I can’t help but wonder what Adam and Eve thought at the birth of Cain. Eve proclaims, “I have gotten a man with the Help of the Lord.” Was she thinking that this is her offspring of promise, the man who would crush the serpents head? Was Adam gazing at this child thinking that their time of exile in the east was drawing to a close, that with this child whom God had spoke of they would be in the garden again soon?
It is speculation through and through, but I can see this being their hope. We humans have a near sided way of thinking about hope. It needs to happen soon, otherwise we think it will never happen. So, we latch on to anything that might look something similar to the hope that has been promised. We decide that this must be what Yahweh was talking about, this is it. And we treasure these things, treat them as holy, view them as our savior. They are our favored idols. And, they let us down.
No matter what hopes and dreams Adam and Eve put into their first born, it was Able who by faith offered acceptable gifts to God. Cain may have thought that his favored position with his parents would mean that Yahweh would favor him as well. I don’t know. What we do know is that Cain was angry and his face fallen when Able’s gift was accepted with favor and His was not.
God saw this to, and spoke to Cain, not accusing, but with the idea of forming this man he gave to Adam and Eve into His image.
“Cain, in your heart you know what is the right things to do, you know what it is to have faith and to act with it. Don’t let this sin that is crouching at your heart master you.”
These are mornings for the sake of formation. Even in this eastern land, away from shalom and the garden God planted, Yahweh is seeking to form humanity the way he formed them first: into His image.
But, Cain kills Able. No, that’s not right; let’s tell it like it is. Cain murders Able. When he is confronted by Yahweh (just like Adam was in the garden), he does not pass the blame. He lies and denies knowing anything about it.
So, sin is compounded, getting deeper and deeper in to our habits, crouching in every way at every door of our heart, driving us by our actions and un-faith further and further away from the God who is everywhere.
Sin brings curse, and Cain is cursed: cursed from the ground, no longer will it produce for him; cursed to wander, not just driven out of his home, but to be homeless. Cain laments,
This is more than I can handle! My guilt is too great. I am left to the mercy of anyone who finds me, and they will kill me because I am cut off from you!
This is the focal point, the place in the story that brings it all into focus. Again we are lead to see that this is not a story about man. Rather, this is the revelation of God’s self to us in the midst of our brokenness.
Not so! If anyone kills you, vengeance will be sevenfold dealt out to him by me, my own hand. See, here is a mark I my self am placing on you so that all men will know not to attack you.
Here is God declaring that He alone is the avenger of men, He alone is the one to curse, He alone is the one to stand in judgement over humanity. He is jealous of His right to be judge, and when ever anyone in all of creation seeks to take that position for them selves, the will have to deal with the wrath of Yahweh.
Compare these statements to Lamech’s self declaration of protection because he decided to strike down some young buck that harmed him. Can you see the safety in this revelation? Our safety doesn’t depend on us. No man can take Cain (you, me) out of God’s sight. No one can harm us, no matter what wrongs we have done, without God getting involved. Yes, there are curses, consequences, and deep wounds that we must face because of our sin, but in it all God still sees fit to keep our lives sacred so that He might seek to reform us into His image as long as we draw breath.
And so, The generations go on. Seth is born, and the place of Able in the first family is filled. His children carry with them the promise of Messiah, and people start invoking, worshiping, and calling out to Yahweh to save them. People live, love, and die, all the while worshiping God, walking with Him, and coming to know and be formed by Yahweh in these lands east of Eden.