Genesis: God’s Book of Beginnings (4)


Life in a fallen world after Adam’s sin was dramatically different from life in the perfect world where God had placed Adam and Eve, directly after their creation. After the fall of the world into sin, worship required blood sacrifices. Enmity arose between true and false worshippers of God, which manifested the depth of sin’s corruption within the human heart. Abel’s murder and Cain’s punishment revealed a world already spiraling downward. Apostasy, man’s departure from God, sprang into the open when Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. Suddenly, two lines of peoples were dwelling on the earth. Cain’s descendants lived in rebellion to God, while Seth and his offspring determined to worship Jehovah and live for His glory. Those who worshiped God through blood sacrifices declared they were sinners before a holy God, while those who rejected worship through blood sacrifices presumed they may become as gods, as formerly suggested by Satan.

Key verse: “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” Genesis 4:4.

This text reveals the necessity of a blood sacrifice for fallen sinners to worship God. God’s acceptance of Abel’s person and his worship was based on the shedding of blood to make atonement for sin. God’s absolute requirement still stands today. God only accepts worship that is offered unto Him by faith in the sacrifice of Christ.


1. There is evidence that Adam and Eve had faith in the promised Redeemer, referred to as the “seed” of the woman (Genesis 3:15).
Also, God had clothed their nakedness with animal skins (Genesis 3:21). While this clothing, which required the death of an animal on their behalf, was suggestive of their redemption, there is added evidence of their faith in the Lord as Savior in Eve’s spirit of thanksgiving to the LORD [Jehovah] at the birth of Cain. She gave the Lord the honor for the birth of their son as God’s gift and she took delight that it was a male child. These details show her trust in the Lord. The name of their second child, Abel, means “vanity”, and drives home the point that Eve was impacted by the emptiness of this fallen world; her hope was in the promised Savior.

2.The enmity between Cain and Abel is a display of the enmity between the seed of the woman, the promised Christ, and the seed of Satan.
When God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice, but refused to accept Cain’s offering, which came from the labor of his own hands, Cain was angry. The Lord’s direct question to Cain, “Why art thou wroth”, revealed the inner hatred of Cain’s heart. He also rejected God’s offer of acceptance for doing well. He spurned God’s warning that rejection of the only way of blessing through blood atonement would lead to greater depths of sin. See God’s statement, “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Genesis 4:7). Cain’s choices were limited to the way of worship by blood sacrifice, or his own works. He chose the way of works, which God had clearly demonstrated to be the way of rebellion. His vindictive attitude to God was further manifested in his refusal to obey God and to enjoy God’s offer of continued good standing with Abel. The inner hatred in his heart was so strong that he could not bring himself to obey God, nor to seek the good of his brother Abel. While Cain talked with Abel, his wicked heart plotted Abel’s murder causing Cain to seek a time and place to kill him, making it premeditated murder.

Dr. Henry M. Morris pointed out:

“The seed of the Serpent was quickly striking at the Seed of the woman, corrupting her first son and slaying her second, thus trying to prevent the fulfillment of the proto-evangelic promise right at the beginning of human history.”

3. Cain’s unrepentant heart made him a fugitive in the earth?
God’s questions to Cain were heart- searching: “Where is Abel thy brother? What hast thou done?” (Genesis 4:9-10). Unrepentant Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” His response showed that he had no regard for his brother’s welfare, nor his life. Abel’s blood cried out unto God for vengeance. Cain was guilty before God, but he remained unrepentant and was headed for judgment, for he was “cursed from the earth” and the ground would no longer sustain him (Genesis 4:11-12). He then became a “fugitive and a vagabond in the earth” (Genesis 4:12). The commentary that followed this murderous act are the saddest words recorded of any man, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod.” Nod means “wandering”. Cain removed himself from God’s care and rule. He sought to build a future without God. Throughout the Bible, Cain stands as the man who went apostate. We see the stinging description of apostates in the book of Jude, “They have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11).

4.The world grew more wicked in the days prior to the flood (Genesis 4:16-24).
The record shows that the first peoples of the world developed a high degree of proficiency in the arts and crafts. Many dwelt in cities, or lived in tents, some herded cattle, while others developed the art of music and musical instruments.

But their lives were corrupt. Lamech became a polygamist, and in his poetry spoken to his wives he boasted of his violent ways: “Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt” (Genesis 4:23). We don’t find much of the milk of human kindness in Lamech. And as he represents the character of the wicked Cainites, we learn that the world was already filled with brutality causing misery even in the dearest of all human relations; of a man and his wife. It is no surprise that a man who will break God’s law of marriage to take more than one wife, will treat his wife harshly.

Even in those early generations of world history, God’s judgment was being stored up against the immorality of the wicked. Lamech boasted to his wives of taking the life of a vulnerable young man and then falsely consoled himself that, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold” (Genesis 4:24). Lamech deceived himself into thinking that if Cain knew God’s protection after his crime of slaying Abel, then he too would be safe from God’s judgment for slaying a young man. But Lamech trusted in a refuge of lies not thinking that the longsuffering and goodness of God is intended to lead the wicked to repentance; not to encourage men to sin more and more.

The Bible is replete with warnings against this subtle deception. For example, the apostle Paul stated, “For this we know that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:5-6). These things are recorded in the word of God to warn us not to become complacent in sin. God’s wrath against all sin is real and wilful sinners who abuse God’s goodness for further occasion to sin are constantly under God’s wrath. That fact was realized when God destroyed the wicked by a world-wide flood. The gospel calls us to repent of all sin to find true refuge from God’s wrath in the blood atonement provided by Christ. For, “He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32). God has made provision for sinners to be saved through faith in His Son, but each hour a sinner refuses God’s sovereign mercy, he or she is under God’s wrath and in danger of eternal condemnation. Do not be guilty of playing the fool. Repent of your sin and go to Christ today, and you will be saved.

5.The birth of Seth commenced a new line of people of faith who worshiped the Lord (Genesis 4:25).
It is from the line of Seth that the knowledge of God was preserved until the time of the great flood. Seth’s name means “appointed”, or “substitute”, and may have been so named with an eye to the promise of a Savior. Men of Seth’s lineage learned to depend on the power of prayer for life and survival. Seth called his son Enosh, meaning “to call”. It would appear that Seth and his people set themselves to pray earnestly to call on the Lord in prayer for His power and protection.

Application: How does this apply to me?

To live in a fallen world where sin abounds and Satan is active we must expect the promotion of many forms of evil. Evil comes from the heart of man, who is fallen and depraved in all his faculties. We must not expect men to make the right choices, even if given the right conditions and the right opportunities in life. When sin is in the hearts of men and women and when they are left to themselves they will always choose evil. The doctrine of total depravity finds strong support from the earliest figures of human history. The fall of man was not a slow devolution, but a sudden plunge into spiritual warfare against God – a warfare within man’s heart.

Things to do in light of this study

  1. To learn more on the doctrine of man’s depravity, read the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter nine on “Man’s Free Will”. Note how it sets forth the difference in the state of man’s will prior to the fall in Adam’s state of innocence, and the time after the fall in man’s state of sinfulness. It states that man “hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good … being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”
  2. Count the seventh man from Adam in the line of Cain and you will come to Lamech – a leader in iniquity (4:19-24). Then count the seventh man from Adam in the line of Seth and you will come to Enoch, the man who walked with God, and was translated from the earth at age 365 (Genesis 5:23).
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By Ian Goligher

Rev. Ian Goligher is the pastor of Cloverdale FPC, Vancouver, BC. He was Editor of Current from 2014 to 2019.