I have heard the story of God’s rejection of Cain’s fruit offering preached and taught many times, yet never once has the reason for God’s rejection, seemed or felt, correct. Never once, until today, has an explanation of the reason for God’s rejection, rung true within me.
The story is quite short and is found in Genesis 4: 1-7 as follows:
“And Adam knew Eve his wife. And she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from Jehovah. And she bore again, his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the end of days, it happened, Cain brought to Jehovah an offering of the fruit of the ground.
And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat of it. And Jehovah had respect to Abel and to his offering, but He did not have respect to Cain and to his offering. And Cain glowed with anger, and his face fell.
And Jehovah said to Cain, “Why have you angrily glowed? And why did your face fall? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at the door; and its desire is for you, and you shall rule over it.””
From here the story is perhaps even better known, with the relevant Bible verses quoted even in the secular world. For after God’s rejection, Cain killed his brother Abel and was cursed and driven away by God, to become a fugitive and vagabond for the rest of his life.
The story quoted above, beginning at Chapter 4 finds Adam and Eve together after being evicted from Eden. They start a family and Cain and Able are their first two sons; Cain becoming a tiller of the soil, a farmer and Abel, a keeper of sheep, a shepherd. At their first harvest time, both brothers prepare an offering for God and present it to Him. Cain’s offering was fruit of the ground. Abel’s offering was the firstlings of the flock, together with the fat.
What happened next was that God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. Cain immediately ‘glowed with anger’ and was downcast, such that God spoke to him about it. As the eldest brother, I can well attest to the fits of pique, the fits of righteous anger or temper, which sibling rivalry can bring to such occasion. Cain was exhibiting all the modern day signs of teenage immaturity and self-righteousness brought on by embarrassment in the face of sibling rivalry. Ultimately, Cain’s hot-headedness boiled over and he went on to kill his brother shortly thereafter.
That apart, and getting back to the story, what is interesting to note here is the detail in the description of Cain’s offering. The Bible says it was an “offering of the fruit of the ground.” Usually, we would shorten such a sentence to simply say an “offering of fruit.” After all, we all know where fruit comes from – it hangs from trees. But in this case, it was “the fruit of the ground.” The Bible is being very clear and very specific here, both in English and in the original Hebrews and in both, the meanings are the same.
More interesting, none of the 13 commentaries which I have just checked, have recorded this, for it relates directly to the reason for God’s rejection of Cain’s offering.
Let us go back to Genesis 3 and review what happened. After Adam and Eve had violated God’s wishes and eaten the forbidden fruit, God first spoke to the serpent (v14-15) and then to the woman (v16) and then he spoke to Adam, v17-19, saying to Adam:
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it!
The ground is cursed for your sake.
In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life.
It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken.
For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
What was the first thing which God cursed as a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion? The ground; the same ground from which Cain had taken his offering to present to God.
As Pastor Derek Prince says “We grow proud of our own good works, and become like Cain who offered to God the fruit of the ground, which God had cursed. That is a picture of our old nature in operation. Our old nature is under the curse of God, and whatever we give Him from it, is an offering from something which He has declared curse. There is no way that it will ever be acceptable to God.”
These words from Derek Prince in his book “Called to Conquer” just resonated with me as being the correct reason for Cain’s offering being rejected by God. Cain had presented to God the fruit of that which God had cursed; the ground. A detailed study of the texts confirmed to me that this is the correct interpretation and understanding. Re-reading 13 E-sword Bible commentaries, to check if any of the writers have received God’s teaching revelation for Genesis 4:4, it is clear they have not. Reading them in hindsight, it is clear that they are wallowing in fleshy reasoning, in this particular verse. The words from Derek Prince cut clear to the truth and the truth is so clear and simple once it is revealed.
Thank You Lord for the work of Your servant Derek Prince. Thank You for the teaching revelation You gave him. Thank You Lord that I now know and understand why You rightly rejected Cain’s fruit offering. Amen.
This post is based a teaching of “Called to Conquer: Finding Your Assignment in the Kingdom of God” by Derek Prince.