A Murderer & a Martyr (Genesis 4:8-25)
I. Cain Kills His Brother (verse 8)
Cain’s sin had been exposed and he’d been warned about the consequences if he failed to master it (v. 7). But Cain refused to be talked out of his sin by God, and he sought, by the murder of his own brother, to extinguish the light which exposed him. His refusal to master the sins of envy and anger eventually led to the sin of murder. By his actions, Cain proved himself to be of his spiritual father, the devil (Jn 8:44), killing Abel because his brother’s deeds were righteous (1 Jn 3:11-12). As has been the cause throughout the entirety of human history, the one “who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit” (Gal 4:29). The first man murdered in the history of mankind was killed due to his religion, by a mere professor of religion—a traditionalist.
II. Cain’s Day in Court (verses 9-15)
The Lord presents Cain with careful questioning in order to bring about a confession (vv. 9-10). But rather than acknowledging his sin and begging for mercy, Cain lies, attempting to deceive, like his father Adam, in an effort to avoid accepting any responsibility. Can might have been deaf to his brother’s cries for mercy as he bludgeoned him to death in the field, but the Lord is not deaf to Abel’s blood now crying out for justice! God hears the blood and acts accordingly. The ground— the same ground that soaked up the blood dripping from Cain’s hands as he watched his brother die—would not provide for Cain or give him a place to settle. Cain wasn’t just exiled from the garden, like Adam and Eve, but from any settled place; he would have no comfort, no rest, and inescapable torment. There was no concern when Cain was confronted by God about his sin, but now that the consequences are laid out he cries out in whining self-pity, essentially saying, “God, you are too severe!” God shows mercy even to a murderer and deceiver by declaring vengeance 7-fold on whoever killed Cain.
III. Cain’s Godless Lineage (verses 16-24)
In subsequent generations, God’s common grace is on display. Humans display remarkable ability, yet their lives are utterly marked by moral failure. While we witness great cultural progress—gathering livestock, musical talent, metal working—we also see sin progressing. Lamech’s taunting song reveals the swift progression of sin: he’s a polygamist, he plans to out-do God at punishing his offenders, he’s fierce and cruel, and he’s lacking in mercy and forgiveness.
IV. “Calling Upon the Name of the Lord” (verses 25-26)
Despite the sinful events and the dark description of humanity given in this chapter of Genesis, hope shines through. Seth is born, identified in Luke 3 as one who is in the line of Christ. God has appointed another offspring to replace righteous Abel, and man began to call on the name of the Lord.
Abel’s blood cried out as it appealed for justice. The blood of Christ also cries out, but rather than an appeal for vengeance, it is an appeal for mercy. Just as God heard the cries of Abel’s blood, so also He continues to hear the cries of Christ’s blood. The message of Jesus’ blood is not revenge or retaliation, but pardon, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The blood of Jesus is efficacious to bring all the blessings of the gospel to all who believe (Heb 8:7ff).
– Three different cries rise to the Lord: the blood of Abel cries out for justice, the blood of Jesus cries out for mercy, and the people of God cry out to Him as they call on Him for salvation. Are you hardening your heart like Cain in your refusal to confess and turn from sin, or are you resting in the mercy found through the blood of Jesus as you call on the name of the Lord? The writer of Hebrews warns us: “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.”