a) She’s boasting. She’s saying that she will clean up the mess that she has made. That she will fix the sin that has come into the world. And what she says is, “God said a son would cure it. I made a son.” She’s banking everything on Cain, that Cain will be Jesus, and that Cain will save the world. She couldn’t be more wrong.
b) She shows favouritism. Cain is the oldest child, firstborn son, first child born in the history of the world. Big hopes, big dreams.
2. What does Cain do wrong (4.5)
Abel was a rancher, and Cain was a farmer. Those are fully acceptable, good jobs, especially for young men in that day.
Cain has been typified as the godless man. A classic outline of this chapter looks like this:
1. receives the gift of life from God (vv. 1-2) 2. fails to offer God what He requires of them (vv. 3-6). 3. resents God and responds wrongly to His Word (vv. 7-8). 4. refuses to admit their sin to God (v. 9-10). 5. receives the due penalty of their sin (vv. 11-12). 6. protest against God’s judgement (vv. 13-14). 7. fails to appreciate God’s common grace (v. 15).
It’s interesting, though, because he’s a godlier man than most of us! Cain, when he came to worship the Lord, knew that it was about sacrifice and giving; it wasn’t about just consumption and using.
When we come to worship, do we come like Cain, anticipating to give something to the Lord? “Here’s my time. Here’s my sin. Here’s my money. Here’s my heart. Here’s my life. Here’s my sexuality. Here’s my gender identity. Here are my hobbies. Here are my aspirations. Here is my future. Here is my education. Here is my family. Here is my spouse. Here are my kids. I’m coming to give them to the Lord.”
They both bring first fruits.
First fruits means we give first, before we pay any other bills. And also, we give best.
God gets first and best. Both men came to worship. Both men came on the same day. Both men came with their hands full. Both men came with first fruits. Both men came to worship the same God. Both men came to the same place. Why would God look at Cain and say, “No,” and look at Abel and say, “Yes.”
a) He was jealous 1 John 3:12 says that the reason why Cain was rejected was because he came to worship motivated by evil and not by righteousness.
John Stott says: Jealousy lay behind his hatred, not the jealousy which covets another’s greater gifts but that which resents another’s greater righteousness, the ‘envy’ which made the Jewish priests demand the death of Jesus…. [Cain’s] murder of Abel exemplified the violent antipathy which righteousness always provokes in the unrighteous.
How many of us come jealous of someone else in the room? You came not to meet with God, but to look at another person and compare your life to theirs. Cain’s problem in coming to worship was that he wasn’t there to meet with an audience of one. He was fixated on his brother – jealousy, sibling rivalry.
Jealousy works itself out in three ways.
i. you internalise it and get depressed.
ii. you externalise it and get violent. That’s what Cain will do.
iii. you give it to God in repentance, and he alone takes it away.
b) He ignored the Lord’s warning
Hebrews 11:4 says that Cain came with unbelief, an Abel came with faith.
Cain’s problem is not what he brings in his hands. It’s what he brings in his heart. The Lord warns him. Cain’s getting ready to run into sin, and the Lord warns him. The Lord still does this today through our conscience and the Holy Spirit.
c) He murders Abel. (10-12) i. The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground: The idea of blood crying out to God from the ground is repeated in the Bible. Numbers 35:29-34 describes how the blood of unpunished murderers defiles the land.
ii. The blood of Abel spoke, and it spoke of judgement. The blood of Jesus also speaks, but of better things, of grace and of sin having been judged (Hebrews 12:24).
iii. The curse upon Cain was that Adam’s curse would be amplified in regard to him. If bringing forth food from the earth would be hard for Adam (Genesis 3:17-18), it would be impossible for Cain (who was a farmer). If Adam were driven from Eden (Genesis 3:24), Cain would find no resting-place on all the earth.
3. God’s amazing response (4.13-16)
What God says to Cain is this, “‘Listen!’” That’s God’s word to us all. Some of us just need to shut up. Some of us need to stop arguing, stop fighting, stop proof testing verses. Stop closing the Bible altogether just because we know what it says, and we don’t like it.
Do you see how gracious God is? God is a good God, friends, and when he speaks, it’s to save us from ourselves. Cain should have learned this lesson from his parents.
Genesis 4.13 is the most important verse in the whole chapter. We’re all Cain. We’re all wicked, stubborn, hard-hearted, rebellious. We come to worship empty handed, empty hearted.
God comes over and over and over and over to Cain. Here, Cain speaks. Here we see the heart of Cain. He’s repenting of his sin.
The word for punishment in the Hebrew text is the same word for sin (Isaiah 53:6). Usually, it means sin. Mostly, it means the penalty or punishment of sin. Cain is not saying, “I don’t want to be punished.”
Most translations have "my punishment is greater than I can bear" for the end of Genesis 4:13. The Hebrew word translated as "punishment" is "avon," which means "iniquity" (or, more correctly, crookedness from an Hebraic perspective). This same word is used hundreds of other times where it is correctly translated as "sin." The literal rendering of Genesis 4:13 is "great is the burden of my iniquity," the opposite of how it is generally translated.
I believe Cain is saying this to God, “My sin is more than I can bear. There is nothing you could do to punish me that is worse than what I have already done – slay my own brother, tell my parents, and live my life without him.”
You can disagree with me, and many of you will. But I believe at this moment, Cain is coming to repentance. I’ll give you four reasons why:
a) God had told him, “You are going to be a restless wanderer.” But, now God doesn’t make him wander – he gives him a city!
b) God had told him, “You are going to be cursed.” But now God blesses him. He gets a wife and children, his mother has a new baby boy, so he has another brother.
c) God marks him as his possession, protects him all the days of his life.
d) In addition, in that day, men began to call on the name of the Lord. A huge revival breaks out.
Recognise your sin, repent of it, and our amazing God will show you his goodness.