Cain and Abel: Our History and More (Not So Great) Firsts, Part 2 (Genesis 4:3-15)

One’s attitude of heart toward this matter of approaching and knowing God actually determines his destiny in eternity. . . .”  – Henry M. Morris

Adam’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, show the first great division of humanity concerning their attitude toward God. Where Adam and Eve sinned only against God, sin quickly snowballed into tragedy through their firstborn son, Cain, who sinned against both God and man.

Adam’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, show the first great division of humanity concerning their attitude toward God. Where Adam and Eve sinned only against God, sin quickly snowballed into tragedy through their firstborn son, Cain, who sinned against both God and man.

Genesis 4:5 tells us that God rejected Cain’s offering, but accepted Abel’s. Beyond being the first shepherd, Abel is listed as the first member of the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. (For more on faith, see Abraham Justified By Faith, Faith Factor, Growing in Faith). Abel is also recorded as the first martyr for truth (Matthew 23:35).

Although the Bible doesn’t give specifics why God rejected Cain’s offering—fruits of the soil—both brothers knew God’s expectations. Maybe Cain resented Abel’s insistence of obeying God. (Abel was deemed the first prophet, Luke 11:49-51.) Maybe Cain determined to prove his self-sufficiency with his own produce, regardless of God’s curse from sin.

Whatever the reasons, God evaluates both the quality and motives of our offerings (Prov. 21:27). Cain’s offering failed God’s standards and specific instructions.

Instead of evaluating why God disapproved of his offering, Cain reacted in hot anger.

In response to Cain’s anger, God replied: “. . . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it,” (Genesis 4:6-7).

(This is the first time sin is mentioned in the Bible.)

God’s reply to Cain identifies his haughtiness, pride, and probable growing resentment toward his brother. Although God graciously gave Cain a second chance to right his wrong, Cain refused.

Seeds of jealousy, envy, and anger soon blossomed into hatred and eventually cold-blooded murder of his brother, Abel (Gen. 4:8).

God is patient and merciful, but He won’t always put up with sin. Although Cain stilled his brother’s prophesying voice, God’s voice had the final say: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground . . . . When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth,” (Gen. 4:10-11).

(This is the first mention of blood in the Bible.)

Although God views human life as very sacred, He didn’t demand capital punishment as commanded later (Gen. 9:5). Instead, “He put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him,” (Gen. 4:15). Maybe Cain would still repent. Maybe Cain would remind others of sin’s consequence.

So What?

  • God deserves our best in time, talents, and money.
  • Satan is real and will do anything to get us to follow his deadly path. We may not think of ourselves as murderers, but as long as we live on earth: sin still “crouches at our doors”. Only through God’s Holy Spirit can we master sin.
  • Is there a small sin that needs to be uprooted in your life?

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