The Gospel According to Genesis–The Blood Cries Out

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

N.T. Wright asks in Simply Christian where the idea of justice comes from. After all, If we are purely the products of Darwinian evolution than we shouldn’t desire or fear justice.  For example, monkeys don’t freak out when they witness of their fellow chimps steal a piece of food from another chimp.  Yet, we become upset when we see even a stranger suffer at the and of another stranger.  The desire for justice is part of what it means to be human. 

Justice is also central to Genesis 4.  Let’s look at it:

4:1 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.

17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

A few things right off the bat, I have no idea where Cain’s wife came from and, more importantly, I don’t care.  The author of the text just wasn’t interested in answering that question. 

Also, note that in 4:4 Cain offers “some produce” while Abel offers the best of his flock.  The author of Hebrews tells us that Abel set forth his offering in faith (11:4).  In other words, Abel gave God his first-born animals trusting that God would give him more.  A farmer doesn’t know for certain how many animals he will have at the end of the day, so to go ahead and give away the first-born displayed great inner faith in God to provide.  Cain, on the other hand, gives…well…whatever.


Like an immature child, Cain becomes angry at God.  In 4:7 God warns Cain that “sin is crouching at his door.”  In the Ancient Near East, “crouching” normally refers to a wild animal.  If you see a wild animal then you have a shot but if you don’t then you are in trouble.  God is mercifully warning Cain of a hidden danger.   

Now look at 4:10 and note that God doesn’t ask questions for His benefit but ours.  God isn’t looking for information because He knows all.  Just as He did with Adam & Eve in the Garden, God is giving Cain a chance to confess and repent but, just like his parents, Cain refuses to cop to what he has done.  

In 4:14 Cain expresses fear instead of remorse.  He is frightened that he will be homeless, killed and cut off from God but this doesn’t happen. In fact, God mercifully promises to protect Cain. Why?

After all, one need not read much farther in the Old Testament to learn that God is a god of justice.  He does not allow sin to go unpunished and, contrary to the protests of liberals He shouldn’t.

Ask yourself what you would do if a judge in your town just released murderers, drug dealers, child molesters, etc. What would you reaction be? Would it be, “How godly of him!” or would it be outrage.

of course, it would the latter because, again, justice is part of what it means to be human.

So, where is the justice here? What happens to Cain’s punishment? Shouldn’t he be homeless, killed and cut off from God?   

Remember what happens to Jesus when He comes to earth? He is homeless, killed and cut off from God on the cross as He takes our sin upon Himself. 

Who takes Cain’s punishment?  Jesus did.  

Does Cain deserve such mercy? Absolutely not.  Does he even ask for it?  No. But God’s love and mercy isn’t dependent upon our goodness but God’s. 

How much more mercy do we receive who seek it daily?

We all want justice for others and fear it for ourselves but if we place our faith in Jesus then there is nothing to fear and there is comfort that justice will be done. also

In the end, justice will be done and either we will pay for our sins ourselves or God will pay for our sins on the cross.  If we are among the latter than we have absolutely nothing to fear from judgment day for, as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, to seek punishment twice for the same crimes would be unjust and God is not unjust. 

Our sin cries out to God for justice but God is willing to pay the penalty Himself.  How does this impact us today?

Karl Graustein puts it this way,

“Jesus clearly connects our appreciation of the forgiveness of God with our love for Him. When we realize Christ died on the cross for each of our sins, we will love Him much. When we understand that Jesus experienced the wrath of God in our place, we will love Him much. When we realize that we have been credited with the righteousness of Christ when nothing in us is worthy, we will love Him much. And when we consider that God will accept us into heaven for eternity because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we will love Him much.”

If you truly call Jesus Lord then all of your sins past, present and future have been paid for and the only proper response is love and gratitude.


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