Following is an English transcript of the message from this morning.
Today I want to look at the story of the first baby ever born. Do you know who that was? You might have thought of Adam as the first baby, but Adam was created as a full-grown adult. He was never born. Eve, also, was created as an adult.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in perfect paradise. They had everything they could ever have needed. It was a perfect world, no death, no sickness, no people hurting one another. But that was all before Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.
As God had promised, death fell on them as a result of their disobedience. The curse of death was multi-faceted; it was a physical death and a spiritual death for Adam and Eve, and it was the death or decay of the natural world, also. This curse has been passed on to every generation following Adam and Eve.
But God gave Eve a promise that one of her descendants would destroy the devil, thus destroying the curse. Then Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden of Eden so they could not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in their sin and separation from God.
We do not read that Adam and Eve had any children during their time in the Garden. The first baby we ever read about is in Genesis chapter 4. Let’s read the first two verses there.
“Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.”
Genesis 4:1-2 NLT
The first baby ever born was Cain. Eve saw him and must have immediately thought of God’s promise. She said, “I have received a man from the Lord.” Very likely, she thought this first man would be the Savior God had promised. He would crush the head of the serpent who deceived them into sin. Then they could go back to the Garden of Eden and be in the Lord’s presence again as before.
But if we look around us today, we can see that Cain was not the Redeemer. We are not back in Eden. So, what happened? Adam and Eve soon had a second son, named Abel. He took care of sheep, but his older brother raised crops from the ground.
Let’s read some more in this chapter.
“When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.””
Genesis 4:3-7 NLT
These are very few words, but we learn a few important things from them. It was apparently expected that they should offer sacrifices to God. How did they know this? I would have to assume that God told them. And that is not surprising, as we see God speaking directly to Cain.
Adam’s family was not allowed back in the Garden; they were outside of the Lord’s presence. But the Lord apparently came to them and had a relationship with them. They could hear His voice and have conversation with Him, but it was not as before.
God respected and received the offering Abel gave. It seems that Abel was offering this sort of offering in obedience to God. We can see that in what God says to Cain. Cain was very angry that God refused his offering of his crops.
God asked him, “Why are you angry? If you do what’s right, you will be accepted. But if you do wrong, that is sin.” He also promised Cain blessing if Cain obeyed and did what God expected. Is that the path Cain chose? Let’s read more.
“One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.
Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.””
Genesis 4:8-12 NLT
What a tragedy! How quickly the world became a dark place! How quickly was Eve’s hope of deliverance through her son destroyed! When she held him in her arms on the day of his birth, she saw great things in his future. Never could she have guessed that he would not be a savior but a murderer.
Cain took his brother Abel out to the field to talk. What they said is not recorded for us, but we can imagine it was like many, many conversations have been since. Cain was driven by anger and envy. His anger grew to the point that he rose up and struck his only brother and killed him.
Did Cain know that hitting his brother would kill him? The only deaths that had happened so far were those of the animals Abel killed as sacrifices to God. They would likely have supposed that people could be killed in the same way. But now it was done.
God knew instantly that Abel had been killed. He said Abel’s blood was crying to Him from the ground. But God is abundant in mercy. He came to Cain and offered him an opportunity to repent. But Cain added lying and callousness to his sin of murder.
When God asked where Abel was, Cain lied and said he didn’t know, adding that he wasn’t his brother’s keeper. He wasn’t responsible for his brother. We can see just how little Cain cared for his brother. This pushing off of responsibility was first seen in Adam and Eve in the first sin. They blamed someone else rather than accepting responsibility for their actions. This was simply taken a step further in Cain.
Thus, the first innocent baby that held the hope of promise became the first murderer. And he didn’t murder just anyone. He killed his only younger brother. And why?
Let’s read 1 John 3:11-24.
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.
So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.
Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.”
1 John 3:11-24 NLT
Verse 12 in this passage is the key verse. We should not be as Cain. He treated his brother with hate because he was of the devil. Here is the answer why: He hated Abel because Abel’s acts were good, and Cain’s were evil. He could not stand that Abel’s obedience was accepted while he was rejected.
In a sense, Abel was the first martyr for faith in God. There have been countless millions persecuted and martyred since then. And many times for the same reason; because their lives were in obedience to God, and that obedience drove others to rage and murder.
But you say you would never be like Cain. You would never kill someone. Yet here in 1 John we find a truth about our hearts. If we hate someone, we are a murderer in our heart. And what does it mean to hate? Hate takes on many forms, but in this passage the simplest way to define hate is the lack of love.
If we do not love others, we hate them. And if we hate them, we are murderers. And if we are murderers, we will be punished, even as Cain was. Let’s continue reading in Genesis 4.
“Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”
The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him.
So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had sexual relations with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Then Cain founded a city, which he named Enoch, after his son.”
Genesis 4:13-17 NLT
Cain’s punishment was separation, separation from God and separation from other people. Is there a greater punishment? Cain certainly didn’t think so. He said it was more than he could bear. Also, he was struck with the fear that someone would kill him.
It is often that way with our sins. A liar suspects everyone else of lying. A gossip suspects everyone else of gossip. A thief is always on the lookout for those trying to rob him. And so on. Cain knew the horror of murder, having committed murder himself. He pled to God.
And God, who is rich in mercy, extended grace. He marked Cain in some way so that others would know not to kill him. Yet, Cain still was sent out from God’s presence. He married and had a son, whom he named Enoch.
The name Enoch means one who is dedicated or initiated in sacred things. Why did Cain choose this name? Is this a sign of his later repentance? We don’t know. There was another Enoch later in history who was the friend of God, but this is a different man of whom we know nothing.
Cain built a city. He was cast out from people, but he managed to find a way to build up his family around him in this city. Perhaps he did not feel so far from God when he had his family around him.
And so ends the story of Cain. We know nothing more about him. We do have a few verses about his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments, but Cain falls completely out of the history of God’s people. He is mentioned only a couple of times in the New Testament as a wicked man whose example we should not follow.
To me, Cain and his responses of anger, envy, disobedience, lying, and so on all serve as an example of what potential is within each of us. We may show those things in different ways or to different degrees, but we see from later scripture that those wicked feelings will still serve to drive us away from God.
Remember Cain. Don’t be like Cain. Rather, love others as Jesus did.