In the fourth chapter of Genesis things go way down hill. Adam and Eve have two sons: Cain (the oldest) and Abel (the second born). Now Cain was a farmer, he tilled the ground. Abel was a Sheppard over his flock of sheep. This is the very first family on earth. God created Adam and Eve; they had Cain and Abel. I am curious if Adam or Eve were envious of the fact Cain and Abel had belly buttons and they had none. It is a weird question I will have to ask them when we all stand before the glory of the Lord.
All seems like it would be wonderful, considering there are only four people on the whole of the earth, but things are never what they seem.
“(3) And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. (4) Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, (5) but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:3-5)
I can relate to how Cain must have felt. I have done things for God before and been angry or upset by the outcome because I didn’t get what I want. I made the same mistake that Cain did in giving God what I wanted to give God, instead of what God wanted me to give God. And that is a huge difference in thought processes. It isn’t up to me, just like it wasn’t up to Cain, to decide what is good enough for our Lord.
In the previous chapter God made it clear what he thought was a suitable offering to Him. The first animal sacrifice was made to atone for Adam and Eve’s sins. The blood of the animal covered their souls while the hides of the animal covered their bodies. Abel understood this and gave God not just any of his flock, but the first born sheep.
Now I have heard the arguments that the reason Abel brought the sheep was because he was a Sheppard. Cain was a farmer; he brought the equivalent in his own way. He brought fruit because that is what he tilled, what he did for a living. But, by that same logic I shouldn’t be held to the same standard as a Preacher or Pastor. They, after all, make their living by preaching God’s word; I make my living by massage. Does that mean I should be held less accountable in God’s eyes? No. God has one set of standards, one set of laws, and one set of commandments for the entire human race. He doesn’t change them based on who were are, where we come from, or what we do. God is the one constant, never changing, being in all of everything. There is a HUGE amount of comfort in that fact.
“(6) So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? (7) If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6, 7)
God should be credited for the very first, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ lesson. God doesn’t just give us one shot at this (thankfully!!!). He tells us that if we do well, if we obey him, we will be accepted. There is no reason to give up, and act like a petulant child simply because our first attempt was wrong. God didn’t scold Cain. He didn’t caste Cain out. God did what He did to set a standard, to show He will not bend down to our whims and wants. We must rise up to meet His (Hallelujah!). Take comfort in this fact.
Our Lord also gave us a warning in this passage. He makes it very clear. Either we do well in doing His will, or we don’t do well and we do another’s will. I can give you one guess whose will that is. God tells Cain that if he chooses to not do as God asks sin is lurking in wait for him. Sin lies at the door, waiting for you to open it so it has a chance to invade the home of your soul.
God also tells us that sin isn’t something casual that you happen upon. It isn’t an inanimate object that you can avoid. Sin desires you, it seeks you out. It wants to consume you. Sin wants to corrupt you. Sin will lie in wait, finding ways to twist you up in its tangled web. But God assures us that we are not doomed to become lost to sin. We can rule over it. We should rule over it. We should not let it control us.
It is a shame that Cain didn’t listen. And this is where the huge leap downward began. It also speaks of human nature, sadly. Cain kills Abel, his own brother. Not a stranger, but his own flesh in blood. Abel didn’t do anything to Cain, other than earn God’s favor. That, too, is a bit of a promise. Sin, and evil, will seek out to strike down those in God’s favor. What is truly sad is that the first murderer in the world shows no remorse for that murder. This is shown in these next verses.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9)
That is a very snarky reply, and how many times have people throughout history quoted Cain for it? Too many. It really shouldn’t be something worthy of quoting. It shows a complete lack of regard for your brother/sister. It shows self-centeredness. We are, in truth, completely responsible for our brothers and sisters (blood and non-blood related). We are held accountable for how we treat one another. God’s main commandment through Christ is to love one another as Jesus loved us. That makes us accountable for how we treat people. We are supposed to care about the whereabouts of our brothers and sisters. We are supposed to care about what they are up to and what they are doing. Which really goes against the current world views of “it’s all about me!”
“And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground’” (Genesis 4:10)
We cannot hide our sins from God. He knows all, sees all, and hears all—even those who are dead. He does not have limits or boundaries. We have no deep, dark places inside of us where He cannot reach. That should frighten you, but it should also be something wonderful. God knows you. And in a world where most people simply want to be known and seen rejoice in the knowledge that God does know you and see you. He finds you worthy enough of His time to look and to seek.
“’(11) So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened up its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. (12) When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on earth.’
(13) And Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! (14) Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’
(15) And the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” (Genesis 4:11-15)
Cain’s livelihood was taken from him. He was a farmer, and God told him that the earth would no longer provide for him. God took away Cain’s home, his stability, and any sense of belonging. He would be a fugitive, constantly on the run, and a vagabond. It pretty much shows you what God thinks of Cain’s behaviors. Things such as jealousy, anger, murder, and unbrotherly behaviors will lead to emptiness in every sense of the word.
Cain is put out by this punishment. Notice he doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t repent. Cain, still, is only worried about himself. He is worried about not seeing God, even though he never really saw God in the first place. He is worried about being killed. He doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that he killed his brother. It is still all about Cain.
God, being the ever merciful God that He is, redeems Cain in one way. He marks Cain so that no man will kill him. God is a merciful God, and ever patient and forgiving, even when we don’t deserve it. God loves Cain, despite everything, and will keep even a horrific sinner safe.
Now the next few verses go through the lineage of Cain. Cain was married and had a son, Enoch. Enoch was also married to one woman and had a son named Irad. Irad was the father of Mehujael; Mehujael was the father of Methushael; and Methushael was the father of Lamech.
Now Lamech is the next ‘great’ man to introduce to us a new sin. God made it clear that one man and one woman come together to become one flesh. Lamech decides this is not for him, and takes two wives. So again, in a very short time the human race had distorted God’s will and want for us. The precious gift God gave to us, so that we are never alone, is mutilated into something than what it should be. I can’t imagine the heartbreak it causes God to see us destroy something so beautiful that He gave to us.
Good ole Lamech doesn’t stop there, however, he takes another step down to hell.
“(23) Then Lamech said to his wives:
‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. (24) If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.’” (Genesis 4:23, 24)
Wow. Talk about some brass on that man. Lamech boasts of murdering a man who merely hurt him. This passage speaks of how rapidly the human race is sinking into its depraved nature. Lamech, again, goes one step further and speaks as if he were God. God is the one who put the protection on Cain. Lamech assumes he has the same power, and obviously thinks himself much greater than Cain. It’s sad how quickly man dives into sin.
The chapter ends on a note of hope, thankfully. It goes back to Adam and Eve. They have a third son and name him Seth. Eve praises God for giving her another son to replace Abel. This is important because this is the start of God’s great, redeeming plan. The bloodline of Noah, and the bloodline of Christ, can be traced back to Seth.
God keeps good to his word to proved Eve with a Seed that will stomp on the head of the serpent, otherwise known as Satan. And so despite the fact that humanity is spiraling downward the chapter ends on a good note.
“And as for Seth, to him also a song was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.”(Genesis 4:26)
In the midst of sin, debauchery, murder, and mayhem God is still praised. There are still a few good souls out there who call to Him and worship Him. It is those few good souls that keep God from destroying the world in the flood. I will get to that soon enough. But let that give you hope, and be a light in your heart. As long as there are a few of us out there who worship Him, praise Him, and adore Him then God will continue showing us His long suffering patience and mercy. He will give us one more day to try to save one more soul. His patience does have a time limit to it. One day, soon, it will run out.
It is because of that very fact that I am sharing this with you.