As you read the tragic story of Cain and Abel (and more notably that of Cain) you might be struck with the question of “where were their parents during all of this?”
Perhaps to be fair, we must remember that Adam and Eve had no parents themselves to teach them how to raise children, but on a more serious note, Eve’s response to bearing children is very telling…
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!” (v. 1, NLT)
True, Eve did give some credit to the Lord…He is, after all, the creator of all things. But noticed how she uses that word “produced” in reference to Cain. In fact, Cain’s name sounds very similar to a Hebrew word that means either to produce or to acquire. Both of these words carry with it the idea that “this is mine” or “I made this myself”.
The chapter continues by giving us the broad strokes of the result of Cain’s sin. What was Cain’s sin anyway? Of course, hindsight being 20/20, perhaps we think that Cain’s sin was that God requires the sacrifice of a lamb, not of crops. But of course, the law had yet to be given. Also, that would seem to make God look petty. One theme presented here that rings true throughout the Bible is this: God looks at the heart.
Cain presented some of his crops. Nothing special is denoted…apparently an opportunity for worship came up and perhaps he was taught to bring a gift to the Lord to symbolize this. Cain’s thought process is “No biggie…I’ll just grab some of the turnips I harvested yesterday and bring those.”
Abel’s sacrifice has much more meaning though. His thought process is “I’ve worked hard to raise this flock, but I wouldn’t have any of them if not for God. Therefore I will pick my prized possession and give that to God as an expression of my gratitude.”
Abel’s offering more adequately expresses a heart that says “I know where all of this came from, and I want to say thanks.”
Cain’s focus is not just directed away from God, it is also directed toward something else entirely – his work. Does that sound like anyone else you know? Perhaps someone you saw this morning in some reflective surface?
The worst part is that Cain’s mentality became generational. As the chapter continues to describe his descendants, we find that they are characterized by their achievements rather than their devotion to God.
Isn’t it great however that we serve a God of second chances?
Eve is blessed in the end with a third child. This time, she doesn’t mention producing or acquiring anything. Her attitude has changed and she names her son Seth. Do you know what Seth means? It means granted. Eve’s attitude is, “I have been given this son by the Lord, not merely helped by Him to produce one.”
This is the attitude we must have with everything we have been given. This is the attitude of true worship. It is attitude that concludes our passage with these words…
“At that time people first began to worship the Lord…”
My prayer is that all of us will experience such a time.