Cain rose up…

Posted: April 3, 2013 in A to Z Challenge
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Many times in the Old Testament, characters and themes are introduced with little fanfare, and often dispatched just as quickly; the “trick” is to discern the meaning inherent in even these briefest of encounters. We see one such example in Adam and Eve’s first son, Cain, who appears and is gone in less than 20 verses. Yet, there is a wealth of truth revealed in this scant space – let us examine this together.

Some context: Genesis 3 ends with the “first family” being driven from Eden after their Fall into the knowledge of sin and death. Chapter 4 begins with the birth of their son Cain, whose name can be translated as “Here he is”; perhaps Eve considered this child to be the fulfillment of the promise made by God in Gen 3:15 of a Seed, One to deliver them from their doom. He is quickly followed by his brother Abel (breath, something transitory, quickly dissipated…names have significant meaning in Hebrew) We fast forward to find them mature and working hard at their professions: Cain is a farmer, while Abel is a shepherd; at some point, they bring their respective offerings to God, and it is here that we find the lesson.

Scripture tells us that God accepted Abel’s offering, but Cain…not so much. We are not given any specific reasons for this, (there may be some clues in the description of their offerings) but I think it is more significant to examine the reaction that Cain has to God, and to his brother, and to then attempt to relate it to ourselves. This is, I believe, one of the primary purposes of Scripture – to reveal the nature of God to His creation, and then by this illumination, point to where we deviate from His design, that we may know best how to pray for His grace and forgiveness. (Sorry, I’ll get off the soapbox now.)

Cain reacts with anger and disappointment at the fact that his offering was not accepted; at no point does he inquire about the nature of his shortcoming – instead, it seems that he is offended; after all, he brought an offering…isn’t that enough? God isn’t having any of it, and calls Cain down for this rebellious self-righteousness, warning him where his attitude will lead him, but Cain cannot hear – he is too filled with his pride to listen…echoes of how God warned Adam and Eve about the consequences of thinking of themselves more than of God. Sure enough, Cain’s anger leads him to commit the first recorded murder, and suffer his own consequence, becoming an outcast among outcasts, and fathering a legacy based on vengeance for slights real and imagined (see Lamech in Gen 4:23-24).

So where is the parallel, what in us does this light of truth shine upon? What, indeed? I would venture that the vast majority of conflict among humanity is rooted in the notion that anything I offer to another should be deemed worthy because I gave it; any failure in this relationship is a reflection on them, not on me. The “problem” is that God is worthy to be worshiped, and anything offered to Him must be worthy of Him; He is the standard, not me. Cain had a problem with that, and it cost him. Guess what? I have a problem with that, too, and so do you; that problem is original sin – when Adam ate the fruit, and learned what right and wrong were, he took that knowledge with him out of the Garden, and passed it down to all of us, along with the overwhelming tendency to choose wrongly.

We are blessed that the same love that God showed when he promised Eve a Seed is still in effect; that Seed is Jesus, who became the new Adam, and overcame that first wrong choice – He chose to obey God, and every act He does is worthy of the Father. In Him, we can find acceptance; by submitting to His Lordship, we can find peace, and once again have intimate fellowship with God, in the cool of the evening.

  1. Very well written and a timely reminder, thanks!

  2. Amanda says:

    What a thought provoking and inspiring blog. I’m occasionally guilty of forgetting to look to myself for responsibility in problems (though I’d like to think that more often than not I consider my own actions first when pondering a problem). But I know many people who blame every problem they have on everyone else, creating drama and personal havoc wherever they go. And these people are usually the most unhappy people I know. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. K.Jacqleene says:

    Intriguing blog. How often we the created try to tell the creator how things should be and are upset if he doesn’t approve or accommodate our fleshly desires. A quick visit to the last chapters of Job should take care of this for us. God really puts it in perspective for us there in case we start thinking to highly of ourselves!

  4. Damyanti says:

    I’ve read the story of Cain and Abel but never gone into any depth. Thanks for sharing your post.

    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z