Genesis 4:1 – What we would think to be trivial information the Bible is so careful to record so that we may note that the sexual reproductive act between a husband and wife is sanctified within the bounds of marriage, and would now be the causative action through which every other human being (after Adam and Eve) would come into the world.
Genesis 4:2 – Scriptures show very early that men began to take to different professions, trades, or crafts according to the variety of the natural deposit of talents which they were endowed with by God. Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Genesis 4:3-5 – Clearly both brothers must have been taught either by their father Adam, or by God’s direct instruction – we are not told, to bring their sacrifice offerings to God from the produce of their trades.
In this we see that God sanctions work and productivity, through which He benevolently provides for essential human needs. So why then was Cain’s offering rejected?
We are not told why directly, but from the context of the story either any or all of the following 3 reasons could have disqualified his offering;
1) The ground had already been cursed because of man’s sin, and Cain’s offering was rejected since it was of the produce of the ground.
But the condition for which this would be correct would be if their both offerings were symbolic of either a bloody or bloodless sacrifice. We should factor in, that grain and other soil grown products were acceptable as sacrificial offerings in Israel’s wilderness tabernacle.
2) Was it the pride and self-sufficient attitude of Cain? Being one that was described as a tiller of the ground that was cursed and sentenced to bring forth thorns and thistles, and other obstacles and impediments for the purpose of extracting sweat and toil from mankind seeking for food.
It is not inconceivable for us to image a physically strong Cain who prided in his strength and skill and bravity to conquer the obstacles of the ground cursed to bring forth a bumper harvest.
Such a proud and self-sufficient disposition would be deeply offended if their ‘achievements’ were to be overlooked and rejected like Cain’s offering was. God resists the proud (James 4:6).
3) 1John 3:12 says that Cain belonged to the wicked (evil) one; and maybe also because Proverbs 15:8 say that “the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD.” This could very well be why Cain and his sacrifice were rejected.
Abel’s offering of the fat of the firstlings of his flock on the other hand was accepted an offering that both resembled and connoted the spotless lamb of God without spot and blemish who was foreordained before the foundation (katabole) of the world (1Peter 1:19-20).
This passage then tells us that Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell; and for us to attempt to get to the very root and source of Cain’s anger, this is what we postulate, that these 2 men’s sacrifices symbolized their different philosophies of life.
As a tiller of the ground, Cain represents those persons who lay up their treasure upon, and love this world more than God’s kingdom which is from above (Matt 6:19-21).
These are those that are proud and self-sufficient concerning whom our Lord Jesus said take the popular and broad path that leads to destruction (Matt 7:13).
In contrast however, Abel’s lifestyle and philosophy represents those who, putting their trust and reliance upon Christ the only spotless lamb of God, and his atoning death for sinners; those who take the strait and narrow path, and have their affections set above, and not on things of this world (Col 3:1-2).
Gen. 4:6-7 – Despite the foregoing, the passage tells us that God spoke to Cain, admonishing him to do what was right in order to be accepted, and to avoid the crouching tiger of sin which was about to pounce on him (Cain).
Cain ‘miscalculated’ like most men do when they think that they have full control over their lives, to go in and out of sin according their own hearts’ desires.
Yet it is not God’s will that anyone should perish (Ezek 33:11; 1Tim 2:4), but to come to the saving knowledge of the truth. And God extended that merciful call and warning to Cain even to one whom we may easily consider to be the chief of sinners (1Tim 1:15).
Gen. 4:8-10. – See how Cain still recalcitrantly, and under the cover of hypocrisy deceived his brother, and led him off to the distant field where he attacked and killed him.
And some may ask, if Abel was God’s man, why did God allow him to die as a lamb led to the slaughter (Isa 53:7), and not deliver him from his assailant?
But the bigger question still remains – Why God did not deliver Christ from his tormentors, but freely gave him up for us all (Rom 8:32)? So it is still the same pattern today; the people of the world hate those who place their affections and trust upon the sinless lamb of God.
Cain hardened his heart and face when he lied to God when asked, “Where is Abel your brother?” Such is the character of those who do not heed the pleadings and cry for mercy from those whom they are afflicting with blow after blow of unkind deeds.
They either forget or are unaware like Cain that innocent blood does cry out from the ground to God for the injustices and evils that are done upon this earth.
Gen 4:11-16 – For his wicked act, God sentenced Cain to an unproductive and vagabond lifestyle. And Cain truly became an embodiment of the curse because wherever he went, the ground under his feet reflected and reproduced the curse in barrenness and infertility.
Yet instead of repentance and sorrow of heart, all he could think of was the pain and inconvenience that God’s sentence would bring on him when he said, “my punishment is too great.”
But come to think of it, why did God not kill Cain in retaliation or allow him to be killed, but put a mark (an ugly, horrible, and fearful mark to announce to all his accursed state) in order to spare him from any who would have done so upon finding him?
Perhaps to prevent further shedding of blood on the earth. And then follows this chilling verse 16 which is the due reward of those who persist in unrepentant wickedness
“And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD….”
This sad verse shows us that there are men and women today who live totally and completely in spiritual darkness outside of the impressions, light, and convictions of God’s Holy Spirit, and they do nothing but heap sin upon sin, and pile evil upon evil in the earth.
But this passage also brings up interesting questions;
(1) Where was Adam when all of this drama was building up?
(1) Why did Adam fail to preach the gospel to win his first son Cain?
Another notable question so troubling and so long standing;
(1) Who were those people that Cain feared would kill him when they find him wandering?
This is how we approach this question;
First when we read this passage of scripture, our unconscious mind presumes that Cain and Abel were of ages about 18 and 19 years old, but the book of Genesis shows the lifespan of those ancient people as ranging from 700 to 900 years plus.
Genesis 5:3 and Genesis 4:25 tell us that Adam and Eve had another son Seth when Adam was 130 years old as a replacement for Abel whom Cain had killed. So it is clear from the timing of Cain’s murder of Abel that they both were likely over hundred years old. And when we consider the speed of human reproduction in a matter of few years, it is not far-fetched for us to see that there was enough human population on the earth to have warranted Cain’s fear of revenge being taken against him.
It was only in the laws of Moses much later that God’s commandment prohibited sexual relations among close family relations (Lev 18:6-18).
And so we have a perfect scenario which allows for a sizeable population around that region of the world where Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve dwelt.
And with the entrenched bondage and captivity of the sinful nature in which all of mankind now dwelt, having fallen away from dominion and spiritual union with the Spirit of God, it is not difficult to imagine the rapid propagation of evil and wickedness upon the face of this earth by its first inhabitants.
With all of this in place, then it is conceivable that Cain’s shedding of Abel’s blood, although the first recorded, may vary well have not been the first event of the shedding of human blood on the earth.
After all, Cain was worried and fearful that someone would take his life, showing that the killing of human beings was not a new and strange phenomenon to him.
And with all this violence, evil, and killing rampant within the early human family, the question that is now craving an answer is how did Adam, the very first of all men, carry out his God assigned role of dominion and stewardship of the earth?
And clearly, if there were any 4 persons that should have been highly revered and regarded by all the inhabitants of the earth, naturally it should have been Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel as the first 4 on earth.
And so could it be that the lives of Cain and Abel were for the then inhabitants of the earth the remaining symbol representing the principles of good and evil that had been in the age old duel for supremacy within the human society?
These are all conjectures which we cannot answer in the affirmative because scriptures do not decidedly make a pronouncement like the scenario we have built up here.
But clearly it seems that the biblical text leads us to ask these questions, but we must engage them in a manner that is ethical, and that corresponds with the character and principles of what the scriptures teach about the nature of fallen mankind that we see in other passages of scriptures.
Gen 4:17-22 – Here we continue to see the rapid spread of people on the earth, and we see the development of skill, artistic talent, and specialization of professions in various trades among men.
Man, in the image of the infinitely intelligent, skillful, and creative God also retained some deposit of that creativity in his own faculties fallen though they, and also by God’s provident endowments.
Gen 4:23-24 – Sinful men never learn anything from God’s punishment of the unrighteous. Here Lamech not only flaunts his lusts as the first recorded polygamist, but is more recalcitrant and depraved, finding in Cain’s example good claims to obtain from God protection for the violence and murder he had committed against another fellow human being.
Gen 4:25-26 – Notice how much passion and emotion that our first mother Eve puts into naming her sons, which are the most frequently repeated statements of her’s in scriptures (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25).
It was clear that our mother Eve was looking forward to the coming of her promised seed who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15) whose sway and dominion over mankind was overwhelming, and had locked them into destructive and sorrowful living.
LIFE APPLICATIONS FROM GENESIS 4
1) God originally intended for man to take on skillful and productive work, craft, or trade in order to carry out our dominion mandate on the earth, and so we who are the people of God must show exemplary leadership, commitment, and diligence to attain to the highest level of skill and professionalism in our chosen career and professions.
2) A meaningful portion of the fruits of our productive labors, profits, or returns on investments should be returned back to God as offerings that should be presented with cleansed hands and hearts, and a godly lifestyle so that it may be acceptable to God.
3) Jesus Christ our Passover Lamb (1Cor 5:7) is the only redemptive sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing in order to bring men into God’s presence; and we must live like His sheep who know His voice, and follow Him.
4) Although all men still struggle with temptations to sin and the fallen human nature resident in all our hearts, there are people in this world today who are totally sold out and committed to evil, to violence and wickedness.
These people carry curses and destruction everywhere they go; and we must fervently that God resist and abate them from our surroundings and communities. And we must sustain good deeds of mercy and kindness to bring God’s blessings upon our land, and roll out of wickedness and bloodshed that brings a curse.
5) Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts.” Let us not be like Cain who heard God’s voice but stubbornly ignored it to his own shame and ultimate destruction. One more time, God’s people, irrespective of the subject concerned, if you hear God’s voice today do not harden your heart.
6) What should we do when good and godly people suffer for doing good, even up to the point of being killed because they were serving God in the uprightness of their hearts? (This is not an easy one to answer, but many good and faithful people have suffered persecution and death because they were living in obedience to God).
1Peter 4:19 says that “those who suffer because they living according to the will of God and doing good should commit the keeping of their souls to God as they continue to do good, and trust their lives to their faithful Creator.
7) If you fail to do your spiritual duty and responsibility as a parent, your children will become devils, like Adam failed to mentor his son Cain; and there will be chaos and pain in the home.
Adam failed the human family both within and outside the garden, so we parents, and especially fathers should beware.
For more reference material and study article click on the link www.allofthescriptures.org/Genesis 4/
Like, share and comment to get more updates.
Have pleasant day with God – Min. Aniekan Peters.