Genesis 4 opens with Adam and Eve fulfilling God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.
- Eve may think that Cain is the promised Messiah that will bruise the serpent’s head. She soon finds out that her messiah child picked up the sin trait.
- Cain and Abel begin the pattern of 2 sons - one chosen by the world, the other chosen by God. Bottom line - God is sovereign and He alone will determine how the Messiah will come about.
- There are two camps of thought when it comes to the Abel preference.
1. Quality of the Offering: Abel’s sacrifice was better. It came from the first born, best of his flock while Cain’s came from some of his crop (but the grain offerings we learn would be later accepted).
2. Cain’s character was off.
I’m tend to think it’s a combination of the two.
Abel’s sacrifice includes details and that should not be lost on the readers. Abel offered his sacrifice by faith and it was a more acceptable sacrifice. He offered in obedience.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
GOD IS MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE POSTURE OF OUR HEARTS THAN SACRIFICES.
I Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Elisabeth Elliot quote: When I went to boarding school the same principles I had been taught at home were emphasized. Headmistress, Mrs. DuBose, “Don’t go around with a Bible under your arm if you didn’t sweep under the bed,” she said, for she would have no pious talk coming out of a messy room.
- If you do well = rule your anger. BEFORE Cain committed sin, God came to him with a warning. verse 7.
‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?’ Then clearly his sacrifice was rejected because it was the sacrifice of an evil-doer. If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted? - To do well is to retrace his steps, to consider his ways, and find out wherein he has been wrong, and to amend his offering and his intention accordingly. He has not duly considered the relation in which he stands to God as a guilty sinner, whose life is forfeited, and to whom the hand of mercy is held out; and accordingly he has not felt this in offering, or given expression to it in the nature of his offering. Yet, the Lord does not immediately reject him, but with longsuffering patience directs his attention to this, that it may be amended. And on making such amendment, he holds out to him the clear and certain hope of acceptance still. But he does more than this. As Cain seems to have been of a particularly hard and unheedful disposition, he completes his expostulation, and deepens its awful solemnity, by stating the other alternative, both in its condition and consequence. - Barnes Notes on the Bible
TWO-Fold Nature of verse 7.
This word for sin = offense, the punishment for sin OR a sin offering. If you don’t do well (sin), there is a sin offering lying in the door for you.
If thou doest not well, sin, that is, the sin-offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it. The same word signifies sin, and a sacrifice for sin. Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; the remedy is at hand. Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, Re 3:20. And those well deserve to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door to ask for the benefit of this sin-offering. Matthew Henry
Instead of taking advantage of the sin offering, he gives into the anger and jealousy which leads him to fratricide.
Cain pre-meditates the murder because he calls his brother out to the field away from everyone else (It’s presumed that they had other siblings by this time). God comes to Him about his downcast countenance. It should have been downcast in remorse and repentance.
God questions Adam and Cain. Asks where they are/Asks where Abel is. It was a rhetorical question for both. Adam and Eve confessed, but Cain doesn’t. Cain’s motives were evil and so was he.
Cain thinks his punishment is too much to bear. Fears retaliation for murder. He lacks repentance and sorrow. We see self pity over sorrow.
Notice the ground motif. Blood calls from the ground. Ground won’t yield. Cain was driven from his homeland (ground) and his life’s work. Cain is fugitive and driven from God’s presence. Ground is cursed and linked to his life as a farmer. He alienated himself from his brother and God so he will be a wanderer. He is protected but without salvation. Like Adam and Eve, he is separated from God’s presence.
What do we know about Cain: Angry/Murderer/Liar/Self-pity/Unrighteous/Pride. HE built a city and called it after HIS son.
- By the time Lamech comes on the scene (7 generations away) we see the completeness of sin. lying, anger, jealousy, murder, adultery polygamy.
First the ‘fall, then fratricide, then brutal vengeance.
Lamech commits the first act of polygamy. This originated from man. This a a recorded event, not a condoning of it.
We see a big advancement in society. We also see the legacy of Cain. So it was with this race of Cain. Here was a father of shepherds, and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful. Here is one to teach about brass and iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord: here are devices how to be rich, and how to be mighty, and how to be merry; but nothing of God, of his fear and service.
- 4:23 1st poetry. Note the parallel structure which is the hallmark of Hebrew poetry. This is called “Song of the Sword” It illustrates Cain’s legacy of violence and Lamech’s arrogance. The poem is addressed to his wives (some say an intimidation tactic).
We see that Lamech is boastful (unlike Cain) and avenges himself with the 77 fold revenge.
The chapter begins with a call to the Lord (Eve’s worship in birth) and ends with the same. This is a sign that though sin has a crimson stain, God is still our sign of hope.