Two in a row? Yup.
As I continue to tread through Genesis, my thoughts take me to Genesis chapter 4 and the happenings between Cain and Able. You can the full account here.
Here’s a quick run through… Adam “knew” Eve, she had a boy, and named him, Cain. The two “knew” each other again, she conceived another boy, and they named him Able. Able was a shepherd of the sheep. Cain worked the ground (1,2). At some point Cain and Able brought an offering to Lord. Cain brought a portion of his fruit. Able brought the first portion of his flock. God approved of Able’s offering, but not Cain’s. Cain became angry (3-5). The LORD spoke to Cain and told him that if he did well, he would be accepted, but sin also lingers at the door and he must not let it in (6-7). In the next scene we see jealous Cain killing his brother Able (8). The LORD shows up, asks Cain the whereabouts of his brother, and Cain lies to the LORD and says, “I don’t know and I don’t care” (in a round about way) (9). The LORD knew exactly what Cain had done and confronts him (10-11). In the LORD’S confrontation, He punishes Cain and deems him as a “fugitive and wanderer of the earth” (12). After hearing the punishment, Cain fears that those who would find him would kill him (13,14). The LORD assures Cain that wouldn’t happen and places a mark upon him as means of protection. The scene ends with Cain leaving the presence of the LORD (15,16).
(You’re probably better off reading the full story here.)
No doubt, this is a familiar to many. Just like the passage I wrote about yesterday, I’ve read through this several times in my Christian life. However, it was during this reading that two items really jumped out at me.
The first thought is quick and it has to do with the LORD’s response to Cain after his unacceptable offering. The Lord said (in the latter part of verse 7),
“And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
My thought is simple and it’s application reaches outside of this passage. The verse reads as if the LORD was telling Cain that he could still do that which is pleasing to Him, but that he would have to fight the power of sin (or the evil one that crouches at the door). Isn’t this just how the evil one works. Peter describes the evil one as a “roaring lion seeking to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The Christian life is a battle. It’s not a battle against flesh and blood, asPaul says in Ephesians 6:12, but against spiritual darkness and evil forces. For me, I am never safe. It is a constant battle in my life. Why? Because I am mere prey to the roaring lion. Even when I “feel” as though I am on top of my “game”, the roaring lion lurks looking for his chance to leap.
The second thought I had comes to us via verse 15. After Cain learns of his punishment, he fears for his life in that as a wanderer/fugitive, those who found him might kill him. The Lord comforts Cain with these words,
“The the LORD said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.”
My thought comes in the form of a question. Why? Why does the Lord seek to protect him here? The Lord protects him even to the extent that He would place a mark on Cain to prevent others from attacking him. Where is Cain now? Anytime we read about Cain in scripture after this account, the context is never good. For example, 1 John 3:12 reads,
“We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”
If Cain was to be forever be a fugitive in the land separated from the Lord, then why the reassurance? I’m not saying that the LORD smote him right then and there, which He could have and will do in other areas of scripture. I see this “protection clause” as an act of mercy on God’s part and that’s His prerogative. How long does this protection or act of mercy last? Perhaps it ends when Cain dies of natural causes. I don’t know. I simply found this to interested.
Side Note: I am thank that God is indeed merciful and full grace. We often throw those terms around loosely and I don’t ever want to be guilty of taking those two attributes of God for granted. As Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3,
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.”
Again, perhaps my mind is trying to read too much into the passage. I love interacting with the Word! As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.