Taming the Pain From The Stain of Cain
Scripture: Genesis 4:1– 5:32
Taming the Pain from the Stain of CainGenesis 4:1-26
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
We are now seven lessons into our study of Genesis. The name "Genesis" means "beginnings." In chapter 1 God created the heavens and the earth. In chapter 2 we have a detailed account as to how God created man. In chapter 3 man created sin by being disobedient to God. And now in chapter 4 we will see the creation of the first children. And what a tremendous story this is with incredible application!
Adam and Eve, due to their disobedience had now been expelled from the Garden. Amid curses and consequences, there was a hope of a better tomorrow. They were told the seed of the woman, 3:15, would indeed crush the head of the serpent in the future, but in the meantime life as Adam and Eve knew it would never be the same. Their relationships to God and to each other and to nature would be different. Though physical death now awaited them in the future, the big question was, how would life go on in this new world that they were deceived by Satan into thinking they'd desire? Paradise was over - no doubt about that - but where do they go from here, and what will be the ongoing consequences of having sin now present in the world? And most of all, where would God now be in this mess they created?
This morning as we prepare for the Lord's Table we'll answer those questions because the world they created is the same world we exist in today. So where is God in a sin-cursed world?
1. The Children (4:1-2)
The first point, Adam and Eve have two children. The original couple was produced directly by God; now this couple through the normal means will produce two children. The first one, according to verse 1 was named, "Cain" and the second one according to verse 2 was named Abel.
Cain's name means, "gotten." As Eve said in verse 1, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD." No doubt this was an exciting day for Eve. Not only did she welcome her first child into the world, but I have to believe she saw in Cain the fulfillment of the Lord's promise that her seed would conquer Satan and turn this mess around. In her opinion, Cain was the promised child. But little did she realize that the seed God spoke about in 3:15 was Jesus Christ, the true Promised Child, who would come on the scene many years later. But in Eve's thinking at the time: "Life presently stinks. Hope was promised through my biological seed. Cain is my seed. Things are going to start getting better. Hey, that wasn't so bad!" Sadly she could have not been more mistaken.
2. The Offering (4:3-5)
Let's move to the second point. Verse 2 tells us that Abel was a rancher, he worked with livestock, while Cain was a farmer who worked with food from the ground. Verses 3-4, "So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions."
We know after our study from chapter 3 that God did not abandon Adam and Eve. The relationship had changed, but God was still with them. God was still pursuing them. And God was still demonstrating mercy upon them. Evidence of that here is His desire to still meet with and accept the worship of these four individuals.
We can't be dogmatic, but it appears that God prescribed regulations (perhaps places and times and means) as to how people could approach Him. And it was during one of these occasions that Abel brought an offering from his flock and Cain brought an offering from the ground. Then we read in verses 4 and 5, "And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard."
Why? Now we are getting into the heart of this message. Let me provide a couple possibilities.
One, our offerings must be in line with the Lord's expectations. We cannot approach Him anyway we wish. We know with later revelation that God demanded the shedding of innocent blood to come into His presence. Like us, these people that came before us were sinners and they needed a blood sacrifice to atone for their sin. Hebrews 9:22, "Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (cf. Lev. 17:11). And as we know with New Testament revelation, the shedding of animal blood pointed to the, John 1:29, "Lamb of God who [shed His blood to take] away the sin of the world." Jesus would be the true Promised Child. Jesus would be the One who shed His innocent blood to purchase the forgiveness of all who call upon Him. So as we walk by faith in God's promise that the blood of Jesus allows us as sinners to come into the presence of a holy God today, the early worshippers also walked by faith in God's promise that He would forgive their sin through the shedding of innocent blood until the Messiah (the One to whom all pointed) would arrive in His own "course of time" (Gen. 4:3; cf. Gal. 4:4).
We do know that God covered Adam and Eve's spiritual nakedness in 3:21 by shedding innocent blood. The question is, was this instruction that would definitely be available and clear through future biblical revelation be available and clear to them at this time? If it was, you can see how the Lord accepted Abel's offering from the flock and had no regard for Cain's bloodless offering.
But there is another reason we can be sure about that shows why the Lord was dissatisfied with Cain's offering. We don't see it directly here, but we do see it clearly in the New Testament. Hebrews 11:4a, "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous."
Our faith is always tied back to the Word of God. Abel had faith. Cain did not. So what did God say to them that Abel trusted and Cain distrusted? Obviously there was something. Maybe the need for a blood sacrifice. Maybe the need to trust God entirely for salvation. Maybe even the need to bring the offering with the right heart attitude. Whatever it was, Abel came with faith, and Cain came with unbelief. And an unbelieving heart is never pleasing in the Lord's sight. Obviously God cares about what we bring in our hands, but He cares more about what we bring in our hearts. And when we come to God with unbelief in our hearts, it often shows itself in the actions with which we worship. If we will worship Him properly, it must be on His terms through His means. Cain violated that!
Now before we move on, I think it's easy at this point to pat ourselves on the back and assume we identify more with Abel than we ever would with Cain. But before we do that, let's think about that for a moment. We know God rejected Cain's offering - nothing can be more tragic than that - but is there a chance that his offering exceeded perhaps what some of us consistently bring ourselves revealing even greater unbelief in our hearts?
Think about it. Cain seemed consistent to show up to worship God. Are you consistent to worship God? Do you get around to church when it's convenient or is the Lord's Day and the gathering with His people a priority in your life? We also have evidence that Cain brought an offering. It might have been the wrong kind, but it was nevertheless a sacrifice on his part. What kind of sacrifice are you making for the Lord? Is your financial offering a sacrifice? Can you consider your time and service and energy invested in the Lord's work here at Grace a sacrifice? We can knock Cain, but at least he was a participant. At least Cain showed up for church and he brought a sacrificial offering in the process! God wants and we need full participants-sacrificial worshippers driven by incredible faith. I am convinced that America's evangelical church is filled with consumers.
Back to Cain. If God commanded a blood sacrifice, Cain was disobedient to bring a plant sacrifice. God did command a heart of faith among those who approach Him. Cain came with unbelief. Today God commands those who approach Him to come having their sins washed in the blood of Jesus. Likewise God commands all who come to Him to come with a heart of faith that shows itself in our service and offerings. God will not adjust His standards now, and He did not adjust His standards then. Therefore God did not accept Cain's sacrifice, and Cain was quick to find out. Cain responds. The remainder of verse 5: "So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell."
We are now getting more insight into the heart of God and the wicked heart of Cain. We learned that sin entered the world. We learned that mothers would not only have pain in bearing children, but in pain they would raise children as well (Gen. 3:16). It only took one generation, folks, to prove the sad reality of that prophecy! Her firstborn was about to bring tremendous pain into her life, and it was all because of the sin that now could so easily dominate hearts. The verse says, "Cain became very angry." This wasn't righteous anger, my friends! This was from a prideful, self-righteous heart that was not only rejected by God, but was also shown-up by his little brother. I believe Cain was angry with both God and Abel, and the specific form of anger he directed toward Abel is called jealousy.
3. The Murder (4:6-8)
Let's move to the third point, "The Murder."
Cain is presently in a bad place and what do we see? It's not God running from him, but running to him in love with a warning. The guy is in a bad place and when we get in these places the sinful heart will often manifest itself in sinful actions. Sins are always attached to a long string of other sins. Heart sin gives birth to action sin. Very few just all of a sudden cheat on their spouse. Adultery often starts with a heart of lust or self-pity or vengeance. In the same way, very few just go out and kill someone. We will see that in a moment. Murder often starts with a heart of anger and jealousy and resentment.
So God graciously speaks to Cain. We can say he takes Cain to step one of church discipline. Verses 6 and 7, "Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
Sin is personified here as a violent animal waiting outside the door to devour its victim. Cain wanted to blame God and others for his problems. Anger and jealousy arise when we believe we are unfairly treated by someone else. They are given birth from the root sin of pride that thinks of ourselves higher than we ought. Instead of esteeming God and others above ourselves, we make ourselves out to be God and expect others to give us the worship we desire. Pride leads to anger and jealousy. And if the heart sins like anger and jealousy are not curbed, they will fester and lead to action sins culminating all the way to murder.
God is treating Cain not as a helpless victim. In His mercy He is urging Cain to repent. Nip the sin in the bud while there is still time! He is implying that Cain has the ability, as do all of us in Christ, to master our sin before it has an opportunity to master us! But how would Cain respond?
Verse 8, "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."
Cain refuses to heed God's counsel. He might have even received a warning from his brother when they spoke (Jesus in Luke 11 tells us that Abel was a prophet). His bitter heart is intent on following through with the sin. So while they are away from others with a place to hide the body in the field, he kills his brother in an act of premeditated murder. And this first act of murder recorded in the Scriptures was not between two strangers but between two brothers. Frequently we see in the text, "his brother."
Though thankfully it doesn't always go this far, this is the course of sin. Even among believers, love, due to the struggle in the flesh, does not come naturally. That is why we need Jesus, the Seed of the woman, to reverse the curse! In the New Testament we read, "For 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" (1 John 3:11-12).
4. The Consequence (4:9-24)
"The Consequence" - our fourth point.
Verse 9, "Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" We can hide our sin from the world, but we can't hide it from God. God comes to Cain just like He did to Adam and Eve in chapter 3, verses 9-13. Again, the goal is to seek repentance in Cain's heart. You have to think by now he was broken. Sadly, we see just the opposite in his response.
Cain is asked where his brother is. And Cain responds by saying in verse 9, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" In those few words Cain now added another sin. He directly lied to God. Even worse, he shakes God off like He's someone insignificant. No humility. No fear of God. He questions God's right to even question him! "Abel's a big boy. It is none of my business where he is. Leave me alone, God." A chip off the ole block! Adam didn't listen to God and now neither does his son.
God replies in verse 10, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground."
Here comes God's judgment: Let me just read it as our time is fleeting. Verses 11-16, "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."
Did Cain have any repentance? I don't know. Did he ever feel remorse for disobeying God and killing in cold blood his little brother? Did he grieve when he needed to inform his parents or perpetually saw Abel's seat empty during the family meals? Was Cain driven from God's presence? In a sense, yes. Was God still merciful to Cain? Absolutely! He gives him a city. He will bless him with a wife and children. And He protects him from those who would seek his life. The bottom line is that Cain got the real God, not the God he wanted, and his sin will be continually passed to others in his family line.
I've got to show you one example in his family line of this sin that now plagued the earth. We are introduced to a man named Lamech in verse 19 - seven generations from Adam in the line of Cain. The verse tells us he took for himself two wives: Adah and Zillah. You could say that he had his women covered from A-Z, and you can also say he is the first to break God's marriage ordinance between one man and one woman. We also see in him the domineering arrogance of a husband that God said would be part of the curse (Gen. 3:16). This guy is a real winner! Look at verses 23 and 24, "Lamech said to his wives, 'Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold."
Don't go there Adam and Eve! "For the day that you eat form it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17)!
5. The Turnaround (4:25-26)
Let's end on a happy note. Our fifth point, "The Turnaround." Is there any hope?
Verses 25 and 26, "Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, 'God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.' To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD." There was a revival!
This pictures the fulfillment of the prophecy from Genesis 3:15 that there would always be two lines of people that will continue throughout history. Cain's line typified those who are of the seed of the Devil. Seth's line typified those who are of the seed of the woman. And how interesting is that when we read in Luke 3 that Jesus was from the line of Seth (Lk. 3:38). Cain's line rejected the Lord. The Bible says in verse 26 that Seth's line called upon the Lord. Then as it is now, there are the children of God and the children of the Devil (Jn. 8:44). In the eyes of God, there are only two sides.
Two sides. Consider persecution - the line of Satan will always persecute the line of the woman. From Abel's blood crying out from the ground after being murdered by his jealous brother (Gen. 4:10) to the innocent shedding of Jesus' blood by those like Cain, jealous of His ministry (Mk. 15:10). Consider judgment - Disobedience will have consequences. From Cain being driven from the Lord's presence (Gen. 4:16) and Satan cast forever in the "lake of fire" (Rev. 20:10) and those who follow him receiving the same fate away from the presence of the Lord (2 Thes. 1:9) to those who trust Christ, now free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Consider forgiveness - One line takes vengeance and the other forgives. Lamech seeks to be avenged seventy-sevenfold (Gen. 4:24) while Jesus entirely forgives those who receive Him and commands us to forgive seventy times seven (Mt. 18:22).
If you are without Christ you are in the line of the Devil. It is siding with the losing team. But you can switch sides. If you can hear me say this, it is not too late to repent. God as we learned is merciful. He has provided Jesus to take away all your sins. If you have not already, will you embrace the Promised Child today? Will you "call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26)?