Cain & Abel

#33 Cain and Abel: an Easter Story

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. ~John 8:32

I am going to do something a little different today, and write about a portion of the Bible. Usually I try to either teach and convince you, or make you laugh, and from the responses I get, often fail at both. Oh, well. In honor of April 15 (Tax Day, and a few other things), I am going to look at part of the Cain and Abel story, which can be found in the Bible.

Most people are fairly aware of the Cain and Abel story. They are the first two sons of Adam and Eve, the originators of Creation. In effect, they are the first kids. Anyway, Cain kills Abel over some food (sounds like my family growing up), gets condemned by God, and goes off to live with Giants, or start the San Francisco Giants, depending on your translation.

I want to look for a minute, at Genesis, Chapter 4, verses 2b-5a. I have reprinted it below:

{Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. However, Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor.}

Now as most know, Cain does not appreciate how events have transpired, and kills his brother Abel. While I do not condone murder, I do feel for Cain. After all, he was a farmer, so he brought some of his crop. Abel, on the other hand, was a rancher, so he brought animals from his flocks. On the surface, it looks like Cain got a raw deal from God. But, let’s look at the story another way. For this we have to go back a chapter or so.

Cain and Abel’s parents were also not adept at making the LORD happy. Quick recap: they ate from the tree they were not supposed to, which in turn made them realize they were naked, in more ways than one. This was the first time anybody had disobeyed God, and as a result, Adam and Even lost their rent-controlled lease, and had to move out of the Garden of Eden. However, there is a verse some overlook, Genesis 3:21. Up until this point, Adam and Eve had clothes made out of plants (when they figured out they were naked). God then kills an animal and gives the skin to Adam and Eve to wear. This was not necessary, as both Adam and Eve were already clothed. Was God making a fashion statement? Maybe. But what the author wants us to see is this: to atone for sin their must be blood sacrifice. The entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, are full of blood sacrifice, but this was the first one. In effect, God was showing humanity how sin must be atoned.

Now, let’s go back to Cain and Abel, and remove ourselves a bit from their personal melodrama. Abel’s character represents people who have figured out what God wants to atone for sin: blood sacrifice. Cain’s character represents those who have not. Forget for a moment the ins and outs of the two people, and think of it on a larger scale. The author wants us to see that God has set up a model of blood sacrifice to atone for sin, first shown in the Garden of Eden. The very next story also deals with blood sacrifice (here’s a tip for those of you from Tennessee: that’s not a coincidence), in Cain and Abel. Christians might take this one step further, and say that these two stories are a precursor of Jesus, who, in the Christian Tradition, is delivered by God to humanity as the ultimate blood sacrifice to atone for all sins forevermore.

For those of you who have always thought that maybe Cain got the shaft, this may be a way to make more sense of the story. For those of you who think the Bible is one hundred percent literal, think of this as another way of looking at the story, in a deeper sense. And, for those of you who think the Bible holds no truth at all, get a life. Even if there were no God, the Bible has had the most profound effect on humanity of any book in history. Only a simpleton would say there is no truth to be gleaned there. Moreover, that is all we are looking for here, another way to see the truth.

Wishing a happy day to all,

April 15, 2001

This one is just brutal. Always fascinates me.

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