“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.”
Hebrews 11 discusses examples of individuals who demonstrated faith during Biblical times. During the next few weeks, we will explore each of these individuals.
Today, we will focus on Abel. What do we know about Abel? Well, very little, actually. In Genesis 4, we find out that Abel was a son of Adam and Eve, he was a keeper of sheep, offered up sacrifice unto the Lord, and was killed by his brother Cain. But even from just a few verses, we can get a glimpse into the type of man that Abel was.
Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock as an offering unto the Lord. In the first chapters of the Bible, we do not learn much about when the law of sacrifice began. (We will explore another source when we revisit the topic one day). For now, let’s just be content that sacrifices were being offered during that time. What’s important to know is the symbolism of that sacrifice. One of the names used in reference to Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. The name was used because Jesus Christ was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. He was in fact a lamb without blemish, and his blood redeems us. We know from Old Testament times that specific sacrifices were offered at the altar that were symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice that would be made for us all through Jesus Christ. Why would Abel make a sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock, which we already established were sheep, at the altar if he did not believe in Jesus Christ? Abel had to demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ for his offering to be acceptable. We know from Hebrews 11:4 and Genesis 4:4 that his offering was accepted and counted unto him for righteousness.
Abel had the example of his parents, who had been cast out of the Garden of Eden for disobedience. I would like to think that Adam and Eve tried their best to teach their children to learn from their mistakes and to choose good rather than evil. Abel chose to be obedient to whatever commandments had been given to them at that time. Jesus Christ would not come into the world for several hundreds of years. Can you imagine the type of faith that must take, to offer a sacrifice to a Savior who would come long after you are dead to redeem you of your sins? Abel is indeed a great example of faith.
How would you have reacted in his situation? Would you have chosen to be obedient? Would it have been hard for you to sacrifice the best of your sheep at an altar rather than prepare it for yourself and your family as a meal? It really is hard to say what I would have done because it would depend on where I was in my spiritual journey at that time. Knowing what I know now about my Savior and my testimony, I would like to think I would have been obedient and offered that sacrifice at the altar.
Let’s think for a moment how we can apply this to our lives. Has the Lord asked you to sacrifice something in particular at this moment in time? Are you hesitant to lay it on the altar and offer it up to him in faith? I challenge you to take courage from Abel’s example that it’s all going to be okay. If this is not happening in your life right now, maybe it has in the past or it may come in the future. Whenever it takes place in your life, choose to be obedient and have faith that whatever the Lord is asking of you right now has a purpose and it will help you grow.
Did you miss the last post? Read it here: A Foundation of Faith.
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