Locations of visitors to this page
Cain and Able
Scripture: 1 John 3:11-12; Genesis 4:1-2; Genesis 4...
Track 7 of in the series
Running time: 59 minutes, 39 seconds.
The recording of Cain and Able marks the great twofold division of humanity. There is the way of Able and there is the way of Cain. Even though the record of Cain and Able is actual history, their story is also a parable of the ever ongoing battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Cain and Able

Last week we saw within the curses God places upon the serpent and the woman, the reality of a war would rage. God said that He would put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. It didn’t take long for that reality to show up. We don’t know exactly where in the timeline of Adam’s life when Cain and Able comes along but we do know that Seth, the replacement for Able is born in the 130th year of Adam.

We don’t even know if Cain and Able are even the first children of Adam and Eve. When you look through the genealogies, those listed show the linage of Jesus or the Messiah. The Bible is not an exhausted record of ancient history. It is history or a record of the events that are important to God and His reestablishing the relationship He first created with man. So we aren’t necessarily concerned with the first children of Adams and Eve, but that they bore two sons, Cain and Able, and what their lives meant to mankind and to God.

The recording of Cain and Able marks the great twofold division of humanity. There is the way of Able and there is the way of Cain. Even though the record of Cain and Able is actual history, their story is also a parable of the ever ongoing battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.

1 John 3:11-12 (NIV) This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.

It is not directly stated in scripture but there must have been communication between God and man, even though they were never allowed back into Eden. Adam and Eve knew what was right and what was wrong living. Most likely they passed these lessons down to their children. As we will see in these verses, God does speak to Cain and Able as well. It seems reasonable that mankind lived next to and near Eden.

Genesis 4:1-2 (NIV) Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.

There are some interesting points to note in these first few verses.
• The first reference to man and woman procreating. They were command to do so.
• Cain’s name means “gotten” which probably comes from the joyful exclamation she spoke when Cain was born.

What is significant about a “man” being born to Eve? How does her joy tie in with the hope that was to come from her “seed” and the promised redemption of man? She might have thought that Cain was the redemptive promise given to her when she received her curse. The sad truth about Cain, he was not the promised redeemer; in fact, he was totally the opposite.

• Able is born sometime after Cain, we don’t know how old each were in this record. But it is obvious that Able was from the seed of woman.
• Able is first mentioned in Hebrews 11 in the hall of fame of faith and is declared righteous.
• Jesus called Able a prophet so we can assume that not only did Able know God’s ways but also preached them to others.
• What is interesting is what the name “Able” means; it means “vapor” or “vanity”. Many scholars suggest that his name reflects on what was happening to Eve. Some feel Eve was beginning to become subject to the vanity the world at that time was moving to that eventually caused the flood.

Genesis 4:3-5 (NIV) In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

I don’t know about you but there are a lot of questions that pop up in my mind about these verses? What comes to your mind?

• There must have been some sort of command about sacrifice and worship. The actual Hebrew at the beginning of this passage states, “at the end of the days”. Scholars suggest that the practice of Sabbath worship had already started and at the end of a certain period of time, sacrifices (atonement) were commanded to be made.
• The sacrifice of both are also carried out in the sacrifices and offering detailed in the commands of God given to Moses when Israel is established.
• Are these sacrifices the first that Cain and Able ever performed or had these sacrifices been a regular practice? If so, what then caused the attitude of Cain to change?

What I find interesting here, look at what each brought to the time of sacrifice. From day one and going forward, what was the proper sacrifice for the atonement for sin? The sacrifice of a lamb and its blood was used to cover the sins of man.

If the proper sacrifice was the sacrifice of a lamb, where would Cain have to get his lamb?
What occupation did Cain have? What could the rebellion actually be about? Did God reject Cain or was it his offering that was rejected? What was the easy solution?

Hebrews 11:4 (NIV) By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

What was God’s warning? How important is it to build around yourself right thinking people? Did Cain heed God’s warning? What caused Cain to make such a terrible decision?

Luke 11:49-51 (NIV) Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

I find it amazing how quickly the first sin of man, eating the forbidden fruit and disobeying God’s command turned to one of the most evil acts, killing a human being—one’s own brother. The serpent was quick to strike out at the seed of the woman trying to prevent the promise at the beginning of history.

Genesis 4:9-12 (NIV) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."

In this verse we see a pattern; it is the same pattern God used when e discovered the sin of Adam and Eve. What is the pattern? God first seeks man when things aren’t right. God secondly offered the opportunity for Cain to confess what he did wrong.

Just like Adam and Eve, God already knew what Cain had done. It was the confession that God was looking for from Cain. But Cain’s reaction was much different than Adam and Eve’s. When they sinned they immediately felt fear of God and hid. But when God confronts Cain, Cain boldly questions God right to question him. Am I my brother’s keeper?

Not only did Cain boldly challenge God’s right to question him but he did something else, what was it? He blatantly lied to God’s face about where Able was. There is no question that Cain harbored this sin for some time and time will harden a person’s heart against God if the sin is not confessed.

I find it also telling in this passage how God’s attitude and voice changes after questioning Cain. God’s voice changes from mercy to judgment. There is no longer a chance for redemption. God curses the very earth that Cain relied upon for food. He was a farmer; now a farmer where the land will no longer produce for him. His livelihood was removed and so he will spend his entire life living off the generosity of others. Even though God allowed Cain to live for a time after his sin, his fate was sealed and he was destined for condemnation. He is like the tares that are allowed to grow with the wheat only to be plucked out after a time and burned in the fire. Matthew 13.

Genesis 4:13-16 (NIV) Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Do you hear any sense of repentance in Cain’s voice? Is he sad that he and God will be cut off or that he will be cut off and will have nothing because God no longer will be in relationship with him?

Obviously Cain didn’t want a relationship of righteousness with God but he did fear not having any relationship at all. How does that compare to those today who have no relationship with God but want to say they and God are friends? Why is that?

Cain was destined to wander around the earth with no place he could call home. Cain becomes the visual warning of what will happen when man or woman decides they don’t need a God in their lives. Without God life is meaningless and there is no purpose to be fund. There is no inner peace to have.

What was Cain’s greatest fear? Because he was left by himself with no protection from God he would be killed by someone else.

How did God respond? He gave Cain a sign that somehow communicated that should anyone kill Cain, their fate would be 7 time worse upon them. Any guesses what the sign might have been?