Marked Man | Genesis 4:9-16
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 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.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 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.” 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. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Genesis 4:9-16 | ESV
Cain was “of the Evil One.” Cain hated his brother. Cain killed his brother. And while not a word of recorded dialogue passes between righteous Abel and God (who knows, perhaps their relationship transcended words), this story is filled with dialogue between Cain and God. We can debate what it was about Cain’s offering that caused it to be at the very least a lackluster service, but we can’t argue over God’s love and concern for Cain. God seeks him out, asks why he’s depressed, encourages him that he can overcome the darker inclinations at work within him, and then confronts him with the enormity of his crime after he kills his brother. There is no summary execution. In fact, there’s no execution at all! The same God who later will tell Noah, “whoever sheds man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed” now staunchly rejects such a penalty in Cain’s case, promising even greater consequences if anyone should kill Cain. This leaves us with two primal and contradictory examples in answering our own questions about capital punishment, but more to the point, it provides a remarkable example of the love and compassion of this God we are just getting to know from these Genesis pages. A harsh, arbitrary, despotic judge doesn’t take time to reassure a criminal. But God does. Yes, Cain was sent away from the Garden, away from God’s face. Yes, he was to be thereafter a fugitive and a wanderer. And this may have been for his own good, his survival, as much as anything else. Another testament to the fact that where “sin abounds, grace super-abounds.” God, an ogre? No. God is a lover.
“Where sin abounded, grace super-abounded.” What has been the clearest example of this that you have witnessed?
God, remind me today of the creative ways in which you can and do take the worst turns of life and transform them into unimaginable opportunities of grace. Give me eyes to see the grace today. Through Jesus.
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