We all know the story of Cain and Abel. At first glance it appears to be a story of brother vs. brother. The good brother vs. the bad brother. We see this theme played out in multiple movies, books, and television shows (ie. Thor vs. Loki, JR vs Bobby, etc..). The theme is so ingrained in our culture that Kevin Leman thought he should call the Birth Order
book, “Abel had it Coming!”
This story is really about sin. The messy ugly sin that can take control of our lives if we let it. In Genesis Chapter 4, we read that Abel kept flocks, while Cain “tilled” the land. Both brothers brought an offering to God. Cain brought the fruits of his labour as a farmer. Abel sacrificed one of his firstborn sheep. God honoured Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s offering. Being an older sibling, I can tell you of the many times I felt this has happened to me, where it appeared that my younger sister got more than me or was favoured over me. I have felt angry, frustrated and jealous. I can imagine that this is exactly how Cain felt. You’re the oldest, of course you should be favoured first. It’s hard to see your younger sibling get something that yourself has not received.
God saw Cain’s frustration and confronted him on it. He tells Cain that if he does what is good he can “hold his head high” (vs. 4-5 CJB). But…..there is always a but…..sin was crouching at his door. Waiting for him. Watching for him. Isn’t that the way with sin. It waits for us and tempts us. We can choose to hold our head high or to fall into it. Hear that, we allow sin in our lives. We allow it control over us. It has no control unless we give it control.
And of course, Cain did not heed the warning. He led Abel to the fields and attacked and killed him. While the bible doesn’t come right and say if this was a premeditated murder, the CJB version states:
Kayin had words with Hevel his brother; then one time, when they were in the field, Kayin turned on Hevel his brother and killed him. (Gen 4:8 CJB)
He may not have intended to kill, but He did take advantage of the situation. He took out all his frustrations, anger, pain and jealousies out on Abel. I can visualize both brothers during this. I can feel Cain’s angst as I have been in this position and I can see Abel’s fear and shock during the attack.
Notice how Cain took Abel out to the field so that what ever did occur would have no witnesses. But there was a witness. God saw all of it. Just as every parent does when they know their kids have done wrong and want them to confess and tell them, God questions Cain:
And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? (Gen 4:9 AMP)
God wants Cain to repent. He wants Cain to seek God’s forgiveness and grace. He also wants Cain to be able to hold his head high in repentance I often wonder what Cain would have faced if he had done so. If he had immediately admitted to his crime. But that was not to be. Like most of us who have been caught in our sin, we want to blame someone else for our sin and hide from it. Cain was no different.
But face the music we must. God knows full well what happened and punishes Cain. But Cain still can’t accept responsibility for his sin. He even complains about the punishment that he receives (v. 13). I hear that from my kids a lot when they are being punished. They don’t see that the punishment fits the crime. No criminal ever does. They feel like they are being persecuted excessively for what they committed. It is because they don’t take responsibility for their actions. They don’t see the pain they cause and inflict. Our sins do not just affect our lives, they affect all of those around us. Ask a family member of an alcoholic or drug addict how it affects them.
God wants to show us grace. He wants to forgive us. But we need to take responsibility for our actions and face the music when it comes at us. When we sin, we need to immediately turn from it and ask God to forgive us and ask those around us to forgive us. When we are around something or people that would tempt us and lead us down a path of destruction, we need to turn from it. We need to choose to hold our heads up. We need to walk the path of righteousness with God.
What are is tempting you? What sins are you fighting? Have you asked God for forgiveness?