With Favor

by Scarlett Stough

After Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, God continued to offer guidance. The brothers, Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve, brought offerings to the Creator God. Since Cain worked the land, he brought some of his crop as an offering. Abel was a herdsman who brought an offering from his flock.

God looked with favor on Abel's offering, but not Cain's. Why? Was it simply a matter of animal versus plant as acceptable, or was it something about the attitude with which the offerings were made? (See Genesis Chapter 4:1-7.)

We find a statement by Isaiah who wrote:

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Isaiah 66:2b

Again in the Psalms:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

James tells us, quoting Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:5-10).

Grace and favor are synonyms—a gift of God to those who understand their need for God. Abel had God's favor for the same reason we can have God's favor. Jesus illustrated this humility in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone, who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:13-14

Even though Cain did not receive the favor (or grace) of God, God still sought to instruct him.

God offered Cain some guidance:

Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Genesis 4:6-7

But Cain, just as his parents before him, chose to ignore God's guidance giving in to his own resentment by killing his brother Abel. Amazingly he thought getting rid of his rival (in his mind) would be to his advantage.

God once again spoke to Cain sending him off to be a wanderer over the earth, sending him away from the soil he had been working. God restated the curse stated to Adam (Genesis 3:17-19; Genesis 4:11-12) only this time Cain was told the ground would not yield its produce to him.

When Eve gave birth to Seth, she gave God credit for giving her a son after Abel was killed and Cain expelled. She lost two sons—one dead, the other expelled. The genealogy follows the line of Seth. Many sons and daughters were born to Adam and Eve. Many sons and daughters were born to their descendants; each one having a life story, but the biblical record focuses on one story line. We discover in this record a few in this lineage who looked to God.

Sometime after the birth of Seth's son Enosh, “men began to call on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26). Later on Seth's descendant Enoch was said to have “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22-24). Then we are introduced to Noah whom his father had hoped would “comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands” (Genesis 5:29).

Abel, Enoch, and Noah are mentioned in the list of the faithful in Hebrews 11. Their faith is meant to encourage us to have faith in God as they did.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13 KJV

We also can be persuaded of the certainty that God will fulfill his promise of life to us; we also can embrace with humility hope as we live our mortal lives with the anticipation of a life with God beyond our grave. Jesus died, rose again, and lives to intercede for us all so we can be assured of our resurrection to eternal life. His sacrifice is sufficient.