Read: Genesis 4:1-17
You don’t often hear words of sympathy expressed for Cain, the worlds first murderer. We have compassion for Abel, the victim of violence, and that compassion is well placed. We also feel sorry for the parents of these two rival siblings, Adam and Eve; they must cope with this senseless violence that, in effect, causes them to lose both of their sons. So how is the matter to be settled, and who is the one to decide the course of justice? It is God.
There is the acknowledgement that things have been profoundly changed by this violent act that cannot be undone. The consequence is that Cain can no longer be permitted to live among those with whom he has proven to be a threat. Notably, God does not end the life of Cain; instead God demonstrates mercy. God even takes steps to preserve the life of Cain from the threat of others (Gen. 4:15). Mercy is a form of grace and of forgiveness. Still, there are consequences and Cain leaves to live among other people.
And who are these others that Cain is sent off to live among? We are not told. Wasn’t it just Adam and Eve, and their sons Cain and Abel? Yes, by the second creation story (Gen. 2) but not in the first creation story (Gen. 1). That is an example of why the literal details of the story are less important than the spiritual truth of the story. Cain is afraid to go and try to live a new life away from his family and his home, but that is God’s judgment. Out of love God marks Cain so that those he encounters will not harm him. Cain will leave and live among the other people of the world. He will find a wife and have children of his own. Have you ever pondered Cain’s life east of Eden? What kind of a husband would he be? What kind of a father? What is the impact of God’s mercy over the years as Cain rebuilds his life? The Bible suggests that it wasn’t “happily ever after”, but not a bad ending either.
We must remember that God does not stop loving and caring for transgressors, even murderers. Moses. David. Paul. These are three people whom God used or continued to use AFTER they were responsible for the death of another person. God is committed to the way of love, mercy, grace and redemption.
Pastor Rob Nystrom