Monday, January 3, 2011

Cain was first, and in more ways than one



"Cain."

What comes to mind when you hear that name? "Murderer?" Probably so, and rightfully so. Cain was the first murderer, this is undeniable. But there is something else about Cain you might not have noticed before. Let's take a look at the Scripture:

[1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: [5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [6] And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? [7] If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. [8] And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. - Gen 4:1-8 KJV

Check out verse three. Abel did not bring the first offering to the LORD, Cain did. Not Adam, not Eve. Cain. We do not know why Cain sought to bring an offering to the LORD, and we do not know why the LORD paid no respect to Cain's offering. Of course we can speculate. It may be that Cain's offering did not fit the archetype that the LORD wanted for an offering, an offering of blood which would never cover all sin until the perfect sacrifice was made (Hebrews 10:4). But we do not, as a matter of record, know exactly why the LORD rejected Cain's outreach.

For a moment, forget everything you know about the Cain and Abel passage. Instead, pretend you picked up your local newspaper, and read about a domestic violence incident that resulted in murder. Two sons, and one seeks to gain his father's favor by presenting a gift to his father. The younger son decides to do the same, and he also presents a gift. The father is loving to both, but clearly enjoys the younger son's gift more. The elder son is fuming. It was after all, probably his idea, and even if it wasn't, he was the first to act on it and present a gift. And who gets the glory? The younger son. While nobody is condoning the violence which follows, you can at least see a glimpse as to what was behind it.

So now, with that in mind, re-read that fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis. Do you see how any of us could have been Cain that day? Have you ever toiled at at your job only to see somebody else get the credit? Did you have a younger brother or sister who on occasion stole your thunder?

I'm not trying to be an apologist for Cain. He was the first murderer and nothing can ever excuse that. But perhaps you might now see how Cain came to commit that awful act, how any of us could come to that murderous point should the circumstances turn against us. What makes us any better than Cain? Even as a believer in Jesus Christ, we still have that human nature which will take over if we turn our eyes from the cross of Jesus. The LORD reached out to Cain, and Jesus reaches out to us. Amen.