Hebrews 11:4,” By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks”
Theologians, scholars, teachers, pastors have tried exhaustive ways to figure out who wrote the book of Hebrews. Based on the style, vocabulary, the message some have suggested Paul among others, still many would disagree. God is the Author of all the books, the only thing we are not sure who He used to write Hebrews.I am amazed by the in depth richness of the book of Hebrews. Take chapter 11 for example paints a picture of ordinary people with real faith. If you read the background of these people, you learn that the Bible does not hide the scars of our heroes. What we also learn, while the Bible mentions their scars, it does not dwell on them. It highlights and dwells on their faith in God which is crucial and key.
In talking of the heroes of faith, the writer of Hebrews bypasses Adam and Eve and begins with Abel. Abel is one of the first saints, and the first martyr for religion of all the sons of Adam. He is one who lived by faith, and died for it, and therefore a fit pattern for the Hebrews to imitate. Observe this; the writer highlights Abel’s faith though we have very little account of his life in Genesis 4 and later in the NT. The conversation the Lord had with Cain after He rejected his sacrifice suggests that God had given Abel and Cain very clear instructions of what to do. Only Abel followed through what was required of them. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice, the firstlings of his flock, implying both a confession of what his own sins deserved, and a desire of sharing in the great atonement. He offered in obedience by faith, giving the Lord what He required, a sacrifice. God caused fire to fall upon his sacrifice as a sign of acceptance. This would then rise in smoke as a sweet essence, a fragrance, aroma the Lord would receive. It was also a picture of the Lamb of God who would be slain for sinful mankind and give life to those who repent and have faith in Him.
What legacy did he leave” … and through it he being dead still speaks” Good men die, and some of them die a violent death, as did Abel, yet he speaks in the Scriptures. He is the first one to teach us that a man is justified by faith alone apart from works. It’s not the sacrifice that he is commended for, it’s his obedient faith. His faith was evidenced by works. Through faith, he left a testimony to all succeeding generations that a person comes to God by faith alone to receive righteousness.
What do we learn from Abel? Let me draw from Matthew Henry’s commentary, “ (1.) Witness that he was righteous, a justified, sanctified, and accepted person; this, very probably, was attested by fire from heaven, kindling and consuming his sacrifice. (2.) God gave witness to the righteousness of his person, by testifying his acceptance of his gifts. When the fire consumed the offering, it was a sign that the mercy of God accepted the offerer for the sake of the great sacrifice. (3.) By it he, being dead, yet speaks. He had the honor to leave behind him an instructive speaking case; and what does it speak to us? What should we learn from it? [1.] That fallen man has leave to go in to worship God, with hope of acceptance. [2.] That, if our persons and offerings be accepted, it must be through faith in the Messiah. [3.] That acceptance with God is a peculiar and distinguishing favor. [4.] That those who obtain this favor from God must expect the envy and malice of the world. [5.] That God will not suffer the injuries done to his people to remain unpunished, nor their sufferings unrewarded. These are very good and useful instructions, and yet the blood of sprinkling speaketh better things than that of Abel. [6.] That God would not suffer Abel’s faith to die with him, but would raise up others, who should obtain like precious faith; and so he did in a little time;”
Ask yourself, what will be written of you when you leave this world? What legacy, what testimony will you leave behind? Would you still speak while you are gone? Besides that, if we were to ask everyone around you, would they say Jesus is primarily precious to you because you constantly speak of Him? The One whom you love you talk about a lot everywhere. And what we leave behind?, we loved the Lord, we lived by faith, and we testified of it. Blessings Ev