they're focused mainly not on Abel, and not on Adam and Eve, and all of that, they focused on Cain, his facial expression. He's got his ears shut like this. And his eyes open very big in horror looking back and running as fast as he could in horror. the picture is this, that he has done this wrong, he wants to run away, he wants to hide somewhere, his brother's blood is crying out for vengeance and he’s shutting his ears from it. The painter has put the whole scene in such a way that you can feel the pain that Cain felt for the rest of his life because of his sin.

And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. What a gracious God. He says, “I'll make sure nobody kills you. Even for a murderer like this God shows such mercy. “I’ll make sure nobody kills you.” Capital punishment was not in effect at that time. God says, “I'll give you a break.” How much more breaks a man needs? How much more rebellious can a man be? I don't know why Cain never found any of these moments, a moment to turn back to God and say, “Lord, I'm a sinner. I need You. Save me. Rescue me from the devil's power, from these thoughts of murder, these thoughts of hatred. Rescue me, clean me up, clean my heart, O God. Rescue me from the power of it.” Never said that.

Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the East of Eden. Abel though dead, he still speaks. What does he speak? He speaks saying that every single person in this earth really has an open option, an opportunity to come into a relationship with God. You can come and you can put your faith in God. You can open your heart to God, you can show your faith in action in so many ways. You can come and open your heart and give yourself to God and repent, turn around and ask Him to become your Lord of your life. You will be turned around. Abel’s preaching gospel today. He’s telling us that. Secondly, Abel is preaching and saying, “Don't ever go sins way because sin is going to destroy you, is going to not just kill you but ruin you first and bring you to nothing and put you to shame and destroy your life and your honor, and everything that God has given to you. And take away every blessing that God has given to you. Don't go the way of Satan. Instead of opening the door to Satan open your life to God, because God will do you good.”

Thirdly, Abel says that when you go in the way of sin and sin, you will never be able to run away from your sins because you cannot run away from yourself. I can run away from a person but if I'm the person that has committed sin, I cannot run away from myself. If I can go 5,000 miles away from here but still, I will be there. My sin will be there with me. My mind will be there with me. My emotions will be there with me. My guilt will be there with me. There will be no reprieve. There is no break that you're going to get. Fourthly, God is so gracious. God gives chances and opportunities again and again and reaches out to us again and again and again, even in our sinful state to come back to Him, to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him, which is the way life ought to be lived. Fifthly, if you insist that you're going to go sin’s way then sin’s punishment will be unbearable at the end, then that is for sure. That is Abel preaching. Abel is a gospel preacher. Abel, if he was alive today and preaching to us, I believe he will teach us about God, His goodness, His graciousness, sin, and its evil and horror and severity and the good things that God does for us when we open our hearts to Him. How He can change us and give us life in the now and in eternity and fill us with every blessing for now and for eternity. That is what Abel will preach to us today.

And I say to you today, if somebody is here, you have never given your life to Jesus, this is a good day to give your life to Jesus. Good day to open your heart to Jesus. Never keep on going in the way of rebellion. God is gracious but that doesn’t mean that you can take advantage of that. Take that as an opportunity, grab that opportunity. As a loving, gracious God giving you an opportunity to get out of that mess and come back to Him. And God has always got a stretched-out arm to receive you and to take you into His family. God is not in the business of driving out people. He’s in the business of taking in people.

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