Why was Cain's Offering Rejected?
Going back to Genesis, Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Each of them, out of their produce, made an offering to God. Abel's offer was accepted but Cain's offered was rejected. There were various explanations for the rejection. The reasons given are reasonable but not as close to the original text as I like. It is not to easy to find good support for them from the Bible text alone. Christian writings tend to suffer from such over-spiritualization. It is good to know but not too convincing. Some cited Heb 9:22 that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. This presumes that they are making offering to God for forgiveness of sins. The Genesis text did not explicitly state that. We have to find support for that in other parts of the Bible if there be any which we will look at later (Let the Bible interprets itself). Offering to God does not always mean killing of animals. There is the grains offering too. (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9-10; 10:12-13) It is a free will offering that is pleasing to God.
The Best vs the Leftovers
The closest acceptable reason that can be implied from the text is in Gen 4:4 where the description of Abel's offering are added - the firstborn and the fat portions. This tells us that Abel took great care in the preparation for the offering. He took the first and the very best(fat) from his flocks. Since Cain's offering was rejected, we can perhaps imply that Cain's offering was the opposite, or at least not up to the standard of Abel's. Cain offered the later corps and not too good crops. It is possible that Cain kept the best of his corps for himself and gave God the 2nd or left over corps. That is also how some people give their tithes and offerings to God- their loose change. Abel put God's first and gave God his best. Cain put himself first and give God the 2nd or leftovers. It was not surprising that Abel was accepted and Cain rejected.
The 'evil' Behavior of Cain
- I'm First, only First and always First. Others, even God is not as important: So, we know Cain from the way he acted - He is self-centered and God is lower in his priority. We can see that again when he bargained with God for extra protection so that he can be protected from others when he lived in the East of Eden. God is amazingly forgiving in His punishment. We should learn too - Don't over do or double punish a mistake.
- I'm always right. I'll never say sorry and won't repent since I'm always right. Instead of realizing his lack of sincerity towards God, he was angry at God for rejecting his offering. He was saying God was wrong to reject his offering and not he was wrong in offering of sub-standards things to God. The logic is amazing! But that is how proud people react. Try pointing out the error, even of some of your good friend. It is likely that we get a Cain's response of anger, defensive reasons and many excuses.
- I'll get rid of the ones that make me look bad. Instead of learning from the right people, he got angry at them for setting the standards and making him look bad. His logic is simple. For me to look good, I must get rid of those that are better than me. So, he killed Abel for making him loose his face with God. If there be no Abel, God will not know what or who is better! This is again faulty logic. But evil always has its own logic. Why was Jesus killed ? For the same reason that he made those at the top lost face. The evil ones will persecute the righteous ones. Abel was the 1st martyr of God for shining his light.
- I'll lie and resort to any means to protect myself. God asked Cain what happened to Abel. When God asked us a question, it was not that he did not know the answer. It was to draw and direct our attention. The first reaction of Cain was naturally and wonderfully crafted, a good spin, "Should I be responsible for my brother?". But it was actually amazingly idiotic. He was thinking and treating God like a man that could be tricked easily. Maybe that was what he thought of God and gave God no respect at all. Similarly, we found Judas doing exactly the same thing when Jesus pointed him out as the traitor. When a thief is caught red handed, he would naturally admit and seek forgiveness. Judas ran away to accomplish his intended plot!
I can watch out for the evilness - unrepentant, cruel, and intention & plot to harm and remove us. Jesus has warned us to be wise as serpent and harmless as doves. There are such evil around us and we need to be watchful. We need lots of prayers, love and bearing of pains to try to reach out to people like that. May God give us His grace to empower us when he directs us to help people like that. Don't feel bad when you fail. Let God take care of them and let God restore you as He did for Joseph.
Bible Interpreting the Bible - The Lights from Other Parts of the Bible
With the computer, it is easy to look up "Cain" and "Abel" and find the other relevant verses that talk about them. The recommended FOC bible software are e-Sword and The Word.
we can pick up the following verses:
Mat 23:35 ... the blood of innocent Abel
1John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
Heb 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.We find the above verses supporting us to say that Cain was the evil one and seeking his own selfish gain. He placed his possessions above God. Abel gave us the example of trusting and obeying God no matter what, even the giving up of hist life.
I hope that you also learn to properly understand and interpret the Bible. Let us not over spiritualize things and fail to gain the practical lessons.