"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." Hebrews 11:4
Can you imagine if your family was the only family in the whole world? Can you imagine being one of the first people ever to see this brand new, wonderful world God had created? There probably would have been giant trees and plants everywhere, and beautiful animals crawling and walking around. The animals probably weren't very scary. They were probably all very kind and gentle, and no one or nothing had anything to be afraid of. There were gigantic creatures of the sea, and magnificent birds flying through the air... Wouldn’t that all be so incredible?
Well, Abel was a boy who lived in the very first family, not long after the world was created. I’m sure you have heard of his parents, Adam and Eve. That’s right, the couple that ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Abel had surely heard about how his parents ate the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. He had surely been told how important it was to obey God and how sorry his parents were that they had ever disobeyed. And Abel must have listened carefully to his parents, and he believed what they said. He had faith in God and he wanted to obey God's instructions.
Abel had an older brother, too. Do any of you have an older brother? Does anyone know the name of Abel’s brother? Yes, His name was Cain. Cain and Abel had many brothers and sisters, we just don’t know their names or when they were all born.
Now, Abel apparently had a heart that wanted to be good and do right, but his brother Cain didn’t have quite the same heart. He only obeyed because he had to, and he was more concerned about himself than anyone else…even God.
We can’t be for sure on the things that the Bible doesn't tell us, but it seems as though Adam and Eve had taught Cain and Abel that, at a certain time (I suspect, the last day of the week which is called the Sabbath, or “the end of days”) they were supposed to give an offering unto the Lord. We give offerings to God today, we usually put money in the offering plate and call it our "offering." Well, they didn’t really have money back then. Who would they have bought from? So they gave to God from the things they were able to give.
Cain was a farmer. He had been taught how to till the ground and plant seeds and grow all sorts of food. So, he brought a bunch of his brand new crops that he had grown. He probably made them look real pretty and arranged them all neatly in a basket (bring out a basket of fresh or plastic fruit and vegetables to show kids and sit them on an “altar”), but when Cain gave God his offering, somehow God didn’t seem to be happy.
Abel, was a shepherd. He had been taught how to take care of sheep (take out a stuffed, toy sheep). Every day he got to know the sheep. From the time they were tiny lambs, he would have loved them and took good care of them. He would probably cut off their wool when it got really thick, like people do when they want to make coats or sweaters. Can you imagine him saying, “Now sit still little lamb, this won’t hurt. You will be done in a minute and then you can go play and eat grass.” After he cut off the wool, he would laugh as he watched the funny-looking, naked, little lamb run off and play. But when it was time to give an offering up to the Lord, what could Abel give? He could borrow some fruit and vegetables from his brother Cain, but it wouldn’t be a sacrifice because a sacrifice means giving up something that is yours and it means a lot to you.
I believe Abel probably looked down at one of his little lambs. Maybe with tears in his eyes he said, “God made everything. Everything is His. If He wants one of my little lambs I will give it to Him. After all, God has been so good to me.”
Watching the little lamb play, he knew he needed to take one of the lambs. He would have to kill it on the altar and sacrifice it to the Lord. So he grabbed a little lamb, probably the finest one he had, and he sacrificed it on the altar to God.
And God seemed to smile upon Abel, and the Bible says that God had respect unto Abel and his offering. He approved of it and He accepted it. This upset Cain, but God said, "Why are you upset, Cain? If you do well, you will be accepted, too." But Cain didn't do right, and he was very jealous of Abel. This jealousy proves that Cain did not have the right heart.
Cain’s anger grew worse and worse until one day, he was talking to Abel in the field, and he picked something up (maybe a stone or a branch of a tree) and he murdered his brother with it… Now this was the first time anyone had killed another person, but believe me, Cain got in big trouble with God and was punished for the rest of his life. He was cast away to another place, and when he tried to farm, no vegetables or fruit would come up. He was cursed for the rest of his life. As for Abel, he got to go to Heaven to be with the Lord. Even though his brother hated him for it, Abel gave the greatest offering he could give, and he is listed in the Bible as one of the great men of faith.
Now, don't you think it is strange that God would be happy with the sacrifice of a little lamb that Abel loved? Let me tell you something special about Abel’s sacrifice. The lamb Abel sacrificed was a picture of Jesus who would one day come and be killed. Do you know that God let His Son, Jesus, be killed to pay the price for our sins. The Bible says Jesus laid down His life, and it pleased God! It was the greatest sacrifice that could be given, and it was the only sacrifice that could save the world from dying and going to Hell. We don’t have to die on a cross like Jesus did in order to pay for our sins. Neither do we have to sacrifice lambs to God anymore, because Jesus has already come and been sacrificed.
You know, Jesus didn’t stay dead though. He rose up and walked around again. He talked to the ones who loved Him while He was here. Then He told them to tell the world how they can be saved now because Jesus paid the price of our sins. All they have to do is believe on Him and trust that His sacrifice was enough to get us to Heaven. Then He went up to Heaven and watches over us until one day we too can be in Heaven with Him.
That’s why we want to tell you about this story, because we love Jesus so much, and we are glad that we are saved from the punishment of sin, which is Hell. We want everyone to be saved from that punishment as well so that one day when they die, they too can go live with God in Heaven. If you have not been saved, we would like to talk to you some more about what that means, and give you a chance to be saved today? You can do that.
Let's bow our heads and pray...