Summary: The story of Cain and Abel teaches the power of sin to control us and the power of faith to break sin's control.
Genesis 4:1-16 Crouching Sin
3/6/16 D. Marion Clark
Pastor Sam Smith has begun a sermon series in Genesis. Sam’s idea is to study characters in Genesis for this purpose: “to learn how God intervenes in the life of his people to reveal both the source of their problems and his solutions.” By examining the stories of people in Genesis, we will gain insight into our own lives and what God is doing in us.
So far we have learned that God has made man in his image and that he intended for men and women to be his stewards of his creation. We have been made with dignity and purpose. However, that intent has been marred through man’s fall. Sin has now infected man through Adam’s and Eve’s fall. We are now all sinners, and we all share the same penalty for sin. Without this knowledge of what we were meant to be and how we fell away from it, we cannot understand the big story of all the stories in Genesis and throughout the Bible; we cannot understand the gospel and the point of Jesus’ work on the cross.
That is the message Sam has been teaching us. Let’s see how it plays out in the first story following Adam and Eve.
Verses 1-5 provide the setting.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.
We have two sons. They each present an offering to the Lord in keeping with their occupations. Cain is a farmer and presents fruit from his crops. Abel is a shepherd and presents firstborn from his flock. Abel’s offering is accepted by God; Cain’s is not. The clear point is simple: one brother, Abel, did what was pleasing to the Lord; the other brother, Cain, did not.
The next two verses provide the central moral of the story.
So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
We are going to spend more time with these verses, but for now let’s note that God warns Cain to be careful of letting sin get the best of him.
On to the crime.
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”
Cain callously murders his own brother. His crime is premeditated. He then baldly lies to the Lord. He furthermore callously denies any responsibility for his brother, his younger brother.
God then judges.
10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
“The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.” God cannot be deceived. However hidden Cain’s crime might have been, it is not, cannot be, hidden from God.
Cain’s judgment is similar to his father’s with a distinct difference. Adam’s sin led to the ground being cursed, so that where the earth should have easily brought forth its fruit, it will now only do so with toil by man. Even so, it would still produce. Cain himself is cursed with a curse rising from the ground – namely, the blood of Abel – so that Cain’s toil will produce nothing. The result is that he must wander afar.
And yet, just as God does not carry judgment to its full and just extent with Adam and Eve, so that they are permitted to live and even to prosper to some degree, so Cain is allowed to live and is even protected by God from further harm.