Cain Does Not Do Well
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 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, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
We noted last week, that sin, left unchecked creates a spiral of attitudes and actions that continually lead one away from God’s grace and blessing into cursing, death and judgment. These stories in Genesis 1-11 cover a very long period of time. They should be seen as a table of contents for the book of living! The goal of all of life is to get people to conform to the will of God. We are meant to live God’s way. When we find our desires contrary to God’s, then we are at a powerful crossroads in life.
The story of Cain killing Abel stands as a negative example that shows how people are overcome by sin, just as Eve and Adam falling into sin does.
For the COI it stands as a warning against breaking God’s laws. For us it stands as a warning against following our desires and breaking God’s laws.
- All Sin is Against God
- It is God’s decision that makes Cain angry
- God’s decision about Cain’s sacrifice
God’s decision about Abel, which makes him look bad by contrast.
We all experience different trials and life experiences that challenge us.
Peter and John at the end of the Gospel of John:
John 21: 20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
- It is God’s warning
God’s word to Cain is an act of His grace. God wants Cain to do well. But God will allow Cain to do poorly and discover the curses that are waiting for him.
Abel’s sacrifice looks like the appropriate sacrifice for the COI. This is a reinforcement about what they are to bring to God. There are other stories from Exodus and Numbers about people rebelling and claiming to have an appropriate way to God. This always leads to disaster. In Cain’s sacrifice is contained every religious effort of man that is not following Jesus Christ.
Cain’s sacrifice was a sacrifice.
Cain’s sacrifice was to God.
Cain’s sacrifice cost him something.
Cain’s sacrifice was not in obedience to God’s desire and will.
Cain should then change his sacrifice.
Cain is unwilling. Why is that? Why would Cain be so angry that his plans and will are not accepted by God?
The Word of God is gracious when you hear it. And when you hear it, it is time to respond to it!
- We do not get to set God’s standards
It doesn’t matter if you have a PHD in philosophy, psychology, theology, sociology or any of the humanities. Until you are God you do not get to set God’s standards.
All religions other than following Christ are not what God desires.
This does not mean that there is no truth in other religions. Look, Cain can easily argue: I worked hard to bring this sacrifice to you. It demonstrates much that is good and right. And he would be right.
Just like Saul said, we kept the best of the Amalekite’s animals to bring them back and sacrifice them to You God. And God says, ”Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” “To obey is better than sacrifice” and then God rejects Saul.
- God Continues to Curse Sin
- Similar conversation to Adam and Eve
“Where is Abel?”
“What have you done?”
This time Cain just outright lies to God. This is an example of a hardened heart and a darkened mind.
Cain just complains about the severity of his punishment. Pitiful. What does Cain deserve?
- Cain is displaced from his life
Cursed with weakness
Cursed with wandering
Cursed with separation from his family
Cursed with separation from God’s presence: Cain moves East of Eden. Where is the Promised Land? It is West!
- Death from sin is not immediate
It is deserved! But God is patient! It is interesting to note that Lamech takes this promise from God to avenge Cain and extends it to himself and then multiplies it by 10. Lamech is an atheist. And he is not a nice one.
III. God Still Gives Grace
- God’s Word gives light
Each time God speaks in this story, there is an opportunity to have life!
Why are you angry? Now this is an excellent question that God speaks to Cain. We might ask, why are you proud? Or, why are you competing instead of cooperating? Or why are you drawn to this sinful pleasure? Our sin is very often a manifestation of an underlying issue. Cain is angry with Abel. But really Cain is angry with God. Life is not fair. We don’t have any indication that Cain has acted in bad faith in his sacrifice. But it doesn’t really matter. God has spoken, this is his opportunity to adjust his sacrifice to what God wants.
Have you ever asked yourself this same question from God about your anger? The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. I don’t know if I have ever seen righteous anger expressed well. If God is patient and is storing up wrath, then perhaps we should be too.
What have you done? Given enough time with their sin, people will justify it and then change the standard of behavior to include it as being Ok. We need to own our sin.
- God’s patience waits on judgement
What does Cain deserve? Do you think Adam might be a little angry with him? What about Eve? Who do you think will carry out the killing of Cain? What about Abel’s family? They all have a right to take the life of Cain. But God says “No.” Why? Well, the institution of capital punishment for murder is not until the covenant with Noah.
Repentance is the goal of patience. And after death there is no time for repentance. This is God’s grace. But God’s patience with sin creates the requirement of the same with His people, and even all of creation which groans waiting for Christ to return according to Romans 8.
- Do well and be accepted
How well do I have to do? Do well and be accepted right now. Make it your life’s goal to do well. Experientially, when God speaks to you about a present course of action, do well, respond in repentance and obedience.
When you encounter the Word of God as you read it hear it taught, respond in repentance and obedience. This is your pathway to life. It is what God told Cain. He rejected God’s Word. He was cursed.