The difference was in their sacrifice and their approach to a holy God: by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and by the sacrifice he offered, he obtained witness that he was righteous.
Abel was accepted through a bloodied sacrifice – Peter by the shore of Galilee. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord – Paul found His grace was sufficient. The shepherds were led by a host of angels – the Wise Men followed a star. And on and on – each encounter different, distinct, dissimilar from the other.
The two people of faith who lived prior to the flood of Noah, were Abel and Enoch.
While Abel was a man who was murdered by his brother, Enoch was a man who never died, but was raptured away because he was pleasing to God.
While Abel presents the picture of a justified man, Enoch demonstrates the life of a sanctified man, that walked by faith.
and both Enoch and Abel were men of faith, who pleased God.
The blood-sacrifice that was offered by Abel was accepted by the Lord, Who bore witness to his faith.
And while his brother, Cain, gave the Lord an unacceptable offering through the works of his own hands, Abel's sacrifice of an innocent lamb was acceptable to the Lord, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
God commended Abel’s faith by accepting his gift, and although he died by the hand of his jealous brother, the faith of this young man has become a great witness throughout generations and a life that points to the true sacrificial Lamb of God, Whose shed blood takes away the sin of the world.
The reverence Abel offered to the Lord through the blood-sacrifice, signifies the first step in a believer’s walk of faith... that salvation is by grace through by faith in God's Word.
It contrasts good with evil, right with wrong, love with hate, and even draws a comparison between righteous Abel whose sacrifice to God was acceptable to Him and wicked Cain who secretly slew his brother out of jealous hatred and pride.
The bloody sacrifice that Abel offered to the Lord to cover his own sins when he killed the firstling of his flock, was acceptable to God, for Able was a man of faith who trusted God’s promise of a coming Saviour... by sacrificing a lamb on an altar as a covering for his sin.But the sacrifice of Christ is infinitely superior to that of Abel, for Jesus offered His own blood which paid the price for the sin of the whole world, including your sins and mine.
It was by faith that Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain.
The shedding of innocent blood covered Abel's sin, but the basket of fruit, the work of Cain's hand, could never cover sin - and so Abel obtained the testimony that he was righteous – for the righteous live by faith.
From Abel to Abraham, from Moses to David, and from Amos to those men in the fields of Bethlehem who were keeping watch over their flocks by night, we see God using shepherds as an illustration of His loving-care for the needs of His people Whom He describes as little lambs and wandering sheep - lambs and sheep who have been led astray by false, destructive, and idle shepherds.