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Acting on Warnings – Genesis 4:1-4:16

Warning signs are the only chance for a fallen being to refocus upon God. Fortunately, God is a god who provides the necessary signs. The individual need only heed them. Had Cain heeded the warnings his situation may have been different, yet this is the challenge of sin, which lies in wait for all who do not heed the warnings.

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Genesis 4:1-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

 

The Theme Explained

Before continuing, read the passage above and slowly let the images soak in.  Each image is someone’s personal expression of the theme.  Discover how the images reveal the theme from the passage.


Warning signs are the only chance for a fallen being to refocus upon God. Fortunately, God is a god who provides the necessary signs. The individual need only heed them.

The rejection of Cain’s offering was not a punishment. There was no explanation of judgment. There was no consequence or curse. It was only Cain’s “fallen countenance” which prompted the dialogue between Cain and God. God’s response was simply to provide the warning. The rhetorical explanation in 4:7 precedes the warning of sin lying in wait. The image of sin wrestling for control over the man clearly parallels the struggle between husband and wife in Gen. 3:16b. The warning had been given, yet Cain did not listen.

The parallel between the Cain and Abel narrative (4:1-8) and the Cain and God narrative (4:9-15) climactically draw this conclusion. In both scenes, the action builds to the explanation by God. However, the deviation is found in the warning. Cain does not heed the warning given by God, while God heeds Cain’s warning for his life (4:13-14) and protects him.

Had Cain heeded the warnings his situation may have been different, yet this is the challenge of sin, which lies in wait for all who do not heed the warnings.

 

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