Cain: A Harvest of Sin
Taken from my current project:
Bullying: A Spiritual Battle
When Adam sold out to satan by disobeying Godís simple commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit, he got more than he bargained for. Eve was seduced by satan into eating the fruit first. I can picture Adam groaning in despair as what sheíd done sunk in. He knew that Eve was now doomed to die. Perhaps Eve sank to her knees begging Adam to partake also, so that she would not be alone in her exile from the Garden, driven out into the inclement world without his companionship. For whatever reason, Adam made a deliberate decision to disobey God by conforming to the contrary will of another human being. Thus he incurred an immeasurable loss for himself and for all his descendants.
In the Garden there was harmony among all creatures and with their Creator. There was no warfare or death in that Paradise. All of Adamís needs had been met there. Heíd been free of all the hassles and hazards known to our world. But heíd chosen to reject Godís rule over his life.
In that moment of infamy, Adam traded the sinless nature of God in his soul for the nature of satan. The Bible declares : The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can fathom it (Jeremiah 17:9)? Sin had introduced a previously unknown consciousness of nakedness and shame. I believe that prior to Adam and Eveís sin, there had been such a glow of the Glory of God surrounding them that there was no awareness of nakedness. There must also have been a traumatic sense of having been stripped of innocence itself, and feeling exposed in their sinfulness before a Holy God.
Steal, kill, and destroy. The ministry of the devil, as described by Jesus in John 10:10. Satan had engineered Adam and Eveís loss of fellowship with God in Eden. He'd already begun to kill their physical bodies. Untold destruction had been wrought in their psyches. The sin nature had embedded itself in the very genetic code of man, to be passed down through countless generations. Adam lived to witness the outworking of this hereditary sin nature when his son Abel became the worldís first homicide statistic, slain by his jealous brother Cain. The story is recorded in Genesis 4:1-15.
Evidently sibling rivalry existed between these two young men, at least in Cainís heart. Cain approached God in a spirit of competitiveness, while Abelís attitude was one of contrite faith toward God. Blood sacrifice was what God required as an atonement for sin, for without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 10:28). Godís penalty for sin is death. The soul which sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4b). Romans 6:23 says: The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. His own sinless soul was made an offering for sin on our behalf (see Isaiah 53:10). Had Christ committed even one sin during His lifetime on earth, He would have disqualified Himself from paying the penalty of our sins, and God could not justly have forgiven one sinner.
It would yet be many centuries before Christ would come to earth to die for Abelís sins. In Old Testament times, animal sacrifices were offered up as temporary symbolic substitutes. These sacrifices were counted by God as acts of obedient faith, anticipating His appointed time when Christ Himself would die as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Cain must have heard these truths at the knee of Adam, his sadder but wiser father. But evidently Cain refused to take consolation in this mercy of the Lord. Most likely he rankled over the expulsion of his parents (and hence, himself) from the delights of Paradise. Humankind had been sentenced to a life of grueling toil, aging, sorrows of innumerable kinds, and eventual physical death. I can picture the cogitations of a mind like Cainís: Who does my dad think HE is, teaching ME how to run MY life, after the way HE struck out? I could have kicked back and sipped cider under an apple tree all day! In any event, I wouldnít have had to toil like a mule day in and day out just to eat! Life sure is a drag, thanks to good old Dad. Iíll placate God in my OWN way, not Dadís. And if God doesnít like it...well, TOUGH!
What a thorn Cain must have been in the hearts of his penitent parents. Surely the rebellious nature of their eldest son was a poignant reminder to them of the sorrow their own disobedience had brought to God. The treacherous Absalom would bring such anguish to his father King David many centuries later.
Flashing his cheesiest smile, Cain brashly approached the stone altar he had erected. Proudly he brandished his gift to God, a conveniently bloodless heap of fresh farm produce heíd cultivated from the cursed ground. My, he thought, wonít God be thrilled with MY donation? Much more than Heíll be with Abelís! The very idea...presenting a pile of raw, bloody flesh to the Almighty! His finer sensibilities will surely be offended.
Cain misread God, if heíd bothered to try to understand Him at all. The faith of Abel is commended by God in Hebrews 11:4: By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he gained Godís assurance that he was righteous, God approving of his gifts; and by faith he, though dead, speaks.
But God wasnít pleased with Cainís self-styled offering, or his insubordination. It was Abel whoíd been obedient, humbly casting himself by faith upon the mercy of a Deity offended by sin. Abel entertained no delusions about the utter depravity of the human nature heíd inherited from Adam, his father. He realized that only with Godís help could it be held in check. He knew that man, in spite of his best efforts, falls short of the Glory of God (see Romans 3: 23), and that sacrificial blood must be shed to cover his sin from Godís sight.
The hard-hearted Cain couldnít have cared less. Like most people he considered himself no better or worse than any other human, hardly bad enough to merit Godís attention. He refused to see his sin nature in the light of Godís unfathomable Holiness. Unlike his brother Abel, Cain was not accounted by God as righteous.
Cainís ďsacrificeĒ was an exercise in futility. God noticed how Cain glowered as the smoke from his offering refused to ascend heavenward, how the fire fizzled out no matter how much he fanned it and blew on it.
Why are you so angry, Cain? And why that pout on your face? If only youíd done what you were supposed to, you would have been accepted by Me. But because you disobeyed me, sin is even now lurking at your door. It wants to dominate you, but you must overcome it (Genesis 4:7).
Cain seethed. He resented anybody, God included, telling him what to do. He refused to repent of his own perverseness, for his heart was hardened toward God. He didnít want any advice from the God he was supposedly sacrificing to. How dare God be so picky, He was lucky to get anything at all from cool Cain! Cain was determined to run his turf his own way.
This headstrong young man couldnít stomach following the godly example of his younger brother. Far be it from him to obtain one of Abelís choicest lambs to offer up as the blood sacrifice demanded by God. Cain was ticked off. Why didnít God appreciate this gorgeous mound of veggies, or all the sweaty toil that had gone into wresting his offering from the earth? His super-sized ego was deflated. Upstaged by his bratty little brother! Oh, the stinging humiliation of it all! The Top Dog must not lose face; this insult must not go unavenged.
On the pretext that Cain wanted a private word with him, Abel was lured out to a secluded field, away from the eyes of his parents. But God saw everything. He witnessed the full savagery of the murderous blow dealt out by Cain, the first murderer. Soon Abel was lying in a pool of his own blood.
Jealous rage turned to fear. Up until then, no human had ever died. Cain shook that lifeless form lying limply at his feet. He shouted at it. No response. What could be done now? His dad would go ballistic. He might even do the same to HIM if he found the grisly evidence. So Cain became the first undertaker and buried the body in a hastily excavated grave. The earth received Abelís lifeless corpse. But his blood cried out to God, Who knows every sparrow that falls to the ground.
In I John 3:12, the Holy Spirit gives the apostle John insight into Cainís motive for the murder. This verse is included in a discourse on loving one another, Johnís trademark teaching.
John contrasts the malignant attitude of Cain with true Christian love. He instructs us to be:Not like Cain, who was of that wicked one (satan) and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because his own deeds were evil, while his brotherís were righteous.
Cain served the prince of darkness, as all bullies do. Abel had walked in the Light, and this Light had shown up the sinister workings of Cainís soul. But Cainís premeditated crime did not succeed in snuffing out the Light, or make his own burden of guilt weigh any less heavy upon him.
Barely had Cain finished conducting Abelís no-frills funeral when he heard an entreaty from heaven: ďCain! Cain! Where is Abel, your brother?Ē
Ever a cool dude, Cain shrugged, ďHow should I know? Am I my brotherís keeper (Genesis 4:9)?
But God was not to be put off. ďCain! What have you done? I hear your brotherís blood crying up to me from the ground, clamoring for vengeance. The very same earth which opened her mouth to receive your brother now abhors you. From now on, you will enjoy no success in farming. The earth will refuse to yield a crop to you. A homeless wanderer you will be upon the earth.Ē
Abel had become the first saint martyred for the sake of the Truth, as many millions in the future would be. His death was due to persecution for righteousnessí sake, rather than bullying for cosmetic shortcomings. God has, throughout the ages, permitted such martyrdoms to occur. This is a matter far different from being targeted because you wear a cheap brand of clothes. I believe that in all other cases, protection from physical harm can assuredly be sought for through the intervention of God.
Cain manifested these traits of a typical bully: a vicious temper, a callous heart, contempt for authority figures, a driving need to be Top Dog. Now he had been reduced to being a homeless vagabond. For the remainder of his life Cain would wander and scavenge for his sustenance, always peeking over his shoulder and worrying that some younger, stronger punk would bump him off. Bullies are like that. These predators restlessly range, seeking approbation from some and victimizing others, always fighting any who could pose a challenge to their position as Leader of the Pack.
Let the bully beware. It is a dangerous business to glorify the attributes of satan as being ďcoolĒ. We live in an amoral (frankly, immoral!) society. Nothingís a sin, except bucking the trends. But God doesnít conform to this ugly world. He declares in Malachi 3:6: I am the Lord, I never change. In Godís court of law, terminal bullying carries a terminal penalty, with no time off for good behavior.
But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and perverts, and MURDERERS, and the immoral, and practitioners of witchcraft, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their place in the lake which burns with fire and sulfur; this is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
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