Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
ABEL: 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.
Has anyone one besides me ever wondered why Abel is the first person listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11? Well, Adam and Eve cannot be in the hall of faith because their initial disobedience showed a lack of faith in God’s goodness and in His promises to them. We know that after their punishment, they did turn to God in faith because they instructed their sons in the way that they should worship God. However, we know almost nothing about Abel. When you look at some of the other people listed in this chapter like Abraham and Joseph, they have whole passages about them. Abel is only referenced in five passages in the entire Bible, and the initial story of his life only covers nine verses! 1
Yet, what we are told is enough. There are at least two reasons Abel should be included in this chapter:
He believed in a God he had never seen, just like you and I have if we have ever trusted in Christ as our personal Savior. As he sacrificed his lamb, he looked forward to a day when a perfect and righteous Sacrifice would die for his sins. He did this in faith, believing. “George Cutting points out that ‘it was not the personal excellence of Abel that God looked at in counting him righteous, but the excellence of the sacrifice that he brought and his faith in it.’ And so it is with us: we are not justified because of our character or good works, but solely because of the excellence of the sacrifice of Christ and our acceptance of Him.”2 I look back in faith believing in the perfect sacrifice of Christ, whereas Abel looked forward in faith. Jesus himself tells doubting Thomas “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”3
His sacrifice pleased God; and as a result, he was the first martyr. His testimony still speaks today as evidenced by the phrase in verse 4 that says, “he being dead yet speaketh.” Today Abel is still a testimony of doing what is right and doing it with the right heart attitude.
Again, not much is known expect for the fact that Abel obeyed the directions that must have been given in offering a sacrifice to God, and that God was pleased with his offering. We know that Abel was said to be righteous, which meant he must have had a right heart attitude and right dealings with others.
So like what Ella Lindvall says after every story in her Read Aloud Bible Story Books
“What did we learn?”
- I learned that I need to offer God my sacrifice with a right spirit and a right heart attitude; and that when I do, God will be pleased.
- What jumped out at you? I would love to know if you saw something from a different perspective.
Disclaimer: I have not put hours of study into this; so if I am a little off on something, please feel free to tell me! Again these posts are intended to make me get into the Word and study, as I need some accountability in my busy lifestyle. I pray they can also be a blessing to someone else.
1Genesis 4:1-8; Hebrews 11:4 and 12:24; Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51
2Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald, p. 2195.