The Way of Cain – Part One

Jude 1:11

11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

The message of Jude speaks of a warning against those false brothers who have entered the assembly of believers in order to secure position, profit and pleasure.

The first reference is made to the “way of Cain”

What is this “way of Cain” – the scriptures make reference to Cain in only a few parts of the Old and New Testaments.

1 John 3:11-12
11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

In 1 John we find that Cain did not “love” and was “of the wicked one” murdering his own brother.

The question is clearly asked “why did he murder him?” Because the works of Cain were evil and his brother’s works were righteous.

This does not speak of a single act of antagonism by Cain against Abel for the offering of an “acceptable” sacrifice.
It is evident that Cain’s works “plural” were evil. Here was a man who practiced sin
He is also spoken of as being “of the wicked one” his father being the devil.

John 8:40-46
40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

If Cain had been of God he would have loved. Because he was of his father the wicked one he was not able to listen to or understand the Word of God. Cain had the same desires of the wicked one – the wicked one was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, being a liar.
It is interesting that Cain commits the first act of murder, just as the wicked one murdered from the beginning.
So we see that Cain was already at spiritual enmity against his brother because spiritually they were of two differing fathers.

We know that Abel was a prophet and spoke the Word of God and God’s will for the family of men on earth.

Matthew 23:35
35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Luke 11:49-51
49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

Therefore the account of Cain and Abel must be understood to occasion a conflict between the “righteous of God” and the “unrighteous of Satan”. Clearly these two brothers had not lived in harmony together for the scripture tells us that there is little in common between the righteous and the unrighteous.
As a prophet Abel would have spoken and revealed the Word of God to the family. Hebrews tells us that he was a man of “faith” that by faith he acted righteously.

Hebrews 11:4
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
How could he have acted by faith unless he had heard the Word of God.

Romans 10:17
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We can safely assume then that Cain was not ignorant of the “Word of God” but was rebellious and in his rebellion and wicked desire, was unable the listen to the Word that Abel proclaimed as a prophet of Yahweh.

Genesis 4
1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.”

Adam and Eve through sexual union bring forth their first son “Cain”. This son would have the first place in the family and be the only son, who for a time, would not share the affections of his mother and father.

2 Then she bore again, this time, his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Their second son Abel is born and becomes a sharer of the time, affection and love of two parents. It is said that Abel was a keeper of sheep. At this time animal flesh was not eaten and the first slaughter of animals was in order to provide clothing for Adam and Eve after they had fallen into sin and rebellion. It was the shedding of blood and the covering of the skins that covered their sin and shame. It is therefore assumed that Abel kept sheep for sacrificial purposes and for the clothing of the family. It draws a clear connection between the death of other life in order to provide a covering for men and women, at that time a daily reminder of the grace and mercy of God and His promised redeemer. They would have daily put on “Christ” as these items of clothing were always connected to sacrifice.

Cain is said to be a tiller of the ground or farmer. We know this would have been hard work and that his labour was cursed “in toil and sweat of face”.

Genesis 3:17-20
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“ Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Cain may have looked on daily as he struggled to produce food for the family whilst his brother Abel tended the flock.

3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

Abel as a prophet may have carried out a sacrificial offerings on behalf of the family on a regular basis but in the course of time Cain decided that he would intervene and introduce an offering that was of his own efforts and work. It is possible that Cain had never offered up the fruit of the ground prior to this, as such an offering would not have involved the shedding of blood. If Cain had wished to make an offering as an individual he could have easily traded produce for an animal if this had been required.

We are told that the LORD respected Abel’s offering but not that of Cain.

Hebrews 11:4
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

It is evident from this passage that Abel’s offering was according to faith and therefore his offering was more excellent. It is his faith that still speaks!

Hebrews 11:6
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

For Cain it was impossible to offer a pleasing sacrifice even if it had been a sheep from Abel’s flock because Cain did not have faith and therefore it was impossible for him to please God. He had not listened to the Word of God that his brother Abel proclaimed as a prophet and therefore could not have faith!

We often see this passage as a reference to the faith of “believing in the existence of God” but this is not the understanding of the passage. We must have the obedience of faith to please the Almighty One.

6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Here we see the grace and mercy of God meeting Cain and offering a way into the place of acceptance. God declares that if he will “do well” according to faith he will yet be accepted.

Cain has a chance to rectify his offering and is able to come in faith and “try again” with the promise of acceptance.

If he does not take this opportunity, he is told, that “sin lies at the door”. This tells us that the choice to open the door is given to us, there is not simply an open doorway for sin. Cain will either welcome sin in or refuse its entry. It lies in wait because its desire is to master Cain but he should be the one that rules or lives above sin.

Sin lies at the entry point of life, it waits at the doorway of choice seeking to influence every coming and going of man.

8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;[a] and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

We do not know the content of this conversation but when they were away from the family, in the field, Cain killed his brother.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

God knew where Abel was and knew the circumstances of his death but mercifully gives Cain opportunity to confess and repent for his actions. How often we are told of the merciful God of the New Testament and the God of wrath in the Old. But here we have a merciful act of God, giving the first murderer opportunity to repent.

He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Here is the response of the wicked, “I do not know” – Liar, “Am I my brother’s Keeper?” the answer is “Yes” we are all responsible for the welfare of our brothers. Those who follow the “Way of Cain” will lie and negate their responsibility to love others. Their refusal to love results in “murder” for where there is no love there is only “hate” – The Apostle John made this very clear.

1 John 3:15
15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”

If Cain’s labour was hard and difficult before it is now even harder and he will no longer be able to find his livelihood from the profits of agriculture. The blood of Abel cries out to the Lord for justice. This is the case of all those who are righteous and have had their blood shed. They shall be given justice.

Revelation 6:10
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

God declares that Cain shall be a vagabond and fugitive on the earth.

13 And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

Rather than repent and humbly accept the punishment of God Cain moans and complains that the punishment will result in his death. God again in mercy marks Cain in an unknown manner to prevent the vengeance of others who would seek to punish Cain further.

15 And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.

Cain leaves the presence of the Lord and establishes a City. How then can he be said the be a vagabond and fugitive on the earth when he establishes a city. This speaks of a settled existence rather than that of a fugitive and vagabond. Yet when a man leaves the presence of the Lord, he despite his wealth or status is no more than a vagabond and a fugitive from God.

Oh sinner, you who have fled from the presence of the Living God. You are but a vagabond and fugitive and you cannot settle and find true life until you return to the Master, the Lord, your only saviour.

Do you have you an unresolved dispute with the Lord, have you left His presence. Do you not realise that you also are a fugitive and a vagabond on this earth. Come back in repentance to the God of your salvation, for until you do your spiritual poverty and aimless wandering in life will be your continued existence. Call on His name.

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.

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  1. Pingback: The Way Out of Cain Part 2 – Gathering the Saints

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