In Genesis 4:8 we learn that “Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (NKJV). This was the first murder recorded in the Bible. Now we will take a close look at how the Lord responded to Cain’s vicious act of murder, Cain’s response to the Lord, and then the Lord’s response to Cain.

In verses 9-12 we have the Lord’s response: “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’” In the Lord’s question to Cain He was trying, in love, to stir Cain’s conscience and to get him to confess his sin and repent. Instead of admitting his guilt, Cain outright lies to the Lord and in utter contempt for the Lord he says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” How sad? Not only was Cain guilty of murder, but he now exposes his lack of love for his brother. Why didn’t he love his brother? You can read verses 1-5 for the answer, but in short both brothers had offered up a sacrifice to God and Cain became “very angry” when God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected his offering. We can say that Cain was “ANGRY at the Lord” for not accepting his offering and he was “JEALOUS of his brother” for offering an acceptable sacrifice.  His jealousy led to hatred which in turn led to murder. The Apostle John adds this commentary on the murder of Abel by his brother Cain: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest; Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is HE WHO DOES NOT LOVE HIS BROTHER. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, NOT AS CAIN WHO WAS OF THE WICKED ONE AND MURDERED HIS BROTHER. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1st John 3:10-12).

In verses 13-14 we have Cain’s response: “And Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’” Cain’s response is telling, for it reveals to us that “he is more concerned about the CONSEQUENCES of his sin, than he is the SIN ITSELF!” Think of it, he has just committed cold-blooded murder and how he complaining that his punishment is too harsh and he won’t be able to bear it. His brother’s blood, which he had shed, is staining the ground, and he is rebuking the Lord for “driving me out this day from the face of the ground.” He then “adds to the Word of God” by saying “it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” The Lord said nothing about him being hunted down and killed, so why would Cain say this?  Was it a “guilty conscience” that accused him and suggested that he deserves to die?  We cannot say exactly what Cain was thinking, but as we said above he was surely more concerned about HIS PUNISHMENT than he was about HIS MURDER OF HIS BROTHER.

In verse 15 we have the Lord’s second response: “And the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” This was surely an ACT OF MERCY, for surely “he deserved to die.” This Divine protection should have caused Cain to rethink the whole situation and “repent of his sin,” yet we read in the very next verse, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod” (verse 16). Instead of staying in the light of God’s presence to be blessed with God’s forgiveness (if he were to repent of his sin), Cain retreats into further “moral and spiritual darkness” (see John 8:1-11 for another example of sinners withdrawing from God’s presence while a poor, sinful woman humbly receives His forgiveness).  (434.1)  (DO)