2020 Lenten devotion #2: The blood of Abel
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“Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.”
“When they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.’” (Genesis 4:2-5,8-10)
Like a glass of red wine spilled on a light-colored carpet, a scratch along the side of a car or a welt across a slapped face, some sins cannot be hidden. There is no hiding Cain’s murder of his brother Abel in a field where no one sees. Heaven can hear the screams.
How does God respond? He simply asks, “What happened?” Of course he knows. But he wants Cain to say it. To speak the words. To confess. Why? Because “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9). God has always been that way. Drops of blood from his own son’s whipped back, thorn-crowned head, nail-pierced hands and feet and spear-pierced side have also splattered on the ground. With the assurance of forgiveness, his blood drowns out the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24) and the stains, scratches and scars of all my sins, too.
There may not be a chalk outline on the ground for each one of my sins. But God knows. So do I. Amazingly, he always listens when I tell him what I’ve done. Even more amazingly, he forgives.
Thank you, Lord, for drowning out the voice of my guilt with your words of grace and forgiveness. Amen.