In the beginning God created an ordered, harmonious universe. It was a creation where everything had its place and function. It was a beautiful, good, and blessed creation. God also made special creatures: humans. Humans represented God in his creation. In addition, God created humans as relational beings. Humans were meant to relate to God (he walked alongside them,) to creation (they were the caretakers of the garden), and to each other (God instituted marriage and family life).
However, humans rebelled against God. God had created humanity in his image; but being in his image was not enough for them: they wanted to be like God-they wanted to be independent from God, to do with their lives as they pleased. Their rebellion overturned the order of creation. For that reason, God cursed the ground and punished humanity. God expelled humans from the garden. Thus, humanity began a journey away from the presence of God. The order of creation was broken. Relationships were also broken. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. God no longer strolls alongside us.
CAIN AND ABEL
The story of Cain and Abel illustrates well the broken relationships after the Fall: relationships with God, creation, and one another.
Brokenness with God. The need for altars and sacrifices to relate to God shows the brokenness in humanity’s relationship with him.
Brokenness with Creation. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground” (Genesis 4:10-11).
Brokenness with each other. It is the first fratricide, a man killing his brother. Cain was farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Perhaps to prove his devotion and desire to be in the presence of God. Abel brought God the best of his flock, the first-born. Cain also brought some of his crop to God. God was pleased with Abel’s gift and displeased with Cain’s.
The sacrifice reveals the heart of the worshiper. Cain’s gift was not much of a sacrifice; it did not take an enormous amount of faith and trust to hand over to God some of his fruits and vegetables. Able trusted God to provide for him. He was demonstrating that by sacrificing a significant portion of his livelihood. He was trusting God instead of that lamb to provide for his daily needs. The gift is not the central issue. It is about how much the gift demonstrates one’s reliance upon God and desire to please him. God wants to dwell with people who love and trust him with all of their hearts.