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Cain: A Portrait Of the Lost Sinner

"And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10)

“And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10)

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,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[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?“]

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Why Did Cain Kill Abel?

"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." (Genesis 4:8)

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)

Last time, we saw that Genesis 4:7 left Cain with a decision to make: to obey God or to disobey God. In verse 8, we see which decision he made. It would seem that Cain’s problem was really with God; after all, it was God Who had rejected him. Why did he turn his anger, then, toward Abel?

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

There is a definite correlation between how a person views God and how they treat those around them. One simply cannot revere God while abhorring the people whom God has created. When we truly love and extol the Lord, we will be compelled to love our brethren. As is exhibited by Cain, we see that the opposite of this is also true.

People with disdain for God have always hated those who love Him. Wherever there is repudiation of God’s righteousness, there is invariably contempt toward those who honor it. The arrogant despise the humble. For what great crime did the religious authorities in the Lord Jesus’ day desire that He be put to death? No crime that He committed, but because their own deeds were wicked (John 3:19). Those who walk in darkness yearn to extinguish any light that illuminates their own sinfulness.

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12)

Genesis 4:8 is quite remarkable, not only for what it says, but what it does not say. Cain talked with Abel. He had already decided in his heart what he was going to do after God had so graciously reached out to him. He had already rejected God’s offer of reconciliation. But there is no outburst toward Abel after God meets with Cain, no assault on him at the time. No, he talked with him. I am of the opinion Cain never even mentioned his conversation with God to Abel. Cain went on as if nothing was wrong and pretended that he harbored no ill will.

“And it came to pass…”

There was no immediate reprisal made against Abel. Instead, Cain bode his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. They were in the field together, away from others. Cain wanted no witnesses to his horrific act. Abel trusted him, he went with Cain into that field, never suspecting the fate that would befall him that day.

Isn’t this the way that it so often happens in our lives today? Our greatest harm comes not from those who stand in declared opposition against us, but from those who claim that they stand by our side. It is usually our “friends” and “brothers” who give the greater cause for concern than those who assert that they are our enemies. The most insidious attacks made against the children of God have not come from those who never set foot inside a church; they come from those who sit in the pew beside them.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 16, 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?“]

God Reached Out To Cain

"And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." (Genesis 4:6-7)

“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

What I find to be some of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture are those where the Lord reaches out even to those who are utterly opposed to Him. What a truly amazing demonstration of God’s Grace! I find it very comforting to know that God would reach out His hand in mercy to someone like Cain, because it reminds me how He reached out His hand in mercy to someone like me, even when I was utterly opposed to Him. And it reminds me that He will reach out His hand in mercy to anyone else who will take it, regardless of the sin that fills their heart.

Genesis 4:6-7 tells us how God approached Cain after Cain’s offering was rejected. We see a similar method throughout the Bible as God approaches even the vilest of sinners and offers them mercy. The very first thing that we should take note of is the fact that God is not angry with Cain. We are told that Cain is angry, but we can see that God is not. Next, we should also note that God does not stand aloof from Cain, waiting to see if he will do the right thing. Some people like to talk about man’s search for God, but man is not seeking God; God is the One Who seeks us (Luke 19:10). Cain was not left on his own to try to work through his rebellion and, perhaps, eventually do the right thing. God came to Him.

It Starts With A Simple Question

“Why art thou wroth?” God asks Cain. Why is it that you are angry? God knew very well the answer to this question. Socrates was not really the inventor of what we call the “Socratic method”- wherein we teach others by asking questions that cause them to ponder and ask their own questions, leading them to discover the answers for themselves- God used this method from the very beginning. He will ask us why we do or feel certain things when we have never even seriously considered the reasons why ourselves. Saul of Tarsus had made it his mission in life to destroy the early Church and wipe the name of Jesus Christ from the face of the Earth. When the Lord stopped him on the road to Damascus, He didn’t annihilate him, He approached with a simple question: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4)  Why are you doing what you are doing?

If Thou Doest Well

God knew why Cain was angry and He knew what Cain was contemplating in his heart. Cain’s anger was manifesting itself toward his brother, Abel. Sadly, Cain’s anger and frustration wasn’t that he had failed to please God by doing what He had asked him to, he seemed more worried that his disobedience might cost him his position in his family. “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” The word for accepted is not translated as such anywhere else in the Old Testament. In other verses, it is rendered as  “excellency”, or “dignity”, or it refers to a rising up of something; an “exaltation.” When Jacob is pronouncing his blessings on his sons before he dies, he uses the same term in relation to Reuben, his first-born (Gen. 49:3). Reuben is the “excellency of [his] dignity.”

Cain’s motive was not to be accepted by God, it was to be exalted over his brother, the second-born. His fear was not that God would disapprove of him, but that Abel would take his place in the family and usurp the birthrights of the first-born. Isn’t that so often the reason for sorrow over sinful behavior? It isn’t a concern over offending God’s holiness, but rather a grieving over the loss that it might cost the sinner. Cain’s concern seemed to be more with how other people might view him as a result of his disobedience, not how God would look upon him. Nevertheless, if Cain did what was right and what God expected of him, he needn’t fear the collapse of his position within his family.

The word order of verse 7 has caused many different interpretations concerning exactly what God is referring to, but I think that if we bear in mind the context thus far, we see that the God’s final statement in the verse refers to this brotherly relationship: “And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” The phrase is nearly identical to the one that God tells Eve in Gen. 3:16 (” and thy desire shall be to thy husband…:”). In both instances, God is establishing or upholding an authority structure within the natural family. If Cain submits himself to God, he need not worry about Abel submitting himself to Cain.

Since nowhere in the Bible is the promise given to any person that they shall “rule over sin“, it is inconceivable that God would be making such a promise to Cain. Jesus Christ is the only One Who rules over sin (Romans 7:25). No, God is merely assuring Cain that he will in no way lose his position of “dignity” and “excellency” within the family if he will but hearken to the voice of the Lord and obey Him.

Sin Lieth At The Door

Some have interpreted this passage with the idea of sin crouching at the door, ready to pounce on Cain. The word for “lieth”, however, seems more to refer to lying down; as in rest. Several times throughout the Old Testament it is used to to show sheep lying down, relaxed in safety (e.g., Psalm 23:2 use this term about how God is our Shepherd and makes us to lie down in green pastures). The idea is not that sin is crouching behind the bushes, waiting to make its move. No, the sin is there, “relaxed” and waiting at the threshold of the door for Cain to come walking through. If Cain does not determine to heed God’s call to him now, then when he goes out through the “door” from this place where God has met him, he is going to walk right into the sin waiting for him. The sin isn’t going to “pounce” on him from behind, he is going to head right into it.

The Choice Is Ours

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

God made His expectations clear to Cain. Now, it was up to Cain to decide if he would obey or not. His options were simple: obey God and choose life and blessing, or disobey God and choose death and cursing. What he could not do was get God to lower the standard, or change His mind, or let Cain come to God some other way. He would never be able to plead ignorance or accuse God of not giving him ample opportunity. God came to him now giving him the chance to repent and be reconciled. God came to him now as Savior. If he disregarded God at this point, the next time God would come as his Judge.

Obey what God has said, or disobey what God has said. We all face the same decision.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 12, 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?“]

What Was Wrong With Cain’s Offering? (Part 2)

"But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:5)

“But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. And Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:5)

We considered last time some of the problems with Cain’s offering. Cain had tried to make himself acceptable to God on his own terms based on who he thought that he was and by offering his own works.

Abel made his offering according to what God had revealed, but Cain did not. Cain’s “bloodless” offering was not made in recognition of his sin and need for atonement, but out of pride and an utter denial that he was guilty of any sin. Cain created mankind’s very first false religion, born out of humanity’s innate desire to decide for themselves how they will come to God. This is what Jude is referring to when he warns of those who “go the way of Cain” (Jude 11); they, too, ignore the way that God has revealed that we must come to Him and attempt to earn God’s favor by their own merits.

God Rejected The Offerer

“But unto Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” It wasn’t just the offering that Cain brought that caused God to reject him, it was what was in his heart. Cain himself was not accepted by God, not just his offering. This is important to see. No amount of ritual will make us right with God if our hearts are not right toward Him. It is not the motions that we go through that bring cleansing, but a contrite and repentant heart.

“Samuel said, Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

The prophet Samuel told Israel’s first king, Saul, that rituals do not please the Lord, obedience does. We cannot please God when we disobey Him, regardless of what we offer instead. Cain’s offering from the harvest of his fields was not a “second-rate” offering. In his eyes, it must have seemed a lot more impressive than the little lamb that Abel was bringing to God. But it wasn’t what God was asking for.

What We Must Bring

For us, there is but one acceptable Sacrifice that we can “bring” to the Lord in order to be accepted by Him: the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. We cannot substitute the works of our hands or the harvest of our fields. We cannot be accepted because of who we are or who we think we are. He’s asking us for a Lamb and nothing else will do.

How many people still “go the way of Cain” and bring to God offerings for Salvation that He will not accept? Maybe it isn’t fruits and grains, but money to the Church. Or they are volunteering their time, or even serving in a ministry. Until we first bring the Lamb, we will not be accepted.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 9, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[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?“]

What Was Wrong With Cain’s Offering?

"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:4-5)

“Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:4-5)

More often than not, the explanation for this particular enigmatic passage of Scripture always seems to focus on a distinction between the quality of the two offerings that the brothers gave. Most of the preaching that I have heard on this subject boils down to the idea that Abel gave of the “firstlings” and “fat” of his flock (v. 4), while Cain simply gave “an offering” unto the Lord. The interpretation is that Abel gave his best and Cain gave what was left over. The lesson inferred, of course, is that we must be careful to give our offerings (that is, money) of our “firstlings and fat” (that is, lots of money) to God (that is, to the specific ministry of the preacher giving the message).

While such an interpretation might be conducive to filling collection plates, I honestly do not see that the text lends itself to such an analysis. Certainly there are no adjectives given when Cain’s offering is mentioned; the words “juiciest”, “choicest”, and “ripest” do not appear in the narrative. But the words, “And Abel, on his part also brought…” are included. The context would seem to indicate a parity between the quality of the two. I personally do not believe that it was the writer’s intention to suggest that Cain was guilty of “cherry-picking” the best fruits for himself. The deficiency with Cain’s offering wasn’t that he was giving God shriveled grapes and freckled bananas, the problem went much deeper.

They Knew What God Expected

The first, and perhaps most crucial, thing that we should understand is that the two brothers were not acting on their own initiative when they brought their offerings to the Lord. They weren’t just bringing a “gift” to God simply because they loved Him. God was not acting like a partial parent who plays favorites with their kids. “In the process of time” they brought their offerings. Process of what time? The time appointed by God to bring their offerings. God had given them specific instructions on how this was to be carried out. The writer to the Hebrews says that Abel acted out of faith when he brought a more excellent sacrifice (Heb. 11:4) to God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), you cannot act in faith based on something that you have never been told! Even though we do not have it in the text, God must have given the brothers instructions and consequently held them accountable for obeying what He had told them.

The Problem Was With Cain Himself

We can find the first clue to why Cain and his offering were rejected if we look carefully at the very first verse that mentions him:

“Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, I have gotten a man child with the help of the LORD.” (Gen. 4:1)

God had said that from the woman would come a “seed” that would crush the devil underfoot (Gen. 3:15). Therefore, when Cain was born, she exclaimed, “I have that seed, here he is!” The name Cain itself means, “Possession.” Her thought was that she had been given the promised seed in her firstborn son. Can you imagine the doting that must have gone on in that house? I am not saying that Eve was to blame for Cain’s behavior, but I am certain that she didn’t help matters. She was so fond of Cain and so adoring of him that she named her second son Abel, meaning a “vapor” or “breath.” She really considered him to be a nobody. Cain grew up to be a man filled with pride, he saw no need for salvation himself, he thought that he was the savior!

It is interesting to note that Abel was a shepherd in a time before people had begun to eat meat (Gen. 9:3). His only purposes for keeping the sheep was for sacrifice and the wool that they provided. It is very likely that God had instructed both men to bring a sheep from Abel’s flock (it is certainly reasonable to assume that Abel ate of the fruit that Cain gathered, as well) for a burnt offering. Yet Cain brought the works of his own hands to God. He was relying on who he thought he was and his own works to make him acceptable to the Lord. God has never accepted anyone on this basis, and He still doesn’t today.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 5, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[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?“]

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