To have been in the beginning. To have witnessed God breathe life into a lump of clay, and watch as it became animated, aware, possessing a sharp intellect and the knowledge that it had been created.
To have beheld as a garden grew out of nothingness, the tenderness with which God placed Adam in said garden, and the care that He took in making a comparable mate for him. It would have been a sight to see Adam's reaction upon his first encounter with Eve, to watch as they walked through Eden hand in hand.
The age of innocence had passed now they had known shame and covered themselves with fig leaves, realizing that feeling shame was not nearly enough incentive to break God's heart, and disobey His command. But alas, it was too late to go back to the way it was.
Even the first man knew how to pass blame as did the first woman, and the serpent, much like the last child to find a seat in a game of musical chairs, had no one to pass the blame to.
In silence the serpent heard his sentence, then the woman, then the man.
As a parting gesture, God made both Adam and Eve tunics of skin, and clothed them, then sent them both out of the garden of Eden lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever.
Oh, how they wanted to return to paradise, how they wanted to go back to Eden, but alas, paradise lost can never be recaptured, and a cherubim with a flaming sword made certain it would stay that way. God does not take kindly to disobedience, His nature will not permit Him to overlook it.
Time passed, and the cry of a newborn pierced the night, and now the first woman and man, became the first family. They learned parenting as they went, since there were no child rearing books to be had, but even with the crying and the late nights, Eve was certain she had received a man from the Lord.
Soon after, Abel greeted the world with his piercing cries, and as he learned to crawl, then walk, then run, he realized he was very different from his brother Cain. They had their moments, as siblings do, trying to peek over the fence into the garden, asking each other questions like 'what do you think mom and dad did to make God so angry?' in hushed tones, but no one could deny that they were very different.
Their paths diverged from early youth, as Abel chose to be a keeper of sheep, predisposed to dreaming, and enjoying the quietness of solitude.
Cain, chose to work the cursed earth, he was a tiller, sun beating down as he plowed, and planted, plucked weeds and often watered his harvest with the sweat of his brow.
Cain was not an atheist, he was religious, for it was Cain who first brought offering to God. He made an altar of stone, offering the fruit of the ground, to the Lord.
Abel on the other hand, took and brought before the Lord of the first lings of his flock, and of their fat. Perhaps Cain looked upon the butchering of the lamb with disgust. Both knew that there could be no forgiveness or atonement without the shedding of blood, but while Abel believed this, Cain did not.
The reason that God accepted one offering and rejected the other, had nothing to do with what the two brothers offered up to Him, but had everything to do with the heart and mindset with which these offerings were made. When Cain saw that his offering had not been accepted, rather than ask why this was, he became angry. The Lord, then spoke to Cain, and explained that the reason his offering had been rejected, was due to the fact that his heart, did not mirror his actions.
Genesis 4:6-7, "So the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you but you should rule over it."
Cain's offering was not a sacrifice, or a means of worship to a false God, but a false and insincere sacrifice and means of worship to the one true God.
Cain's religiosity, too refined and elevated to kill a lamb, did not hesitate in murdering Abel, because religiosity has no scruples, it has no mercy. Religiosity is rooted in tradition, in custom, in ritual and ceremony. It is a formality, there is no true emotion, but merely going through the motions.
Cain's offering came from a place where if he performed these specific tasks, if he fasted so much, and said so many prayers, and dressed a certain way he would be saved.
Abel's offering on the other hand, came from a place wherein because he believed in the Lamb of God, as a natural progression and continuation of his faith in Christ, he would fast, and pray, and dress decently, and wait upon the Lord in righteousness.
The religious man will always be more concerned with his outwardly appearance, than his inward condition. As long as others perceive him as being religious, he is unconcerned with the fact that his heart is not what it should be, that sin is festering below the surface, and that his actions are absent of convictions.
On the other hand, one who is sincere in his desire to know God, to have an intimate relationship with Him, is unconcerned about the image he projects to the world, he does not perform rituals or customs because others are watching, but love compels him to follow after Christ, and surrender his heart in its totality to Him.
May we do well in the sight of God, that our offerings may be accepted. Whether they be offerings of praise, worship, prayer or supplication, God sees the heart with which these acts were performed, and it is based on the condition of the heart that He either accepts or rejects the offerings we bring before Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.