By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous. Hebrews 11:4.
These two brothers, Cain and Abel, represent the whole human family. They were both tested on the point of obedience, and all will be tested as they were. Abel bore the proving of God. He revealed the gold of a righteous character, the principles of true godliness. But Cain’s religion had not a good foundation; it rested on human merit. He brought to God something in which he had a personal interest—the fruits of the ground, which had been cultivated by his toil; and he presented his offering as a favor done to God through which he expected to secure the divine approval. He obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice, but it was only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out….
Both were sinners, and both acknowledged the claims of God as an object of worship. To all outward appearance, their religion was the same up to a certain point of time; but the Bible history shows us that there was a time when the difference between the two became very great. This difference lay in the obedience of one and the disobedience of the other.
The apostle says that Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law which had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future Sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and, trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous and his offering accepted.
How did Abel know so well the plan of salvation? Adam taught it to his children and grandchildren…. After Adam had sinned, a feeling of terror seized him. A constant dread was upon him; shame and remorse tortured his soul. In this state of mind he wished to be as far removed as possible from the presence of God, whom he had so loved to meet in his Eden home. But the Lord followed this conscience-stricken man, and while He condemned the sin of which Adam had been guilty, gave him words of gracious promise.—Signs of the Times, December 23, 1886.