“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11)
Jude compares the awful examples of three Old Testament characters to leaders in the New Testament church who have used their influence for evil. Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve and had every opportunity to excel. Yet he chose a “way” that not only ended in the horrible murder of his brother but also resulted in an entire culture in rebellion against God.
The murder was preceded by a flagrant disobedience that was expressed when the family came to offer their sacrifices to the Creator. Cain brought an offering of the “fruit” of his own labor from tilling the ground. Abel’s offering was a “firstling” from the flock that he kept (Genesis 4:3-5). Why did God “respect” Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?
God’s commentary on this event (Hebrews 11:4) tells us that Abel “obtained witness” that his sacrifice was a righteous action that testified of his obedience. The Genesis account does not give much information, but it is clear that the first family were following instructions—likely emulating the sacrifice that God made to clothe Adam and Eve after they sinned (Genesis 3:21).
Cain began a “way” many years before (a lifestyle, a broad road) that turned his heart away from simple obedience to God’s instructions. Cain’s occupation (farmer) was certainly OK. He provided food for the growing world population. But when the regular sacrifice came due, Cain decided that he would “show” God his own works rather than follow God’s requirement of bringing an innocent life in sacrifice.
That way, of course, is the way “which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). HMM III