The story of Cain and Abel proceeds on two dimensions – horizontal between the brothers and vertical between the brothers and the LORD. The horizontal dimension is all tragedy. That is, it tells of the victory of anger and violence over righteousness. The vertical dimension is tragedy redeemed by an unexpected mercy that foreshadows future depths of humility and suffering by the LORD God that will break wide-open humanity’s heart of stone.
1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Eve gives glory to God for blessing her with this awesome gift of procreation. Note though that Adam is entirely out of the picture. At the Fall Adam blamed Eve for his failure. Is this a continuation of the estrangement between the sexes that exists to this day?
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.
We see here the beginnings of worship and immediately with it the concept of right and wrong worship. We would do well to consider the implications of this passage with the greatest of seriousness.
So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has taught that this is the point at which Cain first murdered his brother.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Matthew 5:21
We should not be surprised that the prototypical act of murder in humanity’s misty beginnings falls exactly into the teaching of humanity’s perfect Redeemer.
For my part, this passage makes me fear to drive. Why is the temptation to say, “You fool!” (and worse) so magnified when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle? May I, may we, be so captivated by Christ’s spirit that to utter such words, even on the roads, is not in our hearts.