“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’”
What Did Sinners Need?
God had given Adam and Eve two children named Cain and Abel, and as these children grew up, Cain became a farmer and Abel became a shepherd. And it came to pass that these two men brought offerings to God: Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat, and Cain offered the fruit of the ground. However, while God accepted Abel’s offering, He did not accept Cain and his offering. Why then did God accept Abel’s offering but reject Cain’s offering?
The reason lies in the fact that Abel offered the firstborn of the flock and their fat as his sacrificial offering to God, because this offering was acceptable to God. The Bible says here that God accepted the sacrificial offering of the firstborn of the flock and their fat, and when viewed in light of God’s work of redemption, this passage contains the truly profound providence of God. Through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must realize the meaning of this mysterious Word and believe in it. Put differently, this offering shows the “righteous act” of God (Romans 5:18), fulfilled by our Lord when He came to this earth incarnated in the flesh, was baptized, and shed His blood all to save the entire human race from the sins of this world.
The “fat” mentioned in today’s Scripture passage manifests the fact that Jesus is the very God who created the universe and has saved us from sin. Fundamentally speaking, our Lord is really God, with the office of the High Priest of Heaven, and that is why He came to this earth incarnated in the flesh to save human beings from sin and take them to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is the Savior who came to this earth, was baptized to take all the sins of the world upon His body, shed His blood and died on the Cross while shouldering the sins of the world and then rose from the dead. This was His righteous act with which He saved believers from all their sins.
As the Savior who came to this earth to blot out all our sins, the Lord performed the work of salvation and completed it once for all. That our Lord came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, even though He was God Himself, a Spiritual Being who knew no sin, was to become the perfect propitiation that can save everyone in this world from all their sins. The Lord had to come incarnated in the flesh. Only then could He take all our sins upon His body through His baptism; and with His blood, His life, He could bear the condemnation of all sins once for all; He thus has completely saved us from all our sins. Now, through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are able to meet this Jesus who has offered His own body to atone for all our sins as our High Priest. Jesus Christ is really God who seeing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit has bestowed His salvation upon us.
Why did Jesus come to this earth? He came to save all the sinners of this world from every sin and every curse by blotting out all their sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. By becoming our very own High Priest, Jesus at once bore all our sins on His body through His baptism. In other words, our Lord was baptized to accept the sins of this world onto His own body, and He became our propitiation to blot out these sins. It was to save us from all the sins of the world that the Lord offered His own body to God the Father as the propitiation for all our sins. To blot out all our sins, our Lord did not just take any animal on this earth; rather He gave up His own sinless perfect body and offered Himself as the propitiation for our sins.
Like this, today’s Scripture passage teaches us with what kind of faith we should approach God when we come before His presence. What kind of faith should we bring when we go before the presence of God? The Lord is telling us that we must come before God with our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that washes away all our sins. For us to be remitted from all our sins, we must believe in and remember the baptism that the Lord received to save us from the sins of the world, and the blood that He shed on the Cross to make atonement for these sins. The Lord is the true Savior who, by atoning for our sins, has completely blotted out all the sins of this world. We can be saved from all our sins only when we come out and stand before the presence of God the Father by believing in this everlasting propitiation offered by our Lord. We must truly know the gospel of the water and the Spirit as the Truth of our salvation. Only then will our faith be acceptable to the just God.
Jesus Christ is our Lord, and He is the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven. If we do not know the gospel work of the water and the Spirit that the Lord fulfilled for us, then we cannot be assured of Jesus Christ as our Savior even if we wanted to believe so. Without first knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we cannot know the true sacrifice of atonement either, nor can we offer our complete faith to God. How then can we offer the Firstborn of the flock and His fat, our true propitiation? To repeat, for us to bring our true faith to the presence of God, we must have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given us. Our true acts of faith are possible only within the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can we walk with God by faith. That is why the Bible testifies that one can live a spiritual life wholly only when he has perfect faith (James 2:22). Such faith is obtainable only when we wholly believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior.
We must be remitted from all our sins by believing in our Savior Jesus within the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must have faith in this Jesus Christ as our Savior, who is the High Priest of Heaven to us. Only then can we receive true salvation, become God the Father’s children and inherit the Kingdom of God as its rightful heirs. This is what today’s Scripture passage from Genesis chapter 4 is telling us.
To Wash Away All Our Sins, We Need the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God
Our human nature is such that we cannot help but commit sin until the day we die. For such people like us to receive the remission of our sins from God, the Lamb of God is absolutely necessary. We must bring the Firstborn of the flock and His fat before the presence of God, and make our confession of faith as follows: “Father God, just as this Lamb shed His blood and died before You, I should have died for my sins like this, but to save me, Jesus the Lamb of God was baptized by John the Baptist. The Lord accepted my sins once for all through His baptism, and to bear condemnation for all these sins, He then bore all punishments on the Cross. ”
It is when we bring this faith in Jesus the sacrificial Lamb before God, and when we take this faith in Jesus as our Savior to the presence of God the Father, that we are able to receive the true remission of sins. When we bring this faith to God the Father, and when He looks upon this faith of ours, He will approve it and accept us as His own children. For Abel also, had he not offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat, God could not have accepted him.
Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and their fat as his offering to God. This implies that Abel could boldly come before the presence of God the Father by believing that Jesus Christ is the High Priest of Heaven who had blotted out all our sins of the entire human race. That is why God the Father accepted Abel and all his offerings. We too must come before God by the same faith as Abel’s faith. We must realize the fact that any faith that is different from the faith of Abel can never be accepted by God.
The Altar of Burnt Offering in the Old Testament Is the Substance of the Punishment of Sin
When the people of Israel entered the Tabernacle to offer God their atoning sacrifices, the first instrument they came across was the altar of burnt offering. And the second instrument they saw was the laver of bronze. Both the altar of burnt offering and the laver were made of bronze. What then do the altar of burnt offering and the laver of bronze tell us?
How can we, who are all no more than masses of sin, ever approach God and stand before His presence? The altar of burnt offering declares that all our sins were already condemned through the offering of sacrifice. Therefore, the way for us to escape from our judgment and come to stand before God is made possible only when we come to Him by believing that all our sins were condemned at the bronze altar of burnt offering. Although we are such inadequate beings that we cannot help but sin until we die and because the sacrifice of atonement took upon all our sins and bore our condemnation at the altar of burnt offering, by affirming this fact and believing in it, we can still boldly come before the presence of God.
Whenever an Israelite offered a sacrifice at the altar of burnt offering, he first had to confess his sins to God and pass his sins to the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head. After this, he cut the throat of the sacrificial animal, drew its blood and then gave this blood to a respective priest. The priest then offered the sacrifice of atonement on his behalf, thus enabling him to receive the remission of his sins.
The laver of bronze, on the other hand, symbolizes the affirmation of the belief that our sins were completely washed away through the sacrifice of atonement allowed by God. In other words, this means that it is by affirming the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that we are able to have the faith of believing that all our sins committed either with our hearts or acts were already washed away as white as snow. Now, by believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest of Heaven, and in His blood of the Cross, we are able to boldly stand before the presence of God without any shame or fear. We believe that the Lord has saved us in this way.
After passing by the altar of burnt offering and the laver of bronze, we would reach the Sanctuary as the main structure of the Tabernacle. By what kind of faith do we seek to enter the Sanctuary? This faith too is still the same faith of believing in the Word that God has already blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can enter the Sanctuary only when we have the belief that the Lord is the High Priest of all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit
What would we find when we go into the Sanctuary of God? We would see the golden lampstand, the table of the showbread and the altar of incense. On our left we would see the lampstand, and on our right the table of the showbread; on this table, 12 loaves of unleavened bread were placed in two rows. Those who believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit always feed on the bread of life from the Word of God. Those who eat this spiritual bread all the time never hunger again, because they are made members of God’s Church, they become the workers of God who illuminate this world with the light of salvation. Those who have received the remission of sins and share this bread gather together to form God’s Church, and they share the bread of life with countless people all over the world as well. This is the lesson of the table of the showbread and the lampstand.
The altar of incense implies our life of prayer. It was placed on the west side of the Sanctuary, and once every year, the High Priest put blood on the four corners of the altar of incense. This implies that if we wish to pray to God, we must first believe that Jesus Christ has blotted out all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist and shedding His blood, and that thereby we must receive the remission of our sins. If there is any sin in our hearts when we pray to God, our prayers can never reach God. That is why the Bible says,
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
If a sinner wants to pray to God, he must first have the faith that all his sins were completely washed away through the baptism of Jesus and His Cross. Even though we commit sin constantly out of our weaknesses, we must have the belief that our Lord took upon all our sins through His baptism and was already condemned for them through His crucifixion. Only then can we make our supplications known to God without any shame, as someone who has no sin. That is how we can raise incense at the altar of incense in the Sanctuary. Therefore, only those who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are qualified to pray to God as His own children. It is only after we are born again, in other words, that we are qualified to pray to the holy God.
Those of Us Who Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Are Qualified to Pray to God
No sinner is qualified to pray to God. However, we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are all qualified to pray to God the Father. Just as it was inside the Holy Place that the altar of incense, the table of the showbread, and the lampstand were all found, if we receive the remission of our sins from God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we are made members of God’s Church, and as such we are thus qualified to eat the bread of life and also share this bread of life with others. In other words, all these three blessings will be given to us when we receive the remission of sins. Such a life is the very life of those who live in the Sanctuary of God. It means that God has made our hearts His holy temples (1 Corinthians 3:16). God has counted us in as His holy children. That is why when we receive the remission of sins from God, we are made righteous, and we are also able to eat the Word of God by faith.
To step into the Sanctuary, one must once again go through the screen door woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen, just as he had to go through the gate of the court of the Tabernacle woven of the same kinds of threads: The blue thread implies the baptism of Jesus; the purple thread signifies that Jesus is God; and the scarlet thread means the blood of Jesus. What then must we bring with us to enter the Kingdom of God? We must bring the faith that our sins have been blotted out by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only then are we made righteous, able to eat the bread of life and enjoy everlasting life, and also be qualified to pray to God the Father.
In the age of the Old Testament, when the High Priest sought to step into the Most Holy Place, he had to take the blood of the sacrifice that had accepted the sins of his people. This sacrificial system of the Day of Atonement manifests the Truth that when we believe in the baptism of Jesus Christ our Lamb and His blood on the Cross, we are able to not only escape from the wrath of God, but also become His children to enjoy all the blessings of Heaven.
The very faith that enables us to enter the Kingdom of God is exactly our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This gospel testifies that Jesus took upon all the sins of our entire lifetime by being baptized in the Jordan River and that while shouldering the sins of the world, He bore all their condemnation on the Cross. We must therefore believe in the atonement of the Lamb of God. We must believe in our Lord Jesus Christ who shouldered all our sins, and we must bring this blood of atonement to stand before the presence of God.
Past the Holy Place, we would come across another screen door. This screen door is also woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, with cherubim (angels) embroidered onto it. Beyond this screen is the Most Holy.
What would we see inside the Most Holy Place? We would see the Ark of the Testimony, the Ark of God’s Covenant. This is the very place where God Himself descends. The Ark was a rectangular chest with a lid, and inside, it contained the two stone tablets of the Law, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the golden pot that had manna. The golden lid covering this Ark was shaped with two cherubim facing each other at its ends, covering the Ark with their open wings. It is also called as the Mercy Seat, as this is where God bestowed His mercy.
As perpetrators of sin, we could not avoid God’s stern judgment; but when we believe that Jesus Christ took upon all our sins and shed His blood to atone for our sins, and when we take this faith into the Most Holy, God will bestow His grace of redemption on us. None other than this is receiving the grace of salvation from the Mercy Seat. When the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice seven times on the Mercy Seat and to its east once a year, he was confessing this very faith.
For us to come and stand before the presence of God, what do we really need in the end? Would God accept us if we were to bring to Him our own righteous acts just like Cain did? No, of course not! What God accepts in pleasure is not our deeds, but our faith. If we take our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to stand before God, then seeing our faith, God will approve us as righteous people, take us in as His children and then give us all the blessings of Heaven as well.
However, if we have no faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we are facing a serious problem. Far from receiving the grace of salvation from God, we will then be condemned and accursed. If anyone tries to approach God and stand before His presence with even the smallest of all sins, then the fire of judgment will devour him instantly. Therefore, when one seeks to come and stand before God’s presence, if he has the faith of a sinner who has been remitted from his original sin but not his personal sins, then such people cannot enter the Kingdom of God, no matter how much they might long for it.
The court of the Tabernacle was in a rectangular shape, with its east and west sides each running 50 cubits (22.5 m or 24.6 yd), and its north and south sides running 100 cubits (45 m or 49.2 yd) each. To consecrate the court of the Tabernacle from the outside world, all its four sides were walled around with hangings of fine woven linen. This wall of fine woven linen, with a height of 5 cubits (2.25m), and the gate of the court of the Tabernacle were put on a total of 100 wooden pillars. To support these pillars, they were attached together with bands of silver, and their heads were also fastened with cords to the bronze pegs nailed into the ground. Furthermore, bronze sockets were also made for the pillars, and the pillars were raised on these bronze sockets to prevent them from sinking into the sand.
In the Bible, silver symbolizes God’s grace of salvation, while bronze symbolizes His judgment. Of all the utensils of the Tabernacle, everything that was buried in the ground was made of bronze. This implies that while we humans all deserve to be condemned in and of ourselves, because Jesus took upon all our sins through His baptism and was condemned in our place, those who bore the condemnation of sin by faith can now receive the remission of sins and come into the Sanctuary of God through His grace.
For the pillars of the hangings for the court made of fine woven linen that consecrated the court of the Tabernacle from the outside world, wood, silver, and bronze were used as these materials. Each pillar was raised on a bronze socket, and to prevent the pillars from falling over, silver bands were attached to each of them and bronze pegs fastened them firmly onto the ground. This tells us that because our Lord was already condemned for us, we can now stand firmly by the grace of God. Moreover, the white hangings of fine woven linen surrounding the court of the Tabernacle tells us that it is those who have been remitted from their sins are now as white as snow by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and have become God’s people. Like this, all the elements of the Tabernacle make it clear that it is by God’s grace of salvation that we are now able to stand before His presence as His own children.
Abel’s Sacrificial Offering Symbolizes the Faith in the Righteousness of God
When Abel killed the firstborn of his flock and brought it along with its fat to God as his offering, his heart and faith were as follows: “Dear God, because of my sins, I should die like this and be condemned. But I believe that according to Your law of salvation, when I laid my hands on this lamb, all my sins were passed onto it, and when this lamb shed its blood and died, therefore the wages of my sins were paid off. I offer You this sacrifice by faith. I believe that You will accept this lamb of sacrifice and save me.” Abel brought to God faith like this, and it was because of this faith that his offering of faith was approved by God. Like this, God washed away Abel’s sins and He accepted Abel and his offering alike. Ultimately, Abel was someone who had triumphed over sin and death by faith.
Abel is one of the forefathers of faith who believed in the righteousness of God. Before God, we too can become His people by the same faith, by believing in the fact that Jesus is our High Priest. When we stand before His presence with our faith that believes in the righteousness of God, even the just Law of God cannot condemn us either. Because Jesus has become our own High Priest, even this Law that manifests the strict justice of God cannot say that we have sin—far from it, it can now only acknowledge that we have no sin.
To blot out all our sins, Jesus took our sins upon His body by being baptized, and He bore all our condemnation of sin; therefore, all those who believe in this Truth will be saved from their sins. Although God the Father is a just and also a strict God, by sending us His Son, and by making Him be baptized by John the Baptist and shed His blood, God has saved us from all our sins. All this is thanks to the salvation brought to us by the One who is the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus Christ. Do you now understand this? In other words, God has made us sinless by His own righteousness. So before the righteousness of God, we give all our thanks to Him and glorify Him by faith.
We must truly know what the offering of righteousness acceptable to God really is, and we must believe in it. This offering is the very faith that believes in the baptism Jesus Christ received and the blood He shed on the Cross. Through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all of us must realize that Jesus has become our High Priest. Beyond any doubts, Jesus has clearly fulfilled His role as the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven. Unmistakably, Jesus is the very Savior who has blotted out all the sins of this world once for all. As the High Priest of Heaven, He has at once removed all the sins of this world. This work is achieved by the everlasting sacrifice that only the High Priest can minister.
Ordinary priests had to offer sacrifices every day for the people of God, and they also had to give dozens of sacrifices in just one day to blot out the sins of every sinner. In contrast, the High Priest blotted out all the Israelites’ sins for an entire year through just one sacrifice offered on the tenth day of the seventh month. Nonetheless, when the earthly High Priest turned 50, he had to pass down his priesthood duties to his son, and therefore countless High Priests still had to serve in the Tabernacle from one generation to the next.
In contrast, the High Priest who came down from Heaven saves perfectly whoever comes to God by relying on the baptism of Jesus Christ and His blood. When He came to this earth, He took upon all the sins of the world once for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, was condemned on the Cross for these sins, rose from the dead again, and ascended to Heaven to sit on the right hand of the throne of God the Father. The Bible therefore says, “Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25). Like this, Jesus is our everlasting High Priest. Is He not? Did Jesus blot out the sins of this world twice? No, of course not! He blotted them out all at once with the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit.
Only when we offer the sacrifice of righteousness to God through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can we then give the offering that pleases God. Otherwise we would only be accursed, and this is what God is telling us through the two different offerings of Cain and Abel. It is Abel and his offering that God accepted. For us as well, it is by giving the sacrifice of righteousness acceptable to God through our faith that we have become His people. In other words, God has accepted you and me, who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as His very own children.
Our faith is the same as the faith of Abel. We too gave the offering of faith just like Abel, and that is why God accepted us as well. God has told us in detail what the offering of His righteousness is. The Bible speaks to us in various ways about the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only those who believe in the gospel Word of God that is written so elaborately in the Bible may enter into Heaven. Now, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are able to daily offer the sacrifice of righteousness to God.
Cain did not offer the sacrificial offering specified by God; but instead, he did whatever he desired to do. In other words, in complete contrast to Abel, Cain brought the fruit of the ground as his offering to God. Any offering that is given not according to the will of God but according to one’s own will is not acceptable to God. Even today, there are many Christians who fall under such a category. Many Christians do not have the faith desired by God; rather they have their own faith and also mislead others to follow such fallacious faith. Such people are turning themselves into false prophets, even as they profess to believe in Jesus. They are becoming thieves, only to steal from the church coffers. They are turning into robbers. If anyone believes in God all in his own way and in whatever way he wants to, then he will for sure turn into a spiritual swindler. All of us must believe God strictly in accordance to the Word.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Apostle Paul says: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
When Paul speaks here, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”—that is, when Paul wrote the Book of 1 Corinthians—the word “Scriptures” here refers to the Old Testament. If this be so, then which specific part of the Old Testament is Paul referring to? Where does the Old Testament speak of the means by which our sins are redeemed? The sacrifice of atonement in the Book of Leviticus speaks of this very mystery. In other words, this sacrifice is the very sacrifice whereby a sinner passed his sins to an unblemished sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head, killed this animal, sprinkled its blood, and burnt its flesh along with its fat as his offering to God.
None other than this was the sacrifice of righteousness that Abel had offered. Our Lord came to this earth according to the Scriptures, took upon our sins through His baptism according to the Scriptures, died on the Cross according to the Scriptures, rose from the dead again according to the Scriptures, and has thereby become our High Priest and saved us all, again exactly according to the Scriptures. Through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Jesus has become the Savior of all sinners. Just as the Apostle Paul was made a righteous man by believing in Jesus according to the Scriptures, we also have become righteous people by believing in Him according to the Scriptures.