In the first part of our look at Genesis we saw how God created the universe and man in his image, however, we also saw how man fell from grace through the original sin. It is worth contemplating for a moment how different our history might have been if Adam and Eve hadn’t given in to temptation or perhaps had pleaded with God for forgiveness – perhaps we’d still be in the Garden today.
Alas that was not the outcome, Adam and Eve fell and our relationship with God, and each other was ruined as a consequence. From Chapter 4 the circumstances of man goes from bad to worse as we give in to envy, murder and disobedience.
Over the next three days we will explore three incidences (Cain & Abel, Noah and Babel) that establish God’s Justice and Mercy over a sinful creation.
Part 2a: Sin, Death and Judgement – Cain and Abel
It is interesting to note that the first sin that is mentioned in Genesis after the fall of man is the murder of a Godly man by an ungodly man, and it was a consequence of envy and jealously. Cain was the elder child of Adam and Eve but it was Abel that was favoured by God – there is a reason why God frequently favours the second born child (Abel over Can, Isaac over Ishmael) he wants to establish that inheritance does not equate to favour.
The story of Cain and Abel first introduces us to the concept of sacrifice as a method to pay for sin, God sacrifices animals and offers their skins to cover the shame of Adam and Eve. This subsequently establishes that the only sacrifice that will pay the price of sin is a blood sacrifice, initially it was through the sacrifice of animals, however, this leads us all the way to Calvary where the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was made for all our sins forever.
Cain and became divided because of their sacrifices to God; their offerings show their character. Cain was proud and unbelieving – therefore his offering of fruit was rejected. Whereas Abel was humble in his acceptance of God’s mercy upon his sins and his offering of a blood sacrifice was accepted. Throughout history there has always been these two types of worshippers – the proud and the humble; Jesus highlights this in Matthew 23 where he attacks the Pharisees for their arrogance and lack of faithful worship.
Despite God’s warning that Cain should keep his anger and envy under control, his rage gets the better of him and he kills Abel, and furthermore, lies to God about it. Just as his parents had Cain decided not to repent but instead rebelled further against God as was cursed as punishment. Although God showed his Justice by punishing Cain, he also showed Mercy by not allowing anyone to hurt Cain, perhaps in the hope that Cain would return to God and reconcile. Throughout his life Cain complains, not of his sin but of his punishment. Cain’s fall stems from his pride, and his fear of losing his position within the family, I am reminded of a quote from Yoda (apologies but I am a Star Wars fan) “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”. This is the problem with disobedience it perpetuates and now God’s creation is a place where the Godly are hated, and evil people spread hatred.
Cain’s line grows and has a great many earthly achievements, however, as they expand so does their sin; their cities become a cesspit of debauchery. Subsequently this human, earthly progress is tainted by the mark of Cain. However, the line of the Godly Abel, the first martyr of righteous is continued by his brother Seth. Through Seth mankind would continue to the end of time, and from him the Messiah would descend. The lines of the sinful Cain and the righteous Seth continue to this day, it’s our choice though whether we live in grace with God through being humble like Abel or suffer here on earth with Cain.