A Better Word - Week of May 17th
By Judy NicholsMay 17, 2015
So often we read right over something in the Scripture without really thinking about it. Then suddenly one day it jumps out at us. It happened again today when I was reading in Hebrews. The author has spent the whole book contrasting Jesus with Judaism, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the covenants, and finally even the hope. He contrasts the terror of the Israelites, including Moses, when God descended on Mt. Sinai in fire and smoke and gloom to give the law, with the hope of Mt. Zion, the city of God where there are angels, righteous men made perfect, Jesus the mediator, and the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (See Heb. 12:18-24.)
"Sprinkled blood that speaks better than the blood of Abel" caught my attention. Why is that brought up here? HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talking about heaven and the wonders to be found there and then flashes back to Genesis, the first family, the first sin, the first offerings, and the first murder.
Brothers Cain and Abel are the first recorded instances of people making offerings to God. Cain brings some of his vegetables and Abel brings the firstlings of his flock. Being the first generation from the fall, it is reasonable to think that both were aware of how God had killed the first sacrificial animal in order to clothe His fallen creatures (Gen. 3:21). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not even unreasonable to think that God had instructed Adam and Eve as to what He would accept as an offering.
Abel was righteous in what he offered to God. He knew why he needed to make an offering, and he brought what God had prescribed, trusting that God would accept it. The blood of AbelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sacrifice spoke of knowing sin and wanting atonement. JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ blood speaks a better word than that. Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life; He had no need of atonement, yet offered Himself to provide atonement for everyone else.
It should come as no surprise that CainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offering was not accepted, while AbelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was. God confronts Cain and challenges him to overcome his sin. Instead of repenting, Cain goes and kills his brother, bringing us to GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second confrontation with Cain and His declaration, "The voice of your brotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blood is crying to Me from the ground." (See Gen. 4:2-10.)
What was AbelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own blood saying to God? "I am innocent! I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deserve this!" sounds reasonable to me. Even though Abel was a sinner, he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deserve to die by his brotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand. What did JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ blood say to God as it ran down the cross and splattered on the ground? I believe it, too, said, "I am innocent! I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deserve this!" But more than that, it said, "IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m more than innocent! Not only did I not do anything wrong, but I did everything right." Jesus blood testified that GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s righteous demands for perfection in His creatures were met, and also that the penalty for sin had been paid.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s definitely a better word, one that is worthy of our contemplation, gratitude, consecration, and adoration.
Ã‚Â© J.H.Nichols 2009