The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the LORD said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,east of Eden.
We have to keep in mind that before Cain murdered Abel, no human had ever died. Cain and everyone else alive at that time, had never been exposed to a friend or relative dying in the hospital, to a violent movie with a high body count, to a first person shooter game with gory graphics where the goal is to kill as many of the enemy as possible, or to a real life war where the same goal presides.
So when Cain stood over Abel, lying there with dark warm blood blood flowing from him into the ground, Cain couldn’t be sure what to expect. He may not even have realized that his anger would have such a dramatic result. The reality of physical death was a new concept. He must have feared God in that moment but at the same time, he may have taken hope in that Abel’s blood didn’t pool on the surface of the earth but rather it disappeared into the ground which opened its mouth to receive it. (v. 12) At that time there were no police officers, no judges, no man made justice system to investigate Abel’s death. Perhaps Cain thought that he could move on with his life, now without the person who distressed him the most.
Perhaps the religious leaders who killed Jesus thought the same. What a thorn in their side He was, this upstart Rabbi who was so open and honest about everything, including their shortcomings. This One who was stealing away the hearts of the people with His love, His mercy, and His miracles. He was a threat to their authority but now, they may have thought, now that he’s been crucified, we’ve removed this one who has distressed us so. The religious leaders surely thought, “We’ve eliminated him.” The political leader, Pilate, surely thought, “I’ve washed my hands of him.”
Of course in both the case of Abel and the case of Jesus, this was not to be. As a result of Abel’s death, Cain’s life was changed forever. Abel’s blood cried out to God and demanded justice. Cain learned, as we all learn, that we can be sure our sin will find us out.
Jesus’ blood also cried out, but Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24) Abel’s blood cried out for justice but Jesus’ blood cried out “Father forgive them.” (Luke 23:24) As a result of Jesus’ death, the world changed forever. A way to reconcile with the Father was provided. A way that’s available to you and to me right now. (see So Your Life Is Falling Apart)
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. (v. 13) Now that the truth of Cain’s deed has come to light we see that Cain is afraid for his life. Think about it, Cain lived in a time so early in the development of the human race that wherever Cain went he would encounter his relatives. And his relatives, either out of fear of Cain or out of a desire for vengeance, might attempt to kill him. But God puts a mark on Cain to deal with this issue.
Abel’s relatives learned from Cain’s mark that it wasn’t theirs to take revenge. It’s the Lord’s to avenge. You and I must realize the same. Though we may possess a deep desire to, it’s not for us to take action. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
A second reason for Cain’s mark is because of God’s love for Cain. Yes Cain murdered his brother, yes Cain has been weighed in the balance and found guilty, and yes Cain will experience consequences for his sin. Never the less God loves Cain. God’s mark, whatever it may have been, served as protection for Cain and helped Cain to endure his years in the land of Nod, which is literally Wandering.
Is there a person in your life who distresses you? Do you ever wish that he or she were gone? Beware of the way of Cain. (Jude v.11) Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7) Cain’s anger resulted in a life in Nod or Wandering. Your anger can alter your life path in ways that you never thought possible. Jesus tells us the way we’re to respond to those who distress us:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
Blue Letter Bible
[Image via gabork – Creative Commons]