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What Does the Bible Say About … CAIN’S OFFERING?

When Cain and Abel both came to God with offerings, why did God favor one over the other? Wouldn’t that help create feelings of unworthiness afterwards?

When I was young and I read this story I was puzzled as well that Cain’s offering was rejected by God.  Why would our Heavenly Father reject an offering of delicious fruits, especially when, according to me at that time, it was better to eat fruit than eat a sacrificed lamb!  Is this a story of favouritism?  Or is there more to it than this?  Let us examine the Scriptures together.

Gen 4:2-5 “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.  The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.  So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”  NIV

Why did the Lord not look with favour on Cain’s offering? The Bible explains it in the next two verses.

Gen 4:6-7 “Then the LORD said to Cain, “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.”  NIV

This makes us understand why Cain’s offering was not looked with favour from God: Cain was not doing what was right and sin was starting to get hold of his heart. His offering was given for the wrong reasons, while his brother’s was given out of love toward God.  It almost seems that Cain’s offering was to show off what he could do (salvation by works, which does not work by the way).  Meanwhile his brother gave a thank offering to the Lord, believing the words the Lord spoke in Eden after his parents had sinned: Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  NIV 

This is confirmed in 1 John 3:12-13 “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.”  NIV

Cain’s actions were evil.  He wanted to show off.  He wanted to show how good he was.  No thankfulness towards the Lord was present.

But what about Abel’s offering?  It seems almost that Abel understood God’s salvation plan and embraced it knowing that the sacrifice of a lamb is a portrayal of a greater truth.

1 Cor 5:7 “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”  NIV

The Bible refers to Abel in Heb 11:4 “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.  By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.  And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”  NIV  and Heb 12:24  “To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” NIV Both of these texts embrace the notion that Abel had faith in God’s salvation plan.  Cain didn’t.  He thought he knew better than God.

That same message must have been given to Cain and Abel through their parents, Adam and Eve.  They had also experienced using their own works in an attempt to cover their nakedness after they had sinned.  Gen 3:7 “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” NIV

God however provided them with something much better: Gen 3:21 “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” NIV

Nothing we do can cover our sin.  Only God can do this through the sacrificial offering of His son Jesus Christ.  Works don’t work, but faith in God sure does. God demonstrated to Adam and Eve the acceptable offering by slaying an innocent animal to cover our first parents with its skin. Adam and Eve knew that animal sacrifice was the acceptable way to cover sin.

My friend, you have two choices as well. You can choose, like Cain, a path that leads to death, believing that your own works are the ones that will save you.  “Aren’t I better than the serial killer?  Aren’t I better than the rapist…?”  The fact of the truth is, maybe in human’s eyes you are better, but in God’s eyes you are not.  Rom 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” NIV You are a sinner, and a sinner who performs a lot of good works is just a sinner with good works.  It won’t save you. 

However you can choose Abel’s path and accept God’s salvation plan through His son Jesus Christ.  Only then will you be righteous and be forgiven. Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  NKJV Will you accept Him now in your life and stop trying to save yourself by your own efforts?  It is still not too late.  Why don’t you answer His call at

Rob Chaffart


Cain was of those who thought to serve God, Abel to obey Him. The religion of Cain was a sacrifice from the fruit of the earth, which God had cursed. Abel offered a blood sacrifice. Cain’s religion has a confrontation with Abel’s and God gives favor to Abel. It DID create bad feelings, as that is why he killed Abel. God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s because Abel gave God the best he could offer; whereas, Cain did not give God of the very best he had to offer?

“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. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Genesis 4:4-7, KJV)



I am a Sunday school teacher and have preached a bit. I believe it was the spirit in which the offering was made made the difference. Some people will just write a check and it is no big deal while some people have to really sacrifice to make their offering, but do so in a joyful manner.



God had set the example..of offering for sin sacrifice..Able followed God’s example, Cain did not.


I felt led to answer this one because to our “human” understanding it seems “Unfair” but as Paul Harvey says: we need to know the “rest of the story” ;and as one Bible teacher says: Context, Context, Context!

In Genesis 4:1-10 we see the REASON Cain’s offering was NOT acceptable to GOD! The LORD knows EACH heart and HE knew that in Cain was the heart of a murderer! The Lord says to Cain: “Why are you angry And why is your countenance {i.e. face- “as the part that turns” -Strong’s Concordance} fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” And, as we know Jesus held people responsible to control their anger {Matthew 5:21-26 } so much so the ANGRY person is the one who may be thrown in prison!! So, here is the reason – given BY GOD – as to why Cain’s offering was not accepted! Cain went on to kill his brother! It is ALWAYS a HEART issue! Look at how many spouses are killed IN ANGRY by their mates! See also Matthew 12:35,15:17-20;Mark 7:20-23;Luke 6:43-45!

In His Boundless Love,



The offering was not the issue, one gave vegetables, the other livestock. Either would have been acceptable to God IF: They were the best of the firstfruits, and they were joyously and freely given. Abel’s offerings made the grade, Cain’s did not. We are not told whether or not Cain’s offering itself was unacceptable, such as keeping the best for himself, and giving to God the lest perfect. We do quickly come to realize that Cain did not raise his offering in the proper spirit of thanksgiving and honor. God wants us to cheerfully give to Him, not as a duty, which it is, but because we realize that it is from God that the blessings come.

Cain’s lack of respect, of the proper heartfelt reason for giving, is quickly shown in his act of jealously murdering Abel, his own brother.

God deserves and honors our “best” gifts, given in a spirit of love and sacrifice. If we give because we feel guilty, or think this is the only way that God will bless us, or just for show, God will reject our offerings also. What God really wants is for us to have a thankful and willing heart, not one of guilt or begrudging to give.