“But ye are come . . . to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
(Heb 12:22a, 24)
The mention of Abel in today’s text is both powerful and instructive. Here, as in many other places in the Scriptures, we are reminded that the early chapters of Genesis are not poetry or mythology but straightforward historical narrative. The New Testament is replete with references to these early, foundational chapters. Jesus taught clearly that Adam and Eve were real people (Matthew 19:4-6), as did Paul (1 Timothy 2:13-14) and Luke (Luke 3:23-38). Jesus, Peter, and the writer to the Hebrews understood Noah and the great flood to be historic as well (Matthew 24:37-38; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:5-6; Hebrews 11:7). John the beloved disciple believed in the historicity of Cain and Abel. John wrote, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:11-12). Not only did Jesus believe in the historicity of Cain and Abel, He identified Abel as the prophetic voice in the early part of the pre-flood world. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day, declaring that He would “send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:49b-51). Like Jesus, Abel was a good shepherd (Genesis 4:2; John 10:11). Both men functioned as God’s prophetic voice on the earth (Matthew 13:57; Luke 13:33; Acts 3:22-23). Both men were envied (Mark 15:9-10), hated (John 15:24-25), betrayed and murdered (Genesis 4:8; Mark 14:10; John 6:70-71; Acts 5:30). Today’s passage reminds us that Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground (cf Genesis 4:10). His blood testified that a grave moral evil had been committed; an innocent and godly man had been murdered. Christ’s blood, on the other hand, testifies to infinitely better things than that of Abel. The blood of Jesus indeed bears witness to man’s deep depravity; nothing less than the blood of the Son of God could cleanse man of his sin. The blood of Jesus is the currency of God’s awesome redemptive love; it is the most powerful witness imaginable to the Creator’s abiding love for His creation (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). May we who have been brought near to God by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13) be found faithful to the One who loved us first (1 John 4:19). Abide in His love, dear saints, and be encouraged!