A More Excellent Sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4)
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.
Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, was a shepherd, who had strong faith in God. He gave God a pleasing offering of a first-born lamb. He was killed by his older brother Cain, whose offering was not pleasing, nor accepted by the Lord. His blood cried out for vengeance from God.
Faith is defined as believing God and acting on what God has said or revealed. God had revealed the way of sacrifice, and both Cain and Abel knew what God had said. Abel believed and by faith he brought an animal sacrifice. Cain didn’t believe and decided to come his own way. Cain and his offering of the fruit of the ground were not accepted. Cain was rejected because he came his own way, not God’s way. John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. The Bible couldn’t say it any clearer. The only acceptable approach to God is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Abel’s offering foreshadowed the greatest offering ever made, Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Jesus was the best sacrifice offered to God. In Him, is no sin (II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 9:14; I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5), absolutely holy. The shedding of the blood, which occurred in the slaying of the animal in sacrificing it, foreshadowed salvation through the blood of Christ. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22); "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7); and "being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9). The slaying of the lamb spoke convincingly of the Lamb of God, "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), and "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Cain's offering did not foreshadow Christ at all; there was no lamb, hence no blood, no Christ, no cross.
When the Abel brought “the firstlings of his flock” (Genesis 4:4), he was acknowledging his trust in the perfect Lamb of God who would one day be slain for sin. He knew his brother’s offering was a rebellious declaration against God. Cain exalted his own efforts at righteousness, while Abel humbled himself as a sinner who needed a Saviour.
Abel came God’s way. God’s way was the way of animal sacrifice. Abel’s sacrifice looked forward to the one Great Sacrifice that was to come in the future. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, would go to the cross and die for the sins of the world. Abel believed God, and acted on what God had said. This is what faith is all about. Abel approached God offering an animal sacrifice by faith. God’s way today is to approach God on the basis of the one Great Offering that was pictured in Abel’s sacrifice the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Abel’s “more excellent sacrifice” pointed to Christ, the perfect offering for sin. Jesus was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19). The lamb slain by Abel represented the coming “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29. Abel was not made perfect through his own works. It was not Abel who professed himself righteous, it was God who declared that Abel was righteous. He “was righteous” through the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. Abel was declared righteous by the very mouth of God because Abel, by faith, offered the one sacrifice which spoke of Jesus Christ, Who, by dying on the cross of Calvary, provided mankind with salvation.
"He being dead yet speaketh." One does not stop speaking when he dies. Our lives send messages long after we have died, and it is not just what we may have on our tombstones. What decides whether your message is a good one or not has to do with faith. What will your life say after you have died? The truth is that your life will speak after you died by how you lived before you died.
PRAYER: Help me to be a dedicated ambassador, to preach the Gospel fearlessly and ceaselessly. Give me the confidence to preach the Gospel at all times under whatever condition and make me a useful instrument to further Your Great Commission. I ask you to give me the grace to proclaim Your good news, so that other people can be saved also. Do not let me be an obstacle to evangelization, but help me to support it and to spread it further.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.