Today I listened to a sermon on Cain. A story seemingly so simple: Boy gets jealous, boy kills rival, boy gets punished. But is that all there is to it? Pastor Steve Fish made several good points. And I want to focus on one section. It begins with God teaching Cain, right after ignoring his sacrifice:
Gen 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."
Gen 4:8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Gen 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?"
Gen 4:10 And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.
Gen 4:11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
Gen 4:12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."
Gen 4:13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Gen 4:14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."
Gen 4:15 Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
Gen 4:16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
1- First God teaches Cain, so he has no excuse. Seek after good, beware of sin. But you have the choice, and the control. It's not that Cain doesn't get it when he kills Abel- he just flat out ignored God right back.
I have an electronic friend who is a lot like that. She has suffered in life, perhaps the greatest loss her late husband, but by no means the only. Thus she has allowed blame and bitterness separate her from God. "God ignored me here and here and here, so I'm under no obligation to listen to him," might be words that both she and Cain echo. But as we will learn Wednesday, you have to go to God with right attitude, right reasoning. If God ignores us, our first reaction should be, "Where am I in the wrong?" Cain doesn't do that. He puts his own ego and hurt feelings as his "god", and acts accordingly.
2- After the act, God does just what he did for his father Adam- gives him a chance to confess. As Pastor Fish pointed out, Cain answered with first a lie ("I do not know") and then an attitude ("Am I my brother's keeper?"). His parents did much the same, playing pass the buck when cornered. How do we justify sin? "So what, everyone is doing it"? "It's a different world, the old rules don't apply"? It all boils down to the same thing- "I am not going to take responsibility for my actions".
3- Cain goes on to make assumptions about God's "cruelty". God said, "You are cursed from the ground"; Cain says, "You have driven me from the ground, AND from your face I am hidden."
God says, " You will be a restless wanderer on the earth"; Cain says, "You have made me a restless wanderer on the earth, AND whoever finds me will kill me".
God will chastise us for sin. He does this out of love, not cruelty. Cain, in his rebellion, made God out to be the big bad, claiming God would now hide from him, leaving him to be destroyed. As Pastor Fish said, "How many times have you heard someone say, 'If I went to Church, lightning would strike me'? " Or something along those lines. When you are in rebellion, it is easy to think God would NEVER bring you back. God proves that wrong in EVERY case, including right here.
Think about this: Both Peter and Judas betrayed Jesus that night. Judas tried to fix it himself, failed, and killed himself. Peter wept and repented, was forgiven and saved others alive.
4- It wasn't God's choice to abandon Cain. "Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD ..." God didn't cast him out, despite his punishment. Everything that did happen to Cain, he did to himself.
You can clearly see what Cain THOUGHT God did in this story. Can you see what He ACTUALLY did?
1- He taught and counselled Cain.
2- He gave Cain a chance to confess.
3- He clearly deliniated what Cain had done wrong to him; as a result He showed His Holiness by showing that what Cain did HAD to be punished.
4- He showed Cain that despite the punishment, He would still take care of him.
For whatever reason, the sermon I was intending on listening to was not available; this one was from a past series. God had a reason for me to hear it and right this about it; are you the reason? If so, don't be a Cain; see the love God has for us despite our sin. See that we can come to Him and get rid of the hate and the me-first attitude that brings us to this place. And remember if you feel like God isn't there, it's not because He left you...