Genesis 4/Jude 3-11
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25
Like father like son, Cain also disobeyed what God had required of him. Abel’s sacrifice of the firstlings of his sheep was accepted at the altar, but Cain’s sacrifice was a different story. It is important to note that God did not just reject Cain’s sacrifice, He rejected Cain. As it’s been said, “In God’s presence, you cannot be who others think you are, but you must be who God knows you to be.” God looked beyond the substance of the sacrifice and saw that it was Cain’s heart that was not right for “his works were wicked” I John 3:12. God will only accept worship that is pure and holy: “for no flesh will glory in His presence.”
Upon the rejection, God asked Cain, “Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?” Remember that God never asks a question He does not know the answer to. The problem was that Cain never answered or dealt with God’s question. He did not want to admit the truth. He stormed out of the presence of God and began immediately to conspire a plan to kill his brother. Rage filled his heart until it could not be contained, and death had its way.
Abel’s blood cried from the ground touching the ears of a holy God; then judgment had to be issued.
“Where is thy brother Abel?” God asked Cain.
“I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Once again, God gave Cain a chance to repent, but sin had made its way through the door of Cain’s heart and it was there to stay. Not only did Cain’s anger get the best of him, but he lied to cover up that sin. What once was a seed of envy, now had grown into a deep root of bitterness. Roots will suck every ounce of moisture and life-giving nourishment out of the soil and Cain’s root of bitterness sucked everything out of him. What once was a heinous crime was now a sarcastic remark. James 1:15 warns us: “…Sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The judgment on Cain was more severe than the judgment which was placed upon his parents. God exiled him as a fugitive and stranger on the earth. He could not go anywhere and feel at home. Every effort to till the ground was useless, for God said that no fruit would be yielded from his hands. But even through severe judgment, God mercifully set a hedge around Cain so that no man could touch him without a sevenfold judgement. In every act of judgement God always demonstrates His mercy. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Ephesians 2:4. God is a God of both judgment and mercy, justice and love, all at the same time.
Did you know that even after Cain’s despicable sin, God was still after his heart? God has always been after the heart of man. Even through the Old Testament sacrifices, God taught man that repentance and worship must be done with a pure heart. The sacrifice was just the instrument God used to get to the heart of the one offering it. “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” Deuteronomy 10:12.
I wonder how different this Bible story would be if Cain had gotten his heart right with God at the altar. One wrong decision and failure to repent created a restless and bitter man. He settled in the land of Nod which means “wanderer,” and that is exactly what he was. Cain went on to build a city on the earth, but nothing for eternity. You can work to build up your life on this side of heaven but “…what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” Mark 8:38.
God is after your heart. He wants so much more for you than you want for you. We just get so busy trying to “find our own way” and “build our own lives” that we fail to see the root of sin in our heart. Then we wonder why we are so restless. Cain lived the rest of his life as a wanderer and stranger. Did you know you can be a child of God and live like a wanderer? As long as your heart is not right with God you will live in the way of Cain: restless and empty.
What is the Holy Spirit placing on your heart at this moment? Remember, that a seed is much easier to remove than a root. Get it right with God today and abstain from the way of Cain.