Genesis 4 – 27 Apr 2014
Jesus said in John 5:39 - ”You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
What did Jesus mean when He said those words?
He meant that the bible is not just a moral story book.
Instead, all that is recorded in there point to Jesus & His work of salvation.
It is therefore my duty as a preacher to present to you the glory of Jesus Christ manifested in every page of the bible.
And as I do so, may God bless us with understanding and glorify Himself in our hearts.
So, let us now see what God tells us about His Son Jesus Christ in this account of Cain & Abel.
We shall ask 2 questions for our meditation this morning:
1. Who is Cain & who does he represent?
2. Who is Abel & who does he represent?
1. Who is Cain & who does he represent?
Cain is the eldest son of Adam & Eve.
And Cain represents people who are wicked and against God & His will.
Now, on what basis do I say this?
Please listen to what the new testament has to say about Cain.
1 John 3:12 “….. Cain was of the wicked one and murdered his brother…”
Jude v11: “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain…”
The new testament tells us that Cain is “of the wicked one” – ie. He belongs to Satan.
But in what way is Cain considered to be wicked?
In Gen 4, we see at least 3 aspects of Cain’s behaviour that demonstrated his wickedness.
First, Cain had no regard or respect for God in his life.
Cain was a farmer who cultivated crops.
Abel was a farmer who kept sheep.
These were 2 complimentary occupations.
There was nothing wrong with these occupations.
Now, Cain attempted to worship God using “..an offering of the fruit of the ground.” – Gen 4:3
Was there anything wrong with that?
Well, Gen 3:21 tells us that God made tunics of skin to clothe Adam & Eve after they sinned against Him.
In other words, an animal had to be slain in order for Adam & Eve to be able to approach God.
We can be sure that Adam & Eve taught their children to do this because that is what Abel did.
But I want to tell you that the issue with Cain was not about the type of offering he gave.
Even if Cain had made an animal offering, he will still not be received by God.
In 1 Sam 13, King Saul made an animal offering to God & he was likewise rejected.
The crux of the matter had to do with the attitude of Cain’s heart.
His attitude towards God was one of “convenience”.
He was not concerned for what God required.
He was only interested in what he was prepared to give.
He cultivated crops; hence, he will offer fruits even if God required an animal offering.
He will not bother to get an animal from Abel even if that was what was required by God.
And it probably would take too much effort to slaughter & prepare the animal accordingly.
So his attitude was one of: “do the minimum”, so that we can carry on with our other interests in life.
And when God did not accept his offering, the bible tells us that Cain was “… very angry” – Gen 4:5.
Can you see the level of regard & respect Cain had for God?
Instead of asking God what he should have done, Cain was angry.
Can you imagine that? Cain was angry with God his Creator for not accepting his offering.
Friends, what is your attitude towards God this morning?
Are you eagerly waiting for Sunday morning to be over so that you can get on with what you like to do?
Or are you one who makes special efforts to prepare to meet with God?
Are you eager to understand what God wants you to do for Him?
Or are you just a “Church goer”, just do the minimum to satisfy your conscience?
When God looks into at your heart this morning, does He see a sincere desire to draw near to Him?
Is your worship of God simply one of “convenience” just like Cain’s?
Cain had no regard or respect for God. Do you?
The second thing that demonstrated Cain’s wickedness was his disregard for God’s laws.
We have seen that Cain was angry when his offering was not accepted by God.
And he did not try to understand why God did not accept his offering.
Instead, it was God who revealed to Cain his sin – v7.
In fact, God even offered to receive him if he would change his attitude.
This graciousness of God is exactly what the Apostle Peter tells us in 2 Pet 3:9.
God “…is patient towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
So if God speaks to you through His word, do not harden your heart.
Because God also warned Cain that his heart could be hardened if he disregarded His warning.
Gen 4:7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it”.
Unfortunately, Cain disregarded God’s warning altogether and he killed his brother Abel.
Now, what did Abel do to deserve such treatment from Cain? Nothing!
Abel was his brother – Cain should be loving him, protecting him & enjoying his fellowship.
But Cain was self-centred and he had no regard for God’s laws.
God is the giver of life; hence, only God has the prerogative to take life away.
But Cain took upon himself the prerogative that belonged only to God alone.
And his sheer defiance was demonstrated in how he answered God when confronted about his sin in v9.
“…I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
He told a lie and denied his sin altogether.
Friends, what do you do when God speaks to you in your heart about your sins?
Do you respond like Cain and deny your sins?
Do you really think God does not know about your sins?
Or do you complain that we can’t help sinning because we are born in sin!
Can we complain that we do not have ability to repent unless God gives it to us?
And if God does not grant us repentance, can we say that He is not fair to us?
We all make such excuses don’t we?
The Apostle Paul’s answer to all such excuses made by man is simply – “…God forbid!” – Rom 6:1
You are not the only one who struggles with sin in this world.
The Apostle Paul is tempted in the same way each of us are.
And he said in Rom 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?”
You see, the citizens of heaven don’t make excuses for their sins.
Instead, they cry out to God for mercy.
Why? Because they know that all they deserve for their sins is God’s judgement.
And therefore, they say like the Apostle Paul in Rom 7:25 “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!…”
Because they are grateful that God had mercy upon them when they were still sinners.
And every day that they are alive is an opportunity to demonstrate that they are grateful for God’s mercies.
Now, I want you to know that God could have punished Cain with the death penalty immediately.
But instead, God spared Cain & let him live as a vagabond.
Unfortunately, instead of being grateful, Cain complained that his punishment was “greater than he could bear….” – v13
This is a clear sign that Cain is totally unrepentant.
Friends, how do you respond when God spares you even when you are unrepentant?
Do you complain like Cain and make further excuses?
Or do you cry out for mercy and forgiveness?
Are you grateful that God has kept you alive so that each new day can be a day of repentance for you?
This morning, I hope God will grant you His mercy & open your eyes to the truth about your existence.
Do not continue as you are and think that all is well just because you are making good progress in your material life.
Because the 3rd thing we observe about Cain is that he continued to prosper even as he degenerated in sin
We have seen that God spared Cain the death penalty.
God even promised protection for him against anyone who wanted to avenge Abel’s death – v15.
Some of you may be wondering who else there was on earth at that time who could be a threat to Cain.
The fact is that Adam & Eve had many other children & grandchildren as well – Gen 5:4.
The bible didn’t tell us exactly how many, so, we should not speculate.
Because only those who have relevance to the history of redemption are recorded in the bible.
It was also a Jewish practice to trace the genealogy of an individual before covering his peers.
So, Seth was not born after 8 generations of Cain’s family even though he was only mentioned at the end of Gen 4.
There were definitely many other people on earth at the time of Cain & Abel.
It should also not be a surprise that Cain married one of his sisters as part of the initial propagation of life on earth.
Subsequently, in the later part of Genesis, it was considered incest to marry someone in your immediate family.
This is because of genetic degeneration where deformity & weakness & mutations came about as a result of sin.
Now, the point I want you to see here is that the wicked continued to progress even as they degenerated in sin.
Cain & his descendants prospered materially.
They also made progress in knowledge & invention.
Cain’s built a city & named it after his son Enoch – v17.
His great-great grandsons also did well – Jubal invented the harp & flute – v21.
Tubal-Cain was an expert craftsman in bronze & iron – v22.
But in spite of such progress made in their society, their hearts went further and further from God.
Lamech committed the first sin of polygamy (ie. having more than one wife) – v19.
And instead of being ashamed of his sin, he was proud of it.
He openly proclaimed that he will kill anyone who resisted him – v23-24.
Such is the pride of the wicked.
They will never acknowledge that their progress & prosperity is because of the common grace of God.
Therefore, let me tell you very clearly that material blessings are not a sign that you are saved.
Outwardly, you may be the best student, the best employee or even the most socially accepted person.
This is simply because of the common grace of God upon you.
But your heart towards God may be no different from that of Cain.
Unless, you “….call upon the name of the LORD” the way the Godly line of Adam’s descendants did in v26.
And that brings us to our second question for today.
2. Who is Abel & Who does he represent?
Abel is a brother of Cain and the 2nd son of Adam & Eve.
Abel represents the Godly descendants of Adam & Eve who have faith.
And it is through this Godly heritage that God will provide the promised Messiah Jesus Christ.
Listen to what Heb 11:4a has this to say concerning Abel:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain….”
Yes, Abel offered an animal sacrifice and that is probably the correct thing to do to approach God.
But it was not just because the offering was an animal that made it “a more excellent sacrifice”.
Because Heb 10:4 reminds us that “… it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
But instead, it was because Abel made this offering in faith.
And that was what God was pleased with – Heb 11:4.
Now, what does it mean when we say that Abel made this offering in faith?
First, it meant that Abel depended totally upon God’s grace for his offering to be accepted
Ps 51:17 tells us the type of offering that God would accept.
“…. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.”
These were the words of King David when he repented of his sin of adultery.
He knew that there was nothing good that he could offer to God.
He was completely abased and all that he pleaded for was mercy.
All that he could offer was a broken and contrite heart.
And he tells us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that these will not be rejected by God.
Abel approached God with what he knew God had instructed.
And he knew that he was completely at the mercy of his Creator as to whether his offering would be accepted.
And as he diligently sought God and did what God instructed, God blessed him by accepting his offering.
Abel depended totally upon God’s grace for his offering to be accepted.
What does it mean that Abel made this offering in faith? Secondly, it meant that Abel was obedient to God
Rom 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”.
It is likely that Adam & Eve had taught their children that God had to be approached via a sacrifice.
And Abel responded in obedience after hearing this stipulated requirement.
And as he offered his sacrifice in obedience, “.. he was commended as righteous…..” – Heb 11:4b (ESV)
Here was a man who did not have a chance to vindicate himself for the actions he took.
Instead, God vindicated him.
Heb 11:4c says “….God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”
Abel left it totally to God to avenge his death and to vindicate him for his righteous acts.
He did not need to let people know that he was innocent & didn’t deserve to die.
He simply lived his life in obedience to God.
This demonstrated that he “..believed God exists, and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Heb 11:6b.
His interest is not in himself or how he looked before others.
His interest is in the glory & honour of God.
Abel was obedient to God’s instruction.
Thirdly, it meant that Abel believed God’s promise of an ultimate Redeemer for His people
God promised in Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
In other words, God will provide a Redeemer who will destroy Satan and bring His people back to Himself.
Abel was offering an animal that foreshadowed a Saviour who would be bruised as He came to save His people.
That act demonstrated that he was exercising faith in God.
Because Heb 11:1 says “.. faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Hence, when Abel believed this promise of God with all his heart, God made him righteous in Jesus Christ.
This is just like what we are told regarding Abraham in Rom 4:3
“..Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Friends, this is the Good News of Jesus Christ.
It starts with an acknowledgement that you are totally dead in sin and deserve nothing but the wrath of God.
And then you cry out in total helplessness for the mercies of God.
And you believe that He will forgive & receive you on the basis of the sacrifice Jesus made on your behalf.
Then, just like Abraham, it will be “..accounted to you for righteousness.” – Rom 4:3
Is that all it takes to be a Christian?
Yes, that is all it takes to be a Christian.
Now, when this happens, the Christian will be totally transformed in his mind as to how he will live his life.
Because he will no longer be living for himself.
He will live his life demonstrating that he is grateful to the God who had mercy on him.
2 Cor 5:14 puts it this way “The love of Christ compels him..”
The love of Christ will compel him in how he will make choices in his life.
There will clearly be a “new man” in him with all the characteristics of this “new man” described in Col 3.
And if he grievously falls into sin, he will not make excuses or blame others for it.
Instead, he will respond like repentant Israel did in Micah 7:9
“I will bear the indignation of the LORD, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me…”
My dear friends, has God made you a Christian yet?
If not, it is not for you to complain that God has not done His work.
Instead, the scriptures command you to seek Him earnestly because “..He rewards those who diligently seek Him”.
I don’t believe in making what is called “altar calls” – ie. for those who are moved in their hearts to come forward.
But sometimes I think we don’t take the prompting of the Holy Spirit seriously enough.
May I ask you this morning to seriously examine your hearts?
Are you like Cain or are you like Abel?
Abel, by faith, is now in heaven with God.
Cain the wicked on, on the other hand, is in hell.
There is no in between and there is no turning back.
Please take this truth seriously.
If God is speaking to you, repent and do not harden your hearts.
Please speak to a mature Christian urgently so that he/she can help you discern the state of your soul.
May I ask all the bible study facilitators to talk to your group members on the state of their souls.
And may God be glorified with what He would do in our midst, Amen.