Genesis 4:8-16

December 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. “When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear! “Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

This week we continue delving into Genesis chapter 4. Last week we looked at the sacrifices offered up by Cain and Abel. When we ended, God had accepted Abel’s sacrifice of the flock but had rejected Cain’s sacrifice from the fruit of the ground. Cain had gotten mad, and God warned Cain that sin was crouching at the door and its desire was for him.

Verse 8 starts off in an interesting way. It says that Cain told Abel. While it doesn’t say what Cain told him, you would have to think that Cain was relating what had taken place between he and God. We know that Cain was mad about his offering being rejected, but you would think that the last person that he would talk to about it was the one whose offering was accepted. It is also interesting because of what is found in Hebrews 11:2 –

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

Here we see that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith and that it was a better sacrifice. Because of his obedience and faith, Abel showed himself to be righteous. Cain, because he neglected to offer what God required, failed to obey God and had his sacrifice rejected. The two brothers were from the same parents but were diametrically opposed in terms of spiritual character. Abel obeyed and was righteous, Cain didn’t obey and wasn’t righteous. While we don’t know what was said between Cain and Abel, or how long it was between the time that Cain talked to Abel about his encounter with God and the time that Cain killed Abel, we do know that Cain killed his brother.

After the sin was committed, Cain is given the same chance as his father Adam was given. God comes to Cain and asks him a simple question. “Where is Abel your brother?” Like the instance in the garden, God is not fooled. He knows exactly where Abel is. He is asking Cain this to give him an opportunity to confess his sin. Cain, however, denies that he knows where Abel is. After Cain fails to come clean about his murder, God reveals that He knows exactly what happened to Abel. How often do we act just like our father Adam when confronted with our own sin? How often do we boldly deny our sin in the very face of God?

As a punishment for his sin, Cain is “cursed from the ground”. The ground that Cain loved so much, the ground that gave him his livelihood would no longer yield to his hand. God states that Cain will be a vagrant and a wanderer for the rest of his life. Cain responds to the LORD with grief saying that the punishment is too great for him to bear. Like his mother, he adds to what the Lord has said. God told him that the ground would no longer yield to him and that he would be a vagrant and wanderer. Cain adds to this by saying that he will be hidden from God’s face and that whoever finds him will kill him. This may have been due in part to Cain’s fear that one of his other brothers would kill him if they found him. Again, look at how Cain responds when his sin is pointed out to him. Instead of being humble and admitting his sin, confessing it to God, and repenting of it and moving on; Cain digs in his heels. When God gives a just punishment (all punishment from God is just) for Cain’s murder (which wasn’t what it could have been!), Cain doesn’t acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty or right to judge his sin. Instead, Cain focuses on himself and what will happen to him. He whines to God about something that could have been prevented had he not killed his brother. How many times have your or I done the same thing? We’ve knowingly committed a sin, failing to think through the consequences (or worse yet, knowing the consequences and ignoring them!). Then, when God’s punishment for our sin is meted out, we rail and moan about how terrible it is and how we’ll never live through it. Didn’t God warn Cain? Doesn’t He warn us? Who are we to grumble and complain about the just punishment for our sins? And yet we still do it…

To ease Cain’s mind and, once again, show His mercy to Cain, God let’s him know that anyone that kills Cain will receive seven times the vengeance. It then says that the Lord appointed a sign to Cain so that anyone finding him would not kill him. What was the sign that was appointed to Cain? We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say. This is extremely important to keep in mind any time you study scripture. Many times, we bring our own biases and things that we’ve “learned” from other Christians. Unfortunately, these things may not be scripturally sound. For a long time it was thought that the “mark” put upon Cain was his skin color. For years many Christians and other religions like Mormonism believed that those with black skin were the descendants of Cain and still carried the curse. None of this is scriptural. We aren’t told what the mark was or what form it took. The only thing that we do know about the mark is that it would have been plain enough for anyone to recognize and therefore leave Cain alone.

The end of our passage has Cain leaving God’s presence and traveling further east to the land of Nod.

Next week we will continue with Cain’s life but before we end this week’s study, there is one other passage that I wanted to bring to your attention. It is a passage in the book of 1 John 3:

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. or this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:10-17)

Here, John says that the children of the devil and the children of God are obvious. One of the ways that it is obvious who is of God and who is not is whether or not you love the brethren. John reminds us that this is the message that we have heard from the beginning. We are to love one another, not like Cain, who was of the evil one. Here we find out that Cain killed Abel because his deeds were evil and Abel’s were righteous. John then goes on to say that we shouldn’t be surprised when the world hates us. If we truly love the brethren, then the world will hate us; we won’t even have to try. If we love the brethren, then we can know that we have been born again. If we fail to love the brethren, then we abide in death. But, what does this love look like? John tells us:

We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

This is how we love. The same way that Christ loves us. Do you love the brethren enough to lay down your life for them? Would you be willing to give your life for another Christian, regardless of whether or not you knew them? Would you be willing to die for someone that hated you? That’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross, and John says that it is what we should be ready and willing to do because we love Him and are born of God. How do you love, like Cain or like Christ?

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