Genesis – First, God.
What is “IT” that you need to master? Is the habit of lying to cover mistakes, cheating, quick temper, stealing, drinking to excess, prescription drug overuse, gossip, slander, and other perversions? These and other temptations to please self are at the core of most of the world’s anxieties today. This story of Cain and Abel is the story of how self battles God. Self at the core attempts to take top billing over God and what He wants from us and for us.
Eugene Peterson’s way of getting right to the point makes us chuckle as Cain is brought into this new world. Eve, after her first painful labor, says, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!” She gave the glory to God! Did she learn from her mistake of trusting the serpent over God and that to displease God was not good? Has she mastered saying no to the Tempter?
Have we mastered self and the sin that derives from self-centered thinking?
Remember as we read…It was not the offering that displeased God, it was Cain’s heart in giving. It was all about Cain and not about God.
Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!”
2 Then she had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.
3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.
6-7 God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”
8 Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.
9 God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?”
10-12 God said, “What have you done! The voice of your brother’s blood is calling to me from the ground. From now on you’ll get nothing but curses from this ground; you’ll be driven from this ground that has opened its arms to receive the blood of your murdered brother. You’ll farm this ground, but it will no longer give you its best. You’ll be a homeless wanderer on Earth.”
13-14 Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him.
16 Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.
17-18 Cain slept with his wife. She conceived and had Enoch. He then built a city and named it after his son, Enoch.
Enoch had Irad,
Irad had Mehujael,
Mehujael had Methushael,
Methushael had Lamech.
19-22 Lamech married two wives, Adah and Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal, the ancestor of all who live in tents and herd cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal, the ancestor of all who play the lyre and flute. Zillah gave birth to Tubal-Cain, who worked at the forge making bronze and iron tools. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
23-24 Lamech said to his wives,
Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
you wives of Lamech, hear me out:
I killed a man for wounding me,
a young man who attacked me.
If Cain is avenged seven times,
for Lamech it’s seventy-seven!
25-26 Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh.
That’s when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God.
THINK ABOUT IT…As we read Genesis…
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote Shakespeare. “They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
Remember those familiar words from English Lit 101? Shakespeare was right: We have many roles to play in life as from time to time we relate to various people and confront different circumstances. The important thing is that we let God write the script, choose the cast, and direct the action. If we disregard Him and try to produce the drama ourselves, the story will have a tragic ending.
That’s what ruined Cain, the first human baby born on the stage of Planet Earth: He ignored God’s script, “did his own thing,” and made a mess out of it. Genesis 4 focuses the spotlight on Cain; he’s mentioned sixteen times, and seven times Abel is identified as “his [Cain’s] brother.” As you consider Cain’s life and some of the roles he played, you will better understand how important it is for us to know God and do His will.
GOING DEEPER…(With the help of Warren Wiersbe)
The name “Cain” sounds like the Hebrew word for “acquired.” Eve praised God for helping her through her first pregnancy. After all, this was a new experience for her and she had no doctor or obstetric nurse to assist her. Her second pregnancy brought Abel into the world. His name means “breath” and is the word translated “vanity” at least thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes. Cain’s name reminds us that life comes from God, while Abel’s name tells us that life is brief.
THE BOTTOM LINE…
Abel brought the best that he had and truly sought to please God, but Cain didn’t have that attitude of faith. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
The fact that people attend religious meetings and participate in church activities is no proof that they’re true believers. It’s possible to have “a form of godliness” but never experience its saving power (2 Tim. 3:5). “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isa. 29:13 niv; Matt. 15:8). The most costly sacrifices apart from the submission of the heart can never make the worshiper right before God (Ps. 51:16-17). “The way of Cain” (Jude 11) is the way of self-will and unbelief.
Cain never mastered wanting to please self…even in his punishment. “My punishment is too much, I can’t take it” he say in defiance to God. God spoke to him personally and tried to lead him back to the way of faith, but Cain resisted. It’s just like the Lord to give us another opportunity to obey Him, and it’s just like stubborn sinners to refuse His gracious help.
Are we like that?
The Lord warned Cain that temptation was like a fierce beast crouching at the door of his life, and he had better not open the door. It’s dangerous to carry grudges and harbor bitter feelings in our hearts, because all of this can be used by Satan to lead us into temptation and sin. This is what Paul meant when he wrote “neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). If we aren’t careful, we can tempt ourselves and bring about our own ruin.
WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER?
There’s a definite parallel between God’s dealings with Cain in Genesis 4 and His dealings with Adam and Eve in chapter 3. In both instances, the Lord asked questions, not to get information (for He knows everything) but to give the culprits an opportunity to tell the truth and confess their sins. In both instances, the sinners were evasive and tried to cover up what they had done, but both times God brought their sins out into the light and they had to admit their guilt.
TWO DIRECTIONS/CHOICES: GOD OR EVIL
Cain never repented of his sins; his words reveal only remorse and regret. He didn’t say, “My guilt is more than I can bear.” He was concerned only with his punishment, not with his character.
By hating and murdering his brother and refusing to repent, Cain created for himself an intolerable life. He opened the door to temptation (4:7) and closed the door on his family, God, and his future. No matter where he lived or what he did, Cain would always be a restless man for whom there was no remedy.
Why would God allow a diabolical murderer like Cain to go free? In His mercy, God doesn’t give us what we do deserve, and in His grace, He gives us what we don’t deserve. That’s the nature of God. God spared Cain’s life, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Eventually Cain died and “after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). The entire civilization that he built was destroyed in the flood, and the record of his life is left in Holy Scripture as a warning to anybody who pretends to worship, plays with sin, and doesn’t take temptation seriously. “The way of Cain” (Jude 11) is not the narrow way that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
A remarkable thing is recorded in connection with the birth of Seth who God gave Adam and Eve to replace Abel: At that time, people began to gather together to worship God, proclaim His name, and pray. There was a revival of public worship and believing prayer as the descendants of Seth met together in the name of the Lord. While the worldly Cainites were boasting of their strength and valor (4:23-24), the godly Sethites were giving glory to the name of the Lord.
What part of self do you need to master that is plaguing your life and causing you to sin?
What roles in life has God asked you to play?
How can you be sure to follow God’s script and not write your own?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are Creator and the lover of our souls. You are merciful because you want the best for us. Help us to yield not to temptations that destroy our relationship with you, but to seek you first. Help us to know your heart and what pleases you most and then give all our ourselves to that will and purpose. Help us to know what hinders our walk and then give us Your power to master it.
In Jesus Name, Amen