“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

Abel was a shepherd. His Hebrew name means “breath” or “vapor” and well describes his brief life. As the second son of Adam, he was a faithful worshiper of God. He understood the significance of the sacrificial system instituted when his father and mother sinned and were cast from Eden.

When Abel brought “the firstborn of his flock” (Genesis 4:4), he was acknowledging his trust in the perfect Lamb of God who would one day be slain for sin. He knew his brother’s offering of fruit was a rebellious declaration against God. Cain exalted his own efforts at righteousness while Abel humbled himself as a sinner who needed a Saviour.

Cain and Abel depict the great conflict between Satan and Christ. The Son of God, who also identified Himself as the Son of man, is hated by the devil. The story of the first murder signals the ultimate murder, when the rage of Satan drove evil men to crucify Jesus. The blood of Abel “still speaks” to us because he was a shadow of Christ.

Abel’s “more excellent sacrifice” pointed to Christ, the perfect offering for sin. Jesus was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). The lamb slain by Abel represented the coming “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Abel was not made perfect through his own works. He “was righteous” through the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary.

So far as we know, Abel sleeps in the grave awaiting the resurrection shout of the Life-giver. Until then, this Bible character’s life “still speaks” to us. Are you listening?

Lamb of God, I come, not with my own unrighteous works, but through Your death I come to receive the gift of salvation.

For Further Study: Matthew 23:35; John 1:29; Heb. 9:22; 12:4

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