You have come to Mount Zion ... to God, the judge of all ... and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Heb 1222-24
What does the blood of Abel say?
And what does the blood of Jesus say?
Both can be summed up in a single word - Justice!
The blood of Abel
The first family was not a happy one. Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve was an arable farmer. Abel, the second son, became a shepherd. There was no recorded quarrel about land or water or even a wife. So what caused the strife? Jealousy.
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Gen 43
Cain’s offering seems careless, just ‘some of the fruits’. It seems that he had little respect or desire for Almighty God. His half-hearted offering lacked any real sincerity. But Abel brought the best, ‘the fat portions’ of ‘the firstborn’. To him, God was vital, important. His longing heart desired his righteous presence. In Heb 114 we are told that it was ‘by faith’ that his offering was an acceptable sacrifice. He knew about sin and why his parents had to be thrown out of Eden. He knew about his own sin, so his offering was a sacrifice. Although it was his best, he realised that it could never be good enough. His faith (the assurance of things hoped for Heb 111) was that there would come a day when a perfect sacrifice would be made that could bring God’s forgiveness for his sin. And thus we read; the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering. How did God show his favour? Probably his lambs were healthy and numerous. His shepherding was obviously blessed by God. But Cain’s crops always seemed to wither, get diseased, or overcome by weeds. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. He became jealous of his younger brother, who seemed to prosper so easily.
The Lord God saw the family problem developing, so he spoke to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Such is the grace of God, who knew how this jealousy would end if not stopped. But Cain chose to totally ignore God’s warning. Like Judas, who ignored Jesus at the last supper when he told the disciples that one of them would betray him. And it had the same result - “Satan entered him.” Jn 1327
Cain immediately went out and killed Abel. Jealousy is a deadly sin.
This first murder was no surprise to God, who immediately confronted Cain. “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground ...” The ever attentive God heard the cry of Abel’s blood. But what was the cry? This came some 2,500 years before Moses declared God’s law of ‘an eye for and eye’. Lev 2417 None the less, the cry called for justice. God did not execute the death penalty upon Cain. In this case he declared, “And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
What was Cain’s reaction? Did he plead with God for mercy? No, not even a hint of regret; such is the evil power of jealousy. Like ‘the one talent man’ in the parable that Jesus told, Cain had no love for God and thought he was ‘a hard man’. The word of God only records, Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD. How great must be the eternal regret of such a foolish decision.
The righteous blood of Abel called for justice and Almighty God applied it, but it was Cain’s choice to go away from the presence of the Lord. Sin separates. Light and darkness can never abide together.
The blood of Christ
The blood of Jesus did not call for justice upon those who ‘hated him without reason’ and determined to crucify him. In the midst of his agony, Jesus pleaded, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Lu 2334
So what was the cry of his blood? The answer is simple, yet most profound.
Firstly the writer to the Hebrews tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Heb 922 But there is a strict proviso that throughout the Old Testament the sacrifices had to be without blemish - but they never were, nor could they be. However they continually pointed to the day when God would provide the sacrifice that was perfect and totally without sin. (Gen 228,14) The blood shed by the Son of God on Calvary was perfect and thus is the only blood that can provide the forgiveness of sin. But Jesus never sinned and thus did not need forgiveness. Secondly, in stark comparison, every man and woman ever born has a sinful nature. No parent has to teach their child to lie, be jealous or deceitful - it is natural! We are all in need of God’s forgiveness. And as we have just seen, forgiveness can only be gained by the shedding of perfect blood, and ours is not. But God revealed the answer to Moses in the feasts of Israel. There are two events that prepare for the feast of Tabernacles that celebrates God dwelling with men. There are 10 days of ‘Trumpets’ being blown. A time when men heed the warning of God. A time of repentance, confession and pleading for mercy. This ends with the Day of Atonement, (Yom Kippur). On this day men are assured of God’s forgiveness. The detail is revealed in Lev 16. There are two goats. One is sacrificed for the sins of the people. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat. The two important acts here are the sacrifice needed for sin and the transference of sin to another. Of course these two goats could never gain forgiveness. But for 1,500 years they pointed to Jesus Christ, who alone takes upon himself all our sin and guilt. His perfect blood thus gains our forgiveness. He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Is 535
This is what the perfect atoning blood of Christ cries out; ‘I have paid in full the price that forgiveness requires’. His last words while hanging on the Cross were, “It is finished”. The price had been paid in full. Guilty, repentant, believing men are made perfectly clean. Justice is totally satisfied. There is no outstanding debt.
The justice that his ‘sprinkled blood’ achieves is far, far better than the blood of Abel. They confirmed that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro 623
The concluding question is do we hear the cry of the blood?
Or are we so deafened or deceived by all the enticing toys that the world displays, that we fail to respond to the call of God who asks us to be his forgiven friends?
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me ... come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant ...” Is 551-3
Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Heb 927,28