Why did Yahweh reject the sacrifice of Cain? A Theological Reflection on Gen. 4:1-16 and its implication for Contemporary Christians in Nigeria
In any sacrifice, three parties are of paramount importance. These include the deity to whom sacrifice is offered, the worshipper who offered the sacrifice either all alone or with the assistance of the priest as the intermediary, and the victim for the sacrifice. The sacrificial material otherwise called sacrificial victim is so important because it is a means to an end, it is an instrument by which the covenant relationship is established and upheld. Nevertheless, in the Old Testament, the purpose of the sacrifice dictated the sacrificial material(s) to be used. However, the account of the sacrifice of Cain and Abel in Gen. 4 looks paradoxical as Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by Yahweh while that of Cain was rejected! Why was this so? What was it about Cain’s offering that made it unacceptable and that of Abel acceptable most especially when one considers the fact that both bloody (animal) and unbloody (grain and wine) were commanded and common in the Old Testament. More importantly, what is the implication of Cain’s unacceptable offering for Christians today? What lessons can both church leaders and members learn from this incident in this era where church members are being coerced or forced by church leaders through various unwholesome methods to give/donate sacrificially without minding the means, the readiness and the mental attitude or heart disposition of the giver/donor? Indeed, what constitute sacrifice for today’s Christians and how can Christians today offer an acceptable sacrifice? These and many other questions were answered in this research paper.
Key words: Sacrifices/offerings in Old Testament, Cain, Abel, Genesis 4, Bloody sacrifice, Unbloody sacrifice, Acceptable sacrifice.