Cain and Consequences
Written by Pastor Jim Law
Over the last twenty-five years, I am grateful for what seems to me to be a recovery of the foundational truths in Genesis 1-11. Through works as varied as Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box and Ken Ham’s The Lie: Evolution, the evangelical community has experienced a fresh conversation about the historicity and accuracy of the Genesis account.
Obviously in reading Genesis, we are presented with a diametric message to the dogma of Darwinian evolution. We read of a creation that is not chaotic, but orderly. We discover that Adam and Eve were not accidents emerging from some primordial struggle but were created by the hand of God and in the image of God. We are presented with an historical account of temptation, and the subsequent fall that catapulted the human race into struggle, disease, sorrow and death. In these foundations, we find our roots as human beings, and we are faced with the reality that we are accountable to our Creator.
These truths presented in Genesis are fundamental to a right understanding of the Gospel and have been jettisoned in the last century for a humanistic, atheistic, evolutionary scheme that does not save and does not deliver.
In processing the story line of Genesis, I find a parallel between Cain’s story in Genesis 4 and the drift of the church and our culture. The account of the first brothers, Cain and Abel, comes as a shock factor because of the close proximity to their parent’s fall. Cain is born with such promise. It is hard to miss Eve’s expression of hope that this first born son could actually be the promised deliverer of Genesis 3:15, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord,” (4:1)
However, Cain was not the deliverer. In fact, instead of redeeming the race, he committed the first murder and was the first unbeliever. Cain was not persuaded to leave his sinful rage even though God Himself was the evangelist. Sin does not need rehearsal to be catastrophic, and its pernicious tentacles run deep and fast. Cain’s life is a sobering reminder to us all that sin is crouching at the door of our lives and that we are responsible before God for how we live.
In this, Cain serves as a portrait of the unbeliever: he offered unacceptable worship; he resented the godly witness of his brother; he rejected God’s counsel and fulfilled the sinful desires of his heart; and he tried to deny his sin before the God who sees everything (Psalm 139).
The text gives one of the saddest commentaries on the tragedy of depravity, “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.” (4:16) From Cain’s lineage we witness the secular bent of the human heart. With great humanistic pride, Cain started a family, built a city, and watched his descendents develop into a thriving culture.
Cain’s family line is not a pack of Neanderthals grunting at each other. On the contrary, they are a picture of God’s common grace, God’s goodness even to those who spurn and ignore Him. Cain and his descendants experienced the joy of a newborn babies. (Genesis 4:17) They enjoyed the conveniences brought about from their creativity and invention. They were moved by the melodies produced by Jubal. (Genesis 4:20-22) They were a developing people making great advances, but without God at the center of their culture, life carried with it a hollow tone and perplexing problems. The cloud that covered them was a manifest pride that would one day bring a worldwide flood.
When God is out, everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The marital pattern established by God between one man and one woman for a lifetime is dismissed for a couple of wives and the introduction of unspeakable problems because of polygamy (Genesis 4:19).
Eventually from Cain’s line we are introduced to Lamech who was the first Gangsta rapper as he boasts of killing a man for wounding him and killing a boy for striking him (Genesis 4:23). When sin abounds, retaliation goes off the chart. Instead of an eye for an eye, it is an eye for a head.
Cain’s culture sounds all too familiar as we read of the rapid political gains for those wanting to redefine marriage to include homosexual partners. We also see it in the dishonor of marriage through living together outside of the covenant commitment of marriage (Hebrews 13:4).
With regard to violence, I read of a man last week who killed a priest on the Mississippi gulf coast, stole the priest’s car, and then drove his wife and kids to Disney World for a vacation! I also read on Twitter of a man overhearing a conversation at a fast food restaurant in which the two in an adjacent booth were discussing which soft drink would be best to use if you were going to poison someone.
The words of Rich Mullins serve as good commentary on Cain’s world and ours,
“We are frail we are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are.”
To a humanity that has lost its way, our only hope is to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). To a Cain culture, what is needed most is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do not let it be true of you that you followed in the way of Cain. For God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son, let us look to Him for all things.