Genesis 4

Genesis 4

Cain and Abel

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 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 contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 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.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 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.” 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. Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Lamech said to his wives:

  “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
  I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for striking me.
  If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
    then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.


Genesis 4 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

I’ll be honest, this story has always confused me.

Why was Abel’s offering acceptable to God but Cain’s was not? All we know from the story here in Genesis is that Abel offered the firstborn from his flock (blood sacrifice) and Cain offered the land’s produce (fruit or produce). Abel’s blood sacrifice was accepted, but Cain’s produce was not. We get a more complete picture of the scene as we journey through Scripture…

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through his faith.

Hebrews 11:4 HCSB

From Hebrews, we can determine that the difference wasn’t found in the sacrifice alone. It was the faith of the individual offering it that mattered. Similarly, Jesus spoke of those who would do mighty works in His Name but who “never knew Him.” Faith is a posture of trust that opens our lives to God with absolute purity. What else can we gather about this story?

Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion.

Jude 1:11 HCSB

This verse from Jude adds another layer to what we’ve already covered. If Abel represents true faith, Cain represents unbelief. Balaam knew the truth but continued to disobey God’s Word because he was greedy. He then chose to lead the entire nation of Israel astray just for some money. Korah was jealous of Moses and his authority. He thought he should be leading and rebelled against Moses’ leadership. In the end, God opened up the Earth and swallowed up Korah and his followers.

All three of these men (Cain, Balaam, and Korah) were deceitful, arrogant, and hell-bent on operating in their own strength and knowledge. In all three circumstances, God provided an avenue for truth. He showed Cain what pleased Him by choosing Abel’s sacrifice. He spoke to Balaam through the mouth of a donkey, and He showed mercy to Korah by placing wise leaders (Moses and Aaron) alongside of him. But all three men still chose their own way.

How does this manifest itself today? Well, in some cases, the exact same way. But I think it is important to point out that all three of these men used tactics of Satan to try and get what they wanted. Cain was deceptive when he lured Abel into a vulnerable place to murder him. Balaam was deceptive when he lured Israel into sin. Korah was prideful with a strong thirst for more power, much like Satan before his fall.

When we consider all this, we realize that the greatest threat to the church are not atheists. No, the greatest threat would be the people who hold to a form of godliness but deny its power.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  3  unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,  4  traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  5  holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

2 Timothy 3:2-5 HCSB

Cain, Balaam, and Korah wanted to serve God. They weren’t blatant in their opposition of Him. They were all spiritual and they all held a certain form of godliness. But in the end, there was a compromise. Cain denied God for dead religion. Balaam denied God for greed. Korah denied God for power. A form of godliness is not fruitful, and this is how we will recognize those who come with a deceitful heart. God encourages us to test the godly words of people by their actions and determine if they are indeed lovers of God or lovers of pleasure. We should not judge others, but we can observe their fruit… or lack thereof.

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