‘And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.’ Genesis 4:3–5
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 1 Samuel 16:1–13
If any say, ‘Is God then a respecter of persons?’ I answer, God respects not persons of men so as to be influenced by any outward differences between one man and another, which is the proper sense of the word. He does not prefer the rich to the poor, the wise to the ignorant, or the mighty to the mean. The cry of a beggar will enter the ear of the Lord of hosts and obtain a gracious answer as soon as the cry of a king. Yet in the dispensation of his grace he is sovereign, he gives what none has a right to demand, to whom he pleases. Cain and Abel were both born in sin. He might have rejected them both, and in preferring one to the other he exercised his undoubted right to do what he will with his own. This is mortifying doctrine to the pride of man—but as it gives all the glory of salvation to the Lord, so it provides the surest ground of peace to an awakened soul, when taken in connection with the rest of his Word. When you know yourselves, you will soon see that if it was not thus you could not be saved at all.
Observe: though the ways of God are sovereign, they are just and equal. Though he gives not a full account of his matters, yet he reveals enough not only to silence our cavils but to satisfy our doubts.
FOR MEDITATION: ‘What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.… Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?’ (Romans 9:14–16, 19–21).
SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 11 [2/4], GENESIS 4:3–5