Fellowship … destroyed
“So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.“ – Genesis 4:16 NIV
Once sin entered the picture, it didn’t take long for things to start going bad. Chapter four opens with the births of Cain and Abel. While painful experiences, like most childbirths, these would have been joyous occasions. But the joy didn’t last long. Cain and Abel grew up and so did their sin natures. Over in chapter five we are told that Adam’s sons were born “in his own likeness” (Revelation 5:3). Unlike their father Adam, who was made in the likeness of God, Cain and Abel were born in the likeness of their sinful father. They inherited his propensity to sin. So it is not surprising that eventually that nature raised its ugly head. And it came about in a surprising way. All in regards to a sacrifice made to the Lord. We are not told that this was a requirement that God had made. Nowhere in the passage does it indicate that God had commanded sacrifices to be made to Him. But both Cain and Abel bring a sacrifice to God. Cain, being a farmer or cultivator of the fields, brought an offering from the fruit of the ground. Abel, a shepherd, brought an animal sacrifice. Again, we are not told that God had required a sacrifice at all, let alone a particular type of sacrifice. The issue seems to be in regards to the manner in which the sacrifice was brought. In Hebrews we are given a little bit of insight into what was going on: “It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel’s offering to show that he was a righteous man” (Hebrews 11:4 NLT). So this seems to be less about the kind of offering than the faith of the one who brought it. Verse 4 of chapter four indicates that Abel brought as his offering the first-born among the flock. He gave to God the very first of his flock. But their is no indication that Cain did the same. Some believe that Cain gave God from the leftovers. To give God the first of your flock or produce is an act of faith. You are having to trust God to provide from what is left over. To satisfy yourself first, then give God from what is left is NOT an act of faith. It is a reflection of a lack of faith in God. You doubt that He can provide, so you horde and hide from Him what is best. That seems to be what happened here.
But the result of it all is that Cain’s sacrifice is not regarded or looked upon with favor by God, and Cain is furious. So much so that he becomes jealous of his brother and murders him. In just a short period of time, the sin of man goes from simple disobedience to the commands of God to murder. The downward spiral had begun. And it all began in the heart of Cain. Long before he murdered Abel, Cain began to show signs of sin’s effect. He was selfish toward God. He suffered from anger, depression, and jealousy. God even questioned him about it. “‘Why are you so angry?’ the LORD asked him. ‘Why do you look so dejected?'” (Genesis 4:6 NLT). Then God gave him the remedy to his situation. God may have rejected Cain’s sacrifice, but He had not rejected Cain. He tells him, “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it” (Genesis 4:7 NLT). God was out to teach Cain a valuable lesson through this circumstance, but he had to respond in the right way. He had to learn from his mistake. This had less to do about the sacrifice than about Cain’s attitude. God warned Cain that sin was out to get him. And it would get the best of him. He was going to lose the battle with sin if he did not respond to God in the right way. And that is true for all of us today. In every circumstance of life God has lessons He wants to teach us. But we must respond in the right way. We must come to Him in faith, humbly asking Him to show us what He has to teach us. If we refuse, sin will raise its ugly head, and we will end up responding in anger, bitterness, resentment, hate, and yes, even murder at times.
As a result of Cain’s actions, he is banned from God’s presence. Verse 16 is probably one of the saddest statements in the entire Bible: “So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence…” (Genesis 4:16 NIV). No longer would he enjoy the beauty of Eden and the fellowship of God. His sin had destroyed all that. He found himself wandering and wondering what would happen to him. And that is the lot of all men who live in rebellion against God. We may build cities. We may attempt to build stable lives. But in the end, we will wander and wonder what is going to happen to us. We live lives filled with fear about the future. We are constantly looking back over our shoulder, wondering and worrying about the future. All peace is gone because God’s presence is missing. And that same thing can happen to us as believers. Sin can still separate us from God. He never leaves us, but we can still experience a sense of distance from Him when we allow sin to reign in our lives. We tend to run and hide from Him when we sin. We are embarrassed, so we distance ourselves from Him. But God is still calling out to us as He did to Cain. “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it” (Genesis 4:7 NLT). So how will you respond? In the right way or the wrong way? In faith or fear?
Father, I know sin crouches at the door, ready to pounce on me at any moment. I also know that I tend to respond to my circumstances in the wrong way. I fail to see You in them. I fail to allow You to teach me through them. Instead, I get angry and take matters into my own hands. I try to solve my problem in my own way, and it always leads to greater degrees of sin, not a solution. Help me to trust You more. Help me to see You more clearly in every circumstance of life. Because You are faithful. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
One thought on “Genesis 4-5”
A theme I had not seen running through Genesis before, since the OT is considered such a picture of the wrath of God – is the mercy of God. Mercy in creation – mercy in dealing with Adam and Eve – mercy toward Cain – mercy toward Noah and his family…God’s mercy – so grateful for it in my life.