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Still Waters: The First Murder

Genesis 4:8-15 “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. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

The Book of Genesis is a book of firsts, the book of beginnings. In the above verses, we can see the first murder, and it is only the first of many. What sorrow entered the first family when sin was allowed to mar God’s perfect creation! Adam and Eve had known the heartache of being banished from the Garden, and of the loss of precious communion with their Creator. Now they would know the extreme sorrow of death in their family, and that through the murder of their youngest son by their oldest son. What a hurtful and tragic loss they had to endure! What sorrows all humanity has had to endure from the beginning unto the present, and will continue to do so until our Lord makes “all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

Cain was “of that wicked one,” (1 John 3:12) and as such was filled with hatred and anger. He was angry at God for the rejection of his offering. He was jealous and filled with hatred for his brother. His brother represented all that Cain was not, and all that he despised. It is important to note that Abel did nothing to deserve this hatred and animosity. He was not unkind to his older brother. Abel was not Cain’s problem. His problem was between him and God, but he took out his frustration toward God on his brother. Just as Cain was the first murderer, Abel was the first follower of God to suffer for his faith, something that has happened many times over and continues to do so today.

When God confronted Cain concerning his brother, He did so with the following questions: “Where is thy brother,” “What hast thou done?” God was not asking these questions so that He might understand what had happened. He knew full well all that had transpired. These questions were not for God’s benefit, but for Cain’s. Cain needed to realize where he was, what was in his heart and the great wickedness of the deed for which he was guilty.

Cain’s sin had consequences. “And now thou art cursed....” That curse affected the ground, which had provided for Cain his livelihood. It affected the rest of his life on this earth, “a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” Sin has consequences. It robs, destroys and brings forth death. No good thing has, or will ever come through sin. It may seem pleasurable for a season, (Hebrews 11:25) but brings nothing but sorrow and suffering. Even in judgment, God showed mercy to Cain when he poured out his complaint about his punishment. God is merciful to the sinful in that He postpones judgment, granting opportunity for repentance. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 1:16)

God placed a mark on Cain in order to protect him from others who might seek to slay him. Much speculation has been made on the mark, but it impossible to know what that mark was. We do know, however, that it provided mercy to the man who showed no mercy. God is ever merciful, even to those who do not deserve mercy and “is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Timothy 3:9)

Pastor Steve Smith


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