In the last episode, The Bible Breakthrough covered Genesis 3:1 – 24, and we saw how deception and confusion led to Adam and Eve sinning and sin’s brutal consequences. The scripture that we will read in episode 5 is Genesis 4:1-26. Here you’ll see how dramatically sin has affected humanity as Cain murders his brother, Abel.
Cain and Abel Excerpt NLT Genesis 4:1-26
1Now Adama had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the LORD’s help, I have produced a man!” 2Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel.
When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. 3When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. 4Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, 5but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
6“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
8One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.
9Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
10But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”
13Cain replied to the LORD, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! 14You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”
15The LORD replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. 16So Cain left the LORD’s presence and settled in the land of Nod,e east of Eden.
We can see several basic concepts after the first pass at this passage. First, God knows our hearts. God saw the difference in what was presented to him from the giver’s heart perspective. Cain held back and was selfish, whereas Able was not.
Next, when we watch how God deals with Cain, we see that God is very direct in his dealing. He calls a spade a spade. When He sees Cain, he calls him out, saying, “Why are you so angry? Why do you look so dejected? God knows our hearts, so He wasn’t asking for His benefit but rather to get Cain to look inside and reflect. When God says this to Cain, the words wound his pride, his pride leads to offense and anger, and anger leads to murder in this case, then to denial and ultimately lying to God.
All of this had significant consequences for Cain. However, this leads us to another great point; after everything that Cain did, up to and including murder and lying to God, God still assured Cain that He would protect him in the end. God marked him so that no one would harm him. It’s an amazing revelation because we can see that God is a God of second chances.
When reading this for the first time, it’s common to think that what happens to Cain that kicks this entire event off, his sacrifice is rejected by God, seems unfair. They both bring a sacrifice. Then God rejects Cain and only accepts Ables. They were both giving something to God.
As we sit with this part of scripture, we see some interesting points jump off the page. First, it says that Cain brought some of his crops as a gift vs. Able, who brought the best portions of his firstborn lambs.
So what is the difference here?
It seems like Cain was “checking a box” out of obligation. He is supposed to bring a gift to God, so he does. He brings some of his crops and calls it a day.
When we read about Abel’s gift, let us consider a few things. He brought the best of the firstborn lambs. This means he would have gathered up all the firstborn lambs, examined them, and considered if it was a worthy gift to God. He held God in esteem as he considered if this gift was worthy and only then brought God the best.
What’s the moral lesson of Cain and Abel?
The Bible says that God accepted Able and his gift and did not accept Cain and his gift. He did not just reject the gift; the gift reflected the man bringing the gift, so what is important to know is that what you bring reflects your heart. When you give God the leftovers or just “some off the top,” God sees the heart behind it. This is an important key to examining your intention behind what you are doing for God.
We have opportunities to serve God and bring Him the best of us daily. We have the opportunity to choose right and wrong daily.
When God rejected Cain and his gift, God saw the anger, called it out directly, and gave a warning to Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Instead of taking God’s words to heart to identify the sin that was “crouching at the door eager to control him” to subdue it and be its master, He lets that sin in, opens the door to it, and eventually murders his brother. The Bible doesn’t say how long after God’s warning to Cain before he invited Able to the fields, but Cain, rather than making things right with God Cain chose to walk out his anger and sin and was eventually “devoured” as God said he would be and commits the first murder.
An excellent application point here is to examine where we might be opening the door to sin. It doesn’t just start as murder. Cain didn’t get rejected and then instantly murder Able. It started way before Cain even knew he’d be rejected along with his gift. The first misstep with Cain was his heart condition towards God. Had he been worshiping God in his heart, he never would have just given “some” of his crop to God. When your heart is with God and in a good place, you worship God in all that you do.
There will be times in your life when sin will try to take you out. Like Cain, the sin doesn’t “just happen”; there’s a process that leads to the sin. We can go to God in prayer and ask Him to search our hearts and show us areas that we need to turn over to him.
Our attitudes and condition of our hearts are as important as our actions, which is very clear with Cain. He took action and checked boxes but was still rejected because of his attitude and heart. It’s essential to keep our attitudes in check so that we don’t land in a situation where sin can overtake us. And when God gives us a warning or command, obedience is the key that unlocks the door to transformation. Even if it’s challenging or you feel like you don’t want to do what God is telling you to do, choosing the right next step is how to walk in obedience.
What are you presenting to the Lord? have you offered your life up to Him?
If you’re struggling with anything biblical, please know that you’re not alone. It’s part of the process of wrestling that draws us closer to God. And really, that’s what he desires. He wants us to brin