Genesis 4:3-5 – Was Abel’s sacrifice better because it was a blood sacrifice?

Problem: Genesis records, “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:3-5). Some commentators argue that God favored Abel’s sacrifice because it was a blood sacrifice, rather than a fruit sacrifice. Thus Abel’s sacrifice prefigures the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Is this the case?

Solution: Nothing in the text inclines us in this direction. Later on in the Law, both animals and grain were given to God as first fruits (Lev. 1-7). Waltke concurs, “In the Pentateuch, the tribute (minḥâ) is a bloodless sacrifice.”[1] God isn’t against gardeners, rather than shepherds. Adam and Eve were gardeners before the Fall (Gen. 2:15), so the profession or offering itself cannot be the issue.

The only difference between the two offerings is the faith of the offering. Abel brought the “firstlings” of his flock, while Cain simply brought “an offering.” Hartley writes, “These terms convey that Abel gave the best to God.”[2] This squares with the author of Hebrews’ commentary on this section: “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts” (Heb. 11:4). John states that the reason Cain killed Abel was “because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (1 Jn. 3:12). Cain was coming to God on his own terms—not God’s terms.

Cain’s offering is similar to false worship of God today. People outwardly look religious, giving their offering to God. Yet inwardly, they are giving him the leftovers—not an act of faith. God sees the heart—not just the offering or actions.

[1] Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hartley, John. Genesis. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2012. 81.

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I am a born again christian who loves the Lord and I am taking bible classes online