Cain, Abel and Ability -tmp(Genesis 4)

The meaty questions that we may get from looking at this chapter in detail: What are the implications of knowing good and evil in that experiential sense? What does it mean to future generations? How does separation from God affect man?s thinking and ability to act?

Abel plays both a major and minor part in this story. Minor because we don?t know much about him. First, he?s born with no recorded fanfare by his family. Secondly his name means ?breath? and like that his wisp of a life is snuffed out. Thirdly we never hear him speak as he plays the role of worshipper and victim. Lastly, the loudest part of him is his blood which cries out from the Ground.

Cain on the other hand is in crisp focus?I believe the author and the Lord?s intention is clear: ?Watch what?s wrong with Adam?s legacy.?

The first scene is religious in context: the bringing of a personal offering. Cain brings an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground?which is found wanting.

Some try to attribute God?s ill reception of Cain?s offering to the fact that this was of the ground?yet God later has no problem accepting these types of offerings sometimes in conjunction with the animal sacrifice offerings (ref: Leviticus). Abel?s offering is of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions which would both be underscored in Levitical practices as being especially pleasing to the Lord. Some would say that Cain?s problem was that his sacrifice was not of his firstfruits.

{{Hebrews 11:4}} gives us some insight into what was the ground of acceptance. Abel offered to God a better sacrifice not because it was of meat or of the firstfruits but because it was ?by faith??through which he obtained the testimony or witness that he was righteous. Cain, on the other hand, brought his sacrifice sans-faith and thus it was rejected. So then it would seem that the sacrifice of worship could have conceivably been fine if the Worshipper?s heart was actually in it.

Cain?s unrighteousness is further evidenced by his reaction to God?s rejection of his offering. At first the concept of countenance-falling sounds deeply sorrowful until, that is, we se God?s first question: ?Why are you angry??

So his immediate reaction to the Lord God?s rejection of his offering is not wonder but sorrow that quickly melds with his anger. ?Why has your countenance fallen?? God asks again obviously knowing the answers but is seeking something from Cain?perhaps the same thing he was seeking of Adam after the man had sinned.

Now, anyone reading this readily knows that I don?t read in the original language. I survey translations and read various commentaries and then see how my conclusion falls short and adjust accordingly. On {{Genesis 4:7}} translations vary. NASB, Darby and others says ?If you do well will not your countenance be lifted up? taking the understanding from the previous verses that Cain?s countenance had fallen down. HCSB, ESV and others translate the verse ?If you do right (or well) will you not be accepted?? The verse speaks of doing well then some Thing being lifted up?be it the sacrifice, be it Cain?s standing, be it his fallen face?something is being raised.

Despite that, we immediately see man?s responsibility and God pointing out Cain?s necessity in mastering or ruling over the sin that is trying to control him. Cain is responsible for taking control and expected to do so.

So then the legacy of Adam is evidenced in his children in that thing they will have to wrestle with and master. Sin, an element that has come in and corrupted the human nature, now strives with the man for mastery?desiring the man.

Cain?s conscience was at work and he had a moral responsibility to master this sin that was trying to pounce on him. He knew it was there, God exposed it to him and yet God also allowed him to decide on his actions: do well or do wrong and know the results either way.

Now, before seeing the murder we must realize some further things about Cain that the New Testament tells us. Hebrews told us that he had no faith in the presentation of his offering. {{Jude 1:11}}, in making reference to apostates who use religion for evil deeds, gain or revolt against the truth uses Cain as an example. The way he went is the example of the way of the apostates. 1 John 3:12 telling us to love our brothers tells us not to love like Cain who was (1) of the evil one and (2) slew his brother because (3) his deeds were evil and (4) his brother?s deeds were righteous?jealousy. So then, Cain?s sin really ran the full gamut?he is a willing and fully responsible executor of his action while simultaneously understanding the repercussions of his actions and hearing God, the executor of judgment.

Let me digress to a concept of original sin that I mentioned in my Tricky Death post. Some think that because we are described as dead in sin and dead in Adam, none of us can respond to God if he doesn?t resurrect our spirit first. We?ve already looked at how death would lean more toward a separation instead of the cessation of a human component?but now, seeing it worked out in a physical being we might get some understanding as to how complex this really is. The person is prone to the bad choice?they have the taste in their mouth?but they can still hear God. They can choose to do good or ignore God?but either way, they?re held responsible. God?s intervention (in this case) consists of his speaking. Very different from that stiff cold, non-responsive spiritually dead person that is touted about as being incapable of hearing God. This person can hear, can respond, and can even grow callous in their hearing ({{Isaiah 6:8-10}}).

The next events are quickly stated: Cain tells Abel something?we don?t now what. Maybe he called him, maybe he told him the whole situation?it doesn?t matter. For it was in that moment when they were both in the field that Cain rose up against Abel, his own brother, and killed him.

So we see that the implications of knowing good and evil in that experiential sense is that one is given the choice to do good or to do evil and will be held responsible for it. The person decides to be like God without eternal justice, now they must stand before God and see how he or she falls short of His glory and then his actions judged accordingly. How does it affect future generations, we have yet to see. Our study so far includes only the first generation after Adam?perhaps when we look further down time?s tunnel will we understand the implications of Adam?s sin. As faras these verses are concerned the death spoken of by God does not sever man?s ability to act, man?s ability to see his sin before it strikes nor man?s ability to hear God?s word when He so chooses to speak to man. This death also doesn?t (seem to) hinder man?s ability to let sin master him, ignore God?s word and lie directly to God?s face when the time comes.

Series link. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply