The first glimpse of God’s Way of redemption was shown to the first family, on the first pages of human history (Gen. 3:21, 4:1-7). Although the full plan of redemption would progressively be revealed little by little, His foundational plan has been known since the fall of Adam and Eve. And this foundation would “hold up” all the Old Covenant saints until the fullfillment of the plan was manifested in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. God’s foreknowledge saw that He couldn’t ever accept us on the basis of our own moral goodness. Mankind could never rehabilitate themselves or evolve into becoming good enough for God to accept. So the institution of the substitutional system was introduced to the first family. This would reveal the foundation of God’s solution to man’s sin problem. A substitute would have to suffer the consequences for our moral depravity and sinful condition, if we were to be acceptable or in right relationship with God ever again.
In the substitutionary system under the Old Covenant, by Faith, the offerer’s sin would be transferred to an innocent victim. The innocent victim could only be certain animals, and without blemish. The animal, of course had never sinned. This doesn’t seem to make sense in the natural, but it was a “type” of the innocence of the coming ultimate Sacrifice. The judgement and wrath of God against sin would fall on the “scapegoat” offering instead of the offerer. As well, the innocence of the offering would be symbolically transferred to the offerer. This substitutional “type” of Jesus Christ’s death on The Cross would allow God to accept, establish and maintain a relationship with the two sinful sons of Adam, Cain and Able. This establishment of relationship with God would require the offerers to bring a sacrifice and then place their Faith in this process God had established (Heb. 11:4). If they would offer and have Faith in the blood sacrifice, God would accredit them as righteous. These two sons could not have understood all that God was revealing to them, and ultimately to all of humanity, in the symbolism of the sacrifice. But, God could reward their Faith (trust, reliance and dependence) and obedience to follow His instructions in order to gain His acceptance. He would reward their Faith in the substitutionary system, which symbolized the coming Savior, with imputed righteousness. Perfect righteousness. Able was obedient and offered up the sacrifice that God required. Because he did, God declared him to be righteous (Heb. 11:2,4). The other brother Cain, did not bring the sacrifice God required and therefore, was not accepted by God (Gen. 4:5-7). Cain brought a sacrifice that He wanted God to be pleased with, the fruit of his labor. It angered him that God wasn’t pleased with his sacrifice. “And the Lord said to Cain, why are you angry, and why is your coutenance fallen? If you do well, shall you not be accepted” (Gen. 4:6-7)? By God asking this question, we see Cain was to “do well”. This shows that Cain knew what type of sacrifice God required. “Doing well” in God’s estimation is trusting in The Sacrifice. God was not expecting these two boys to randomly pick a sacrifice to offer up to Him. How would they have even known God required a sacrifice if He hadn’t told them? Both men knew who the One true creator God was. Both knew He required a sacrifice. And, both sons of Adam were evil in and of themselves. That is why they both needed to offer a sacrifice! But, only one of them would be accepted by God. Cain didn’t become evil by killing his brother, as some think. Cain killed his brother because he was evil (1 John 3:12). God had to deal with Cain according to his own worthiness (righteousness) because he refused God’s Way of Redemption through the sacrifice. Your Faith in your own worthiness, or some other sacrifice than the One God has prescribed, will require God to reject you. He only accepts sinful men and women according to the merit and worthiness of the sacrifice they are trusting in, not their own merit and worth.
There are many religious looking, man-devised and pleasing to the “eye” offerings (sacrifices) that men and women have their Faith in today. In their view, these offerings are worthy and respectable. You can put your Faith in your volunteer work, giving money to the church, the poor, going to church or a hundred other things. These are “good” things. But, you are not to have any Faith in doing these things to merit you any favor with God. That would be gaining His acceptance by works. His plan doesn’t work that Way. If God was to look at your condition (what you have done), He would have to evaluate everything you have done. He can’t pick and choose. You either put all of your trust in the perfect Lamb of God, or you will be trusting in a corrupt offering (sacrifice). And if the sacrificial offering is corrupt, and thereby rejected, so is the offerer. The animal substitute symbolized Jesus suffering on behalf of the guilty. God’s judgement would fall on the sacrifice for sin, instead of the sinner themselves. The innocent offering’s life blood would be shed to save the life of the offerer. God would not inspect the quality of the offerer of the sacrifice, but only the quality of the sacrifice. God never looks at the condition of the sinner to determine if they are righteous. He already knows what they are, defiled and corrupt. God examines the sacrifice that the sinner has placed their Faith in. If the sacrifice is spotless and without blemish, the sinner is accepted. If the sacrifice is the product of man’s own righteousness, the sinner is rejected. Mankind is accepted by God only according to the righteousness of the sacrifice they have their Faith in. Not according to their own righteousness, because their is no righteousness within man (Rom. 3:10, 7:18). Jesus said, “there is none good but One, who is God” (Mk.10:18).