One of the saddest parts about doing a fly over series through a book of the Bible is that passages are left out. On this upcoming Sunday I will be preaching over Genesis 12, which means that chapters 4-11 will be “skipped.” In order to make up for this I will put some notes about these chapters on my blog through this week. Take note though that these will not be extensive, since I have not had the time to study each of these chapters as in depth as I will be studying the chapters on which I preach.
Chapter 4 begins with a note of hope. We cannot overlook that intimacy was broken in chapter 3 when sin entered into the world. We can tell that there is an expectation for life to be good. This man and wife are united in love and it has brought forth two sons
Cain and Abel are farmers, with Able focusing on livestock and Cain in agriculture. This is to be expected since farming was part of the initial blessing of work given to humanity as image bearers of God (Gen. 1:26-30; 2:15-16, 19-20a). Working with the hands is a blessing. Work shows a reflection of the creative Lord that we serve.
Many want to make sense of why one sacrifice was accepted and not the other, but since we do not have recorded in Scripture why the sacrifice of Cain was not acceptable, we have to keep ourselves from surmising guesses. Instead, we look at how sin enters the picture.
Cain has the chance of giving a second sacrifice, but does not. God gives him a chance to repent- to turn from one path to another in verses 6&7, yet Cain closes him out. God even warns him that sin is looking to master him- to take away his freedom to experience the relief of repenting, but he does not.
This seems like a repeat of chapter 3’s motifs of temptation and grace.
In the face of temptation there is always the truth revealed by God that there is another way. In the face of sin God is always saying “choose me.”
Instead, Cain chooses to murder his brother.
When God confronts him about this, Cain again turns down God’s grace. TWICE! God, for the second in a short span in this chapter gives Cain a chance to turn from his sinful and selfish life and walk with Him. The first was a chance to “do what is right” (4:7), and then in verse 9 God gives him a chance to confess the murder of his brother, yet Cain chooses ignorance “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Sin tries to plead ignorance. Sin tries to avoid responsibility.
The Lord then curses Cain to wander the earth with aimless and fruitless labor (10-12). Cain cannot bear this (13-14). So the Lord is merciful in his re-judgment, protecting him from the vigilante justice of those that Cain will encounter in his wanderings (15-16).
But how does this affect the rest of humanity?
Well, in verses 16-14 we have the record of Cain’s family. It does not go well. His great grandson (who should have learned that sin has consequences and that God is worthy of all love and affection), murders a man for causing him a little pain. And he boasts about it (23-24!).
Sin grows when it is not mourned and confessed.
Yet, Adam and Eve still remain hopeful that God will bring about life. Their first two sons were lost due to anger (4:5). Now, God has given them Seth, and people begin to call upon the Lord (4:25-26).
In the face of all brokenness, there is a God of hope and love.