< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Cain and Abel

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4: 1-24 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

17 Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. 19 Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; 24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

In Genesis 3:15 God prophesied that two offspring would emerge and be at enmity until the serpent’s offspring or seed was finally destroyed by the woman’s offspring. Now in Genesis 4 we’ll see two seeds from Eve: Cain and Abel. Two children living in the same environment and experiencing the same training, yet God said Abel’s sacrifice and works were righteous, but Cain belonged to the evil one.

From their professions we see agriculture and the domestication of animals were practiced among the earliest humans.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
1 John 3:12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
Cain seemed to have an underlying attitude of deep resentment against God in every circumstance he found himself in. As he toiled against the cursed ground maybe he thought about the stories his parents told him about Eden. Maybe he blamed the fact that his work was so hard on his mom, or dad or God! You can tell he felt he was unjustly treated and blamed someone else for his unhappiness. And because Abel apparently was thankful to God for what he did have, Cain hated Abel. And of course the straw that broke the camel’s back was God accepting Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s.

Romans 1:21 tells us that sin begins in not glorifying God as God and not being thankful. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

You can hear Cain’s attitude in Genesis 4. When asked where his brother was, he said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

We know Abel’s attitude was completely different because God was looking at their hearts when they brought their offerings, not the gifts. Hebrews 13:15 talks about a sacrifice of praise. When we’re going through tough times or something we think is unfair we have to be careful not to let it make us bitter. Bitterness and resentment lead to bigger sins. God knows it’s not easy for us to still praise Him and thank Him in these circumstances, that’s why He calls it a sacrifice. But it pleases Him!

This is meant to be a lesson to us. And it’s not the first time we’ve heard it in the Bible. Eve focused on what she didn’t have too. And it caused her to sin also. We live in an age where we know what everyone else has. We hear about all the great things they’re doing. (Or at least what they want us to know they have and what they are doing.) And it’s easy to compare our lives to others. But we need to learn this lesson from the book of Genesis. Do not focus on what you don’t have. It will lead you down a path of bitterness and anger. Be grateful for what you do!

God gave Cain a chance to be free of his resentment and jealousy before it reached the point of no return when He asked Him, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” He was giving him a chance to confess his sin. God would have forgiven him.

But Cain’s sin multiplied. First, there was the inward bitterness, the wrong offering, his resentment against God, and anger against his brother. Then he deliberately rejected God’s offered way of escape. And then Cain committed murder. And went off to be separate from God forever. And where Cain said, “my punishment is too great too bear” he wasn’t sorry for his sin he was sorry he got punished!

Genesis 4:16 – 24 traces the godless line of Cain, noting on the one hand the tremendous development of civilization during this time, (talking about fathers of iron and bronze and players of lyres and pipes) but on the other the moral degradation, violence and rebellion against God. And for all Lamech’s boasting we never hear of him or his line in the Bible again.

But we have a bright spot in Seth.

Genesis 4: 25-26 25 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

From Seth eventually came Noah who was preserved from the judgment of the Flood and finally Jesus.

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