What Separation Looks Like – Genesis 4

We catch the beginning of what broken relationship with God looks like at the end of Genesis 3, especially as we visualize Adam and Eve outside of the garden, angels protecting them from entering. And even though we see God lovingly provide them clothing by the blood of skins, we have a sense that nothing will be the same again. 

Chapter 4 reminds us that the sin was not just the sin of one person or one generation, but now would be a characteristic of all mankind.

We’re told the story of Cain and Abel, reinforcing the ramifications of our choices. We don’t know if Abel knew how to chose rightly with his sacrifice, but we do know that Cain knew his choice did not please God, and he chose to rebel not against God himself, but at someone who had a relationship with God.

Just like his father, Cain had a relationship with God where they talked. God even communicated concern for him and his emotions. God even warned him against making a choice to sin and encouraged him to “rule over” his feelings, just as God warns us today through our conscious.

But Cain did not listen and gave into the sin, just like his father. 

And just like his father, he didn’t repent but made God look for him, look for a relationship with him.  Just like his father, he shirked his responsibility for the sin, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I can’t imagine God’s restraint at that moment! Of course he was his brother’s keeper — we were created to be “helpers” of each other, completing each other, working together with God in relationship!

God’s response to Cain shifts from “Where are you?” to “What have you done?” And Cain knew what he had done. 

Separation has new meaning. Sin has new consequences.

Not only would mankind have weeds and pain, but there is a special curse from the ground for Cain. The fields would fail him. He would be a fugitive and wanderer, without a home, without relationships.

For the first time, we hear repentance. “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” What Cain could not bear was the thought that, “from your face I shall be hidden.” What brought repentance was the fear that he would no longer have relationship with God.

What did God do? He put a mark on Cain so that no person would harm him. 

But also says that “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord.” I wonder if this was continued independence on his part or if God mandated it. But we do know that there was another degree of separation between man and God as a result of Cain’s choices. 

Again, I can’t help but wonder what the world would have been like if Cain had acted differently. When God warned him about the “sin crouching,” what if he had turned to God and said, “Oh no! Help me in my anger and unbelief!” What if he didn’t make the choice to kill Abel? What if he had run to God even after killing Abel, confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness? What if he had made different choices?

What if we make different choices? How does that change our life? How does it effect the lives of others, as well as our relationship to God?

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