In my sermon The Dark Places, I wrote the following:
If Abel can be saved, there is no point in striving to be Cain, and that is unacceptable to Pharisees of every age.
A kind reader suggested that I turned the names around. It happens. Sometimes I turn the names around, especially if I am going too fast.
But in this case I have the names correct. When Cain was born, Eve called him Cain – saying, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
Cain was something. The heir apparent, the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent – in Eve’s mind.
Our natural religion is that God is bound to be impressed with our religious services. Cain was the first Pharisee – no faith in the promise, because he didn’t need it. He was something. He was the man from the Lord.
When Abel was born, Eve called his name Abel – which means vapor, wind, vanity – nothing. He was a nobody. He wasn’t a somebody like Cain. He was the other, he was “whatev’s”
The only thing he had was the he believed the promise – that God would provide a sacrifice for sins.
So when Abel was accepted and Cain was rejected, natural order was overturned, Cain’s religion was proven faulty.
God put Abel over Cain because Abel had something that Cain would never have. The righteousness of Christ imputed to him.
This is why Cain killed him. This is why the cross is an offense. This is why Jesus was crucified.
Cain is the Jew of Romans 10 seeking to establish their own righteousness and not accepting the righteousness which is by faith.
Cain is the Pharisee of Luke 18:
I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
I can see Cain saying the same thing, over his offering of the fruit of the ground:
I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like this nobody over here. I thank thee that I can bring this great offering, this astounding offering, this offering that is the greatest, most wonderful, most supreme offering of all. And that I am not like the loser that is my brother “Nobody”
But God rejected Cain and his offering.
Cain was something, but salvation is only for the nobodies. Christ came only for those who take up their crosses – reckon themselves dead, nobody, poor.
Jesus died for the nobodies.
They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mk. 2:17)
Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Lk. 18:22)
So I had the names right. I should have explained it better, I guess.