HOW DID GOD “TESTIFY” OF ABEL’S GIFTS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
We read in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Just how did Abel “obtain witness that he was righteous?” How did God “testify” of Abel’s righteousness? Let us reason together using the Holy Scriptures.
Let us briefly review. Sons of Adam and Eve, Abel is a “keeper of sheep” and his brother Cain is a “tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:2). Cain “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” (verse 3), while Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (verse 4a). To wit, Abel “by faith” brought a blood sacrifice, indicating He followed God’s instructions. Unbelieving Cain, however, offered vegetation to God, which He never commanded. “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (verses 4b,5a). And, as we just read in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” But, exactly what does it mean that Abel “obtained witness” from God that “he was righteous?” For the answer, we must search the Old Testament Scriptures.
Read 1 Chronicles 21:26: “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.” In 1 Kings 18:38, we read of the time when the prophet Elijah offered an animal sacrifice: “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” And 2 Chronicles 7:1: “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”
Based on these verses, we conclude Abel must have seen the fire of God come down from heaven and consume his sacrifice, thus signifying to him that God had accepted his offering. Amazing! (By the way, Cain did not see the fire come from God out of heaven and consume his vegetable offering. Just as Abel saw that he was righteous before God, Cain saw that he was unrighteous before God. Hence, Cain grew very upset and killed Abel!)