Sacrifices in the Bible were often thank offerings. When the best was given, it was saying that they had been given the best. “Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions” (Genesis 4:4). He wasn’t holding back. His offering showed that he was truly grateful for heaven’s blessings. Cain skimped on his offering. It is clear in God’s warning: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (7). Cain did not give the best, showing that he had little regard for God. His life following the judgment from the Lord proved the discipline he received. He did not repent and become a God-follower. Abel passed his test and Cain flunked. Rather than rejoicing with Abel’s success, he chose bitterness. Instead of dealing with his problem and changing his ways, he murdered his brother. Wow! Resentment is dangerous. Get a grip on yours!
God had shown mercy to Cain by saying, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?… If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (6,7). God gave him counsel on what he needed to do: 1) Improve his sacrificial giving, and 2) Take the upper hand rather than giving in to sin. Cain chose to ignore the voice of God and killed his brother, the epitome of irresponsibility. Cain was saying, “You are my problem, Abel. I need you out of the picture.” He should have dealt with his own misplaced anger, but he held back from giving an honorable sacrifice, and he took out his anger on a godly brother.
The story of Cain is a warning to all of us. Anger not attended to escalates. Jesus said that unrighteous anger unaddressed is step one toward murder (Matthew 5:21,22). An innocent man was slain. And Adam and Eve lost two sons–one to death and the other to life as a fugitive. What grief entered the human race so early. The heart of humanity is wicked and capable of murder. When God asked Cain where his brother was, he gave a snide response, attempting to cover up his wicked deed: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). How bold and brazen can you get?!
Cain was cursed by God to be a wanderer. He would no longer be able to work the ground and have it produce. And he was selfish enough to say, “My punishment is greater than I can bear?” He feared for his own life, but he wasn’t afraid to take his brother’s. Cain was not happy with the consequences of his behavior. He didn’t like God enough to give him the best, and he didn’t like the judgment imposed upon him. What did he expect? He had just murdered his brother in an act of sinful defiance. Should God give him a one-year time-out?
Lamech was a descendant of Cain, four generations down. His verse after a vengeful murder includes a strange sentence: “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” Cain must have spread the word that his punishment was unjust and that he had a right to seek revenge. Anger does funny things to people. I suggest you and I pay attention to ours and not justify it when we are wrong. The option is not a good one.