“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering…” (Genesis 4:4)
Heroes of the faith are those people who, through the Lord’s strength, do great things for Him despite great challenges. One such early hero is a man who generally receives little acclaim for anything other than being the victim of a heinous crime. However, a deeper look into Abel and his life of faith reveals him as a true underdog who went on to set a wonderful example for God’s people.
Abel fits the “unlikely hero” theme quite well. His very name means “temporary” or “meaningless.” His parents, Adam and Eve, obviously didn’t have real high expectations for him. They looked to his older brother to be the strong, faithful one in the family – possibly even believing Cain to be the promised Messiah who would restore their broken relationship with God. And yet, the Bible tells us that Abel continued to love and to serve God faithfully. Sometimes we find that God arms His warriors against the sin of spiritual pride in unexpected – and even painful – ways. But the end result is an ability to serve with humility and a closer relationship with our Lord.
Abel must have grown up in difficult times. He was raised in a world that was freshly tainted by sin, on an Earth which grudgingly provided a living through the toil and sweat of those who worked the ground. He did not get to experience the paradise of Eden, nor the face to face relationship with God. He did not hear the promise of a Savior from sin and death, and yet he believed – his faith being evidenced by the fruit of good works. Jesus’ words to his disciple thousands of years later apply to Abel; “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Jesus likewise commends His faithful warriors today who, unseeing, still trust His promises in the midst of spiritual struggles.
Abel fought valiantly in the face of darkness. Despite the scorn and shame poured upon him, even by his own family, he remained true and faithful to the God whom he adored. He endured a brother’s jealousy and hatred, never compromising his beliefs or practices to pacify the unbelief of another. His death was nothing less than a martyrdom for the sake of the first Gospel promise. It was the result of an attack stemming from his thankfulness to a loving God who would redeem him. May God grant us all the steadfast courage and wisdom to stand firmly in the face of those who scorn His promise of life and salvation!
“And I – in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the example of Your humble servant Abel. Teach me to endure the scorn and shame of the world, remaining steadfast in my bold proclamation of love for You – and of Your love for me. Help me always to point others to Your promised Messiah, who lives and reigns with You in glory. Amen.