Cain & Abel

What I Learned From Genesis 4 : The Story of Cain & Abel

Adam[a] made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.[b] She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth[c] a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
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.”
 13-14 Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him.16 Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.

I have had this story in my heart for a few days now. Before, I would read this from a lens of an angry, punishing God, but now–these past 7 years of knowing that God loves me and he is good–I decided to read this from a loving perspective.

1. Favor & Jealousy

In Genesis 4: 4-5 it says, The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”

Many people have interpreted favor differently. Some people think that favor is when someone is chosen, given a call or duty, or has a blessing from God so that it may be given to others. Favor is throughout scripture.

In Luke 1:28-30 it says, “Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!… Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!”

Now, I can see this description when it came to Mary. However, with Abel, God just seemed pleased. God liked what He saw. Who knows why: Maybe there was something that caught God’s eye in that moment-something authentically new and different in Abel. So when God looked lovingly and proudly at Abel, Cain noticed that. He noticed that his brother was receiving “favor” from God. In other words, Daddy was looking proudly at Abel, and brother Cain was jealous.

Notice that it doesn’t say, “And God looked down at Cain” or “God said Cain’s offering was not good enough.” No, it doesn’t say that at all. Abel was being highlighted and celebrated in that moment. But thats how Cain saw it, and God caught onto that! So, like a loving father, God says:

In Genesis 4: 6-8: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7

In the Message Bible it interprets it as, “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking?

Scripture continues, “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. 

In this passage, God is noticing and confronting Cain’s behavior: A classic tool in communication and revealing one’s heart back to them. He is doing this in love and truth. He’s not screaming or abusing Cain, he’s asking him why he is acting the way he is acting. He is helping Cain see his own behavior and discover within himself what he is doing.

Next, God reveals truth of how the atmosphere inside of Cain’s heart operates, and what happens when we step away from the way of God-God himself; God is love: Love is patient, love is kind, etc. Notice, that God doesn’t say, “If you do what is wrong, I’ll kill you.” God tells Cain and advises him that, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…” 

When you do not do what is right in love, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you. What God, to me, is saying in this passage is that evil is lurking, and waiting for any chance to pounce into your heart; any chance to have jurisdiction, to have rule, to speak lies into your brain, and to have influence in your life. But God doesn’t end there. He finishes his teaching with, “You must rule over it.”

The definition of the verb rule is to exercise ultimate power or authority over.

God created us to have power and authority over evil, and the world. When we sin, we are not meant to feel guilt, shame, and condemnation, but powerfully respond in authority to cast evil away. We need to stand in truth of our authority and our identity–the way God sees us–speak life over ourselves, and love ourselves.

We need to RULE over our thoughts and align them with God’s persepctive.

When we don’t act, think, or believe in the way of God, we must confess, work it out with God, and move on so that that awaiting evil never gets let in.

2. Lack of Accountability 

In Genesis 4:8-9: 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.  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” 

Cain responds to God, “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Oh, this attitude we all know so well. This mask of innocence and denial, when you know dang well what the answer is.

I have been that person so many times; I haven’t murdered anyone, but definitely have I acted in a way that doesn’t “count” as lying, but is not be forthcoming either.  This tends to happen when integrity is out of line. Once one bad decision starts, without taking accountability and figuring out what authentically is occurring, the on slew of more come piling on, leading you down a path you never meant to venture to in the first place.

What is important to realize, from this portion, is that you can’t fool God. You can’t hide from God, and you can’t convince God of your deception and vagueness. He is the truth you speak and he knows exactly who he is and who you are, and who he is not and who you are not. The most powerful decision you can make is to be honest about it.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

How often do I see that and hear that from myself and people. “It’s not my job” – “psh, it aint my problem” – when you dang well know its your job, and it’s your problem!

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

3. How It Works 

In Genesis 4: 10-16 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. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.”

God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him. Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.

::There are laws on earth that we have discovered in science::

For example, we have Newton’s three laws:

1) Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).

2) An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

3) For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

Science has become a beautiful way of describing God’s truths to His people. In this circumstance, I see God’s reaction not as punishment, but as a consequence to the action that Cain decided to take. When you murder someone, you are not only agreeing with a lie, but you are taking action–in it–to destroy another life. This has consequences: or in other words, for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

However, God does not kill Cain! In fact, he protects him, still. But the equal reaction is still devastating.

In Genesis 4 15-16: God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him. Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.

What happens when you allow the enemy jurisdiction in your heart, you push out the presence of God; you chose between good and evil. The opposite reaction to this action was Cain coming into agreement with evil, and in turn having to leave the presence of God. He lost all the perks that come with the presence of God. God still loved Cain, and did not want Cain dead. When Cain continued to wallow in his self-pity, God says, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times ovr.” And it describes how he marked Cain for his protection!

Even when we choose evil over good, God is not done with us. This story was in the Old Testament where we didn’t have the Presence in our hearts. We are now able to have access to the unlimited God inside of us, and cast out all evil within ourselves that we have allowed through trauma, pain, or outright disobedience. God continues to protect us, to love us, to pursue us, and to want to engulf us in his love fully. All we need to do is surrender to the Presence. Allow it to fill us and fight for us.

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All who wander are not lost, but to wander away from the presence of God is to walk yourself down a self-destructive path.  Hold tight to the truth of God, God’s gentle whispers, and God’s mighty ways, and you will feel the glory of the Presence in your daily life. The Holy Spirit will never leave you or never forsake you, because the Holy Spirit is faithful, kind, loving, and wants the best for you. It is of INFINITE POWER IN LOVE!

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