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Scripture reading – Genesis 4

Review – Genesis 3

Adam’s sin and fall from God’s favor had immediate consequences for him, his wife, and the newly created world. Satan was cursed, and his fate sealed with the revelation he would be at enmity (an enemy) with “the woman, and between [his] seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:14-15). The sanctity of marriage and family were affected, as the woman’s curse was the pain of childbirth, and a desire to please her husband, who would “rule” (headship or authority) over her (3:16).

As the federal head of the human race, Adam’s responsibility was that of king and priest of the Garden, as well as, the caretaker of God’s creation (3:17b-19). When Adam sinned, he set in motion a downfall that would not be redeemed for four thousand years. Though bearing the curse of man’s sin, the earth was young and fruitful; yet, the decay caused by sin was soon evident in nature (3:18-19).

While the consequences of sin were grave, there was hope in God’s revelation of His mercy and grace: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (3:21). Rather than risk man eating of the fruit of “the tree of life” (2:9; 3:22) and living forever in his fallen state, Adam and Eve were shamefully, but mercifully driven from the Garden. At the east entrance to Eden, God placed “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:24). Today’s Scripture reading will reveal the curse of sin and death passed from father to son.

Genesis 4

Genesis 4 introduced the second generation of humanity, as Eve gave Adam two sons, Cain, the elder (4:1), and his brother Abel (4:2). Tragically, the curse of sin could not be remedied with Adam, for Adam himself, was a man of sin.

Coming of Age (4:3-4)

The beauty and simplicity of the Genesis narrative is revealed again, as Cain and Abel brought their offerings to the LORD. The two sons of Adam had come of age, and at the appointed time came before the LORD (4:3). After observing their parents’ manner of worship and sacrifice, the sons knew well what God required (for He had made “coats of skins and clothed” Adam and Eve, 3:21). Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the LORD (4:3-4), and He accepted Abel’s offering of “the firstlings [firstborn] of his flock and of the fat thereof” (4:4). However, God rejected Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” (4:5). Both men knew the only acceptable sacrifice was one brought with humility, and nothing less than a blood sacrifice would suffice as a covering for sin (Hebrews 11:4; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Cain, rather than accept the LORD’s rejection with self-abasement, became angry, and his countenance revealed his wayward heart (4:5b). Nevertheless, God mercifully confronted Cain, and reasoned with him, asking, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” (4:6). Stubborn and proud, Cain refused God’s invitation to “Do Right” (i.e. “doest well,” 4:7a). He did not heed the LORD’s admonition, “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (4:7b).

Cain’s Defiance, and Abel’s Murder (4:8-9)

In a sudden, unprovoked act of jealousy, Cain murdered his brother (4:8-9). Luke 11:50-51 identified Abel as a prophet, and implied he reasoned with his brother to obey God (4:8a). Tragically, Cain’s heart moved from pride and jealousy, to defiance and hatred. Provoked by the righteous deeds of his brother (1 John 3:12), Cain “rose up against Abel…and slew him” (4:8b).

Closing thoughts (Genesis 4:7-15) – God warned Cain, “sin lieth at the door” (4:7).

That is the nature of sin. Sin stalks a man like wild animals stalk prey. Even though He knew Abel’s blood had stained the soil of the earth, the LORD mercifully confronted Cain. Five times Cain was reminded that Abel was his brother (4:9-10); yet, he hardened his heart and became more defiant. Rather than repent, he was depressed by his guilt, and overwhelmed with its consequences (4:13). Like all who refuse to repent of their sin, Cain’s concern was his punishment, and not the sin he committed, or the innocent life he had taken. He realized he would become a stranger to God (“from thy face I shall be hid”), and exaggerated his suffering, declaring “every one that findeth me shall slay me” (4:14).

Why did God not kill Cain as punishment for his sin? In an act of underserved mercy, the LORD answered Cain’s fear with a promise of protection (4:15-16). Condemning any who might be tempted to exercise personal vengeance and slay Cain, the LORD declared, “whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (4:15). The Scriptures do not identify the mark the LORD placed on Cain; however, it served as a warning to any who presumed to take his life. Later, Scriptures will reveal only government, representing society, has the authority to take human life as an exercise of judgment (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12; Numbers 35:16-17; Romans 13:4).

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