Lesson 4 looks at God’s answer of mercy for man’s rebellion. Even when God was pronouncing judgement against the woman, he also made the first prediction of the coming savior. In Genesis 3:15, the scripture says that the woman’s seed would bruise the head of the serpent’s seed. This is also a prediction of the virgin birth.
I am sure that Adam must have wondered what it meant to “surely die.” That was the promised consequence of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God did something after pronouncing His judgement that must have been very surprising to Adam and Eve. The Lord took an animal (probably a lamb) and killed it and then clothed Adam and Eve with its skin (Genesis 3:21). The Lord used this animal as a substitutionary sacrifice. Instead of shedding Adam’s blood for his sin, the Lord shed the blood of an animal which would be a type of Christ, the Lamb of God, to come. The skins of the animal also covered their shame as Christ’s righteousness covers our shame.
The account in Genesis 4 of Cain slaying Abel is first and foremost about how sinners must approach God. Abel brought the firstlings of his flock to sacrifice to the Lord and Cain brought his best from the fruit of the field. The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering but did not have respect unto Cain and his offering. Some have taught that Cain did not bring his best to offer to God as though he brought rotten potatoes instead of the best from the ground. That is not the point here. The point of Cain and his offering being rejected is that he brought his best and man’s best is not what God desires. Our sin has to be dealt with and Abel shed the blood of the firstlings of his flock. Abel’s sin was covered by the shed blood of an animal (again probably a lamb). Cain could have presented the best of the fruit of the field after he had sacrificed a lamb for his sin. Man must make atonement for his sin before he can approach God.
The account of Cain and Abel is about the difference between man-made religion and a relationship with God. The question we should ask over and over again is, “Does my worship please God?” We (most people) rate a worship experience by how it affected us. Very seldom do we ask, was the Lord pleased today with the way I came to Him in worship? was He pleased with the songs that we sang? did the sermon exalt Jesus Christ? The first question that we have to ask is, have I been washed in the blood of the Lamb? The only way to approach the Father is through the Son. To worship the Lord, we must be made righteous by trusting in the substitionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
One last thing I would like to point out about the account of Cain and Abel is the consequences of not dealing with sin in the way that God prescribes. The reason Cain and Abel were even coming to sacrifice before God was that Adam or Eve had told them what the Lord had done in sacrificing an animal on their behalf and then clothing them with the animal’s skins. Both Cain and Abel must have had some awareness of their own sin and came to sacrifice to God for that reason. Abel’s sin was dealt with; Cain’s was not. Sin left to continue to grow becomes a monster which cannot be managed. A man will even kill his own brother if the monster is big enough. The world seeks to manage and excuse sin. God wants to wash it completely away with His own blood.
Something to notice about the Old Testament is how much is written about how God’s people were to approach Him. The Bible is full of the accounts of people who considered it a small thing to come before the Lord in worship and experienced tragic results.
Leviticus 16 contains instructions for how the high priest makes atonement for the sins of the people. He is to shed the blood of a bull for himself and a goat for a sin offering for the people. Leviticus 17 describes why God has forbidden mankind to eat blood. Leviticus 17:11 says, “11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
God has clearly said that the punishment for violating His commandments is death. (See Ezekiel 18:20.) What redemption is about is making a substitutionary payment of one life for another. Since the shed blood of animals could only temporarily cover the people’s sins, God provided His own permanent solution which was the Son of God, Jesus Christ to be the once and for all sacrifice for sins. His shed blood was valuable enough to redeem all of mankind from slavery to sin.
We will finish this lesson by looking at the perfect type in the Old Testament of the atoning death of Christ which is in Genesis 22. In this chapter, Abraham is commanded by God to offer Issac, his only son on one of the mountains of Moriah. In Genesis 22:7, Issac asked Abraham, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Verse 8 has Abraham’s answer, “8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” In verse 13, we see that God did provide a ram. The ram was sacrificed instead of Issac.
Genesis 22:8 is an interesting verse to compare in different English translations of the Bible.
King James Version (KJV)
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 Abraham said, My son, God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. So the two went on together.
English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
New International Version (NIV)
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
New King James Version (NKJV)
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
All five of these versions of scripture make clear that God will provide the sacrifice. He does in the ram caught in the thicket in verse 13. However, only the KJV in its wording looks to the time when God, Himself would be the sacrifice. One of great sins of all the newer English versions of the Bible is to diminish the deity of Jesus Christ. In the KJV, the scriptures look to the time when the Lamb of God, Immanuel (God with us), would take away the sins of the world. All of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to the time when God, the Lord Jesus Christ would provide Himself as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.