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Cain and Abel

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Let me begin by saying that when God speaks to you and asks a question, He knows the answer and the truth—nothing is gained by attempting to deceived Him or spin the truth. He even knows the true intention of the things we do. Cain arrogantly thought he can hide the truth from God, so he spoke with the cavalier detachment that liars often do. It alway, always, makes things worse when you speak arrogantly and dishonestly—particularly to God Almighty

But if we’re honest and humble about it, Abel, who was the noble, righteous one is not really the one that you and I easily identify with. We identify more with Cain. And if you find that annoys you, and you find it insulting and offensive, I would dare to tell you that you are probably more like Cain than others here. We’ve all sinned, and we’re all guilty of what Cain did, minus perhaps the murder of a relative. But its the ones that deny their sin or try to explain it away that cause the most trouble in families, churches and our society.

Here are the vices that Cain came to represent: Jealousy, vengefulness, anger, hatred and deceit. Adam and were guilty of disobedience and gullibility, but Cain took sin to a new and hideous level. He’s the first person to kill another—and for no reason—and this time there was serpent involved to seduce him. He out and out lied to God and then talked back to God like a brat to a father.

But though he is clearly guilty of a heinous crime, God was merciful and merely banished him. But what does Cain do? He whines and cries about God’s punishment is too much, yet he never showed the least remorse or compassion for his grieving parents or dead brother. He’s a scoundrel, but outside the new life we can have in of Jesus Christ, you and I are no better.

What happened to Cain after he was banished? We know about his birth, his violent act of fratricide and his subsequent exile. We learn also know that he got married and had descendants, but the Bible is silent about his death. Some folks have suggested that he met his fate later and was killed by a man. But I know that this is not so, because God commuted a sentence of death to a sentence of banishment. God assured Cain that he would not be killed by another. He probably lived a long life, and hopefully he asked God to change his heart before he died.

So, again, Cain, was a farmer, his brother a shepherd, and there was a conflict. Evidently the conflict between farmers and shepherds goes back to the beginning of mankind. But as you know, Cain became enraged when the Lord accepted the offering of Abel, a shepherd, in preference to his own. He murdered Abel and was banished by the Lord from the settled country. Cain feared that in his exile he could be killed by anyone, so the Lord gave him a sign for his protection and a promise that if he were killed, he would be avenged sevenfold. We do not know what that sign was. Any suggestion is pure speculation.

Now, we’re not sure about where the final descendants of Cain ended up, but according to Irenaeus and other early Christian writers, a gnostic sect called the Cainites existed as late as the the 2nd century.

But note this: Cain sinned because he was angry that God did not accept his offering. Cain chose to become angry. No one can “make you angry”. It’s a choice every person makes. And if you can’t control your anger, you’re going to eventually lose something, or someone very special to you if you live long enough. Cain made a second rate gift to God and God refused to accept it.

But Cain could used his free will, that is, his freedom of choice, to show remorse for his sins and to have chosen to be honest with God. God saw Cain’s anger and warned him about self-control! But Cain ignored God and allowed that anger and self pity to fester. He created plans, schemes and cold calculations to get even. He would not repent of his anger and jealousy, and because of that a worse sin came his way.

Rather than ruling over the evil in his heart, he allowed the evil to rule him. Cain lured Abel to private place where he had planned to kill him. He brought Abel to an open field, and then brazenly murdered his brother. Abel could not have seen it coming. His heart, it appears, was unlike Cain’s.

This is the second recorded sin and it is indeed a grievous sin. Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience, and now the knowledge of good and evil, brings all things evil possible. Abel became the first in a long list of innocent men of God to be martyred. But don’t ignore this fact: It was the reality that Abel lived a life and offered a gift that pleased God that got him killed. His faith and his godliness did not shield him from hatred and attack, it was the reason!

God knew what happened and gave Cain an opportunity for redemption. He asked: "Where is Abel your brother?” This was his chance to seek God’s mercy and admit fault! But instead he answers arrogantly. At least, when Adam and Eve were confronted by the sin they had committed, there was a humble spirit… even though they came with excuses. Not so with Cain. He seeks to cover his crime with the lie: I don't know where he is! As though this lie is not enough, he even dares to inform God that he takes no responsibility for his brother. "Am I my brother's keeper?" He assumes the attitude: I am not to be questioned concerning the whereabouts or the welfare of my brother. You see, Cain looked out for Cain… and no one else.

God does not give a reply to such impertinence then-or now, instead He bluntly asks Cain, ”What have you done?" The blood of Abel is crying from the ground, on which it has been spilled, to God for justice to be shown. Cain may consider that blood to be of little value but God, the Giver of life, considers it precious. The death of Abel has not gone un­noticed and the Judge of all the earth will do right. God knows when a sparrow falls from the sky—there’s not a sin or an act of kindness we do, that God does not see. Abel might dead — but he still speaks according to Hebrews 11:4. Cain thought that the slaying of his brother Abel would remove the source of his unhappiness and anger but he now hears that that blood has not been silenced but rather amplified! He will now learn that a second sin does not root out the first one but makes it a thousand times worse.

The judgment is now given to Cain. But his life is not taken from him even though he took the life of someone else. He deserved capital punishment. It is only later — in the days of Noah and later with Moses, that capital punishment is required when a murder has been committed. Nevertheless, the punishment is severe, albeit measured. The curse is pronounced on him-Cain. Adam, Eve and snake had been punished, but Adam could still wrestle a living from the ground by the sweat of his brow. But, when Cain tills the ground "it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its strength." He will not be able to make a living—he could no longer farm. Therefore he will wander from place to place. "A fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth." What a reduced life is in store for this man! No place of permanent residence and reduced to begging.

But Cain’s smart and looks after “number one”. He quickly realizes the severity of this punishment. There is no spirit of repentance for what he has done but he complains that he will not be able to bear the punishment! Cain now sees that his time as a farmer is over— the earth will no longer be kind to him by giving its produce in answer to his labor.

When he has become a fugitive and a beggar he was afraid that anyone who found him will slay him. These words have given rise too many dif­ferent interpretations. Who would he be afraid of? Who else populated the world in his day? We must never lose sight of the fact that the Bible generally, and the book of Genesis in particular, does not give a complete and detailed history of men and of nations. We are informed of the birth of Cain and Abel and the one episode in their life which will be of significance for all future history. We are not to con­clude from this that Adam and Eve had only these two children until the time that Seth was born. In Genesis 5:4 we read that Adam was the father of sons and daughters. Because of the long life given to man in the early history of the world the families were very large and that was very likely the case with our first parents. The fear of Cain for his own life becomes very real. Those whom he may meet in his wandering over the earth are related to him and they will know what he had done! Not only will they have knowledge of it but they also will have per­sonal interest in it! If a murderer of their own relative, Abel, is allowed to live, they may be tempted to avenge his blood and take the law into their own hands. It is, therefore, no imaginary fear that grips Cain's heart.

The disobedience of our ancestors, Adam and Eve, caused God to drive them out of the garden of Eden. The sin of their firstborn, Cain, virtually drives him from the earth! How quickly this knowledge of good and evil, and sin, "progresses." It is but one step from eating a forbidden piece of fruit to murder. Sin, which represents a “wild beast which was crouching at the door”, has made its leap and has destroyed the first two children of Adam and Eve. It cost Abel's life and Cain's soul!

How does a murderer dare plead for mercy? There is not a word of repentance nor an indication that he now realizes what a monstrous crime he has committed, but only a numbing fear of punishment! His life will indeed lie under the curse and he is beginning to realize what that means. He had no mercy toward Abel — but don't let others do to me what I have done to my brother! He slew his brother without cause but others will have reason enough to slay him. Sin is not only irrational, it is also coward­ly. These things have been written for our benefit too so that we may be able to see the destructive power of sin and flee it — and rule over it!

This cry of fear by Cain does not go unanswered. God is still willing to listen to him. There is a certain measure of mercy shown him in the beginning that his life is not claimed in payment for the life of his brother. However, this "mercy" is weakened by the severe punishment meted out to him so that it becomes a question whether the life which is spared is now worth living. But, when he now cries out in fear that, though God has spared him, he may still lose his life at the hands of others, the Lord gives him assurance that this will not happen. It is amaz­ing that a person such as Cain can still find mercy. But, very early in the history of the human race we are already introduced to the mercy of our God.

Please keep this in mind today: Cain—gave God second best—not his best!

Lying and not taking responsibility for sin alway, always, makes things worse!

Cain might have lived a long live, and might have he asked God to change his heart before he died. But have you?

Cain chose to become angry. Don’t ever say that someone can “make” you angry, they cannot. It’s a choice every person makes.

The knowledge of good and evil brings all things evil possible —THE SAME IS STILL TRUE TODAY. Just read today’s newspaper….

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