Genesis 4: From the Fall to the First murder

Posted: January 11, 2011 in Devotionals

Genesis Chapter 3 tells of the Fall of humanity into sin with Adam and Eve committing the first act of rebellion against God. With that first sin came a whole mess of problems. First and foremost, sin caused a rift in the relationship between God and man. Where peace and goodness and fellowship once existed….there was now animosity and hostility….in a word… beef! And on top of that…this act of rebellion led to all kinds of problems for the way people relate to each other. Sin ruins interpersonal relationships. We see that clearly in the curse handed down to Eve (Genesis 3:16), and we’ll get to see it again…up close and personal in chapter 4.

But first, I want to point out a few glimmers of hope in this otherwise bad situation (as I promised I would). Genesis 3 gives us 3 signs that all is not lost. That this whole thing is not doomed to end badly: The promise in verse 15, the naming of Eve in verse 20 and the garments of skin that were created in verse 21.

First off, the promise: In verse 15, the LORD says that the serpent will have his head bruised by one of the woman’s descendants. He’s gonna get smashed. Dealt a deathblow. His deception and rebellion and sin will not go on forever…it will be put to an end. This promise should heighten the reader’s attention and get them on the lookout for this one who will crush the serpent and his evil. Secondly, there’s the naming of Eve in verse 20.Interestingly enough, Eve doesn’t receive her name until after the Fall. The name Eve means “life-giver”. So after the tragic entrance of sin into the world (which the LORD promised would bring death), we have signs of life. Lastly, we have the LORD clothing Adam and Eve with “garments of skin”. The LORD covers their nakedness and shame. Even after sin, the LORD shows grace and undeserved kindness to Adam and Eve. There is hope! Keep that in mind as we look at chapter 4.

Things pick up with Adam and Eve having their first child…Cain. Then after Cain is born, Eve gives birth to his bro Abel. Before long, we have a case of sibling rivalry. Cain and Abel worked different kinds of jobs … and both brothers made offerings to the LORD. We’re told that…” the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for can and his offering he had no regard.” (Genesis 4:4-5). The Bible doesn’t expressly tell us why the LORD had no regard for Cain or his offering, but I gather that it had more to do with Cain’s heart and his attitude than with the offering itself.

The text says that…”Cain was very angry, and his face fell.” (v.5) Because the LORD wasn’t pleased with him or his sacrifice, Cain was furious and down in the dumps. He was angry at the LORD. He was not happy with the LORD’s assessment of him and what he had offered.

Here again we see the continued sinfulness of men. It seems innocent enough that Cain was upset, but think about what his anger and disappointment are saying about God? In his heart, he thinks that the LORD is not right and possibly that the LORD is treating him unfairly. Do you see? Does this sound familiar? Like father (and mother) like son. Cain is allowing the sin in his heart to cloud his vision of the goodness and justice of God. God is loving and kind and he always does what is right and fair….but Cain forgets this because he’s blinded by anger and feelings of self-pity.

Even after the LORD warns Cain about his sin….he murders his brother in a fit of jealous rage. Think about this…Cain killed his brother (a man who ,like all human beings, was made in the image and likeness of God). Cain was clearly not just jealous of his brother…he was angry at God and as a result, he lashes out as one of his image bearers. His murder is cold-blooded and heartless. When the LORD comes and asks about Abel’s whereabouts, Cain replies in a calloused, smart-mouthed fashion….”I don’t know….am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 3:9).

Reading that line makes me cringe as I image myself making such a comment to my mother seconds before she drops me with a flurry of jabs to the throat! Wow….look at what humanity has fallen to so quickly. Cold-blooded murder and calloused hearts before a holy God…with no remorse….

Here again we see this pattern that gets laid out in the garden after Adam and Eve sins. God hands out judgment/punishment to Cain for his sin (Genesis 4:11-12) AND yet he still shows mercy and grace. Cain is afraid for his life after the LORD tells him his punishment (v. 14) but the LORD assures him that…”If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”- v.15. And on top of that, we are told that “…the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.” v. 15

What an amazing God! He shows grace to sinners! He shows grace to people who commit sins that we think are unforgivable. Yes…he deals severely with sin, because it is horrible rebellion and disrespect against Him. It displeases and even angers him, but he still shows grace. We see that clearly in the account of Cain and Abel. Against the horrible backdrop of the continued spread of sin (Cain killing Abel) the LORD’s kindness and grace shine bright.

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