The fabric of the universe was in its place; light, water, plants, the sun the moon and stars, birds that fly, sea creatures that swim, and animals that walk and run and creep on the land and the pinnacle of His creation; human beings
And when God stepped back and looked at His creation, as a whole, he said, “It is very good”.
The garden was paradise, not simply because it had beautiful plants, great food, complete security, and the perfect climate. It was paradise because it was God’s house on earth. It was where God and His people could be in fellowship and experience perfect community and harmony . . . that’s why God said it was very good!
As we pick up our story this morning, we find that Adam and Eve have been banished from Garden because they had broken the one rule God had given to them; do not eat from the tree or you will die.
But instead of carrying out the full weight of justice, God responds with mercy and grace. His curse is not directed against humanity but against the ground, the very ground in which man has been created. And so, Adam and Eve, now experience the world as cruel and harsh.
Now outside the garden, they were faithful to be fruitful and multiply but it was just as God had said; the pains in childbearing were very severe.
And they gave birth to a son who is the first child born in the history of world. And they name him Cain, which means “created one”.
Upon gazing on her child for the first time Eve says, with the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man. Something every proud mother might say . . . but what she is doing is not learning her lesson . . . she is boasting.
And she’s going back to the promise that God gave her in the previous chapter, where God told her that,
“You have sinned greatly. You have brought devastation and death and destruction into the human equation. But that’s okay, because I love you, and I have an answer for your problem; a son will be born. He will conquer sin and He will conquer death.”
What Eve is saying is, “I know I made a big problem. I know I shouldn’t have sinned. I know I shouldn’t have rebelled. But that’s okay, I’ll fix it . . . God said a son would cure it and I made a son.”
She’s banking everything on Cain and believes that this beautiful baby boy that she brought into this world will be the one who will save the world.
We learn that she gave birth to second son named Abel. We don’t get a lot on Abel. Apparently, he’s not the favored son.
So, there’s Cain and Abel.
Cain is the oldest, first firstborn son, first child born in the history of the world. Big hopes, big dreams. His mom thinks that he might be the one who is going to fix the mess she made. And then there’s Abel.
As the boys grew up . . . they got jobs. Abel was a herdsman and Cain was a farmer.
Now, I would imagine that as Adam and Eve raised their children, they told them about the garden and about getting to walk with God and it must have been out of these stories that brings us to this first church service we see in scripture.
It’s apparently the harvest season, and the two boys come into the presence of God to worship Him and each brings an offering . . . now before we get too far into the story, we need to recognize that they both come to worship.
Even Cain, whom a lot of negative things have been said about, has come to worship God.
And they both come with offerings in accordance with their vocation.
- Abel is a herdsman . . . he brings an animal sacrifice.
- Cain is a farmer . . . He brings the first fruits of his farming.
So, both men came to church. Both came to worship God. Both came with first fruits. But God looks at Abel’s offering and says, “yes” . . . and then looks at Cain’s offering and says, “no” . . . Why?
If we go to the New Testament, it sheds some light on this.
- 1 John 3:12 says that the reason why Cain was rejected was because he came to worship with jealousy in his heart against his brother.
- Hebrews 11:4 says that Cain came with unbelief, an Abel came with faith.
Cain’s problem in coming to worship was that he wasn’t there to meet with an audience of one. He was fixated on his brother – jealously, sibling rivalry.
When we look at the Story of Cain and Abel, there’s nothing wrong with what they bring in their hands, it’s what they brought in their hearts.
And God, who knows the heart, judged the heart of Cain and he refuses to accept the worship of Cain.
Well, Cain doesn’t like this and gets angry and says, “What do you mean? I did something, I showed up. I gave a tithe. What do you mean that mine isn’t acceptable?”
And just like God did with Adam, he begins to ask Cain a few questions . . .
“Why is your face downcast? I can see it on your face, Cain. You’re frustrated. You’re angry. You’re mad. You’re Jealous. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”
What God is saying to Cain is, “I love you, and I’d be happy to accept your worship, but the problem is I see your heart, and it’s not good. It’s showing up on your face. And until you deal with that, don’t think that I’m just going to wink at you and tell you that everything’s fine, cause it’s not.”
Then he says, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door”
Don’t think just that because you simply show up, sing a couple of songs, and put a few bucks in the offering plate that you’ll be any different than when you came if you don’t deal with your sin while you’re here. If you don’t deal with it, you’re going to do something wicked. I’m warning you . . . deal with it before it’s too late.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, he brings Abel out into a field where there are no eye witnesses and he attacks his brother and kills him. This is all premeditated and he’s probably thinking, “Well, nobody saw it.”
And just as God came to Adam when he was hiding and asks where he is. . . God comes to Cain and asks, “Where is your brother?” . . . God comes to Cain with an opportunity to confess and repent.
But Cain doesn’t take that opportunity and instead says, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I his babysitter? He’s a big boy. Do I need to look after him?”
Now at this point some of us might look at Cain and say . . . “What a horrible guy” but you know what, we are all in some way . . . just like Cain.
We all get jealous and angry. We all carry a little bitterness in our hearts. And some of us, if we could get away with it, we’d take someone out. If you could cover it up, if there was no system of justice, if you could get away with it, you’d do it.
And when God speaks to us, we don’t always pay attention. We lie. We fight. We resist. We are Cain.
But I want you to see how gracious God is.
- God came to Cain and said I’m not accepting your offering because I love you. Your heart is not right and I’m telling you, you’ve got to deal with your sin . . . but Cain killed his brother.
- Then God comes to him again and says, “I still love you, let’s talk about this. What have you been doing?” Cain says, “it’s none of your business”.
- Now God comes to him again and says . . . Cain, listen. Listen to me; stop fighting me, stop rebelling against me, stop distrusting me and just listen.
God is a good God . . . and when he speaks it is to save us from ourselves. A lesson Cain should have learned from his parents. A lesson we should learn from the stories in God’s word.
God says, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground . . . and now, you are under a curse’”
What he is saying is, “Cain, you’ve defiled the dirt. You murdered your brother. You threw his blood in the ground. You have dishonored the dirt, and now the dirt is going to rebel against you. You’re a farmer. Farming is going to get a lot harder for you.”
The next verse is the most important in the whole chapter because here we see the heart of Cain. I believe at this point, God through persistent questioning finally cracked the hard shell of Cain’s heart.
- I believe that Cain is not saying, “I don’t want to be punished.”
- I believe Cain is coming to repentance and is saying to God, “My sin is more than I can bear. There is nothing you could do to punish me that is worse than what I have already done.
- Cain says, “Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
That doesn’t sound like a godless man . . . this is Cain finally waking up and realizing that he is never going to be able to be in the presence of God again and that because he is not in the presence of God someone will eventually track him down and kill him.
But God said to him, “Not So” . . . Just as God had been loving and gracious to Abel when he accepted his offering, he’s going to be loving and gracious to Cain.
God says . . . you are my possession. You belong to me. I’m going to protect you and no one will harm you. Then he put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
I believe that Cain meant evil, but God used it for good. And he used the story of that merciful grace that he showered upon Cain for the saving of many lives, which is why at the end of this story a huge revival breaks out and all people – people in the line of Cain - began to call on the name of the Lord.
If my understanding of this text is correct, and indeed Cain is repenting of his sin . . . then when we look at Cain’s long life that was blessed with a city, a wife, children, and eventually a revival we should realize
- If God can forgive Cain, he can forgive me.
- If God will put up with him, he will put up with me.
- If God is patient with him, he will be patient with me.
- If God is merciful to Cain, then he will be merciful to me.
In the beginning of this story . . . we saw that there was hope in a son because God had promised a son. Cain was not that son for he was the firstborn in creation, born into sin outside of the garden. But Jesus is firstborn over creation.
Jesus was tempted to sin, as Cain was tempted to sin. Jesus was tempted to be jealous and mean spirited as Cain was tempted to be jealous and mean spirited. But Jesus resisted every temptation. And where sin conquered Cain, Jesus conquered sin.
Abel’s death was the first human death. Jesus’ resurrection was the first resurrection in conquest of death
- Abel’s blood cried out in defeat. Jesus’ blood cries out in victory.
- Abel’s blood cried out in death. Jesus’ blood cries out in resurrection.
- Abel’s blood cried out for justice. Jesus’ blood shows that justice was met at the cross, when He cried out, “Father, forgive them,” and we were forgiven.
And this morning we stand here condemned like Cain and in our worship, we must cry out . . .
- Love me,
- Save me,
- Heal me,
- mark me,
- own me.
- Forgive me, take me back.
- Don’t cast me away from your presence.
We come here to meet with an audience of one. And if we don’t, we will leave here and go sin, because we haven’t dealt with what is in our hearts before we departed, and that’s not why we gather.