4 Now Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten[a] 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.
Adam “knew”, or “lay with” his wife. The Hebrew literally means ‘knew”, but not in an impersonal way, but in the most intimate way
Cain – his name means to get, to possess, or to aquire. Which is exactly what Eve says “ I have “gotten” a man with the help of God”
I wonder if Eve thought that Cain was the promised offspring who would defeat Satan? But as you know, Cain will turn out to be anything but a Savior
Eve gives birth to another son, Abel. And it tells us that Abel was a shepard, and Cain was a keeper of the land, involved in agriculture
Abel’s name means “vapor” or “breath”, such as the breath that comes out of our mouths. It quickly evaporates, and canot be seen. It is short-lived. And it is used mataphorically for something that is insubstantial and fleeting. How fitting, because we will see that is exactly what will happen to Abel, he will disappear from the scene much earlier than he should have, and so his name is a foreshadowing of his life
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.
So what we see here is that Cain and Abel both bring an offering to God. And God had regard for one offering, but not the other. They both bring an offering. They both worship God. They both seem to have a desire for God’s acceptance. So what’s going on here?
For starters, let’s make sure we understand what is meant by an offering. That word for “offering” is the Henrew word “minha” (min-hah), which is the common Hebrew term for “tribute”, the “firstfruits”
There seems to be a couple of different interpretations or thoughts regarding this scenario, and why God accepted the offering of Abel, but not the offering of Cain
Some people believe that they each brought forth the offerings they did because of their occupation. Abel being a shephard, brings the fat of the firstborn. And Cain brought forth a grain offering because he was a farmer, so to speak. But one interpretation rejects this thought process. So those who hold this perspective argue Scripture tells us in Luke Ch 11 that Abel was the first prophet. And so if he was a prophet, what was it that he was telling us?
He was a prophet in the sense of demonstrating what was an acceptable offering. He was a prophet regarding the rituals and ordinences involved in offerings. IOW, Abel didn’t bring his offering of a blood sacrafice just because he was a shepherd. It had to do with the fact that he knew it was only through the shedding of innocent blood that sins would be covered, and that all of the blood sacrifices were pointing to the one who would shed his innocent blood for all mankind.
On the other hand, Cain brought an offering, not based on a blood sacrafice, but based on the works of his hands. It had to do with Cain’s lack of faith in the blood sacrifice, and that Cain felt like he could satisfy God through his own efforts. Again, that is one interpretation.
One of the arguments against this interpretation is that fruit and vegetable offerings were appropriate as offerings. Also, Abel’s offering describes the fat portions”, but no reference to blood. One other thing, blood is usually used in the sacraficial system to accomplish atonement for sins
But another interpretation is that Abel brought forth the “first, or the “best” for his offering. He brought the fat from the firstborn. But with Cain’s offering, there is no mention of it being his best. The text seems to indicate that Cain merely brought “some of the fruits”, IOW, there is no indicaiton that Cain’s offering was the best he had to offer. So the real reason God does not accept Cain’s offering is because Cain is simply going through the motions. His heart is not in it. He may appear to be religious, but he is not expressing an attitude of being dependent upon or thankful to God
You see, there really is no separation between the offering itself, and the person bringing the offering. Because the offering is merely an outward manifestation or expression of the attitude or spiritual condition of the person bringing the offering.
Hebrews 11:4 says that “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous”.
Jude V11 says “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,…”
So regardless of the reason, whichever interpretation you lean towards, the only thing the text makes clear is that Cain, in some way, does not do what is right. So apparently the Bible is more interested here in the response to the offering than providing us all of the details.
5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. 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 contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
The first thing I notice here is that Cain gets angry. Who is he angry at? God, for not accepting his offering? Abel, for bringing a more acceptable offering? Or should he have been mad at himself? Adam and Eve were good at not accepting responsibility for their actions, so maybe Cain took after his parents in that regard.
But just like God did with Adam, he confronts Cain, and asks him a question, not because He doesn’t know the answer, but to reveal Cain’s heart, and to perhaps give him an opportunity to confess his failure
God tells Cain that he can make it right. And if he does, he will be accepted. God is telling Cain that there is a provision for him
But if he does not do what is right, “sin is crouching at the door”. There are various interpretations of this phrase, but seems to be that sin is personified as a crouching demon, waiting to strike, or possibly even an illusion to the serpent waiting to strike the heel, as we saw in the last episode
But it is an interesting insight that God says “but you must rule over it”. What does that imply? It implies that Cain has a choice in the matter. He has the ability to conquer sin. He has the free will to make a decision.
One thing to keep in mind as we continue here. In modern times, we seem to have this argument or discussion around nature vs. nurture. Why do some people make bad decisions. Why do some people turn bad. Well, some people say it comes down to their environment, how they were raised, etc, IOW, nature vs nurture. But, keep in mind here that Cain and Abel have the same parents. They grew up in the same environment. The playing field was equal. But we already know the story, that both of the boys don’t turn out the same. So it didn’t come down to nature vs. nurture in this instance. It came down to free will, and making choices
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?” 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.”
So Cain murders Abel. We are not told of the conversation, of what Cain said to Abel, but the clear implication is that Cain was simply jealous of Abel
And once agin, we see God asking questions. “Where is Abel your brother?”
Whereas Adam and Eve attempted to place part of the blame on someone else, Cain’s response here is simply a lie. “I don’t know”. And then he follows his lie up with a sort of arrogant, smart-alecky response…”Am I my brother’s keeper?” IOW, is Abel my responsibility? Is it my turn to watch him?
John Walton makes the observation that perhaps we should see the irony in how far one chapter has brought us from wanting to know everything about good and evil to knowing nothing!
Here is a question; why did Cain feel like he had to lie about what he had done? There were no 10 commandments at this point. Answer? Because he knew what he had done was wrong. Which implies the existence of a conscience. Cain knew what he did was wrong because the moral law was written on his heart. Just as it is for all of us. And a moral law implies a moral law giver…
God responds to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
Again, just like with Adam and Eve, there is no hiding from God. There is no covering up of sin.
And what is Cain’s punishement? That he would become a restless wanderer with the ground not yielding to his efforts. If the ground will not yield and provide food for you, then you will be forced to wander for food.
God spoke to Cain multiple times. First, to warn Cain about conquering his sin and evil thoughts, and then later to elicit a response and to take responsibility for his actions
But Cain refused. He didn’t listen. He rejected God’s appeal. Cain took no responsibility for family, so now he is deprived of his family
How many times have you rejected God’s appeal? How many times have you felt the prescence of God, discerned God’s calling, God speaking to your heart, and rejected Him? Not listened to what He was communicating to you?
If you are listening to this podacast and you are a Chrstian, don’t ignore God’s calling when He is prompting you to do something!When He is leading you in a particular direction! There is a reason He is doing so.
If you are listening to this podcast, and you are not a Christian, I am simply saying to you, I’m imploring you, “Don’t ignore God’s calling. If you are truly open to hearing from God, seeking God, He will find a way to get through to you. It may be a conversation with another person, an event in your life that is otherwise unexplainable, or maybe even through a podcast you listen to.
The Bible teaches us in 2 Peter 3:9 that “God is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance
Jesus told us “Seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened”
James 4:8 tells us “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Interesting response here from Cain. Rather than repentance, his response is one of self-pity. He fears the physical exposure and the social alienation, but still no hint of remorse. No regret. No apology. No asking of forgiveness.
But Cain’s response here also brings up another question? He says that whoever finds me will kill me? Who else is there? Who are these other people? I thought it was just Adam & Eve, Cain and Abel. So who else is out there?
That is what we will discuss in the next episode!
We will also address one of the most frequently asked questions about the OT, “Where did Cain get his wife?”
I will also use the next episode to discuss the long lifespans described in Genesis.
But before I close out this episode, I want to personally thank all of you who have taken the time to listen to any of these early episodes, and for the support you have shown
After only 12 episodes, there have been downloads of the podcast now on 6 continents, 26 countries, and over 350 cities.
Which is way more than what I would have anticipated at this point. Now I don’t get hung-up on numbers or anything because that is not the most important thing here, but it does indicate to me that, contrary to what you may hear out in the world, and see on the news and social media, there is still an appetite for God’s Word. God’s Word still speaks to people. It impacts people, and the message of Jesus Christ still changes people’s lives.
I pray for those of you who listen to this podcast, that God would find just the right way to speak to you, to speak to your heart, to reach you through His Word, as only He can. And that as a result that you would, as James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
Thanks again for listening, and until next week, God bless!