There are many valuable lessons that we can learn throughout the Bible. And, the LORD doesn’t disappoint with how quickly we can begin understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ by looking at the Old Testament. One such story is that of Cain and Abel. We first understand that Abel was a keeper of the sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. In the end, a rhetorical question applies to all of us, Am I my brother’s keeper? Let us begin by reading it and tying it into some of the teachings and parables of the Messiah.
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? – Genesis 4:1-9.
We will start by looking at the differences between Cain and Abel. In John chapter 21, after Jesus rose from the dead and began appearing to His disciples, Peter and a group of followers decided to go fishing. As had happened previously when the Messiah came to them, they went out in a boat and caught nothing that entire night.
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.” – John 21:4-7. This is the very moment that the LORD began restoring Peter for the ministry that lay before him. It is something that applies to us all. Jesus tells us in Revelation 16, “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” What could this possibly mean?
One of the Gospel Principles covered within the Bible is complete abstinence. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 34, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them. And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.” We are also told this by Jesus Christ, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” – Matthew 19:12.
Jesus also tells us this in Luke 12, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” Paul, when speaking about placing on the whole armor of GOD, he tells us, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Paul also teaches us more on Biblical Abstinence. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3. These are only a few examples that point to being chaste unto the LORD. Another one from the Old Testament in Exodus 19 says, “And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.” Let me ask you a question, what day was the LORD raised from the dead? Jesus tells us, “the Kingdom of GOD is within you.”
As a foundation has now been laid, Peter put on his “fishers coat” by girding himself about, understanding this principle of the Gospel. He then cast himself into the “sea of humanity.” Jesus confirms this meaning while restoring Peter in the following verses in John 21. After they had arrived to shore with the “fishes” that were caught, they dined with the LORD. Jesus expanded upon them the meaning of Scriptures. After Peter had gained understanding we are told this, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”
As we understand, an example was given of what was happening before it was explained. This happens quite often within the Gospels and the parables of the Messiah. Simply by reading a whole chapter or what is before and after, the similarities are mind-boggling in some places. The misinterpretations that we have today are that people tend not to read their Bibles. They put all their faith on only a verse here or a couple of verses there. Jesus tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.” There are two commandments given to us by Jesus Christ. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Matthew 22:36-39.
What does this have to do with Am I My Brother’s Keeper, and the story of Cain and Abel? The answer is everything. Jesus tells us in Luke 5, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” What is the Biblical meaning of fasting? Is it to go 24 hours without food and drink? Is it to be spending time with the LORD studying while doing so? Is fasting something that only pertains to our own spiritual growth?
“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” – Isaiah 58:3-11.
It is only after drawing ourselves out to those in need that our light will break forth, our health will return, and the glory of the LORD will be our rereward. If we stop living in the flesh, making excuses, pointing the finger, speaking nothingness, and sharing what we know to be true, that the LORD will continually be our guide. Out of our belly will flow living waters.
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:23-26.
Jesus prays to the Father in John 17, while laying out our mission. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
I will now ask you a question? Am I my brother’s keeper? Are we all our brother’s keeper? If we are one who knows the way, the truth, and the life, or portion’s of it? What if we are still trying to figure it out? What are the two great commandments? With the story of Cain and Abel, we are only given two options. There has been left no room for doubts, questions, or what if’s. Jesus confirms this as well when He uses the phrase, “follow me,” throughout numerous places in the Gospels.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” – Matthew 19:21. In Luke chapter 9, we are told by Jesus that He has no temple to dwell in. “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:58-62.
Another prime example is the Parable of the Sower and meaning behind the thorns choking out the person from being fruitful. Let us look at it now. “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” – Matthew 13;22. We are told by this by Jesus, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” – Matthew 6:31-34.
With the parable of the sower and the seed sown amidst the thorns, it shows us that the worries in this life, the cares, and the distractions in life get in the way and we stay barren. Yet, the seed which is sown on the good ground, “Is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Once again, the parallels tie directly back into, Am I My Brother’s Keeper? We understand that Abel was a keeper of the sheep. Meaning, that he was one who had understanding. He was one who was led by the LORD God. What does it mean to be a keeper of the sheep?
Paul gives us an example in the Book of Hebrews. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:12-14. To be a keeper of the sheep means to guide those with the knowledge and understanding that you have obtained. It means to be a teacher. It means to be a servant of the LORD. Jesus gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice, thereby showing us the perfect example of what to do and how to follow.
Throughout the New Testament, when we are learning of the different miracles of Jesus Christ, we learn of the loaves and fishes. It is quite unique to point out that it is Jesus who “prepares” the meal, blesses it, brakes up the loaves and the fishes, and then gives the meal to the disciples. After that, it is the disciples who give the meal to the multitudes. Once again, it ties back into, Am I My Brother’s Keeper. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” – John 15:6-11. Now, we can look at the other side, Cain.
We have seen an abundance of similarities with Abel and how to be a keeper of the sheep. What does it mean to be a tiller of the ground? Paul teaches us, “they that are in the flesh cannot please GOD.” The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee before being converted on the road to Damascus. He was one who knew very well the letter of the Law. He never thought twice about persecuting or even killing those of the Sect of the Nazarenes. What was it though, that was different about this specific group of people who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why were they all so upset, to the extremity of putting someone to death for being a follower of the Way?
Let us begin by looking at a parable of the Messiah. We can take His words, and His message, and compare it to the understanding that Paul had obtained by walking in newness of Spirit, and not in oldness of Letter. We will be looking at Mark 7:14-23, using the KJV Bible. “And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 7:14-16.
Before we continue, as some may begin to think that they know what Jesus is speaking about, let me ask you a question. Is he only talking about your mouth? What about your heart? What about both? What if there was even more here that most of us aren’t even aware of? Let us continue. “And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.” – Mark 7:17-20. These verses, very few would even dispute over what is being said. But, what about what Jesus says next?
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” – Mark 7:21-23. Why does He mention fornications? Why does He mention covetousness? Why does he mention lasciviousness? Why are they sperate from adulteries? Are they not one in the same? Couldn’t it just be summed up with that one word? The answer is no. Paul was taught by the Spirit of All Truth, and not after the tradition of men. He already knew the Law. After his conversion, he was teaching the new covenant, or what we all know as the New Testament. Were you aware that there was another law, a higher law? Have you taken the time to read the Book of Romans? What about Hebrews? Does some of it sound like gibberish? Have you glossed over a lot of it? I know that I used to. The majority of it presented itself to me in much of the same way prior to my own conversion. Now, I understand all that I ask the Father about, with perfect clarity. At least I can say, with the amount of His Word, which has now become the greater part of me.
What does all of this have to do with Cain and being a tiller of the ground? Paul tells us in Romans 7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” “They that are in the flesh, cannot please God.” Let us now take Paul’s understanding to solidify the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who were followers of The Way. Before doing so, I will add to the Old Testament, and the New. Within the Old Testament, we have the Law, or what most of us would call the ten commandments. Although, the New Testament translated, literally means, the new covenant. There are two separate laws. There is the natural man, and there is a spiritual man. There is a carnal mind, and a spiritual mind. There is a Levitical priesthood, and a Melchizedek priesthood. There is a natural law, and a spiritual law. Paul tells us in Galatians, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” There are the “Cain’s” and there are the “Abel’s.”
Romans 8 begins as such, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Let us now backtrack to Romans 7, and build further upon, what we all have just gazed at. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” The Old Testament, and the New. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, and the law of sin and death.
“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.” – Luke 5:37-39. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Jesus Christ gave us the Way. He is the Way. He taught us how each of us need to walk, in order to please God. He taught us not to live under the Law, but to live even better. He taught us about abstinence. It is necessary for our eternal salvation, and for our own conversion.
To sum everything up, we all have something to offer the LORD. Everyone has at least one talent. The interesting thing is, the person with only one talent, never did anything at all with it. All of the others, gained other talents. So, the question now my brothers and sisters, are you a keeper of the sheep, or a tiller of the ground? Will you continue to walk after the ways of the world, living in the flesh, holding on, and looking back? Or, will you let go, trust in the Father to lead and guide you, not worrying so much about tomorrow, bills, things to do, places to go, and sights to see, while together, we continue to crucify our flesh with all of it’s lusts, passions, and desires, taking the LORD’s yoke upon us, as it is easy and light?
Jesus gave us the Way, the Truth, and the Life within the Gospels. If you don’t know the Messiah’s words, you can’t fully understand the epistles. Jesus Christ is the whole foundation of the church, and we live or die off of what he said. Not our understanding of only one or two verses elsewhere. Especially if we don’t know what is being said. The epistles of Paul are given as an example to different churches in their own conversion process, and with their own level of understanding. Once you read all of 1 Corinthians 7, and understand the “folly” of the carnally minded church in 2 Corinthians, you see how Paul even says this towards the end when speaking upon sex, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” He says more than once in the chapter that he is speaking and not the Lord, and not as an authority of the subject. The Apostles even say this when Jesus is teaching about the most misunderstood word, “fornication,” in this final Biblical age, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” Yet, here is the real punch in the gut when you know this. “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
I pray that this will find root within good ground, as it is planted with love. In the Book of Revelation we are cautioned in regards to the Church in Ephesus and Sardis. The church in Ephesus is told, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” The church is Sardis is told, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
It all fundamentally boils down to the two great commandments. Love GOD with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:19-20. Am I my brother’s keeper? We all are…
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As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. – Numbers 6:23-27.
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