God, Cain, Abel and Jesus.

Adam & Eve

In this article, we take a closer look at the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. We find the story in Genesis 4:1-16. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden because of their disobedience, they had two sons, Cain and Abel. As the boys grew up, they both became farmers. Cain was a grain farmer and Abel a livestock farmer.

As time went on, Cain harvested his crops and the land was good for him. He took some of his harvest and offered a sacrifice to the Lord. Abel also took the best of his lambs and also offered them to the Lord. They did so by burning their offerings. God was very pleased with Abel’s offering, but was not so pleased with Cain’s offering. The smoke from Abel’s offering made a long straight line pointing to the sky, a sign of approval, while the smoke from Cain’s offering was blown sideways in all directions, indicating God’s displeasure as Cain had taken second rate grain from his harvest to offer to the Lord.

Cain was not happy with this state of affairs as he felt that as the elder brother, God should accept him first before Abel could get any recognition. He showed his displeasure by pulling an angry face making it clear to God that he was not happy. Noticing this, God asked Cain as to why was he angry. Would it not be easier for you to do the right thing and then you would also be happy like your brother is?” God further warns Cain that as long as he is angry and fails to correct that by doing what is right, sin is knocking on his door and it wants to devour him. “Cain should do the right thing” says God, “…and then he will prevail over the sin”.

Cain does not listen to God. Instead, consumed by his anger, he lures his brother, Abel, into the fields, where he attacks him and kill him. He buries his body in a shallow grave in the fields. Upon realisising what Cain has done, God confronts him and ask him as to where his brother was? Cain responds by saying: “Am I supposed to be my brother’s keeper”. God accepts this statement from Cain as an indication that Cain has no defence to the charge and He returns a verdict of guilty as charged for the murder of Abel. God further accepts from Cain’s statement that he has no remorse for the murder and indicates to him that his brother’s blood is crying for vengeance from the very ground where it was spilled. With that God imposes a life sentence in the wilderness/desert on Cain (no prisons as yet), where the land will no longer be productive. Only once the sentence has been passed does Cain begin to understand the seriousness of his actions. He pleads with God for mercy and a reduction of sentence to which God indicates that sentence has already been passed and it would be setting a wrong precedent for generations to come, if He were to reverse His own judgments and that a life sentence was, in any event, the only appropriate sentence for the offence that Cain has been convicted of. The best that He could do for him under the circumstances, was to promise him protection while he is serving his sentence in the wilderness. Cain reconciles himself to his fate and God marks him with a chip as a sign that he is under God’s protection wherever he will be serving his life sentence. What happens to Cain afterwards is a story for another day.


The Desert, where Cain would serve his life sentence
The Desert Wilderness, where Cain would serve his life sentence

On analysing the text, a few points appear from the story in a very striking manner, that:

  1. God has always been closer to humans than we realise. After Cain’s offering fails to please God, Cain is angry. God approaches him and warns him of the dangers of resorting to anger to resolve a problem. God tells him that the best thing for him to do is to get rid of his anger by making the correct offering and thereafter, Cain, like Abel, will be happy. Here we realise how simple God’s solutions are to our problems. Do the right thing and you will be happy. Nothing complicated. it is a simple mathematical formula. Do the right thing = Happiness.
  2. If we fail to get rid of our anger, God informs us, sin will surround us with the intention of overpowering us. Again it is a very simple formula. You fail to get rid of the anger = sin = overpowering you = problems. Cain does not listen to God. His parents should have taught him what the consequences of disobedience are. Sin overpowers him. He kills his brother Abel and buries him in a shallow grave hoping to hide the evidence. What he does not know is that you cannot hide anything from God. When God confronts him about the murder, he assumes an arrogant attitude and says that he is not his brother’s keeper.
  3. Leviticus Chapters 4 and 5 speaks about the procedure for forgiveness of sins that were committed without any intention by different categories of people. God also forgives people who are truly remorseful. In this instance, although his crime was very serious, Cain was a first offender and could have gotten away with a 10 or 15 years banishment. However, his response during the hearing indicates a clear absence of remorse. That is why he receives a life sentence. Even in this instance, God was still merciful as He could have imposed the death penalty on Cain. He did not.

In summary, what we learn here is that doing wrong things leads to anger, which leads to sin, which leads to punishment, ie spending the rest of your life in the desert. The opposite of that is that doing the right thing leads to happiness and peace and spending the rest of your life surrounded by your loved ones.

Jesus deals with the story of Cain and Abel in Matthew 23:29 – 36 as He warns the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that because of what they are doing now, they will be punished for the death of all the righteous people who were killed by their ancestors, starting with Abel. YOU CAN ACCESS FURTHER READING MATERIALS ON AMAZON.COM VIA THIS LINK. PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK: The Jesus Ministry

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