Genesis 4 English Standard Version (ESV)
Cain and Abel
1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
The sin of Adam and Eve upset the intimate relationship between humankind and God. Sin also had a direct effect on their children.
Adam and Eve could not avoid observing this evidence of the spiritual death they unleashed on their descendants. What a heartrending experience for Adam and Eve that one dearly loved son killed by another. Adam and Eve knew that they themselves introduced into history the sin that expressed itself in Cain’s hostility and murderous act.
Why did God reject Cain’s offering? Some have suggested that Abel, in making a blood sacrifice, followed a prescription that God had given Adam and Even when He first clothed them in skins. Therefore, in offering produce Cain suggested that his best was good enough to offer God. Another suggestion is that the text specified Abel had offered his “firstborn” to God, whereas Cain simply offered whatever that was available. Either way, God’s reminder to Cain, “If you do what is right” (v7), suggests that Cain knew the right way to approach God, but was unwilling to do so.
God told Adam and Eve that death would follow disobedience. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). We all live with the tragic consequences of Adam’s fall.
Reflect on your own family relationships and ask God to reveal to you how sin has upset some of the close relationships. Confess before God and ask for forgiveness. Allow God to show you how He may use you to amend broken relationships.