“Eve… bore Cain” (Genesis 4:1), whose name literally means, “I have gotten; I possess.”
“She bore again… his brother Abel” (4:2). Abel is translated, “vapor,” “futility,” or “breath.”
“At the end of days” (Genesis 4:3), each made an offering—Cain, “of the fruit of the ground;” Abel, “of the firstborn of his flock.” God had no regard for Cain and his offering, but he did have regard for Abel and his offering. He said to Cain, “Why has your face fallen? If you do well (good), will you not be lifted?” So, Cain slew Abel, and God made Cain to wander in the land of wandering, just like the scapegoat set to wander in the wilderness bearing the iniquity of Israel.
Then Eve bore “Seth” (Genesis 4:25), whose name means “God has appointed; God has chosen.” Genesis 5:1, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day God created adam (man)… Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Adam (Mankind).”
Immediately we learn seven fascinating and counter-intuitive things:
#1. The story of Cain and Abel is the story of the creation of you and me.
#2. All of us like to make “offerings,” as if our life is to be an offering.
#3. When the Lord kicked us out of Eden, he kicked himself out of Eden. He is with them.
#4. Doing “good things” doesn’t mean “good things” will happen to you… east of Eden. And yet you will be “lifted.”
#5. Trying to be good, can make you very bad. “Do-gooders” are often “do-badders.”
#6. It is tough to know what is good and what is evil.
#6 is particularly surprising in Genesis 4, since Adam and Eve have just taken fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 3. And God has just said, “The Adam has become like one of us knowing Good and evil. Now lest he reach out his hand and take also (or ‘take again’) from the Tree of Life and live without dying… Therefore, God sent him out of the garden.”
Humanity knows good and evil, but we must not know it well, or we know it/him in the wrong way. From the Tree in the Middle of the Garden, as we crucified the Good and chose the evil, he cried, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Hebrews 5:4 reveals that only the mature can distinguish Good from evil.
It’s like the fruit from the tree works, but it may take a lifetime (or longer), and in the process we will die and, hopefully, rise such that we will never be dead again.
What makes one offering good and another offering evil?
And why are they making offerings at all?
Does God need sheep or bread and wine?
He just made everything that’s anything, and all that he makes is good.
So evil must be the absence of good, like an empty place—a place of non-creation, within creation, waiting to be created.
Cain’s sorrow, anger, and envy reveal that he wanted something in return for his offering, which reveals that his “offering” wasn’t actually an offering; he gave to get. If your name was “I possess,” you might expect to be repaid for your “will and exertion” with gratitude, validation, and love. Cain expected to earn God’s Love. He attempted to exalt himself and was humbled. He did evil.
Abel did “good” (well) and he was “lifted.” Humble, he was exalted… even at the altar and at work in the field. That’s why Cain slew him. He attempted to take the Good, just as his parents took the Good from the tree, just as we all crucify the Christ in the garden of Calvary.
Abel is literally “hebel” in Hebrew. It is next to nothing.
“Ruach” means breath, and often refers to the breath of our Creator.
“Neshamah” means breath. And is used to refer to the breath of life in us.
“Hebel” means breath… like a breath that has been breathed into clay, like vapor in an empty place, like a breath no longer breathed.
God breathed into Adam, and Adam held his breath… and died.
Abel offered a lamb, but he knew that he didn’t make the lamb; he could only slay the lamb. He offered it, along with his nothing. He didn’t give in order to get. So why did he give?
Perhaps giving was its own reward?
The best offering is given for no reason, for it is the reason.
Love is the reason, and God is Love. There is no “why” for God… or Love
And Heaven is what God does, which is where, when, and how God is.
If you don’t love Love, Heaven will burn you like fire, for God is Fire, and God is Love.
You might as well go stand in the outer darkness, for that is what you have chosen—it is your judgment.
When God disregards Cain’s offering, he disregards Cain’s Hell; he disregards Cain’s ego—that thing that traps Cain’s “hebel” in Hell. And yet, the humbled will be exalted—that is God’s Judgment: Grace.
On the tree in the garden, the Logic of Love lifts his head, crying, “Father, forgive. They know not… It is finished [that’s the ‘end of days’], and into your hands I commit my ‘spirit.’”
But Jesus wouldn’t have said “spirit;” He would have said, “ruach,” “neshamah,” or “hebel”—that is “Abel.”
He expired Abel, and Abel was lifted into the lungs of God. Able was inspired by God.
“We become one spirit with him,” wrote Paul. It’s called “faith.” Faith is choosing to lose your life and find it; it is breathing.
And that is #7. Abel offered a slaughtered lamb, for a slaughtered lamb offered Abel from the foundation of the world.
Cain must have glanced up at the Lord as he made his “offering” and then, immediately, looked down. He had too much to lose; he had a lot of ego to protect
Abel looked… and never looked away from the “founder and perfector” of his faith.
Faith is what Adam lacked in the Garden; with faith we are finished in the image of God; faith is God’s choice, his judgment, free will, birthed in you.
To do good, worship the One who is Good, until you become the good that is done.
You will become what you truly are: the breath of the Living God.