Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Genesis 4 - Cain and Abel

LINK: Genesis 4

BACKGROUND


"Abel was a keeper of the flocks,
and Cain was a tiller of the ground.
 The Lord had regard for Abel's,
but for Cain and for his offering, 
He had no regard." (3:2, 5)

Why didn't God regard Cain's offering?

First we can look at Cain's response (4:4-7) when God disregarded his sacrifice and what God says to Cain. Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

We can also look at Hebrews 11:4: 


"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, 
through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous
God testifying about his gifts, and through faith,
though he is dead, 
he still speaks."

This says that Abel's offering was offered by faith. This might imply that Cain's was not. His anger afterwards certainly implies that to me.

In addition, Hebrews 9:22 (which correlates with Leviticus 17:11) says:

 "And according to the Law, one may almost say
all things are cleansed with blood, 
and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

The Law has not been given through Moses yet, but the picture of sacrifice has already been set in motion by the sacrifice of the animal(s) in order to use the skins to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness after the Fall.

I also love how God does give Cain an opportunity to "do well" even after Cain makes an unacceptable sacrifice.

Sadly, he doesn't. It says that his "countenance fell." The Hebrew definition of the word for countenance (or face) is very interesting:
In the Bible the “face” (along with the other parts of the body) is described not merely as an exterior instrument in one’s physiology, but rather as being engaged in some form of behavioral pattern, and is thus characterized by some personal quality. It is only natural that the face was considered to be extraordinarily revealing vis-a-vis a man’s emotions, moods, and dispositions. . . . A “fallen” face stems from very strong anger or displeasure (Gen 4:5).  Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (p. 727)
When his countenance fell, Cain quit his upward gaze at God and looked away and gave into anger and jealousy. It results in the murder of Abel and lying to God. 

Like Adam and Eve, Cain was given the opportunity to tell the truth, but he did not do so. Also like Adam, the ground was cursed, and he was sent away. Cain "went out from the presence of the Lord" as a vagrant and a wanderer. Like Adam and Eve, there is a picture of separation in the relationship. Yet, even in this, God wants Cain to be protected. Amazing!

Other New Testament Scriptures that give insight into Cain are 1 John 3:11-12 and Jude 11.

The rest of the passage is Adam's family tree. Here is a question a person new to the Bible might ask: Where did Cain get his wife? How would you answer them?

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Seth is mentioned as a son born to Adam and Eve to replace Abel. If you go to Luke 3:36-38, you will see that Seth is in the genealogy of Jesus!

REFLECTION

Sometimes we get angry at God when He doesn't give us what we think we deserve. Cain thought he deserved God's regard. I want any sacrifice I make (praise or service or material things) to be offered in faith and with a joyful heart and with no strings attached. When I feel a sense of entitlement in the Kingdom work He has planned for me, I need to see that as sin. I need to "master it." I know that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion wanting to devour me (1 Peter 5:8), and not wanting me to live by faith. He wants my countenance to fall and to not gaze up at God, doubting His goodness. I want to resist that at all cost by my faith!

APPLICATION

Ponder areas where you might be angry at God because He is not giving you what you think you deserve. Turn your gaze upward, come to Him, and talk to Him about it.

PRAYER

Lord, I present my body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to You, which is my spiritual service of worship. I do not want to be conformed to this world. I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I may prove Your good, perfect, and acceptable will. (Romans 12:1,2). I know as I renew my mind, I will gaze upward and learn more about what it means to live by faith in You. Amen.

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