da da da dummm….the first murder..

“Cain, get off your brother!  You’re going to kill him some day!!” ~ Eve

Do you think Eve ever said that? I do. I have a feeling that these two brothers were polar opposites in everyway and ONE of them got very, very jealous.

The story of Cain and Abel is a story well known by so many people.  They may not know all the details, but the term, Raising Cain, has become a synonym for troublemakers.  That is well put, because this story is tragic from the beginning to the end.

Here’s how it goes (from the Message Translation) …

Genesis 4 : 1-16   “Adam slept with Eve his wife.  She conceived and had Cain.  She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help.”  Then she had another baby.  Abel.  Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.

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.

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.”

Cain had words with his brother.  They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.

God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

He said, “How should I know?  Am I his babysitter?”

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 it’s best.  You’ll be a homless wanderer on Earth.”

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.”

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.

Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.”

Wow.  Just the last sentence gives me goose bumps.  “Cain left the presence of God.”  You can see the mystery and the mercy of God in his punishment.  God would have been fully justified in putting him to death!  Remember?  Eye for an eye?  Here the righteous man dies…and the guilty man lived…outside the presence of God.  Sin cannot stay in God’s presence, and Cain voluntarily departed from the Lord.  What a doof.

But let’s back up.  These two boys are the first children born!  In fact, there are a LOT of firsts in this chapter!  First birth, first brothers, first shepherd, first farmer, first offerings given, first murder…and first cover-up.

It’s bad enough that Cain committed the first murder….but he got angry and killed his own brother! Ok, I know that my sister told me repeatedly that she wanted to kill me, growing up, but those were words.  Cain deliberately killed his brother and that,  my friends, is murder in the FIRST degree.  These boys shared the same parents, had the same spiritual background, the same home life and I’m sure got to hear the very same  story of how their parents got kicked out of the Garden of Eden….because of sin.  But somehow, as it is in families today, one boy went one direction and the other boy went in another.  One followed God and one followed his own desires.

So as we said, Cain and Abel had a lot in common.  They shared the same parents and both had good jobs (Cain became a farmer and Abel became a shepherd), but the difference came in the offerings.  Abel’s offering was accepted by God….Cain’s was not.  I have always wondered why Cain’s offering was unacceptable and the Bible doesn’t exactly say, but there was probably a difference in the quality of the offerings.  Cain brought the fruit of the ground, and Abel offered the best of the best, which in those days meant the fat portions of the firstborn.  So maybe Cain was just going through the motions while Abel was generously offering his very best to the Lord.

Some of the commentators believe that God must have given some instruction on this point and that the brothers both knew (or should have known) that sin required blood and sacrifice….(think Jesus on the cross).  We will have to wait until we are in the presence of God to get the scoop on this.

But this I know.  Verse 4 says that God liked Abel and his offering.  See something?  First he looked on Abel with favor (he looked at Abel’s heart and found him to be faithful) and then he looked at his offering.  One commentator says, “Sacrifice is acceptable to God only if it is offered in an acceptable spirit.  Where there is no faith, even the finest offering cannot make up the difference.”

So now Cain is angry. He couldn’t imagine that his offering was unacceptable…his defective offering came from a defective heart.  That’s when Cain had the first pity party EVER. Even the Lord said, “Why are you sulking?  If you do what is right, don’t you think you’ll be accepted?”

Cain didn’t listen.  Cain convinced his brother to come out to the field, and that is when he killed him.  Cain was so angry that he couldn’t even see straight.  What started out as sibling jealousy led to anger and finally to murder.  I think this was his way of getting even with God.  Again, I say….what a doof.  Think about it.  One minute he is giving an offering to God and the next minute he is murdering his own brother!

Finally God asks him, “Where is your brother?”  Yes, God knew exactly where he was.  Cain responds like a child and lies by saying, “Am I his babysitter?”  Apparently he had buried Abel’s body thinking no one would notice.  But God sees everything and even heard the cry of his blood as it drained into the ground.

God promised Cain both protection and punishment.  He sentenced him to restless wandering, never to find a place he can call  home.  But no one will be able to touch Cain without facing SEVEN-FOLD VENGEANCE from God, himself.  So THAT guarantees him a long life….a long life that is restless and is both a blessing and a curse.  So Cain leaves God’s presence because he had NO desire for repentance.  Can you imagine?  He’s restless….homeless….and hopeless…  But you know me…I want to know what this mark looked like.  How does EVERYONE know that they cannot kill Cain?  This is another question I will have for God.

Francis Schaeffer says that Cain and Abel are the leaders of two great lines of humanity, representing two directions, two moralities, and two races of people.  You are either standing with Cain in unbelief or you are standing in Abel’s line of faith.  I know where I want to stand.  Abel represents those sinners who come to God by faith in Jesus and receive salvation.  Cain stands for all the proud, self-made people who try to come to God on their own terms…..and are rejected.

It looks like Cain got away with murder…but that was only a temporary judgement.  Though the world hate us and may even kill us, it cannot destroy us.

Romans 8:38-39 “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing–nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable –absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master had embraced us.” (msg)

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