We know Cain to be a murderer — and we vilify him for it. What we often fail to consider is that Cain had a relationship with God.
Consider that Cain gave an offering to God that wasn’t requested or expected. (Cain lived centuries before God instructed Moses about the need to give him offerings.)
Also, consider that Cain also had a personal relationship with God, that is he talked to God and was able to be in God’s presence.
Given this, one might conclude that aside from one terrible act, Cain was a good guy, a God-loving dude. Perhaps like you and me.
Even so, this one act — his only recorded failure in life — needed to be punished. Justice demanded it. And as a just God, he meted it out.
So God sent Cain away, away from his presence. But not angrily or out of spite. For despite a need to punish Cain for his grave error, God lovingly put a mark on him to protect him from being killed by others.
God justly punished Cain — and then lovingly protected him.
Cain kills Abel because he is jealous, jealous that his brother’s offering to God is accepted and his isn’t.
God knows what Cain is thinking — and urges caution. God directly tells Cain that he must rule over his sinful thoughts, the temptation to do wrong. But Cain doesn’t heed God’s advice and kills his brother.
The resulting murder may have been an act of rage or merely an extreme way of eliminating the competition. But either way, Abel ends up dead and Cain has blood on his hands.
Thousands of years later, when Jude advises followers of Jesus to avoid “the way of Cain,” he might be referring to murder or perhaps a jealousy that could lead to murder, but I suspect the warning is for something much more subtle.
I think when Jude says we need to avoid the way of Cain, he means we need to control our thoughts and desires to do wrong — a warning we all need to heed.
[Genesis 4:7, Jude 1:11]
The account of Cain is well-known. The Bible records his story as the world’s first murderer. It is out of jealousy — and possibly premeditated — that Cain kills his brother, Abel. But what are the events that lead up to this tragedy?
Cain and Abel each bring an offering to God. Abel’s is accepted but Cain’s isn’t. There is speculation as to why God disses Cain’s gift, but the reason is not recorded for us to know.
What’s disconcerting is wondering if God ever disses our gifts. It’s a shocking thought. I always assumed God is ecstatic over anything and everything I offer to him, be it money in the offering plate, alms, or acts of kindness offered in his honor.
I liken it to a small child showing Mommy and Daddy the picture he or she just drew. The parents are pleased, praising the child profusely, even though they may be clueless as to what the picture is. I expect God to act like that whenever I give him something.
But what if he doesn’t? After all, God is sovereign — and almighty. What if he doesn’t look at my offering with favor?
It’s a sobering thought. I certainly don’t want to be giving God a sorry little picture — thinking it is good and that he likes it — when he is expecting and desiring something so much more.
God, may my gifts and offerings be pleasing to you.
Cain and his younger brother Abel both gave offerings to God. This was well before the life of Moses and the laws that God gave to him, therefore, there was no requirement to give an offering. In fact, there was not even a precedent for doing so. Cain and Abel’s offerings were the first ones recorded in the Bible.
For reasons not fully explained, God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. One possible hint is that while Abel’s offering was a choice part of the best that he had, Cain’s gift was merely “some” of what he had. Another hint is found in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, where Abel’s faith in giving a better offering is affirmed. Implicitly, Cain’s faith was lacking.
Regardless, Cain reacted poorly to God’s snub, becoming jealous of Abel and angry, culminating in the premeditated murder of his brother — the world’s first. However, even after this brutal act, God did not turn his back on Cain. Although punishment was meted, God also provided Cain with protection.
Cain did an evil thing; however, he was not an evil man. Despite Cain’s downfall, he was a man who had sought God, giving a gift that was not asked for or required.
[Genesis 4:1-16, Hebrews 11:4]