â€œWoe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.â€ (Jude 1:11)
Jude compares the awful examples of three Old Testament characters to leaders in the New Testament church who have used their influence for evil. Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve and had every opportunity to excel. Yet he chose a â€œwayâ€ that not only ended in the horrible murder of his brother but also resulted in an entire culture in rebellion against God.
The murder was preceded by a flagrant disobedience that was expressed when the family came to offer their sacrifices to the Creator. Cain brought an offering of the â€œfruitâ€ of his own labor from tilling the ground. Abelâ€™s offering was a â€œfirstlingâ€ from the flock that he kept (Genesis 4:3-5). Why did God â€œrespectâ€ Abelâ€™s offering and not Cainâ€™s?
Godâ€™s commentary on this event (Hebrews 11:4) tells us that Abel â€œobtained witnessâ€ that his sacrifice was a righteous action that testified of his obedience. The Genesis account does not give much information, but it is clear that the first family were following instructionsâ€”likely emulating the sacrifice that God made to clothe Adam and Eve after they sinned (Genesis 3:21).
Cain began a â€œwayâ€ many years before (a lifestyle, a broad road) that turned his heart away from simple obedience to Godâ€™s instructions. Cainâ€™s occupation (farmer) was certainly OK. He provided food for the growing world population. But when the regular sacrifice came due, Cain decided that he would â€œshowâ€ God his own works rather than follow Godâ€™s requirement of bringing an innocent life in sacrifice.
That way, of course, is the way â€œwhich seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of deathâ€ (Proverbs 14:12). HMM III