Cain and Abel: Brother’s Keeper or Killer 5/17/98

Genesis 4:1-16
Page 5 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST wants to take you with your background and any bitterness it might have produced and turn it into blessings.

He takes us with our differences and diversity and works to produce through us that which gives gladness to us and glory to God. This is a clear cut, classic example of diversity found in Genesis 4. It is the story of the first two persons given natural birth on planet earth.

Science has overlooked the fourth chapter of Genesis and thus is misreading our history of origins. Homo Sapiens did not start off as cavemen and evolve upward. We did not begin on a low anthropoid or simian state as is commonly assumed. Our human ancestors were on a very high physical and intellectual level. Sin resulted in degradation. Instead of evolution there was devolution, the down- grading of man intellectually and physically.

Eve conceived from Adam but knew the child was “from the Lord.” “From” means “with the help of.” Thus, the sanctity of life is staked out in the first conception in the Bible. She knew this child was a token of God’s faithfulness for He had promised a “seed of woman” would deliver her and all who trusted in Him.

In Genesis 3: 15 God declared that two seed would emerge and be in conflict until the “seed of the serpent” was ultimately overcome by the “Seed of woman.” In Genesis 4 these two distinctly different seeds emerge as prototypes of humankind.

A. CAIN, the name means “acquisition.” His birth brought such joy to Eve that she exclaimed “I have gotten a man from the Lord (4:1). It just may be that in her naivete she thought this was to be her Redeemer.

The seed, Cain, grew an immediate root of bitterness. Out of a root comes a shoot which produces fruit. Everything in his life evidenced the true root of bitterness. This bitterness produced:
1) Anger (4: 5, 6). Perhaps he resented his parents for having enjoyed the blessings of Eden and having robbed him of it. This anger took command of his total personality.

2) Blaming Others. From the beginning he blamed others for his unhappiness. He had a “Why me?” complex.

3) Murder (4:8). His anger expressed itself ultimately in the murder of his brother. Jesus warned that anger is a prelude to murder (Matt. 5: 21, 22).

4) A Smart Mouth (4:9). Cain even wised off to God. He is impudent and hardened. He lied by saying he didn’t know where his brother was and then he seeks to exonerate himself by asking God a question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

5) Self-exoneration (4:13). He even protested God’s justice.

6) Forsaking God (4:16 – 24). He even walked away from God and started his own civilization. This was the emergence of humanism.

I John 3:12 is a summary of Cain’s disposition:
a. He was of the wicked one.
b. His works were evil.
c. He hated his brother’s righteous works.

Cain was religious but not righteous.

B. ABEL, means “frail.” For a better understanding of this shepherd boy we can look to the New Testament.

1) Jesus described him as “righteous” (Matthew 23: 35).

2) His works were righteous (I John 3:12).

We need to remember he was reared by the same parents in the same home. The only difference in him and Cain was their attitude and responses.

Do you have a root of bitterness as is spoken of in Hebrews 12: 15 as being defiling? If so admit it. Confess it to God. Share it with the person or persons toward which you hold it and ask their forgiveness. Deal with your bitterness.

A. CAIN’S SACRIFICE was “the fruit of the ground.” This suggests a casual sacrifice. In Eden God had set in motion the standard for worshipful sacrifices in that era as being a living sacrifice. Cain asserted his will to worship as he pleased.

However, it was not the nature of the offering that made it unacceptable, but the spirit. Later the Law of Moses specifies many different kinds of vegetable and meal offerings as natural offerings of grateful people. In the sacrificial system the blood offering always came first. Cain wanted to do it his way. He was willing to engage in ritualistic worship as long as it was done in his way.

Notice the sequence. God did not “respect Cain” is first. The fact that Cain’s motivation and attitude was unacceptable is what made his sacrifice unacceptable. The Hebrew word translated “respect” is SHA’AH and means “to regard with favor.”

Cain did not offer “in faith” (Hebrews 11: 4). God offered Cain an opportunity for a new and right relationship with Him (4: 7). This was an appeal for him to stop the progressive steps away from His love. This reveals that bitterness can be overcome and anger can be conquered. People can change.

Genesis 4: 7 is God’s way of saying “I love you Cain as much as I do Abel. It is your attitude and actions that are unacceptable.” The same is true of us today. This verse does not imply that our works make us acceptable to God. What it actually questions is “have you forfeited your acceptability by sin?”

It was not only the sacrifice of Cain that was unacceptable. Cain himself was unacceptable. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord…” (Proverbs 15: 8).

Thus, Cain started the world’s first false religion. It, as is true of all false religions was characterized by:
a) Falsehood (4:9) “I don’t know.”
b) Futility (4: 10 – 12) “A fugitive and a vagabond.”
c) Fear (4:13 – 15) “My punishment is too great.”

B. ABEL’S OFFERING was acceptable because Abel himself was acceptable because of his motivation and spirit. Abel gave with the attitude and spirit God demanded. Cain did not.

Abel gave the blood offering first as an indication of his awareness of and desire for sin to be forgiven. He gave what God wanted with the spirit He demanded.

Abel’s sacrifice was better because it represented the obedience of faith. Obedience does not bring faith but faith always brings obedience. A sacrifice is acceptable only if it is an outward expression of a devoted and obedient heart.

A. CAIN started with a root of bitterness which developed into resentment of his parents, rejection of God, and reached its culmination in the murder of his brother. He refused any form of repentance.

Cain feared vengeance from people. Who were these people? Genesis 5: 19 clearly states that Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters. At the time Cain murdered Abel he was likely 129 years old. Statisticians have concluded that the world population by this time could well have been about 32,000.

In Genesis 4: 17 the wife of Cain is spoken of. Who was she? She had to be one of these many other sisters. There is no other answer.

As Cain walks off the pages of the Old Testament, he travels through a land called Nod (4:16) which means “flight and banishment.”

He left behind a rebellious prodigy which is the model for all sinners apart from God. They are representative of the “seed of the serpent.”

B. ABEL was the first human being to be murdered. Being cut off he had “no generation” physically. However, Abel lost his life because he chose to serve the Lord and manifest righteousness.

God honored Abel by providing a spiritual seed in the person of Seth (Gen 4: 25). The name Seth means “the appointed.” He was appointed to pick up the fallen banner of righteousness carried by Abel. The line of Seth is described as “calling upon the Lord” (4:26). According to Luke 3: 38 Jesus Christ descended from Seth and is the true “Seed of the woman” (Galatians 3: 16, 19 & 4:4).