There are many striking similarities between the judgment of Cain and the final judgment that awaits the sinner apart from Christ:
God Gave Cain The Opportunity To Repent
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
God reached out in grace to Cain before he killed Abel (Genesis 4:7); He reached out afterward in mercy (verse 9). As was the case with his father, Adam, Cain was approached by God with the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions and repent and turn to God. Before God became Cain’s Judge, He offered to be his Savior.
Cain Could Not Hide His Sin
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16)
Nobody else may have ever discovered Abel’s body or concluded that Cain had murdered him, but God knew. Cain made an effort to deny his actions when he told the Lord that he did not know where Abel was. How is it that someone would believe that their sins could remain concealed from an omniscient God? Nevertheless, people have continued in this belief and will doubtlessly maintain this thought even on the Day of Judgment.
Cain Was Defiant Of God
“And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” (Revelation 16:10-11)
Even in the face of judgment for their sinfulness, many will curse and blaspheme God rather than repent and turn to Him. Cain responds insolently to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain is defying God by really saying, ‘I am not his keeper, YOU are, YOU go find him!’
Abel’s Blood Cried Out For Justice
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)
The blood of Christ speaks of better things because it is the only blood that has ever been spilled that cries out to God for mercy rather than vindication. We are gravely mistaken to believe that God will not demand retribution for every single act of sin that has ever been perpetrated. Cain believed that he had forever silenced his brother, making impossible any testimony from whom he believed was the only witness to his crime. But the very blood of Abel “cried out”, as it were, for retribution (verse 10). We cannot conceal nor can we cleanse away the bloodstains of our own guilt; those bloodstains, too, cry out to God for justice. Only through the covering by the blood of Jesus Christ can any of us avoid the penalty for our sins that we justly deserve.
Cain Bore The Curse Of God In Himself
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” (Deuteronomy 28:15)
God cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin, but He cursed Cain himself when he murdered Abel (verse 11). As we saw with the judgment of Adam, Eve, and the devil, so we see here the ironic nature of God’s judgments. The very Earth whose harvest Cain had arrogantly placed his confidence in, bringing the work of his own hands to God, would no longer yield anything to him. The ground that would later “vomit” out the inhabitants who defiled her (Leviticus 18:25) would reject Cain and deny him the right to subdue it. Nor would it ever again provide a place of rest for Cain to set himself down, he would be a vagabond and a wanderer. He would be like the unclean spirits that Jesus spoke of who walk about the dry places of the Earth: seeking rest, yet finding none (Matthew 12:43). The lost sinner will be ultimately cut off from the presence of God, but his greatest torment comes from the fact that he can never be cut off from himself and the curse that he bears in his own flesh.
Cain’s Concern Was For His Punishment
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” (Luke 16:23-25)
Cain, who had shown absolutely no remorse or concern for what he had done, now becomes concerned over the sentence that God passes on him (verse 13). Like the rich man in Hell that Jesus told of whose only concern was for his own torment, Cain is unfeeling in all matters that do not pertain directly to his own desires and his own comfort. This is the way of the lost sinner, as well. Cain complains to God that his punishment is greater than he can bear. It is almost a brief afterthought to him that he will be separated from the presence of God; his biggest worry is that someone might kill him for what he did to Abel! Would he not deserve it if they did?
God Reserves Final Judgment
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
God marked Cain, preventing anyone else from taking judgment upon him for his murder of Abel (verse 15). Later, God would enact the law of judicial capital punishment (Genesis 9:6), but in the case of Cain, God prohibits any further exacting of judgment by other people upon him. This, too, is a portrait of the Hell-bound sinner: God will serve as the ultimate and final Judge.
Cain Remained Unrepentant
Absent from this entire conversation between God and Cain is any inkling of repentance or contrition on the part of Cain. At no point, before or after the sentence is passed, does Cain call out to God for mercy nor does he ever ask for God’s forgiveness. Some Bible skeptics have raised objections over the eternal nature of Hell and God’s final judgment of sinners apart from Christ; but there is absolutely no evidence in the Biblical record that any of these people will ever repent and turn to God. It’s not that they have not been given enough time, or if they had the chance after they stand before God to call on His name for mercy. The saddest part is that even then they will not repent. Sure, they will complain about the sentence that God passes and will express great concern over the fate that awaits them but, like Cain, they will depart from the presence of God without so much as a single ounce of remorse or confession over the offenses they have committed.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published September 18, 2009]
**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]