For the past 7 or 8 years, I have been struggling with Scripture. Some days it almost literally feels like I am wrestling with the Bible. There is all my theological education on one side, screaming at me “Count the number of times the people in white t-shirts pass the ball!” and then there is a still, small voice over on the side saying, “Yes, but did you notice … ?”
Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice, but accepted Abel’s? It had nothing to do with what each man brought, but rather, the condition of their hearts. Sacrifices and offerings were not God’s idea. He doesn’t need them and He didn’t ask for them. What matters most to God is the heart of the worshiper; not his gifts.
In Genesis 4, Cain did not offer a sacrifice to God because God had commanded them to make sacrifices. No, Cain was trying to give God back His fruit. Cain was trying to please and appease God, and hopefully, gain a way for himself and his family to reenter the Garden of Eden. He was trying to fulfill the expectations of his parents.
Many believe that Genesis 3:21 teaches that God performed the first sacrifice when he made tunics of skin for Adam and Eve. But is this correct? There are numerous other theories about where the skin came from and what kind of skin it was. We read substitutionary atonement and the sacrificial system into Genesis 3:21 at our own theological peril.
If a basic rule of hermeneutics is that the simpler and clearer texts should override the more difficult and troubling texts, and if Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God so that He can say “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,” why do we choose to let the more troubling, difficult, and violent texts override and trump the loving, merciful, and Christlike texts?