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Question: "Is it too simple to say that intitially Cain confused "offering" with "sacrifice"? Yes, I believe it is too simple. I believe the Lord himself in theophanic form demonstrated to Adam and Eve that the innocent must die for the sins of the guilty when he made coats of skins to cover or atone for their sin and cover their naked bodies. (Genesis 3:21) The Lord had required a prescribed, specific sacrifice, a blood sacrifice. Genesis 4:3 "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD." v. 4 "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:" v. 5 "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." v. 6 "And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?" Consider the following verse. v. 7 "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." The Lord did not say Cain would be accepted if he had good intentions or brought the best he had. Cain was required to do well, to follow instructions by bringing the required sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Hebrews 11:4 " 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." 1 John 3:12 "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."
Yes, that's too simple. Cain wasn't confused; he was disobedient, although this isn't explictly stated in the Bible. Remember that God Himself sacrificed the first animals to cover Adam and Eve as a foreshadowing of the remission of sin from the shedding of blood. You will notice that Abel's sacrifice was an animal. But it was more a matter of what was in Cain's heart. When he saw that his offering wasn't acceptable to God, he immediately was jealous of his brother instead of remorseful and repentent toward God. I think we can "assume" that Cain simply offered whatever he wanted--not the best of his crops and certainly not an animal--and that was an indication that he really wasn't doing it to please and satisfy God but simply going through the motions. So much like so many of us, wouldn't you say?
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