by Rev Joel Yong
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Abel brought the best of his flock to God.
Cain? He just brought some random selection.
Check out the various translations of these verses. They will communicate that Abel brought “the best”, “the firstborn”, “the choice pickings” of his flock. Very specific and deliberate.
But they will also show that Cain brought “some”, “an offering”. Communicating the thoughtlessness of his presentation.
In response, we learn that God showed favor or regard upon Abel’s offering and did not do so on Cain’s offering.
Cain became angry- angry at his brother for outshining him. Instead of being angry at himself for not doing what was right- he blamed his brother for casting him in a bad light.
You see, when someone does better than us- our natural instinct is to want to do better the next time.
That natural competitiveness is meant to spur us to excel and to achieve.
But that natural desire to compete, can be twisted and warped. Satan takes what is natural to us and warps it into sin.
(For example, the desire for sex is natural and part of human reproduction. But Satan takes it, warps it to be acted out upon the wrong person in the wrong timing & situation and it becomes LUST.)
In this case, it becomes ENVY. Envy is the sin of comparing with our neighbor and wanting what they have. Instead of seeking to work in our own yards to achieve more and excel- we want what they have and desire to take what they have.
To Cain- he thought the best way to deal with this, was to remove Abel from the picture.
No more Abel, no more competitor, no one to make him look bad.
No wonder God said to Cain prior to Abel being murdered-
“Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. ”
God wanted Cain to:
- Do what was right, and pleasing to God. Not treat God in a flippant manner, thinking any random offering would do.
- Take responsibility for his own growth and improvement, and come with a better attitude the next time.
- Be aware of how Cain’s present disgruntlement can turn quickly into sin. Yes, God knew Satan was eager to twist natural desires into warped expressions of sin.
Some commentators believe “sin is crouching at the door” refer to the “rabisu” – an Akkadian demon of sorts. Speiser, for example, in his commentary on Genesis wrote: “These beings were depicted both as benevolent and malevolent, often lurking at the entrance of a building to protect or threaten the occupants.”
So this, if we reread the verse in this light, suggests that Cain allowed demonic influence to ‘master’ him. And lead him ultimately to murder his brother, Abel.
I would think that Satan does, work in the minds of those who allow him to.
So my takeaway from this text today is:
- What am I unhappy about in my life and why?
- How can I take responsibility for my part, in why this is happening? (Eg. If my relationship with a family member is not going well, to what extent can I play my part to make it better?)
- Be aware of how easily Satan can warp these feelings and turn it into SIN (after all, we are told in the Bible that ‘In your anger do not sin’- it’s OK and natural to be angry but staying angry is what causes us to go into sin) and take steps to address it before Satan gets a foothold in my mind, my heart, my life …