Eve gave birth to a son. When she said she had been given a man from the Lord, the original Hebrew suggests that perhaps she thought she had given birth to the Redeemer who had been promised. Imagine her shock later when this child grows up to become the world’s first murderer. Because of his actions, Cain ended up losing everything and his role as firstborn was taken over by Seth. This is the beginning of a biblical pattern whereby the firstborn son is rejected in favour of the younger son (see Jack and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, Reuben and Joseph).
Cain and Abel found work for themselves. Adam had clearly shown them how sacrifices to God are made and what they are made for.
When Cain and Abel made a sacrifice, Abel’s was accepted, but Cain’s wasn’t. It is easy to assume that it is the type of sacrifice that determined whether God would accept it or not; but it’s actually the attitude of the person offering it that determines whether it will be accepted.
David tells us; ‘For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despite,’ (Psalm 51:16-17). It is clear that Cain was not humble by the way he responded to God after God rejected his sacrifice. There’s nothing humble or contrite here! Not only this but later on, when God gave the law, sacrifices of grain and vegetables were acceptable, so we can know that this was not the reason for Cain’s rejection.
Cain’s attitude is one of religion whereas Abel’s was one of faith. Abel sought to please God, and did so in faith. Cain’s religious attitude is so prevalent throughout the ages, never more so than today. It’s all about outward appearance; as long as it looks holy, it will do. It’s actually about nothing more than impressing other people with your perceived religiosity. It doesn’t impress God, he hates it. It means you don’t belong to him, you belong to the world, see Isaiah 29:13-14 which says: ‘Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honour me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from me, and their reverence for me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvellously with this people, wondrously marvellous; and the wisodm of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”‘ (NASB).
When Cain was angry after his sacrifice was rejected, God took him aside to help him see what the problem was; but Cain wasn’t interested – he was too busy being religious – and this mindset led to murder (how like today!) God warned Cain of the danger of sin, but he wouldn’t listen.
Sin generally doesn’t come alone. Cain killed his brother and then lied to try to cover it up. Not only are lies sticky, attracting other sins, but they lead to stubborn delusions. Cain thought he could fool God by lying! Cain was already deluded at this point, he thought his rubbish sacrifice would ‘do’.
Cain, as a result of his religiosity and pride was turned away to wander the earth after murdering his own brother. God is merciful even when we don’t deserve it. He ensured that Cain would not get persecuted or his sin. He did this even though Cain showed no remorse; he was more bothered about how he would survive than about facing up to what he had done and being sorry.
Because of Cain’s concern, God put a seal on Cain to prevent anyone attacking him. Why would God do this? God is gracious, and didn’t want Cain to be persecuted; it was enough that Cain would be judged and punished by God.
Cain later settled down and built a city which he named after his son. It is interesting to note here that Lamech is the first to distort the sanctity of marriage – he took two wives. This is a carnal family.
Every mark that Cain left on the earth, every descendant is wiped out later by the flood. The only thing to remain of him is a record of his sin and punishment.
Cain’s was a family of people who recognised who God was but didn’t enter into a relationship with him. One of his descendants, Lamech, treated God like a slot machine. He killed a man and expected that God would protect him even more than he had protected Cain. He bragged about his supposed claim on God’s mercy, yet the fact he doesn’t even mention God’s name indicates how far he is from a relationship with God. This is a family apparently existing without God. Through their own skills and abilities they are able to build the city of Enoch, and develop a society that lacks nothing, except God. Ultimately nothing will flourish outside God, and therefore when the wickedness of society reached a certain level, it was all swept away.
With thanks to my spiritual uncles: Uncle Warren Wiersbe, Uncle Chuck Missler, Uncle Matthew Henry, Uncle Jacob Prasch and Uncle Arnold Fruchtenbaum.