Today while I was reading my Bible, I focused in on Cain. Strange, as Christian children in Sunday School we are told over and over that he is the bad brother and are told to picture the innocent blood of sweet little brother, Abel, seeping into the dust. How dare we focus on the brother that offered wilted greens, when his brother sacrificed a savory choice lamb?!
But the truth is: We can relate to Cain. Honestly, Abel is a bit of a pansy. Sure he was a shepherd so the conjured image of pretty boy with beautifully manicured nails has to slide away, but really…I don’t see any gumption in him. Instead we watch this amazing story unfold of bitter anger and jealousy and revenge, at the hands of Cain.
Anyone who has siblings can relate. There is a part of Cain in all of us. There is a Cain in every family. Matter of a fact, when I hear the story of the prodigal son, isn’t Cain the picture of the worldly womanizing sibling, and Abel is more accurately the jealous son that feels slighted by his father’s treatment of the stupid brother that didn’t have any more sense than to squander his inheritance? And, there is always an Abel. The sibling that does everything right, that gets all the good grades, everyone sees as the “good son.” Maybe if we’d seen more of Abel, we wouldn’t be so darn quick to sneer at Cain.
At the moment that Cain is caught, almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, confronts him. “Where is your brother?” Cain cockily rattles off, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Wow. Can you imagine? I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that I have had my mouthy moments with God, but in front of His face? I wouldn’t dare to be so bold! Then they chatter a bit and God tells him that he has to leave. “But where will I go? They’ll kill me!” God doesn’t rub His hands together and with a maniacal laugh say, “Precisely.” NO. He assures Cain, “No. They won’t. I will put a mark on you and anyone that touches you will have ME to deal with!” (Okay, that might have been a little loosely translated.)
But, I find that beautiful. I find that fully in keeping with the character of God. You see, He didn’t despise Cain, look at him in disgust and wonder why He had ever created him. He didn’t feed him to the dogs to suffer payment for his sin. He didn’t do anything of the sort. He offered him protection. He marked him as His own, moments after his sin, while Abel’s blood still cried out from the ground. Marked – as God’s own.
This hit me today as I was reading. These short few verses of interaction spoke volumes about the love of God. And yet, it’s not a point that is brought up very often. We glance over this story of love and forgiveness for Cain and reach right into the prodigal son’s tale. We look over the heart of God for a murderer because somehow it feels more correct that He would forgive and take in a swindler and an irresponsible pig feeder. Or maybe it’s the influence of the Speaker that moves us to relate to the parable over the history lesson? No matter. Christ who spoke the object lesson of the wayward son witnessed the moment. He knew the love and compassion of the Father because He’d seen the first time it had played out, with Cain.
It plays out now.
I listened earlier in the week as someone spoke of the horrible fate of the young man that killed his parents a month ago. It’s since been announced that he will be tried as an adult, and that his sentence (though not deliberated yet) will most likely be life in prison with no chance for parole. It was said in an almost “He’ll get his” type voice. Almost approvingly, she announced that for the rest of his life this young man would be jail bait. Oh how my heart ached. This is not the heart of God, the plan of God, the desire of God for this young man! Oh that He could speak to the heart of this boy and assure him of His protection like he did the heart of Cain! He would. Maybe He is. We don’t know.
But we do know that God’s heart was compassionate toward Cain; His affection didn’t end with Abel. He reached past the blood of sin and offered assurance to a scared convict…a murderer…a liar…and a punk. And, more than that, He marked Him as His own and sent him with a promise. That gives me comfort…because I have played the part of the liar and the punk and but for the grace of God, and for the love of Pete…I have yet to commit a murder…and after my last blog, I don‘t think anyone will tempt me. 🙂