By God’s grace Adam and Eve had children – Cain and Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain a worker of the ground. At the end of days (the Sabbath) the two brothers brought offerings to the LORD. Where did they go to present offerings? Usually, offerings are presented at a temple but in this case probably a safe distance from the Cherubim-guarded gate to Eden.
Abel offered the fat portions of the firstborn of his flock. Cain simply some of the fruits of his crop. Why was Abel accepted and Cain rejected? The problem was not that Abel bought an animal and Cain bought grain – both are acceptable as a tribute gift offering. Abel was accepted because in faith he came to God with whole-hearted commitment evidenced in what he gave (fat portion, firstborn). Cain did not come to God with whole-hearted devotion evidenced in what he gave (not the best, not firstfruits).
The text says that Cain’s face became hot (angry). God urged Cain to repent warning him that sin was crouching at his door like a wild animal to devour him. Cain’s sin desires to rule him but he must master it. The same is true for us – be killing sin or sin will be killing you.
Cain’s sin had been compared to a wild animal and now Cain himself becomes like a wild animal and kills his brother. Cain is Eve’s seed physically but, in his murder, and subsequent lie he reveals himself spiritually to be the seed of the serpent. For the first time, but not the last, the seed of the serpent kills the seed of the woman. Abel’s blood spilled on the ground cries out to God for justice.
Cain, challenged by God, asks, “Am I my brother’s shepherd?” (Does he think he is being funny since Abel was actually a shepherd?). From God’s perspective the answer is yes – Cain as the older brother ought to have protected Abel.
Cain is a farmer, but the judgment of God is that all his future crops will fail, and he will continuing be wandering in the wilderness looking for a home but never finding one – he will die wandering in the wilderness. Cain’s response is “my punishment is more than I can bear.” Even now Cain fails to repent – no remorse, no request for forgiveness. In verse 16 we are told: “So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Sin drives us away from God’s presence. You don’t want to live in the land of Nod (wandering) – there is no happiness there.
The rest of Genesis 4 traces the spread of sin. Cain’s son, Enoch builds a city which he names after his son Irad – an early precursor for Babylon. Another descendant, Lamech, begins the practice of polygamy and continues Cain’s act of violent murder. Genesis 4 has advancements in city building, husbandry, music, and metal technology – but sin is spreading in an increasingly godless world. And what hope is there given that the hoped-for seed of the woman (Cain) has revealed himself to be the seed of the serpent and the other possible seed of the woman (Abel) has been killed?
God provides Eve with another seed – Seth. The line of Cain and the line of Seth can be contrasted:
- Cain’s son, Enoch, built a city
- Seth’s son, Enosh, calls upon the name of the LORD.
- Cain’s descendant Lamech was a polygamist with murderous intent fathering sons promoting a godless society.
- Seth’s descendant Lamech prophesies fathering a son, Noah (meaning ‘rest’), of whom he says, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us rest from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
Whole-hearted worship by faith is the only kind that is accepted by God.
Be warned of sin that is like a wild animal seeking to rule and devour us – repent.
The seed of the serpent are fundamentally opposed to the seed of the woman.
Sin drives us from God’s presence – Cain wandered even further east of Eden than his parents had gone ultimately dying in the wilderness.
God is faithful to his promise to raise up a seed who will restore Eden.