Summary: We all leave a legacy. Some are very noticeable, some not so much. Some good, some not so good.
“The Legacy of Cain”
We all leave a legacy. Some are very noticeable, some not so much. The Killarney Hotel will leave a legacy especially for those who have lived in Killarney for a long time. Our parents all wonder what our legacy will be when we are born, as we do of our children, and there are high hopes at birth for sure.
Good or bad, these legacies can affect history, and in the case of Cain, the first child of humans, his horrible legacy has lived on for thousands of years as a testament to what human jealousy and anger can do. A legacy that unfortunately humans continue to leave all too often. But thankfully that isn’t the whole story.
Let’s look at Cain’s legacy today, and what can be learned from it. There was:
I. Spiritual Wreckage (vv 1-15)
A. The Killing of His Brother (vv 1-8) - but let’s first look at:
1. The Rejection of His Offering (vv 1-5a)
Eve said of the birth of Cain, “that she had gotten a man” and she likely believed this was the saving seed the Lord promised her. By naming her next son Abel she may have shown that she didn’t think he was too important, her expectations were tied up with Cain. Abel literally means “in vain, or temporary” indicating the shortness of life he would have. This also reflects a type of Jesus. “The good shepherd who was killed prematurely because of jealousy.” The difference of course being that Jesus death was not “in vain”. Jesus didn’t meet the expectations of a savior either, yet he was the savior.
Notice the difference in Cain and Abel’s occupations – One, Abel, like Jesus, the shepherd, the other, Cain, like Adam the farmer. Neither are bad or good occupations, but the symbolism is important here.
Notice also the difference in the offerings. Remember there were no specific instructions that we know of yet for making offerings to the Lord. Cain brought some of what he grew, probably not the choicest stuff, while Abel gave the very best of what he had.
There is also a likelihood that Cain knew that blood sacrifices were necessary for God, after knowing that the Lord sacrificed animals for his parents to make them clothes. But most importantly is the condition of the heart when making the offering. Many scholars believe that God already perceived a heart of sin in Cain.
So Cain gets called on his less than ideal offering and is angry with his own blunder, yet blames his brother, and ultimately God for his own character defects and attitude.
So, much like we had the beginnings of marital discord last time we were in Genesis, now we have the beginning of sibling rivalry. So we see:
2. The Resentment in His Spirit (v. 5b)
Cain is displaying an attitude that many non-Christians have about Christians. There is often indignation from those who don’t believe they deserve to be in God’s favor, derogatory statements like, “Christians are a bunch of do-gooders, hypocrites etc.” Often this reflects their deep wish to be reconciled and accepted by God, but instead they have anger toward those who are.
So often we exhibit anger instead of repentance when we are accused of doing something wrong. Very often after a time has passed, the anger subsides and guilt and sorrow take its place. Once again there is a lesson here to just confess and repent when we are caught, so that we can avoid long-term inner turmoil, though we may still have to deal with the consequences of our actions. In verses 6 and 7 we have:
3. The Response to His Attitude (vv 6-7)
God says in essence, “what are you so mad about? If you do things as I ask with your heart in it, I will be happy, but when you don’t, watch out, cause sin is waiting to take over. The expression used for sin here “desiring to have you”, is the same that was used when Eve’s desire will be “for her husband”, meaning to rule over. So sin is waiting to rule over us.
God is trying to advise Cain and bring him back to himself, but Cain wants no part of it. He doesn’t want to hear the truth.
4. The Result of His Jealousy (v. 8)
So the logical thing to do was kill his brother right? That will surely get him back in God’s good books. Why did Cain murder his brother? 1 John 3:12 says: “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”
Human beings tend to try to get rid of those who make them look bad, rather than trying to be more like those who make them look bad. Human logic can be very messed up especially when it’s influenced by fleshly emotions like jealousy, which just happens to be the number one motive for murder even today.