Introduction: Genesis chapter 3 explained how mankind first lost the blessing of God’s fellowship and protection. Chapter 4 explains the consequences of a life spent in rebellion outside of His blessings. Through the sins of Cain and his descendants, God reveals that a life lived in the world is filled with the sins of the flesh. These include: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21). Yet, where the line of Cain and his descendants symbolized the deeds of the flesh, God showed His mercy by withholding judgment upon this line and His mercy by granting these descendants things to which they were not entitled. From the story of Cain’s pride and murder and the sins of his descendants, God reveals seven truths about His mercy and grace.
First, from God’s acceptance of Abel’s firstborn blood offering and His rejection of Cain’s harvest offering, He reveals that your faith in His blood offering is needed before He will accept the works of your hands. Also, when you do offer the works of your hands, you are to offer the best of your time, talent, and treasure out of gratitude. Second, from God’s warning to Cain that Satan was waiting at his door to pounce upon him, every believer is warned to guard his or her heart from the devil who lies in wait for the opportunity to deceive you and place you into bondage. Third, from God’s gentle questioning of Cain following his murder of his brother Abel, He reveals that He seeks to elicit your repentance, not your punishment. Fourth, by withholding punishment on Cain when His perfect law required Cain’s death, He shows that He is filled with mercy. Through the blood of Christ, He will withhold judgment upon those who deserve eternal death. Fifth, from the sins of Cain’s descendants and Lamech’s first polygamous marriage, He reveals that Satan becomes your father when you embrace the things of the world and the things of the flesh. Sixth, Lamech boasted that he would avenge wrongs against him seventy fold. By contrast, Jesus warned that you must forgive seventy times seven times. Thus, Jesus reveals that you must frequently forgive others who offend you, just as He has done for you. Unlike Lamech, you are to leave vengeance to God alone when others offend you. Finally, from God’s blessing to Adam and Eve with another heir of the promise through Seth (meaning “appointed”), He reveals that He has appointed you another chance at eternal life through Christ.
Abel’s faith through his sacrifice, and Cain’s pride through his sacrifice. God initially blessed Eve with two sons. The firstborn (the favored son) Cain tilled the ground like his father Adam. By contrast, Abel maintained flocks. Both showed that they tried to reconcile with God with their sinful nature with the first recorded sacrifice in the Bible. Yet, while God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, He accepted Abel’s sacrifice: “1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.’ 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (Gen. 4:1-5). Eve praised God for the blessings of her first pregnancy (Ps. 139:14; Is. 44:2). Yet, she offered no words of praise for her second son. She assumed that her firstborn son was the “seed” who would fulfill God’s prophecy against the devil: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15). The name “Cain'' has several translations. In this context, it mostly meant “here he is.” This interpretation is bolstered by the fact that she called him the “manchild,” not her son. Thus, she had words of praise for him alone. We are told nothing of Cain’s upbringing. Yet, Eve no doubt raised him with pride about his presumed special purpose. Like the culture in Moses’ day, as the firstborn and as the one who followed in his father’s profession, he would have been treated as the favored child. Yet, like Satan, his anointed position lead to both his pride and his downfall: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). Abel no doubt was humbled to be the second born with no special purpose. He sacrificed the best of his flock in humble faith for God to accept it. (Heb. 11:4). By contrast, Cain offered the leftovers of his harvest out of pride that he needed to offer nothing more. God accepted Able’s faith-based sacrifice, and rejected Cain’s leftover offering. This caused Cain’s anger to burn. Even though Cain did not give the best of his harvest, his offering required more work than Abel’s sacrifice. He could not understand how God could favor his little brother’s messy sacrifice that required less effort. His confusion mirrors the confusion about mankind when it comes to the forgiveness of sin. Like Cain, many incorrectly assume that their works will save them.
Bertram of Minden 1340 – 1414/15 AD (Cain and Abel bring offerings)
Atonement for sin (justification) must precede a life offering to God (sanctification). In the Bible, the details of each sacrifice matter. This includes the order of the sacrifices. In the book of Leviticus, the grain offering always had to follow the blood offering (Lev. 1-2). The first recorded sacrifices in the Bible of Cain and Abel explain this. Following the sins of Adam and Eve, their fellowship with God was broken. Abel and Cain each made an offering to God. Abel made a “faith” offering to atone for his sins: “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” (Heb. 11:4). By contrast, Cain was motivated to promote his works. Works are important. Without them, your faith is dead (Jam. 2:14-26). Yet, your works will not bring reconciliation to God or your salvation (Eph. 2:9; Ro. 3:28; 1 Cor. 1:29). Because Cain’s sacrifice from his leftovers was motivated by pride, it was wicked in God’s eyes: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Prov. 15:8). God will not accept the fruits of your life offering unless you first humbly acknowledge your sins and your need for the blood of atonement. A life filled with charitable acts is meaningless to God if is not motivated by humble gratitude for your salvation. If you could be saved by your works, then Christ died needlessly at the Cross. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:21). Do you give to God out of gratitude or out of a misplaced belief that your works will lead to either your salvation or a more privileged position with God?
Out of gratitude, give the first-fruits or the best of your labors to God. In addition to being an offering in faith, Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” (Gen. 4:4). The blood of a faith-based offering and its fat were a “soothing aroma” to God: “The priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the LORD.” (Lev. 17:6). We study the details of the sacrifices to learn how to make “spiritual sacrifices” to Christ: “you also . . . are . . . to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Rom. 12:1). In the book of Numbers, the Levities were given to God in lieu of the firstborn from every family (Nu. 8:16-17; 3:41). In the book of Leviticus, the priests were told to give the firstborn of every animal to God: “26 ‘However, a firstborn among animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may consecrate it; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s.’” (Lev. 27:26). “22 You shall surely tithe . . .23 . . . the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.” (Dt. 14:22-23). This was the most expensive of the animal offspring. This also foreshadowed Jesus: “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.” (Rev. 1:5). The priests were also ordered to give the “fat” to God (e.g., Lev. 3: 3, 9, 14; 16-17; 4:8; 7:3; 9:10; 9:19; 17:5). Moses commanded that “all fat is the Lord’s.” (Lev. 3:16). The priest who ate the fat was to be “cut-off” from the Lord (Lev. 7:25). The fat was a pleasure and a delicacy because it was considered the best tasting part of the animal. The person seeking God’s peace was to give up the best pleasures in life to Him. This foreshadowed Christ. He gave up His life at the Cross. Christ also says that those who want to follow Him need to “deny” themselves: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25-26). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:28-33). “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (Jo. 12:25-26). Out of gratitude for what Christ did at the Cross, are you denying yourself and giving Him the best of your time, talent and treasures?
Sacrifice without obedience does not please God. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel are important because they reveal that God cares more about the motive of a sacrifice than the sacrifice itself: “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”’ (1 Sam. 15:22). “To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.” (Prov. 21:3). He looks at the heart of the giver, not the gift that is offered: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Sam. 16:7). “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives.” (Prov. 16:2). When you give to God, are you giving humbly in thanks? Or, do you give to be rewarded?
Avoiding the fat in life is good for you in the long run. Some fat in your life is important for digesting vitamins and for other reasons. Fat is also a pleasure in life. The ancient Jews understood fat in their food to be a blessing from God. Yet, although fat tastes good, it can be bad for you if consumed in excess. It can cause people to become overweight. It can cause heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other problems. Fat is also where toxins are stored in the body. Giving up excessively fatty foods can lead to a healthier life. Giving up excess consumption, can likewise lead to a happier life. You learn to be content with less. You learn to avoid overspending and debt. You also learn not to crave that which you don’t have. Feeding your flesh less allows God the opportunity to instead fill you with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Is there any area in your life where you can cut back to focus on God?
God’s warning to Cain to control his emotions. Because his heart was filled with pride at the works of his hands, Cain was angry at God’s rejection. God then warned him to either control his anger or Satan would control him: “6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’” (Gen. 4:6-7). The word “crouching” is the word used for a wild lion that is ready to strike its prey (Gen. 49:9). God warns all believers to be alert at all times. Like a lion, Satan is always looking for the opportunity to deceive you and place you under his bondage of sin and sorrow: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:9).
Resist the devil by repenting of your sins and fleeing temptation. God repeatedly warned the Jews to repent and flee evil. If not, Satan will find out your sins and take control of you: “But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Nu. 32:23). “His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin.” (Prov. 5:22). “The yoke of my transgressions is bound; by His hand they are knit together. They have come upon my neck; He has made my strength fail. The Lord has given me into the hands of those against whom I am not able to stand.” (Lam. 1:14). “Go and speak to Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.’”’ (Jer. 28:13). In the New Testament, God repeats these warnings: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Ro. 6:12-13). “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” (Titus 3:3). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,” (Titus 2:11-12). Have you repented of your sins and fled your temptations?
Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Cain did not heed God’s warning. His jealousy of his brother instead drove him first to hate his brother. It then drove him to murder his brother: “8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (Gen. 4:8). When you give into jealousy, anger, hatred, and murder, you fall under the influence of the devil or his demons, just like Cain: “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brothers were righteous.” (1 Jo. 3:11-12). “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.” (Lk. 11:51). “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Jude 1:11). “Men of bloodshed hate the blameless, but the upright are concerned for his life.” (Prov. 29:10). The mere act of hating your brother is murder in God’s eyes: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 Jo. 3:15; 1 Jo. 2:9). Is there anyone that you hate? If so, repent and show that person love.
Il Tintoretto 1518 – 1594 AD (Cain and Abel)
The punishment for intentional murder is capital punishment. Although some Christians believe that capital punishment is immoral, it is the punishment that God prescribed for intentional murder: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Gen 9:6). “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Ex. 21:12). “If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 24:17). “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death . . . .” (Nu. 35:30). “Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.” (Nu. 35:31). “So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. ‘And you shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’” (Nu. 35:33-34). For these reasons, special rules required the sacrifice of a red heifer whenever the Jews found a murdered body in a field with no suspects. (Dt. 21:1-4). Thus, Cain deserved to be killed for his acts. Yet, God showed His mercy by withholding the judgment that Cain deserved for his sins.
For the unsaved the punishment for murder is also eternal death. Jesus warns that all unsaved murderers and people filled with anger and hatred: “shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matt. 5:22; 15:18-19; Gal. 5:21; 1 Jo. 3:15). Thus, with His Second Coming, He will judge all murderers who have failed to repent to Him and accept Him as Lord and Savior: “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Rev. 6:9-10). Jesus, however, does not want to judge. He came to heal people from the judgment from Abel’s blood: “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Heb. 12:24). Like Cain, you deserve eternal death for your sins. Have you thanked Jesus for paying for your sins?
God’s effort to bring Cain to repentance. Although God knows all things, He first employed gentle questioning to bring Cain to repentance: “ 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Gen. 4:9). In this account, the word “brother” appears seven times. This was to emphasize the awful nature of the sin. Yet, God used the same technique in seeking to bring Adam to repentance: “Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 3:9). Yet, like Adam, Cain failed to repent. Unlike Adam, he lied about his sin by claiming ignorance. David invited God to search his heart and expose his sins: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts” (Ps. 139:23). Do you invite God to expose your sins? If you do, do you repent of your sins when God exposes them?
God’s mercy and grace in dealing with Cain’s sins. Although God’s Law required that Cain be punished by death for his murder, God showed His mercy and grace by withholding His punishment. Cain received a curse. Yet, God spared from an immediate death: “10 He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.’ 13 Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ 15 So the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.” (Gen. 4:10-15). Cain’s cry was not a cry of repentance. It was a cry for relief from his punishment. Most Bible commentators believe that his fear was the belief that future generations of Adam and Eve would hunt him down and kill him. Yet, he had no way of knowing that Adam and Eve would have had future male descendants. Even if they did, it would be at least 18 years before one could credibly threaten him. This would seem like a remote threat. He also had no way of knowing at this point that he would live for a long period of time. God had previously warned that eating from the tree of good and evil would bring Adam’s death. Another possibility is that other creatures inhabited the Earth who might have threatened him. The Neanderthals lived concurrently with humans. Yet, their DNA was distinct from humans.1 It is also possible that Cain feared that Neanderthals would kill him for his sins.
Only Christ can free you from the curses caused by rebellion and disobedience. Moses later warned that any person who rebelled against God would be cursed as God lifted His hand of protection against the devil: “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” (Dt. 28:15). Only Christ can free you from the curse caused by your disobedience: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”’ (Gal. 3:13). Have you given thanks to Christ for assuming your curse?
The fullness of sin through the seventh son Lamech. After God banished Cain to the land east of Eden, He again showed His grace by blessing him with a family. He also blessed him with the first city after God cursed him to be a wanderer: “16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17 Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech.” (Gen. 4:16-18). The Bible later reveals that Adam had several sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4). Thus, the most common interpretation amongst Bible scholars is that Cain married a sister out of necessity. At a later time, God banned incest with a sister or mother as a sin. (Lev. 18:9, 11; 20:17; Dt. 27:22). Lamech was the seventh descendant from Adam through Cain. His name meant “conqueror.” He represented the fullness of evil and the flesh through mankind’s sin. By contrast, Enoch was Adam’s seventh son through Seth. He represented righteousness through faith: “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,”’ (Jude 1:14).
Lamech’s sin of polygamy. Representing the fullness of Cain’s wickedness, Lamech was the first to practice polygamy: “19 Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.” (Gen. 4:19). The names of his two wives and his first son all symbolized his love of the things of the flesh. “Lamech was the first bigamist in history, going against God's original plan for one man and one woman to become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-8). The names of his wives and daughters show the emphasis in his heart: Adah means ‘pleasure, ornament, or beauty.’ Zillah means ‘shade,’ probably referring to a luxurious covering of hair. His daughter's name was Naamah, which means ‘loveliness.’ Lamech's culture was committed to physical and outward beauty.” (David Guzik on Genesis 4). Because the Bible is clear that Lamech was wicked, God clearly showed that polygamy is wicked in His eyes. Although there were many people in the Old Testament who had more than one wife, each person to do so suffered because of their sins.
Jesus meant for marriage to be between one man and one woman. Jesus cited the creation account to reveal that God created the different genders so that two people could join together as one flesh in marriage: “And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this reason shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”’ (Matt. 19:4-6). His reference to “two” people becoming “one” rules out polygamy. Likewise, His reference to “male” and “female” speaks to a heterosexual marriage (Gen. 2:25). Have you kept yourself pure for one person of the opposite gender for marriage? If you are married, have you kept your wedding covenant pure before God?
Lamech’s boast regarding his murder of a man for wounding him. Lamech’s sin of polygamy grew into the sin of murder after one of his relatives wounded his pride: “20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. 23 Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me; 24 if Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Gen. 4:20-24). Lamech’s boast referenced back to God’s promise of retribution against those who might try to harm Cain. God promised “sevenfold” retribution against any who might harm him. (Gen. 4:15). By contrast, Lamech viewed both his life and his reputation as greater than Cain. He further took it upon himself to avenge the wrongs that he perceived against him. He should have left vengeance to God: “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Dt. 32:35; Ro. 12:19; Heb. 10:30; Ps. 94:1).
Love others, even those who hurt you. Lamech embodied the opposite of God’s law. He instead was under the devil’s influence. In the Torah, God commanded His people to love others, just as He loved them: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18). Because the people ignored this commandment, Christ made it a central teaching. Moreover, He expanded it to include a person’s enemies and strangers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34; 15:17; Matt. 22:39; 19:19). Every New Testament writer repeated this central commandment: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Ro. 13:8,10). “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’ (Gal. 5:14; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 1:22; Eph. 5:2; 1 Jo. 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:21). As Christ did for you, do you show love to your enemies and those who have deeply hurt you? Or, like Lamech, do you seek vengeance against those who have hurt you or insulted you?
Forgive others frequently, even when they don’t deserve it. Jesus later quoted Lamech to explain how often believers are to forgive. While Lamech promised vengeance “seventy-sevenfold” (Gen. 4:24), Jesus explained that believers should show forgiveness on “seventy times seven” occasions: “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matt. 18:21-22). “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (Lk. 17:4). This translates to forgiving others 490 times. Jesus’ point is that you should forgive more frequently than you can count. This is what He does for you.
Do not envy violent people. Solomon warns believers not to envy violent men like Lamech: “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.” (Prov. 3:31). “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them;” (Prov. 24:1). Modern culture is filled with violent movies, sporting events, and video games. Do you enjoy these violent things?
Strive for the things of God and not the world. Cain’s descendants accomplished great worldly things. These included building the first city, metallurgy, and musical instruments. Your talents are a gift from God. God showed grace by giving the descendants of Cain talents that they did not deserve. Yet, they did not use their God-given talents for Him. Worldly accomplishments are meaningless if they are not connected to God. Jesus warns that many who are first in society with their accomplishments are last in God’s eyes: “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matt. 19:30; Mk. 10:31). Paul believed that the many things that he accomplished before he knew Christ to be a waste of his time: “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him . . .” (Phil. 3:7-9). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . .” (Titus 2:11-14). Is your life ambition focused mostly on God? Or, is it focused on worldly wealth and success?
God blesses Adam and Eve with a third son Seth. While the line of Cain symbolized the fullness of mankind’s evil, God appointed another child to Adam and Eve; Seth. He would be the seed through which the promised Messiah would come to defeat the devil: “25 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ 26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Gen. 4:25-26). Satan tried to prevent God’s prophecy to Eve from coming to pass by using Cain to kill Abel. This disqualified Cain and prevented Abel (the man of faith) from giving birth to the line that would lead to the Messiah. Yet, Satan cannot defeat God’s plans. Seth represented God’s plan for the seed leading to salvation.
The foreshadow of Christ in Abel’s death and Seth’s birth. By Jewish tradition, Cain killed Abel on the 14th day of Nisan, the day the Jews killed the Passover lamb. (First Fruits of Zion, Torah Club, Vol. 2 “Shadows of the Messiah B’Reisheet (2015) p. 17). This is also the day Christ died at the Cross. On the 10th day of the month of Nisan, the Jews selected the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:3). On the 10th day of Nisan, Jesus also entered Jerusalem. On the 14th day of Nisan, the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered on the ninth hour (3:00 pm), counting from 6:00 am. (Nu. 28:16; Lev. 23:5; Ex. 12:6). On the 14th day on the ninth hour Jesus also died (Matt. 27:45-50; 28:1; Mark 15:29; John 2:19). Like Cain, the Jewish elders murdered their brother Jesus out of jealousy. Thus, Abel’s death foreshadowed Christ’s death at the Cross. Just as Christ’s death gave mankind a second chance through His resurrection, God also gave mankind a second chance through Seth. The name Seth means “appointed.” It can also mean “different seed.” The Jews understood that his seed would lead to the Messiah: “Why does Eve say, ‘God appointed me a different seed’” Rabbi Tanchuma said in the name of Shmuel Kozith, ‘She alluded to the seed which would arise from a different source, [the seed] that is King Messiah.” (Id. at p. 18; Genesis Rabbah 12:5). Have you given thanks for the second chances that Christ has given you?
The righteousness of Enoch. While the seventh descendant through Cain represented the fullness of the flesh, the seventh son through Seth represented the fullness of the Spirit. While Lamech symbolized the deeds of the flesh, Enoch symbolized the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23). He did not use his gifts to build a harem or other worldly accomplishments. Instead, he used his God-given gifts to encourage and cause others to call upon God.
Be an Enoch to others. Like Enoch, God calls upon you to encourage others to return to a walk with Him: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11). “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29). This includes preaching the Gospel to others. (Matt. 28:16-20). Are you preaching the Gospel and encouraging others to call on Christ?
“Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia". Nature (23 October 2014) 514 (7523): 445–449.↩︎