Daily Update #214
Genesis 4:1-15,25 Psalm 50:1,8,16-end Mark 8:11-13
It pays to read the Bible carefully! God’s perception is perfect, let us not forget it.
4 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.’ 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 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.’
8 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.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’
‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’
10 The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’
13 Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 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.’
15 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.
25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, ‘God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.’
I have often read this passage and thought that maybe it was a bit harsh that God did not look on Cain’s offering with favour. This reading demands careful attention.
Cain had a number of character flaws. Firstly, in v3 the text says that Cain brought ‘some of the fruits’ to God; however, his brother was lavish in his offering. Abel honoured God with his firstborn from his flocks. The takeaway message is that for Abel, honouring God came first. You could try and give Cain the benefit of the doubt, or suggest that the fruit of the soil was in some way inferior to meat, but the key to recognising that Cain had done the wrong thing, is to know that God is the perfect judge of our motives, and his reading of the situation is faultless. God’s acceptance of the Abel’s gift was related to what was in his heart. This is spelt out in Heb 11:4, ‘By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did.’
To compound it all, Cain became angry. The situation would have been defused if he had confessed his selfish offering, asked for forgiveness and sought to make amends. Yet, God graciously warns Cain that anger may lead to sin (verse 7), which is precisely what happened.
Cain’s ability to convince Abel to go out to the field, suggests to me this was a controlled and premediated action, seeking vengeance. Cain’s act of murder was born out of anger and frustration at God and jealousy of his younger brother.
To make the situation even worse, Cain lied to God about knowing where his brother was, as if God wouldn’t know!
This chilling tale warns us that God sees all. He knows the motivation behind our displays of generosity or selfishness; he sees through our anger; he sees our scheming and we cannot hide our sin from him.
But our God is a gracious God, slow to anger and swift to bless, his pronouncement on Cain was just, yet Cain still complained with cries of self-pity. Verse 15 is the last we hear of Cain’s story. God’s commission to Adam and Eve to be fruitful was passed on through their son Seth.
A tough reading, one that might cause some uncomfortable self-reflection, and it’s as well to remind ourselves of the all-seeing nature of God. Yet, His nature is so lavish in mercy towards us, unlike Cain who was given a mark of protection, we have the blood of Jesus to wipe away all our sinful ingratitude, anger, selfishness and deceit. We just need to truly repent and confess it to God and receive forgiveness. Thanks be to God for his generous gift of his son. Amen
We pray that you would help us to give our offerings to you, with true motivation from our hearts, to your work. Thank Lord, that all we have comes from you, and of your own do we give you. We thank you that you love us so much that you send your son in our place to bear the punishment of our sin. Help us to know the reassurance of your merciful protection on us, and give us wisdom and discretion to avoid any sin crouching at our door.
Tomorrow’s Reading is: Gen 6:5-8; 7:1-5,10