After Adam and Eve were driven out from the garden of Eden, Eve conceived her two sons. In this lesson, the passage describes the account of the life of the two children, Cain and Abel. Apart from describing their occupations, the narrative also depicts the first murder committed by Cain and God’s judgment against him. Through the passage, we can see how the pattern of disobeying God embedded deeper into mankind’s life.
Did You Know...?
1. Fugitive and Vagabond (4:12): In Hebrew, these words can have several meanings such as moving to and fro, shaking, trembling, wandering, being afraid and mourning (Ps 59:15; Ex 20:18; Num 32:13;
What did Eve say when she gave birth to Cain?
What can we learn from Eve’s saying in relation to her conception and God’s judgment? See also Gen 3:16.Hide Answer
Even though Eve experienced pain during conception, she still received God’s help and care when she gave birth to her son, Cain. Similarly today, though sin entered the world, we are still able to experience God’s love and care, especially when we return to Him.
What were the occupations of the two brothers?
What did each of the brothers offer to the Lord?
The consecration of the firstborn for burnt offering signifies that it has been set apart for the Lord and it is holy (Lev 27:26; Num 18:17). During Moses’ time, the consecration of the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast for the Israelites served as a sign because the Lord killed all the firstborn of the land of Egypt in order for them to be freed from Egypt’s bondage (Ex 13:14-16).
Fat of the flock is used for burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord (Lev 1:11, 17:6; Num 18:17). But the fat cannot be used in peace offering, sin offering and trespass offering and it is set aside only for burnt offering (Lev 3:1-5, 4:1-10, 5:6). Therefore, according to the regulations in Leviticus, Abel’s offering might have been a burnt offering since he used the fat of the flock.
Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground can be considered as grain offering mentioned in Leviticus (Lev 2:1). On a certain condition, fruit of the ground is acceptable to be offered even as sin-offering (Lev 5:11-13).
Why did God not respect Cain and his offering?Hide Answer
Both the animal and grain offering were acceptable (Lev 1:3, 2:1). The Scriptures said God did not respect Cain and his offering (Gen 4:5). God said in Genesis 4:7 that if Cain did well, God would have accepted his offering. In other words, Cain in person was not respected by God. His deeds and thoughts were not well in God’s eyes and therefore, his offering was not acceptable.
Moreover, the writer of the book of
1st Samuel warned us that to obey God is better than sacrifice ( 1 Sam 15:22). Just as King Saul despised the command of the Lord for the sake of burnt offerings and sacrifice, Cain was willing to murder his own brother for the sake of eliminating the competition of a better sacrifice. But the writer of the book of 1st Samuel reminded us that “rebellion [was] as the sin of witchcraft” and “stubbornness [was] as iniquity and idolatry” ( 1 Sam 15:23). In the book of Genesis 4:7, the LORD God commanded Cain to do well and to rule over the desire of sin. Yet, Cain disregarded the command of the LORD. Cain remained to be burned with his anger against his brother, Abel, to the point of murdering him (Gen 4:6, 8). Even though Cain offered the offering of the fruit of the ground, which was acceptable even as a sin-offering (Lev 5:11-13), he was not respected by God due to his stubbornness and rebellion against God’s command.
1) By loving God with all our heart, with all our understanding, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk 12:33);
2) By presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Rom 12:1);
3) By offering the fruit of our lips—giving thanks to His name (Heb 13:15);
4) By not forgetting to do good and to share (Heb 13:16).
What made Cain very angry and with whom was he angry?
From anger, evil things are produced. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry?…if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you…” (4:6, 7). Through Cain’s anger, he hated his brother and finally killed him. The epistle of John says that whoever hates his brother is a murderer and…no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (
1 Jn 3:15). If we continue to be angry and keep our anger, not only will sin tempt us but also evil will affect our works and most of all, we are not of God but of the devil ( 1 Jn 3:10).
To “do well” means to “do what is right.” Many times, God spoke to the children of Israelites concerning evil and good things (Lev 5:4; Ps 36:3; Jer 13:23). Instead of doing evil, wickedness and deceit, His people were to do good, be wise, seek justice and learn from God’s statutes (Isa 1:17; Jer 4:22; Ps 119:68). In the Old Testament, God often told the people to change their evil ways and do good, do the right thing. Thus, to do well, first they must leave their sinful ways; only then will they be able to do what is right in front of God.
What does the phrase “sin lies at the door” mean? See also Song 7:10-12.Hide Answer
The Lord warned Cain, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (4:7). The expression “sin lies at the door” indicates sin is in close proximity. Not only is sin at a close distance, but it also wishes to get close, to be together. The closeness referenced in the phrase “its desire is for you” is illustrated well in the book of Song of Solomon. The writer of the Song of Solomon 7:10-12 describes “desire” as a desire in courtship between a man and a woman. The verses also show how the woman longs to be with her beloved so that she can give her love. When “sin lies at the door and its desire is for you,” it means sin wants to be right beside us, get close to us, and influence us.
According to verse 7, how should we overcome sin and its desire today? See also Rom 6:7-17.Hide Answer
God said to Cain that he should rule over sin and its desire (4:7). Likewise, we should overcome sin and its desire by ruling over them. According to Romans 6:14, to rule over sin and its desire means sin should not have dominion over us. In other words, we should not be submissive to sin and its desire. The apostle Paul teaches us to rule over sin by not presenting the members of our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness to sin (Rom 6:13). Instead, we should present the members of our bodies to God so He can help us gain control over our mortal bodies not to submit to sin’s fleshly desires and lusts (Rom 6:11, 12, 12:1).
How did Cain respond to God’s warning?
How did Cain’s answer in verse 9 reflect: a. His relationship with his brother: b. His relationship with God:Hide Answer
a. His relationship with his brother:
Cain’s answer “I do not know” indicated that he could not care less about what had happened to his own brother. When he said “Am I my brother’s keeper,” it showed that he did not want to be responsible for anything that had happened to his brother. In essence, Cain treated his brother as a nuisance. Losing his brother meant that Cain no longer needed to be reminded that he and his offering were rejected by the Lord.
b. His relationship with God:
The way Cain answered God’s question showed that he did not respect God. By directly lying to God in regard to Abel’s whereabouts and saying “I do not know,” Cain simply showed his ignorance of God’s omniscience. When he said “Am I my brother’s keeper,” Cain directly challenged God’s authority toward his life and showed no remorse of what he had done. In short, his answer showed his disrespect and contempt toward God.
According to the Scriptures, a keeper means a preserver (Ps 16:1), a protector (
1 Sam 25:21), a guardian ( 1 Sam 2:9) and a watchman (Isa 21:11). The word “keeper” in the Scriptures can be used in two ways as God towards man and as man towards man. Just like an angel of the Lord kept the Israelites from harm’s way (Ex 23:20), the Lord who guards the feet of His saints ( 1 Sam 2:9), or the Lord who keeps us as the apple of His eye (Ps 17:8); we should likewise do the same to our brothers and sisters in Christ in keeping and guiding them in the way of the Lord. The epistle of Jude mentions the importance of saving others by snatching them from fire (Jude 23). As the watchman, preserver and protector of the soul of the brothers and sisters, we need to do our best to pull them out from their sinful habits and from walking toward the path of destruction.
What was the curse of Cain?Hide Answer
When Cain tilled the ground, “it shall no longer yield its strength” to him and he would be “a fugitive and a vagabond” on the earth (4:12). In other words, Cain would never be a farmer again to obtain and enjoy the produces of the ground, and he would always be on the run (Gen 4:13, 14).
What was the mark of Cain and what was its purpose?Hide Answer
The mark God set on Cain was most likely visible to anyone who saw him. On one hand, the mark served as a sign or as a pledge between God and Cain, that whoever killed Cain, vengeance should be taken on him sevenfold (4:15). On the other hand, God set a mark on Cain so that anyone who found him should not kill him (Gen 4:15). The mark on Cain must have also served to warn others against shedding man’s blood.
From Cain’s words in Gen 4:13, 14, we can learn about his unrepentance. After the LORD God cursed him, Cain replied, ”My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me” (Gen 4:13, 14). First, Cain did not feel any remorse neither for killing his brother (Gen 4:8) nor for disobeying God’s command (Gen 4:7). Cain guiltlessly refused to admit killing his brother (Gen 4:9). Second, Cain considered God to be unfair (Gen 4:13) and he did not intend to repair his broken relationship with God (Gen 4:14). Not only did Cain think that the punishment of God was unbearable for him, Cain also wanted to stay hidden from the face of God. He never admitted his guilt and he felt no need to ask forgiveness from God. Third, Cain remained to be selfish, thinking only of his own benefit (Gen 4:14). He complained to God that his condition as a fugitive and a vagabond would cause him to be killed by anyone who found him. Thus, Cain was indirectly commanding God to prevent anyone from avenging the death of Abel.