Abel


Abel

 

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.[b] She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth[c] a man.”  Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.  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. And Abel also brought an offering—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.

 

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 rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

 

 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”  “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4 1-ff, NIV)

 

Abel was the second born son of Adam and Eve and he took care of livestock. His work honored God…but his brother, Cain,  became jealous. God warned Cain about his anger, but he did not pay attention…he allowed the hatred to consume him,  and he murdered Abel. 

 

So Cain was the first person to ever kill another person—this is the first murder ever committed and the first death ever record.  

 

Why did he do this?  Why did he get so angry?   I’ve seen anger like this lately, both in my home and on the TV and reported in the papers.  People are killing people in hatred like never before.  With Cain, it was jealousy, disgust with himself and an annoyance each time he saw his brother of how someone should have been living versus how he was living.  Abel was killed precisely because he did the right thing, was walking in the light  and was honoring God.  If we live like Abel, we might end up the same——people like Cain are all around us.  In fact, let’s not fool ourselves,  we have the same DNA as Cain. The generations that came from Abel, his younger brother (Seth) and other siblings were all lost in the flood. Noah’s lineage comes from Cain. He is great, great grandfather—-not Abel or Seth.  His sin is in our DNA.

 

There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Jesus speaks of him as "righteous" ( Matthew 23:35 ) and  Hebrews 11:4  tells us that "Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." This sacrifice was made "by faith;" this faith rested in the assurance that God would accept what he offered, because Abel knew in his heart that he as offering his best to God—-out of love for God.  Abel's offering was accepted of God—because God looked at the heart of Abel and judged it—-only God can do that.. Cain's offering had no such regard by God—something was wrong and it was therefore was rejected. 

 

And so a jealous man killed a righteous man.  Abel was the first martyr, as he was the first of our race to die.  But other men and women are still dying because they stand for what is right. We don’t talk about it in our national discourse anymore, but there is  “right and wrong”, and people still get killed for doing righteous acts.

 

So quick synopsis of Abel:

 

1. He was a shepherd—the first shepherd.  There’s a connection here.  Jesus was called the “good shepherd” and King David and other heroes of the Bible were shepherds. It’s good to be a shepherd, it would appear, even though some folks looked down on shepherds. So Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground," thus representing the two fundamental essential pursuits of civilized life, the two earliest subdivisions and competition of the human race.

 

2. Abel worshipped God.  We’re told that  “in process of time," the two brothers came in a solemn manner to sacrifice unto God, in order to express their gratitude to Him whose tenants they were in the land (Genesis 4:3,4, NIV)   How and why God signified His acceptance of the one offering and rejection of the other, we are never told. That it was due to the difference in the material of the sacrifice or in their manner of offering was probably the belief among the early Israelites, who regarded animal offerings as superior to cereal offerings. Both kinds, however, were fully in accord with Hebrew law and custom.  It was not the offering, but the heart that God judged.

 

3. Abel was a righteous man:  The true reason for the Divine preference is doubtless to be found in the disposition of the brothers. Well-doing consisted not in the outward offering (Genesis 4:7) but in the right state of mind and feeling. The acceptability depends on the inner motives and moral characters of the offerers. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Hebrews 11:4). The "more abundant sacrifice,"  suggests the deeper gratitude of Abel, and shows a fuller sense of the claims of God to the best. Cain's "works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:12).   Cain's heart was no longer pure; it had a criminal propensity, springing from envy and jealousy, which rendered both his offering and person unacceptable. His evil works and hatred of his brother culminated in the act of murder, specifically evoked by the opposite character of Abel's works and the acceptance of his offering. The evil man cannot endure the sight of goodness in another. 

 

So a quick recap:

 

a. Abel is the first martyr (Matthew 23:35).  He did nothing wrong—-neither did Jesus—and was murdered.  His life was righteous and it annoyed another man.  That’s what righteous men and women do—-they really get under the skin of those that are not righteous—-they annoy them.

 

b. The first two brothers in history stand as the types and representatives of the two main and enduring divisions of mankind, and bear witness to the absolute antithesis.  But remember, we all hail from Cain……not Abel.  His lineage died when he died.  The struggle continues….

 

c. God did not execute Cain for murder. In the 8th chapter of Genesis God requires death for a murderer——but not here. Why?  Because we are all descended from Cain and he had not yet established the law for murder.

 

d. What about Adam and Eve’s loss?  They had never experienced death or the loss of someone they loved. Now they lost both—-one banished and one murdered.  The had another son, but Adam and Eve went to their graves grieving the loss of two sons.

 

But this morning I want to speak as Karl Barth once suggested: “We must preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”   That is, our preaching should be relevant to what’’s happening right now.   As I was praying about this devotion about  Abel, I read an article, the very next day, about a candidate for mayor in the northern city of Ciudad Obregón.  Two weeks ago this candidate  was handing out fliers on a crowded street corner, it was May 13.   Music played from loudspeakers. He smiled and chatted with passersby.

 

Suddenly, two men approached and shot him 10 times in the face, neck and chest. As the 58-year-old lawyer and former state prosecutor lay dying, his killers walked off calmly and terrified bystanders ran for cover.  

 

Across Mexico, variations on that scene have played out in the run-up to midterm elections for this coming week.  This vote Mexico is shaping up as the most bloody in recent memory as more, smaller criminal gangs viciously compete to control local areas by intimidating or killing off politicians.

 

This year, from February to April, 46 elected officials and candidates for office were killed.  Since September, when the electoral process began, 82 politicians have been killed.

 

More than 60 candidates for mayor withdrew from the campaign across the country amid the spiral of violence and insecurity. One candidate, a former Olympic athlete, was kidnapped for several hours last week by members of a local gang in Valle de Bravo, a high-end weekend retreat for Mexico City residents. The gangsters threatened to kill her if she didn’t quit the race.  It worked….she quit and has not campaigned since.

 

The June 6 contest will elect a new lower house of congress, 15 of 32 state governors, and thousands of mayors and local legislators across the country, more than 20,000 positions in all.

 

Behind the rise in violence are the evolving dynamics of Mexico’s organized crime. In recent years, drug cartels have diversified into new criminal activities. Aside from trafficking drugs to the U.S., these gangs smuggle migrants, sell black-market gasoline, and extort legal businesses which range from avocado farms to taco stands. Once in control of local governments, the gangs also take a cut of tax money meant for public works, according to organizations that track and analyze crime trends.   “We’re all fed up that the criminals control our streets” is what this candidate for the major of Ciudad Obregón (“see you dad”   “oh bray gone”) had written on his posters and flyers.

 

In March, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command. Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, said that criminal organizations control “ungoverned areas” that account for about one-third of Mexico’s territory.

 

The murder rate in Mexico is six times higher than the U.S.  Nearly 200 mafia groups operate in Mexico, but crimes are rarely solved: In 2019, just 3 out of 1000  crimes ended with prosecutors filing charges and bringing the accused before a judge

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Analysts say the wave of political violence is mainly the result of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s policies.  “The government has no policy to contain these criminal organizations,” said Guillermo Valdés, a former head of Mexico’s intelligence agency.

Mexican security officials said they need more time for their security strategy of “hugs not bullets” work.  They believe that by hugging thugs and criminals they can stop the blood shed.

 

Despite his campaign against organized crime, this candidate for major of Ciudad Obregón had no bodyguards or protection from Mexican security forces. “He always said he was an honest man who had nothing to fear,” his friends said.  

 

“The candidate for mayor told me he was going against organized crime and crooked police,” said Adrian LeBaron, the father of one of the victims of another gang massacre, who was scheduled to meet with him to discuss his family’s case the day after the candidate was killed. “Elections in Mexico are about who controls the local turf. Any candidate who will have an impact on organized crime is killed.”

 

Hours before the attack, the candidate gave his last interview to Tribuna, a local newspaper, saying criminals had taken over the city’s streets and businesses. “That’s why I want to participate in this election, to change the situation,” he told Tribuna. “I mean it. And I’m not afraid.”  He was murdered two weeks ago and left a widow, three children and two small grandchildren.

 

What caught my attention in this article was the  mayoral candidate’s name: Mr. Murrieta….. Mr.  Abel Murrieta…….his name was Abel, and he died for being righteous, courageous, and Godly.  The world does not like men of faith, integrity and courage like Mr Abel—-and we need more of them. 

 


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