This is an an attempt to look a little more deeply into the judgment of God, and the foundations of His love and wisdom through the “dispensation suitable to the fulness of times, the gathering together of all things into one in Christ”.
Between Cain and Able, we see the clear “two paths” that begin at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, take its next step of separation in the family of human kind.
Abel’s blood, as God stated and Jesus reiterated, is “crying out from the ground” along with that of all the prophets and sages slain from the beginning. It is crying out against the indifference of “Cainites” like the Pharisees or any so-called leaders/shepherds forsaking the call to serve their fellow man in order to increase their own wealth and stature. It is the same “voice crying out from the wilderness, make every crooked path straight, prepare the way of the Lord”.
For me this returns to the two great comands "Love the Lrd your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength"nd “Love your neighbor as yourself and the second is the same as the first”- where Jesus shows that the essense of true faith is love, as Paul also said, “true religion is to care for the fatherless and visit widows and orphans in their affliction”, and “faith which works by love”…
Spiritual “Cainites” judge by what they know and the power they think that some exclusive hold on esoteric knowledge gives them over other men- and they will kill to preserve it. “They will kill you and think they are doing God a service”…“Man looks at the outward appearance and God looks at the heart”- as Jesus demonstrated in the parable known as “The Good Samaritan”.
This(imo) is the danger of trying to judge the whole world by what we think we know as Chrstians and categorize people by little doctrinal creeds like the Nicene creed or the “Four Spiritual Laws” or whatever. In the human race God see’s each heart and the actions of every being in relation to the law written on each heart, “the light that lighteth every man who comes into the world”(John ch. 1) and “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”(Rom ch 1) and "For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus(Rom ch 2).
In this it seems to me that the scriptures teach a category of “judgment/discernment” for all of mankind that is before, fundamental to, and included in the knowledge of the true gospel of Jesus or Law of Moses, in this age and all former ages. It is pretty simple and based on responses to the hidden law of the heart that is also declared through creation in some way beyond simple mental understanding of philosophy or theology- and certainly higher and deeper than systematic theology.
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.” This scripture in Acts, along with the former ones(imo) is a statement reflecting this universal law that transcends the ages and the dispensations and covers all the questions like, “What about the African who ever heard the gospel” or “What about the barbarian or Scythian who never heard the law” etc, etc, As Paul said to Timothy, "The foundation of God stands sure, inscribed with the words, “The Lord knows them that are His (2 Tim 2:19)” an example being as the Lord knew the “Good Samaritan”.
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men [by raising Him from the dead.” This portion reflects the further developement of light under the gospel of Christ, as Paul described it in terms not so much as doctrines and details but as… “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”(2 Cor 4), or as Paul said to Timothy in the rest of verse 19, “[color=navy]and let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”, as an example of the higher call for those who have received Jesus, the greatest light and sourcce of all light.
The Lord knows those who are His, and Many will say unto Him Lord Lord, to whom He will respond, “I never knew you”- because they did not acknowledge the fundamental law of the divine nature and the love of God- that hidden law of the heart. In all their seeing they did not perceive- in all their hearing, they did not understand.
So I would say that the first law, before the Law of Moses or the Gospel of Christ is the foundation in all men and all creation upon which the further developements of light, not so much exceeding it but rather blooming out of it, and intended in the same spirit, is the law written upon the heart which those who the Lord knows are walking in, in any of these dispensations, and so validating the light they have received(moses or Jesus) rather than defiling it and breaking the testimony to the world thast God’s righteousness is love. So Cain and Able walked through the ancient world, they walked within the kingdom of Israel, they walk through the “church”(as the birds of the air who lodge in the branches of the mustard tree perhaps) and by all I can see they will walk also through the millenia to come, until every adversary is subjected to Christ and grafted into the “all in all”.
Spiritual “Abel-ites” (Abel lights ;o)offer sacrifices in humility, in love for God and man and the truth that is in Jesus, “No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend”, “Who are our friends?”…the afore-said nieghbors, fatherless, widows, orphans, thirsty, naked, in prison, etc…“Yield your bodies a living sacrifice and so prove what is the good and perfect and acceptable will of God” …“As you have done to the least of these”
“I judge no one but the word I speak judges”.
Nowhere is this more clearly stated(imo) than in James, who gets so little credit for his teachings on love, in James chapter 3, showing the two trees and the pathways of Abel and Cain…
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing(Cainites). But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.(Abel-lights)
Cain being the prototypical carnal man(You lust and you cannot have so you kill and make war -James)
Abel being the protype of the Lamb, the spirital man Christ(Not my will but Yours be done- Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane)
The Garden of Gethsemane is the pathway back to Eden, where Eden grows in human hearts, not tablets of stone, a testimony of life and love and light rather than laws and ordinances and so-called knowledge of arcane and esoteric doctrinal beliefs about God and the scriptures. It is the place where Christ truly laid down His life, when He resolved to do the Father’s will even tho it revulsed Him forseeing the shame and ignominy and pain- for the joy set before Him, the salvation of all mankind, and because it pleased the Father.
"For this reason God also highly exalted Him…
“For so it pleased the Father to make all the fulness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself through the blood of His cross, through Him I say, whether things in heaven or in earth.”
Through the dispensation of the fulness of times the kind intention of God has been consistent from the beginning and working in every dispensation to gather all things into one in Christ"(sum up) and this conflict between Cain and Abel has been at the root of it, even as Jesus testified before the Pahrisees, to help them see they were “in Cain”, so that they would recognize the lesson of their own history, and that even as Adam’s “eating” necessitated(by God’s design of course) the slaying of the Lamb, so also their encampment beneath the tree of knowledge disqualified them from “eating” the tree of life- which is fellowship/communion with Jesus who is in Abel, who in turn(wheels within wheels) proceeded from Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
I love this Psalm as an example of the “Way of Cain” vs “The Way of Able” as a manifestation of this “law written on the heart” from which “they (all men) are without excuse” because from the beginning God has testified to His divine nature and eternal power, through the things He has made, and in the end He will know all on the Day he judges the “secrets of men’s hearts” through Jesus Christ- because from their birth until their death, whether in righteous love or selfish iniquty, it was in Him they lived and moved and had their being- not a breath or a though or a word escaped His notice.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.