Genesis 4:26b – “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.”
Today, we continue looking at the story of Cain and Abel and how we can avoid being like Cain in our own lives today.
Cain yielded to his anger, which God had warned him to control, and murdered his own brother, Abel. And, like his father Adam, when confronted by God, he fails to repent and instead seeks to cover his sin. God, however, named Cain’s sin as He had his father Adam’s and Cain responded to God’s rebuke in Genesis 4:13. And how one interprets this verse determines how the rest of the chapter is to be understood.
In Genesis 4:13, one option is that Cain is whining to God about the punishment for murdering his brother which God relented to and spared his life. The second option is that Cain was lamenting the burden of his sin or repenting of his sin by declaring it was more than he could bear to live with. In light of the way that God and people respond to Cain throughout the remainder of Genesis 4, the context of 4:13 makes it most likely that Cain indeed repented of his sin for three reasons, though admittedly the text is not clear on this matter.
- God gives Cain grace by sparing his life and sending him to live in a city of refuge (Deuteronomy 19:1-14). This seems unlikely if Cain not only murdered his brother but then also lied to God about it and whined about being punished without having repented.
- God placed a mark on Cain to notify others not to harm him. And, though we have no idea what this mark may have been, it, in effect, branded Cain as God’s possession to be spared harm. Again, this kind of loving provision seems unjust unless Cain indeed repented.
- The chapter concludes by declaring that the people in that day began calling on the name of the Lord, which seems to indicate that they were simply following Cain’s example as he is the focus of that chapter.
In summary, it seems possible that Cain began as a sinfully religious man who sought to worship God with a proud heart and murdered his own brother who worshiped God with a pure heart. But, when confronted by God face-to-face, Cain repented of his sin, crying out to God that he could not bear to live under the pain of what he had done. God therefore forgave him, spared his life, and protected him for the rest of his days in love. God also lovingly gave Cain’s mother Eve another son, Seth, for Cain to have as a brother in place of Abel.
In addition, men began calling on the God of Cain because his story of God’s lovingly gracious forgiveness and blessing to even the worst of sinners compelled them to seek the Lord. In this way, Cain may be the Old Testament equivalent of the Apostle Paul who, like Cain, worshiped God with a proud heart and murdered his Jewish brothers who worshiped God with a pure heart. Paul, however, was brought to repentance through a face-to-face encounter with Jesus and went on to tell his story of redemption as a great evangelist, compelling other men to also call on the name of the Lord in forgiveness of sin, as he had.
When you repent, do you truly repent of the sin you commit or simply the consequences of it? Be honest with yourself and the Lord.
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