The sin germ spreads from family to society to the world – but the lord raises up a godly remnant – Gen. 4-5
In the mid 1800s mothers in childbirth were dying at a high rate (1 to 3 out of 10) of what came to be known as "childbed fever" in a Vienna General Hospital. A European doctor., Ignaz Semmelweis, was an obstetrician and also did research on cadavers. Only after many deaths did Semmelweis discover that he and the other obstetricians involved in cadaver research were carrying the germ (streptococcus pyogenes) from the cadavers that was killing the mothers. Only after instituting a policy of washing their hands in a chlorine and lime solution (now alcohol) after touching cadavers, was this fatal disease stopped. (Taken from Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.) Ever since The Fall in Genesis 3 all mankind is born carrying the sin germ which spreads from person to person and throughout the world apart from the saving work and on-going cleansing of a Holy God. (But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1: 7-10) As with Semmelweis it is not knowing that we are carriers (self deception – Rom. 7:14-25) or through self-will (a refusal to submit to God – Rom. 8:7) that keeps us spreading the sin germ.
Here in Genesis 4 we see the sin germ spread from Cain out into the first city and civilization and it will continue until Christ's return. But thanks be to God, He raised up a godly line through Seth and then men "began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26 – or "proclaim" the name of the Lord, i.e., proclaim God's ways and character in the midst of a godless world). God raised up a nation and a people (Israel and the church) to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6; Rev. 1:6) where as priests we represent God to man (evangelism and discipleship) and intercede to God for man by offering spiritual sacrifices to God on their behalf (Rom 12:1) for we are our brother's keeper.
Let's look at this in more detail as the Scripture contrasts Cain and Abel: 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. 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." Cain (can mean "acquisition") represents the natural man who senses no need for the Lord's mercy and thus he was just going through the motions (religion) in offering a sacrifice. It also appears that Adam and Eve had told their sons about the blood sacrifice that God had provided on their behalf (Gen. 3:21) which ultimately points to Christ's blood for forgiveness of sin. (Heb. 9:22; 11:4) Abel represents the spiritual man who knows he needs an acceptable sacrifice for sins (Jesus) and thus offers a blood sacrifice and from the best of his flock. Christ's shed blood is an offense to self-righteous man today and they like Cain think their "good works" merits God's acceptance. "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"(Gal. 2:21; also see Eph. 2:8-9 "not by works")
"So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."(v. 5b) Unbelievers and especially religious unbelievers (Pharisees, Cults, etc.) hate true believers and they especially hate Jesus. (John 15:18-25) This can be seen as Jesus' Name is used as a curse word. You never hear anyone saying: "Oh Buddha" or "Oh Muhammed." Cain was envious of Abel and planned his murder even after God's pleading with him to repent (see vv. 6-7). 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him." "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." (Rom 8:7) Cain represents all the proud and unrepentant in that "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18, i.e., no fear of consequences for sin) – as he committed premeditated murder even after God's warning.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?""I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Here Cain outright lies to God and then denies any responsibility for his brother's welfare. Both the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment call us to care for the needs of others. (Exodus 20:1-17; Mark 12:30-31) Look at the sins of Cain: envy, anger, no fear of God, murder, lying, absolute autonomy, no remorse for all theses sins and angry with God for His discipline ("I don't deserve this" attitude).
10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground." Abel's blood cried out for justice but Jesus' blood cries out for forgiveness. "Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Heb. 12:24)
11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth." 13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me. 15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so". 16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden." Sinful man is a restless fugitive running from God. Believers are pilgrims on a journey headed somewhere (Christlikeness, heaven) and to Someone and until then we run to God and find His rest in a weary world. (Matt. 11:28-30) God in His mercy spared Cain but apart from God's salvation and presence, "the way of transgressors is hard." (Prov.13:15)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
Discuss the analogy of sin being like a germ. We are all carriers and yet are affected by it from others. How do we practically apply 1 John 1: 7-10 to our lives?
Look at the sins of Cain: envy, anger, no fear of God, murder, lying, absolute autonomy, no remorse for all theses sins and even angry with God for His discipline ("I don't deserve this" attitude). Scripture calls us to see the "Cain" in our own lives even as believers. (Psalm 139:23-24; Rom. 7: 14-25) Which of these sins are you most prone to?
Do you feel like a "priest" as Scripture says you are? How and where can you proclaim the name of the Lord in the midst of a godless world?
In an independent and autonomous society how can we be our brother's keeper?
As a pilgrim in a weary world are you regularly running to Jesus to find rest for your soul?
Scripture memory verse: "At that time men began to call on (or proclaim) the name of the LORD." (Gen. 4:26