CULTURE MAY DEVELOP IN WAYS THAT SEEM IMPRESSIVE, BUT THE ONLY HOPE FOR DEPRAVED MANKIND LIES IN CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD
Keeping the title the same for 3 weeks:
SIN MAKES A MESS . . . BUT GOD MAKES A WAY
Not because my creative juices have dried up … but really this is the story of all of Scripture. Think of our own lives and the way that God has made for each of us.
Importance of the promise of Gen. 3:15 underlies this entire chapter. We are going to track this enmity and warfare between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.
Structural signposts in the text:
3 sections – each introduced by the formula: “had relations with”
:1-16 Cain and Abel
:17-24 Seed of the serpent – line of Cain
:25-26 Seed of the woman – replacement line of Seth (after murder of Abel)
Remember that Genesis is the book of beginnings … of origins. Here just in chapter 4 alone we see the origins of:
– Procreation – first children born
– Death and Murder – plenty of that surrounds us here today – spread and intensification of sin = one of the major themes of chap. 4
– Construction of first primitive settlement – not a city with skyscrapers like we know it today – but a primitive village where families could dwell together
– Initial Cultural accomplishments in a wide variety of arenas
I. (:1-16) ADAM AND EVE’S OFFSPRING – CAIN AND ABEL – THE SEED OF THE SERPENT VS. THE SEED OF THE WOMAN —
PERSISTENT PATTERN OF SIN AND PUNISHMENT – ORIGIN OF MURDER
A. (:1-2) Family Origins – Distinction in Occupations
1. (:1) Birth of Cain
“Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a man-child with the help of the LORD.’”
Lit: “I have formed a man with the Lord.” By His instrumentality
Maybe she thought this was the one that would crush the serpent’s head
I have gotten a Man-child .. the Lord” – expression of Messianic expectation; believes she had just given birth to the promised seed;
2. (:2a) Birth of Abel
“And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel.”
Parunak: Possible that they were twins — If this is so, the animosity between them is even more reprehensible, and a prototype of the competition between Jacob and Esau.
– Cain means “smith,” one who forms, and is distantly related to the verb in Eve’s statement, “I have formed.”
– Abel means “breath, vanity,” and anticipates the shortness of his life.
Abel turned out to be a believer
3. (:2b) Career Paths
“And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”
Both followed in the footsteps of their father who was involved in both occupations;
Nothing is said here to elevate one occupation over the other
B. (:3-5a) Family Offerings – Distinction in Divine Reception
1. Two Different Offerings
a. (:3) Offering of Cain
“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.”
Maybe a long time later – don’t know how many years; coming to the entrance of the Garden of Eden to offer worship
b. (:4a) Offering of Abel
“And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock
and of their fat portions.”
Leupold: there can be no doubt that the significant words “of the first-born” and “some of the fat pieces” in addition to “of his flock” aim to show a distinguishing feature of this sacrifice. Since one merely gave of what he had acquired, but the other gave “firstlings” and “fat pieces” of what he had acquired, it is evident that the one gave because it was time and custom to give – pure formalism; whereas the other gave the best – pure, devout worship.
Parunak: —So what is the difference between their persons? We have two NT comments on their offerings, one on Abel’s and one on Cain’s.
• Heb 11:4 comments on Abel’s offering. Abel offered a “more excellent” offering, namely “the firstlings … and … the fat,” a selective and costly sacrifice, and did so by faith, that is, by trust in God. Recall that both labor under the judgment of eating bread by the sweat of the brow, 3:19. Getting adequate food was a struggle, and the choicest produce would be highly prized. Abel could sacrifice the very best that he had, because he recognized it all as a gift from God, and trusted God to provide his needs. Cain does not set aside the very best for God, but simply brings mediocre produce.
• 1 John 3:12 reports of Cain’s offering, “his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” Cain’s evil works can only be his sacrifice. Thus we learn that carelessness in worship is not simply neutral, but positively wicked, in view of the holiness of the one whom we approach. Cf. Mal 1:13,14; there, such a careless attitude brings a curse upon the worshipper.
Hughes: It is often supposed that that the answer is simply that animal offerings were more acceptable to God than grain offerings, that blood sacrifices are superior to harvest offerings. But this is certainly mistaken, because the old Testament Scriptures honor both types of offerings. Moreover, the context says nothing about the priority of blood sacrifice.
Micah 6:7-8 – Cain was singularly unjust, unmerciful, and unhumble.
2. Two Different Responses by the Lord
a. (:4b) To Abel’s Offering
“And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;”
b. (:5a) To Cain’s Offering
“but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.”
How did God show approval for the type of sacrifice offered?? Consumed it with fire?
Chereub ignited it with flaming sword??
C. (:5b-7) Family Counseling – Distinction in Ways to Live
1. (:5b) 2 Negative Reactions from Cain
a. Reaction of Anger
“So Cain became very angry”
It burned to Cain exceedingly
His sacrifice just sat there – unaccepted
If the problem was that Cain had disobeyed by bringing the wrong sacrifice – bloodless – than Cain would have no cause to be so angry – he would have immediately understood why it was rejected – but the difference between mere formalism and faith is more subtle
Parunak: Anger and discouragement, implying that the Lord has done something wrong. His attitude reflects that of the serpent, casting blame on the Lord, rather than accepting our place as contingent, created beings.
Borgman: this only makes sense if you are a narcissist; if you think you are the most important person in the world; requiring him to conform to God’s standards; type of insanity that informs the vast majority of the human race
b. Reaction of Angst
“and his countenance fell.”
2. (:6-7) Response by the Lord
a. You Have Only Yourself to Blame
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry?
And why has your countenance fallen?’”
b. Two Ways to Live
1) Doing Well
“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?”
2) Not Doing Well
“And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door;
and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Parunak: His casual, inattentive sacrifice assumed that by default he was right with God. In fact, as a child of Adam and Eve, he inherited their propensity to sin. He must recognize that holiness never comes naturally;
Cain not interested in God’s way but acting independently; I will live life my way
D. (:8) Family Hatred
1. Premeditated Planning
“And Cain told Abel his brother.”
Parunak: His real purpose, though, is deceitful and malicious, to get Abel away from their dwelling, into the field where no one could come to his aid. The crime, like that of Eve and Adam, is not the result of a sudden burst of passion, but something planned and arranged for in advance.
2. Horrific Homicide
“And it came about when they were in the field,
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”
Even worse than just murder – this was killing your own brother – possibly your twin brother
1 John 3 – he killed him because he was embarrassed and envious of his brother
Satan using Cain as his willing instrument
E. (:9-10) Family Accountability
1. (:9) Confrontation
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’”
Similar to earlier record of the Lord coming to Adam
“And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’”
Luke 11:49-52 what prophet was murdered at the foundation of the world? Abel = a spokesman for God according to Jesus; Satan trying to stop the spokesman of God
Borgman: calloused response; feigned innocence; Do not answer God with a rhetorical question! Probably thought he was being clever
2. (:10) Condemnation
“And He said, ‘What have you done?’”
Trying to provoke Cain to repentance
“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”
Heb. 12:24 – blood of Jesus speaks better than the blood of Abel – cries Forgive instead of Vengeance – story of two bloods
F. (:11-16) Family Punishment
1. (:11-12) Intensification of the Curse Upon Mankind
a. Profaning of Human Life and of Its Source = the Ground
“And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”
Before God had cursed the ground – now he curses man, made in the image of God
Remember man was made from dust and condemned to return to the dust;
Violation of sanctity of human life for Cain to prematurely take the life of his brother and shed his blood upon the ground
b. Punishment on Two Fronts
1) No Productivity
“When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you;”
Just trying to eke out a meagre existence; curse of Fall made work difficult; now for Cain it will be extremely difficult
2) No Home – a Wandering Fugitive
“you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”
Parunak: This is an intensification of the curse resulting from Adam’s sin.
o Eden: food with no work
o Adam after the fall: food, but only with hard labor.
Cain experienced this prior to his offering.
o Cain: No productivity, even with labor
2. (:13-14) Irrationality of the Complaint of Cain
a. (:13) Emotional Complaint of Overall Severity
“And Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is too great to bear!’”
Claiming that God is unfair to him; no repentance or remorse (Not “My iniquity is too great”)
Parunak: Application: There are two ways in which one can respond to God’s judgments: we can either complain against them (as Cain does), or beg for his mercy (which Cain does not).
b. (:14) Exaggerated Complaint of Specific Penalties
1) Penalty of Becoming an Outcast From God
“Behold, Thou hast driven me this day from the face of the ground;
and from Thy face I shall be hidden,”
I can’t approach the entrance to the Garden of Eden anymore and offer sacrifice
2) Penalty of Becoming a Hunted Prey
“and I shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth,
and it will come about that whoever finds me will kill me.”
3. (:15) Indemnification to Protect Cain From Vigilante Justice
[to compensate for damage or loss sustained]
a. Divine Vengeance – a Threat
“So the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore whoever kills Cain,
vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’”
“Sevenfold” has the sense “completely, perfectly.”
b. Divine Protection – a Sign
“And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain,
lest anyone finding him should slay him.”
What is this sign?
– Mark on forehead?
Longsuffering of God – giving man opportunity to repent
4. (:16) Epilogue
“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD,
and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”
Land of wandering
II. (:17-24) CAIN’S WICKED OFFSPRING – THE SEED OF THE SERPENT –
FOCUS ON ENOCH AND LAMECH —
PERSISTENT PATTERN OF MURDER AND REVENGE
A. (:17) Family Units Developing Into Larger Cultural Contexts
1. Cain Raises Up a Seed = Enoch
“And Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to
2. Cain Raises Up a City = Enoch
“and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his
I am going to settle down in defiance of what God said
Parunak: Cain himself builds the first city. (Is this an effort to frustrate the divine judgment that he will be a fugitive and a vagabond?) – [precursor to Tower of Babel]
Ps. 49:11 “Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names.”
B. (:18) Fathering Pattern of Genealogies
“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.”
C. (:19-22) Focus on Lamech and His Line of Posterity –
Cultural Accomplishments But a Heart of Depravity
1. (:19) Origin of Bigamy
“And Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.”
Introduction of sin of bigamy – God’s design was for marriage to be between one man and one woman
they mean “pretty” and “sweet-voiced.” No spiritual component here
2. (:20-22) Origin of Cultural Developments
a. (:20) Tent-dwellers and Farmers/Shepherds
“And Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.
b. (:21) The Arts
“And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.”
c. (:22) Technology
“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.”
Advanced technology long before Noah’s Flood – not ignorant cavemen; very advanced in intelligence and skills
Parunak: God can redeem elements of culture and use them for his purposes:
• the tabernacle was a tent;
• musical instruments feature prominently in the temple worship;
• Bezaleel and Aholiab, the tabernacle craftsmen, were skilled in metalwork;
• The Spirit of God spoke through David, Solomon, and most of the prophets in poetic form.
Still, we must recognize that it is the ungodly who typically excel in cultural activities, and we must not mistake cultural excellence for godliness, nor despise those who though culturally simple are devoted to the Lord.
Hughes: No combination of agricultural abundance, the arts, and technology can save society.
D. (:23-24) Familiar Achilles Heel of Persistent Sin = Murder and Revenge
1. Arrogant Boasting
“And Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice,
You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech,”
Wives must have been sick of listening to the voice of this tyrant
2. Murderous Rage
“For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me;”
Characterized by hatred and murder
This poor boy just committed some minor infraction – but was murdered by Lamech
3. Excessive Vengeance
“If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.’”
MacArthur: In this first civilization, there’s no reason to assume that there was any form of government. It was still patriarchal, and a man ruled over his own domain and developed his own sense of protection. And he is simply saying, “Look, anybody comes near and touches me, I’ll kill him.” This is the first great macho speech.
Parunak: This passage is probably the source of our Lord’s rebuke to Peter in Matt 18:22. The unbeliever seeks a plenitude of vengeance; the believer is capable of an equal plenitude of forgiveness.
Hughes: God’s vengeance upon anyone killing Cain was sevenfold, meaning a perfect measure, appropriate to the crime. But Lamech threatened that he would take vengeance seventy-seven fold – an avalanche of vengeance.
Leupold: If God will see to it that the one who harms Cain will have a seven fold measure of punishment, Lamech, not needing or even despising God’s avenging justice, will provide for himself by the strength of his own arm, reinforced by his son’s weapon, a far more heavy punishment than God would have allowed – seventy-seven fold. The arrogance and presumption are unbelievable. The spirit of self-sufficiency here expressing itself overleaps all bounds. This, then, coupled with its hate and revengefulness, makes it one of the most ungodly pieces ever written. Such are the achievements of human culture divorced from God.
III. (:25-26) REPLACEMENT GODLY LINE OF SETH – THE SEED OF THE WOMAN —
HOPE COMES WHEN WE CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD
A. (:25) Substitution of Seth for Abel
“And 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.’”
B. (:26a) Continuation of the Line of Seth = Enosh
“And to Seth, to him also a son was born;
and he called his name Enosh.”
C. (:26b) Origin of Public Worship
“Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.”
Introduction of Public Worship
Is. 12:4 “And in that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.”
MacArthur: What does “to call upon” mean? What does it mean, “they began to call upon”? It’s a very general Hebrew term. It can mean, “to pray to”; it can mean, “to proclaim”; it can mean, “to name.” And I think it means all of that. They began to worship – that’s what it means – through praying, proclaiming, praising. Just what we do. . .
In the midst of secular and unbelieving culture, with all its advancements materially, there’s no redeeming value to it, and it’s gonna burn up. But against that culture, God has placed His people, His remnant – the true believing family of God. In the midst of advancing sin in sophisticated culture, there are those true, pure worshippers of Jehovah, the personal, covenant, savior God. And what is our responsibility? To worship Him, to preserve His name, and to proclaim His gospel, right? That’s our calling.