Cain, Abel and offspring; Gen 4 & 5

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A. CAIN AND ABEL (Please read Gen 4:1-24).

4:1,2

Adam had sexual intercourse with Eve so she became pregnant and gave birth to a son they called Cain.  She commented that she got a man by the help of God.  After that she gave birth to another boy called Abel.  

Adam and Eve obeyed God’s command to multiply in order that the earth would in time to come be filled with people, and from his side God kept His promise by making them fertile and blessing them with two sons.

Eve’s pregnancies, as well as the births of her two children must have been accompanied with hardship as God has said it would be, so that she was compelled to depend on God’s assistance.  There were of course no medical services or even a midwife available to help her.  On top of that, Cain’s birth was the first ever human birth, so there was no one to consult and she did not know beforehand what to expect.  The woman who, in Paradise, wanted to work out her own destiny, now came to realize her dependency on God.  In this He did not fail her, but personally assisted her.  She afterwards testified of His helping her.

The hardships of life which God had planned for Adam and Eve, was a wise decision because that resulted for them to live in close fellowship with Him.  Likewise, the Lord often makes life easier or more difficult for a person to achieve His purpose in the person’s life.

4:3-8 

Cain became a cultivator of the soil. Abel again became a shepherd of sheep. 

In this they were obedient, giving effect to God’s command to them to cultivate/work the earth. (They added value to it).

Both of them brought offerings to God.

They had not been commanded to do this, but it was commendable; an act of acknowledgement that they were dependent on Him and appreciated what He had provided for them.

After some time Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the land to God. Abel brought an offering of the fat of the first born of his stock to God. God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected that of Cain.

Why did God not accept Cain’s offering?

Firstly He looked at the spiritual ‘status‘ of the givers. When a human being brings an offering to God, the very first thing the Lord observes, is the spiritual attitude of the giver’s heart towards Him as is stated in Ps 51:7. The sacrifice that pleases Him, is a humble spirit that quickly repents of sin; a broken and contrite heart, He will never despise or reject. In Hebrews 11:4 we read that Abel had, by faith, brought a better offering than Cain and in Matt 23:35, it is recorded that he was righteous, which means that his life was right with God; He was not perfect, but he was forgiven for his sin.  His faith was genuine. None of this was true of Cain. He was a self-righteous man that kept himself aloof from God and His offering was an affront, rather than a blessing to God. Prov. 21:27 states that the offering of the godless is an abomination to God.  So, God, to Whom every person’s heart is an open book, knew what the standing of these two men was: the one’s heart was right with Him and had real faith in Him and the other not.

Secondly it concerns the type of offerings they brought.  If you really want to please someone by giving him a present, you make a point of it to find out what he likes, like phoning a friend or relative of his, enquiring what he would appreciate and not already has. If the one you want to please, also happens to be a person of high standing and who had done much for you, you might invest much time and effort in this research so as not to embarrass, but to please him. So, then what would please God?

When Adam and Eve had sinned, God had to shed the blood of innocent animals and from their hides make tunics to cover their nakedness (their sins) so that they could again come into His presence with boldness Cain and Abel must have heard that story many times from their parents.  Abel took to heart God’s desire and obediently shed the blood of the firstborn of his stock to enable him to bring a blood offering (their fat), a pleasing offering to God.  There where He stood before God, his heart was right and his offering was right so that his sins were covered, therefore the Lord openly testified or indicated that He accepted his offering.

(The reason why the shedding of blood was so important to God, was that it pointed to His Son’s offering of His own blood to cover the sins of man, although this deeper significance was not yet understood by the people of that age. The principle of the shedding of blood for the remission of sin is confirmed in Heb 9:22 where it is written that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission/forgiveness of sins.)

Cain on the other hand, stood before God with a heart that was not right with Him and an offering of fruit that did not cover his guilt.  Therefore, God openly indicated that He rejected it.  Both of them believed in God (the Lord probably appeared to them in physical form) but Abel’s faith led him to humble himself for his sin to be forgiven by grace and to be accepted by God as His own.  Cain’s attitude, as reflected in his offering, was just the opposite; stubborn, self confident, as if the Lord was his equal to whom he had brought a benevolent gift.  In short, He had no regard for God.

When God rejected Cain’s offer, he became very angry/glowed with anger/hung his head/his countenance fell.  To this God responded as follows: 

  1. He afforded him the opportunity to state his case by asking him why he was upset and hung his head.
  2. Warned him against the danger of sinning, pointing out that sin desired to take him captive and that if he would succumb to it, by not doing what was good it would overwhelm him.

Instead of humbling himself and asking the Lord why his offering was rejected, his proud heart caused him to sin even more by getting angry and showing his anger to God.

God depicted sin as an animal of prey that was spying on it’s victim from it’s hiding place, waiting on an unguarded moment to pounce, and devour him.

This of course also applies to us as the offspring of Adam for which reason God warns us to be vigilant so as not to fall into temptation (Matt 26:41).  Another weapon which we have against the power of sin, is the confession thereof.  The moment the Holy Spirit warns us that we have sinned, we should immediately confess it to the Lord.  This is like throwing a burning piece of wood at a stalking animal when it is still at a distance from you, causing him to flee.  The confession of sin is not only about receiving forgiveness; by confession you confirm that what you did, said or thought, is unacceptable and abominable to you, that I want nothing more to do with it.  It also is a prayer to God for deliverance to which He will immediately respond by empowering you by His Holy Spirit to gain the victory over it.

God promised to lift him up should he do what is good and encouraged him to reign over sin.

Just as man received authority from God to reign over creation, He also in Christ, received authority to reign over sin.  As a Christian, I have the power to reign over sexual lust, smoking, drinking, drugs, a bad temper, anger, jealousy, or whatever sin there is.  I can pin it to the ground with my foot and keep it there, but if I don’t do that, and play with it as with a pet animal or embrace it as I would a friend, I must know that I will very soon be the one lying with my face in the dust with sin having it’s foot on my neck.  In the work situation, a director flirting lightly with his secretary, may suddenly find his marriage breaking up or his business getting ruined.

Cain later on again brought the matter up in a conversation with his brother Abel.  This happened when the two of them were alone in the veldt and Cain then beat his brother to death.

During this conversation, Abel might have testified to his brother of his love for God and encouraged him to give his life to the Lord too.  What he did not know, was that Cain’s anger towards God was fermenting in him like yeast, daily increasing in intensity.  He could not vent his anger against God, therefore he turned it on his younger brother murdering him.  Thus, early in the Word, in chapter four already, we see the havoc that jealousy can wreak in a family.  In the very first generation, one son was murdered and the other became a murderer due to envy.

Jealousy, if not forcibly eradicated, turns to hatred which becomes an uncontrollable monster that overpowers your self-control and turns you into a murderer. Here we saw brother envying brother his favour with God. This may so easily occur between bothers in Christ, with one pastor envying another and “murdering” him with his bitter words. The Lord Jesus was crucified because the Pharisees were jealous of His powerful ministry.

A catastrophe for both family and mankind.

The indwelling sin of the parents impacted both their children; one became a murderer and the other one was murdered. What a heart-breaking story both for them, for mankind, and for the Lord. They, the first parents, lost both their children; one died and the other was banned from their home (like being jailed, see later).

One also is astounded at the power of sin. It is like a tsunami that knows no boundaries but just rushes inland, killing and wrecking everything in its way. The cross of Christ is the only barrier that can be lifted up against it.

This division of mankind into a God-fearing and a Godless section, continues through the ages. Two robbers were crucified and died, the one proceeded to the heavenly paradise while the other found himself cast into Hades (Luk 23:42,43).

More regarding Abel.

The second human being to be born became the first martyr. Abel had to pay with his life for serving God (Luk 11:51; Heb 11:4). God had said that there would be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the snake (Gen 3:15) and here we see it coming true as Cain allowed himself to be part of the seed of the snake. This affects you and me some 6000 years later for whoever walks in the fear of the Lord will in some or other way be persecuted by those that walk in obedience to the snake (2 Tim 3:12).

But here is the “lekker”, the bright side of the story: Abel was the first human being to enter the glory of heaven! Now can you imagine the shouts and songs of praise as this, relatively young man, was escorted by an angel into the throne room of God. And can you imagine his utter amazement when, after suffering the pain of being clubbed to death, he suddenly came to himself in this land of breath-taking glory. Wow, God always has surprises stored away for His children!

More regarding Cain.

God then asked Cain where his brother Abel was.  Cain replied that he did not know and that he was not his brother’s keeper.

While Abel was enjoying heaven above, Cain was facing a court trial for murder, wherein God was both witness, prosecutor, and judge. Just like in the garden, when Adam and Eve sinned, it again was God that took the initiative to resolve the matter, not man approaching God with his sin, and what an arrogant reply He got.

We may argue that if God was to appear and speak to us in person, our hearts would melt.  But here we see how stubborn we are.  If we do not regard His written Word, and the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, we will not give heed even if some-one would rise from the grave or an angel would appear to us or if God would speak to us in an audible voice.  Once a person allows his heart to be hardened by the committing of sin, it eventually becomes as hard as a rock.

God responded by asking him what he had now done and informing him that the blood of his brother which he had spilled on the earth, had cried out to Him in heaven.  Then the Lord pronounced a curse on him, stating that he would be removed to a place far from the soil where the blood of his brother was spilled, that he would be a wanderer and a fugitive and that the soil which he would cultivate, would not yield its normal harvest.

Cain had despised the privilege of family life and now he would be deprived of it and removed from his parents’ home so that he would not contaminate with sin, the children that were still to be born.

Cain’s reply was that his guilt was too great to bear, that he would have to hide himself from the face of God and that he would be in danger of his life because who-ever he would meet, would beat him to death.

This was not true grief for sin; he was just feeling sorry for himself when he realised what terrible consequences his foul deed had brought upon him. It was only now, after having been discovered and sentenced, that he suddenly started pleading for mercy.  Sometimes a person would weep during his trial in a court of law, but this cannot always be seen as sorrow for his deed; it could well be just to impress the judge or shedding tears because of the shame and punishment he will have to bear.

God responded to his plea by promising to revenge his death seven-fold and that He would put a mark upon him so that any one that would come across him, would not harm him.

The Lord basically agreed that there might be those that would be tempted to take personal revenge for Abel’s death, so He put out a personal warning against such action. No matter how abominable a person’s crime was, we too are warned that judgment and punishment are reserved for God Who is a righteous judge (Rom 12:19).

Let us also take note of the mercy of God: Cain is not immediately sentenced to death, but is even protected to live for many years yet to come during which he would have the opportunity of turning to God.  The Lord has no joy in the death of a sinner but rather in that he may repent and receive life. (Eze. 18:23).

Cain then departed from the face of the Lord and settled himself east of Eden in the land of Nod.

He would henceforth also be deprived of the presence of God.  The person who continues to despise God’s outstretched hand of forgiveness by not repenting, getting born-again, and persevering in fellowship with the Lord, will loose that opportunity forever.

4:17-24 

Cain married.

Where did he get a wife?  At that time people became very old, some more than 900 years.  In the course of his lifespan of 930 years, Adam fathered many more children.  Some of them surely were daughters from amongst which Cain could find a wife, even though many years might have elapsed before that would happen.  It would have been quite normal for him for instance to have married at the age of 100 years, because Adam’s third son, Seth, for instance, fathered his first son only at the age of 105 years.

Cain fathered a son, called Enoch (and possibly also other children) and built a city for him and his family.  Some of his descendants were animal farmers while others excelled as copper – and iron smiths, also as musicians and designers of musical instruments like harps and flutes.

Cain’s descendants unquestionably were endowed with many natural talents, exercised many initiatives and made a great contribution to the development of mankind (farming, industries, culture).

Cain’s descendants unfortunately also were people that were more inclined to evil, like Lamech who was a violent man and put out a warning that he would revenge himself 77 times and would not hesitate even to kill a boy that would dare to wound him.

Compare Lamech’s attitude with that of Christ Who told Peter to forgive his brother 70 x 7 (Matt 18:21,22). By this time, sin had sunk its bitter roots deep into the heart of mankind.

It is significant to note that, as apposed to the more God fearing lineage of Seth, very limited particulars are disclosed regarding the lineage of Cain and that the dates they were born and died, are had not mentioned. The people that are most important to God, are those that fear Him, those that are his own, his precious ones.

General remarks

B. THE LINEAGE OF ADAM THROUGH SETH (please read Gen 4:25-5:32).

 At the age of 135 years, Adam fathered a son and named him Seth (4:25-5:3). Then mankind starting calling on the Name of the Lord.

“Calling on the name of God,” possibly means that they began worshipping Him by His name.  What this was, we are not told. Was it a name He chose or one that occurred to them; if so which of his many attributes impressed them most causing them to name Him thus? Much later, when asked for his Name, He said it was “I am,” which implied that no human word could describe Him (Ex 3:14).

As said earlier, the lineage through Seth is the lineage of the godlier people and this was so important to God that He had all the names of all the successive first born males recorded, as well as their dates of birth and of passing away recorded and later on incorporated in his Word. The people of that time must have been quite developed to have been able to do this. This genealogical register contains a fascinating amount of information and is, together with other similar registers, studied avidly by Bible students. If nothing more, it at least confirms to us the authenticity of the Bible, and warns and/or encourages us that God is keeping detailed records of all that is happening on earth. (Would you have liked to have an insight into your heavenly file right now?)

There were ten generations from Adam up to Noah.  In general, people became very old, an average of 858 years.  Methuselah the grandfather of Noah, lived longest, namely 969 years.  His name means “After him the flood”.  A few possible reasons for their high ages are the following:

  1. Their bodies were not yet so afflicted by sickness so that they carried over healthy genes to each following generation.
  2. The climate of the earth was more gentle.
  3. God had ordered it to be so in order that mankind could multiply at a faster rate in order that He might sooner reach his goal of filling the earth with human beings.

When a graph is compiled of the names in this family tree, based on their dates of birth and deaths, it indicates that the heads of families following on Adam, that is Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalael, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah’s father Lamech, were all born prior to the death of Adam and could therefore have heard the story of Adam and Eve’s care free existence in Eden and their catastrophic fall into sin, from Adam himself.  The story of creation and the subsequent happenings would therefore “stand firm in the mouths of many witnesses,” and would thus be transmitted truthfully to later generations.

Enoch, seventh in this line of more godly people, had an exceptionally close relationship with God, described as that he “walked with God.”  In human words, we can say that wherever God walked, Enoch walked at his side, sharing in His thoughts.  Enoch also was a prophet of God who prophesied of the second coming of the Lord Jesus.  In Jude V 14,15 there is a reference to this prophecy which means that it was accepted as authentic.  This prophecy and his other words are recorded in one of the Apocryphal books (books that are not acknowledge as part of our Bible).  At the age of 365 years and without him first dying, God removed him from this world to be with Him forever.  In the midst of all the spiritual decay of that time, God found a man in whom He could delight himself and with whom He could share His heart and life.  What a tremendous challenge for us!

Methuselah means, “after him the flood”.  His father, Enoch, must have received a revelation of the coming flood from God and gave his son this peculiar name to remind himself and everybody else of the coming disaster though much water would still run into the sea before that date.  In his immeasurable mercy, God allowed man a further 969 years (Methuselah’s lifespan) plus a further 777 years (Lamech’s life span) to repent before sending the flood.

Noah’s name means “Rest”.  His father, Lamech, already was 180 years old when Noah was born.  Did he find all the work within his family such a burden that he called his son “Rest”, expecting that Noah would now be able to assist him in his chores?  (Gen. 5:28-29).  Also, note that Lamech was well aware of the fall of man and of God’s cursing of the earth (5:29).

A further important fact to note, is that we all descend from great, great, … , grandpa and grandma Adam and Eve.  Nowhere in the Bible is there any mention of other people which God had created.  This fact is confirmed in Acts 17:26 which states that He made of one person every nation on all the face of the earth. Since all of us are related to Adam and Eve, we all have the same blood line; we are all relatives and the sinful character of Adam has been transmitted/conveyed/transferred to each one of us as is said in Romans 5:12. So we have much in common with everybody else on earth. If I am not a brother or sister in Christ, I am a brother or sister in sin.

C. SUPPLEMENTARY.

When God created man after His own image, His intention was that He would live with man and his descendants in close fellowship.  This expectation got shipwrecked by Eve’s desire for independence and the couples’ disobedience.  God’s plans however were well thought through before he created this universe and that which He starts He always carries through successfully, even though He may suffer one setback after the other.  He has faith in his own ability to reach his goal.  The devil launches all sorts of short term attacks on God’s creation and often gains victories, but gaining a victory in one conflict, is not the same as winning the overall war.  Like a master chess player, God plans His long-term strategies with greater wisdom than His opponent and trumps him time and again.  When Jesus died on the cross, the devil thought that, that was the end of the war.  But on the third day Jesus rose from the grave and gained the victory that would clinch the final outcome.

We need to take note of this in order that our faith in the Lord may gain momentum to trust Him completely when it seems that we are at a point of loosing everything.  In the twinkling of an eye God changes our losses into credits because He is a wonderworking God.  We must therefore follow his example not to give up on a project which we launched at His command when it seems to go wrong; no, we must keep going steadfastly as God did, selflessly doing what is required to make it a success.  This is what He did:

  1. Though Eve sadly disappointed Him, He assisted her in the birth of her three sons (and certainly also with those of her other children) promoting the multiplication process.
  2. He was intensely involved with the Able and Cain trauma and did some damage control by sending Cain away.
  3. He conferred tremendous talents on the ungodly descendants of Cain, enabling them to become prosperous farmers, to raise up industries and bring about cultural treasures because that would be to the advantage of man’s general advance, thereby promoting His plan that man should reign over all the earth. By their endeavours the earth was made more and more habitable, allowing for the birth rate to be accelerated.
  4. When the devil desired to wipe out all of mankind in one blow, God stretched their lifespan in order to fill the earth sooner.
  5. He walked with Enoch although his life, as fallen man, certainly would not have been perfect and took him to heaven while yet alive to demonstrate to mankind His love and to encourage them to trust Him wholeheartedly as Enoch did.

Let us as beings created in His image and being His children, take courage from God’s example to persevere and let us run our short little race with perseverance in the absolute assurance that we too will gain the victory and share in his perfect new kingdom.

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