In Genesis 4, we read the story of Cain and Abel. Good grief. And you thought your family was dysfunctional?
Let’s break it down. Cain and Abel bring offerings to God. Abel’s offering was accepted; Cain’s offering was not. Why? So many possible reasons but the one that resonated with me was his lack of faith. You see sometimes we bring God what we will not miss. We don’t bring him the best because we don’t trust him to give it back or give it better. We are afraid to lose what we have, and we don’t have confidence that we will gain anything of value in return from the Lord. Seriously? The King of Kings? Why do we accuse God of being anything other than generous? What proof do we have? The Lord’s generosity is seen daily with the rising and setting of the sun, with the breath in our lungs, with the food in our bellies. And yet we think if we give something to the Lord, we lose it?
Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. In fact, anyone who comes to the Lord must believe he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. In my opinion, Cain didn’t have faith that the Lord is who he says he is. Cain was acting out of tradition. Requirement.
Obedience born out of fear of repercussion. Boy, did he get repercussed!
I’m thinking Cain did not believe God would reward him. He may not have had faith in the power of God or the faithfulness of God. What characteristic of God do you doubt? His love? His grace? There are times I am like Cain – full of doubt and suspicion of God who has no shadow or dark side. I become the Lord’s accuser. I shake my fist at Him and accuse him of being unloving or unable because he’s not moving fast enough in my situation. He’s not answering my prayers the way I want him to.
Side note – He can take it. If you are angry at the Lord, disappointed even, He can take it. Yell. Ask the questions. This is a real relationship with real expectations in an amazing, unlimited God. He’s well acquainted with our grief. Jesus knows – firsthand – what it feels like to live in this limited body, on this limited planet. Have the conversation with Him today. Get it all out. He already knows.
Back to Genesis 4 - In verses 10 -12, we get a glimpse at the Lord’s discipline. Scripture us the Lord disciplines those he loves. We will see evidence that he loved Cain. The consequence of killing Abel was that Cain lost his livelihood and his home. He became a wanderer.
This was more than Cain could bear and he figured someone would just kill him. (Pre-K pause – have you ever noticed how many people in the Bible are like “Just kill me dead” or “I wish I was never born.” Such drama. But also, totally relatable)
God says anyone who kills Cain will suffer seven times the vengeance and Cain went out from the Lord’s presence. Cain, who made an unacceptable offering to the Lord and killed his brother, had God’s protection in his wandering.
After all the Cain and Abel drama, Eve has a third son – Seth. It’s thought that Seth was sent by God to heal the family’s heartbreak over losing both Cain and Abel. Seth’s lineage extends to Noah about whom it is said “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” Interesting. You see, Cain’s job was to work the soil until he was sent away as part of his punishment. The Lord sent comfort through Seth via Noah. The labor and toil that was part of the original curse of the land given to Adam and Eve and Cain’s revoked job was reinstated in Noah. Even though cursed through original sin, the Lord sent comfort. He is such a good father.
As you go through your day today, reflect on what you think about God. I mean, what you really think – the parts you don’t really talk about. And submit those parts – the broken parts – to Him. Allow the presence of Christ to minister to you today.