Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
According to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Dead Men Tell No Tales. However, according to the scriptures, dead men do speak, and in so doing tell their stories long after their demise. Such was certainly the case with the long list of people mentioned by the Hebrews writer in the eleventh chapter of his book. One person who spoke long after his death was Abel. Our devotional today will take a look at this ancient character and what the implications are regarding his continued speaking, though dead!
We now quote an inspired text: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Hebrews 11.1-4).
We do not know specifically what Cain and Abel were instructed to do regarding sacrifice to God, but we do know that they were instructed. We know that because Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith.” The only way that someone can do a thing by faith, in the biblical sense, is for God to have spoken on the matter. Or, to put it another way, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10.17). Therefore, we can deduce the fact that God had spoken His will regarding sacrifice to Cain and Abel.
We also know that it was obvious to Cain and Abel that God was pleased or displeased by their respective sacrificial offerings. Note the following passage: “And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’” (Genesis 4.4-7). This text clearly indicates that Cain knew full well that his actions were displeasing to God; in addition, he knew what he needed to change in order for his worship to be respected by His Creator.
However, rather than doing the right thing, Cain devised another plan. He could have simply altered his deeds regarding worship, then he and his brother would have both found favor in God’s sight. This must have seemed too simple to Cain, or his pride simply would not let him admit the error of his ways. At any rate, Cain devised a plan to kill his brother. Cain’s plan B was not anywhere on God’s option list for him, but it is obvious that his actions were not intended to please God; they were intended to feed a man’s ego regardless of the ultimate harm that would come from his deeds.
By striking his brother, Cain forever demonstrated his recalcitrant heart and mind. By being the first martyr for his biblical faith, Abel forever earned himself a place in the books of inspired history. Just as Stephen was the first Christian martyr, Abel was the first martyr of all time. His blood was spilled because of his faith and his devotion to God. That blood, though spilled centuries before the Hebrews writer picked up his pen, still was speaking clearly near the end of the first century, AD. Through that blood, Abel, though long deceased still speaks.
Many men speak long after death has overtaken them. The question that we can answer while we live is this: What kind of story will my previous existence tell? Dead men do tell tales!
1. How do we know that Cain and Abel had received proper instructions concerning their worship?
2. According to Genesis 4, what could Cain have done to find favor in God’s sight regarding his worship?
3. What is a martyr? Who was Stephen? How did he die?
4. How is it that blood speaks? What other things can speak after our death? How can we determine the stories that our lives will tell?
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