I have two younger brothers whom I love deeply. They were my best men at my wedding. I'm four years older than my younger brother and sometimes, like every once in a while, I might have employed mental warfare on him in order to get him to get me a cookie...but nothing that bad, so this story always managed to freak me out a little.
Cain and Abel. The first set of brothers. Cain the farmer and Abel the shepherd (Gen 4.2). And then they both make offerings to God, and something not great happens
"In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell" Genesis 4.3-5 ESV
And Cain gets mad, but not normal mad, but mad like even The Incredible Hulk would say,"Bro..." He ends up killing his brother over his own jealousy. Humanity doesn't even make it two generations before there is murder. Dark. Just dark. So where is Jesus in all of this? Well, sometimes there is a shadow of what Jesus will do. Sometimes, like here, it is a shadow of what Jesus WILL REVERSE. I see him in this verse, which is God's follow-up talk with Cain after he murdered his brother.
"Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand." Genesis 4.9-11 ESV
Where is Jesus in the Old Testament?
Abel's blood cries to God to CONVICT sinners. Jesus' blood will later cry to God to REDEEM sinners. The author of Hebrews understood this as he compares life in Christ compared to life in the OT
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:22-24
Abel's blood stained the ground he was slain upon, and shouted to God for justice. He was as innocent as his sheep and was coldly murdered by his own brother. And his blood sat in judgement of his murderer. We all demand justice, when we're not the one on trial. When I'm attacked or hurt I raise my voice with indignation. I want justice! But when I'm in the defendants box, I don't want justice in the same ZIP code as me. I want redemption and I want mercy. Abel's blood proves guilt, Jesus' blood offers mercy.
Two innocent men. Two sets of innocent blood spilled. Two responsible parties. One convicts and the other redeems. It's amazing how we see God's characteristic of holiness with Abel;s blood and how he doesn't ignore the wrongdoing of Cain because he is just. Cain is cursed by God (Genesis 4.11-12). But then we see God's characteristic of mercy in Jesus' blood.
Jesus had the right to demand justice for spilling his own blood! But he forfeited that right for us. And God justified him anyway! How much more can we forfeit our claim to justice when someone cuts us off in traffic? Or forgets to call us back?
For me I need to forsake my claim to justice and have the redeeming blood of Jesus on my mind.