But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 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. 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.(Genesis 4:5-8)
Cain offered no response to the entreaties of God. Rather, He abode in the grip of his own anger and depression.
The Most High God would have helped him to examine his own rebellious heart, and to realize that the way to communion with God had been clearly marked, and that Cain could conquer the sin which stalked him. If he would but humble himself and “do well”…God would bless him with Divine acceptance also, as He did Abel his brother.
Was it Abel himself by whom the Most High spoke to Cain? Or was it that Abel’s own submission to God a constant witness to Cain’s conscience that he was not right with God? We don’t know for sure the answers to those questions , we know only that Cain slew Abel in a field.
The Apostle John gives us the Divine explanation as to why, in I John 3:11-12,
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
Why did Cain slay Abel? John gives us two reasons, 1) Because he was of the wicked one. Cain was of a spiritual affinity with Satan, he proved himself to be of the “seed of the serpent”, in the sense that he shared in the rebellion and hatred of God that Satan has.
2)Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s were righteousness, in other words Jealousy. He didn’t necessarily want to be righteous, but he resented his brother’s righteousness.
The greek word for “slay” , esphaxon, in I John 3:12, is a word that has sacrificial implications, it means to kill by cutting the throat. It is similar to the word which refers to “the Lamb slain…” in Revelation, sphazo.
In other words there is a sacrificial sense to the description of Cain’s murder of Abel.
Cain wouldn’t submit to offering the God appointed substitute for his sin, he saw no need for such a humbling posture. Cain was going to come to God on his own terms, and in his own righteousness.
But all sin demands a sacrifice, someone has to pay! Therefore Cain ended up offering up Abel his brother, not to the most high God of course, but to his own wounded pride and evil conscience. Cain made Abel pay with his life.
And such it is with all false religion, no matter how seemingly benign. If they will not be reconciled to God by the God appointed sacrifice of Christ, sooner or later they prove to be violent.This is true of Hinduism,(which has a violent, murderous side to it), Islam, animism, Ancestor worship, and it is even true of apostate Christianity, Cain always slays Abel!
I once witnessed to a Muslim on a plane, who proudly asserted, “We Muslims need no sacrifice…!.! I then quietly asked him why everywhere in the world Islam spreads, innocent blood is spilt as a consequence. Why do the Muslims perpetually make war on infidels? The false religion that refuses the God appointed sacrifice, ends up making others pay in blood!
The Islamic suicide bomber who boards an Israeli bus full of mothers, fathers, children, old people, is told that by mercilessly blowing them to pieces in the name of Allah, he can vault over the carnage into a paradise forever!
Likewise, the mainline denominations of liberal Protestantism, which have supposedly outgrown ‘barbaric’ notions such as the wrath of God, Hell, Jesus as a Propitiation, and salvation by the shed blood of Jesus, are almost universally pro-choice in the abortion debate!
The story of Cain teaches us among other things, that when a religion denies the teaching of substitution, and of the need for the God appointed sacrifice for sin, and of the Just wrath of God that presupposes it, someone will have to be made to pay for sin, in some manner.
Was killing an animal,as God taught them to, and approaching God with a propitiation somehow “beneath” the dignity of Cain’s religion? But Cain did offer his own righteous brother up, as a sacrifice to his own hatred, envy and jealousy. The man too good for ‘blood atonement’ ended up being a murderer.
Is the “old fashioned” religion of fundamentalist christianity beneath the modern humanistic sensibilities of Liberal Christianity? They have a problem with wrath, Judgment, the cross as a propitiation, Jesus as a substitute in judgment, but no problem with abortion, homosexuality and feminism! This is the way of Cain!
Evangelism which emphasizes concepts such as the Wrath of God, Judgment, Hell, the gravity of sin, and courtroom language of “justification”, and “condemnation” , is now being set aside by many as being too harsh, off putting, and even condemning,( a “turn off” to the unsaved), and is being replaced by a “relational” emphasis instead, by the modern Cains of our day.