GENESIS 4 – Balancing Justice
With only two scenes from Act 1 played out in this Epic Saga at the beginning of human history, I think we need to take a step back to understand at the outset the background to the script writer. If we’re to understand His Play, we have to understand firstly that the Creator God sees Himself as the Father of everyone made in His image.[a] This is certainly why He’s written the play down and preserved it so that it’s freely available for us all to read today.
So what initially stood out for me when I read the account of this murder, is the detail. Millenniums before audio recordings were invented, we have an exact word-for-word record of what was said in a private conversation at the very dawn of human experience. The fact that this chapter has survived time so that it could be read by someone sitting the 21st Century, is nothing short of a supernatural miracle. This level of detail is almost certainly an example for us of what we should expect from our own life stories when “the books are opened”.[b]
As amazing as the written record is to me, however, there’s even more important things to learn about the character and role of the One keeping the record. For one thing, the Creator God is protecting a murderer. [v13-15] At first glance, it’s hard to decide where to position blame when looking at the cause and motive behind the earliest documented murder. If you don’t stop to think while reading, you could blame God for not showing indiscriminate and equal favour for both gifts offered. [v4-5]
As always though, clues are found in the smallest and seemingly insignificant words: “…in time Cain brought some of the fruits…” but Abel brought “…fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock…” The Creator God is able to judge the thoughts of our heart.[c] It seems clear from the script that the one whose name means “brought forth” and “acquired” didn’t bring the best of what he had acquired. In response, Father God doesn’t discuss the “sacrifice”. As a Father would teacher his son, Father God perfectly balances justice with mercy and warns His image-bearer about the destructive force behind his actions. [v6-7]
Rather than admitting to error, saying sorry, and asking for help to control his emotions, Cain ignored God’s words and allowed sin through the door. As the Creator’s epic storyline progresses, this first-stage choice towards doing what’s right is later called “repentance”.[d] Instead of repenting and making a U-turn in his heart, when the opportunity came, Cain took matters into his own hands instead. [v8]
Cain’s heart attitude is clearly seen in his responses to Father God. Instead of being humble and repentant, he’s insolent, he lies, and he won’t take responsibility. [v9] We can’t hide anything from our Father who is both omnipresent (ever-present) and omniscient (all-knowing).[e] And now, for the first time since the foundations of the earth were laid, a human image-bearer is under a curse. [v11-12]
However, the heart of a good parent will always say: “No matter what my kids do wrong, I’ll stand by them as long as I can.” So immediate mercy floods in on God’s justice! As soon as Cain cried out for help, his Father God quickly hands out undeserved love and protection. [v15]
The rest of this chapter can bring up a lot of questions such as: How did Cain get a wife when there were only three people on the planet? Or, how can you build a city when there’s no one to live in it? [v17] The time lapse is covered in a later Breadcrumb. For now, I want to point out some things that have interested me:
- The incredible detail in a record that’s now millenniums old shows that the God who knows even the stars by their name[f] also knows and remembers us by name.[g]
- Father God keeps a record of what we accomplish in this life. [v19-22] I was interested in Jubal making musical instruments and wondered if it connected with the origins of our word “jubilation”!
- Rather than evolving into better people, arrogance and sin seemed to increase in time. [v23-24]
- Just because boys were recorded, it didn’t mean that girls weren’t born in the meantime. [v25] This is Father’s God’s diary. So following the family line down through the boys (just as the boys carry down the family surname today) shouldn’t reflect anything beyond a family tree that’s recorded in this way for an important reason later.
- It’s at this point, after many layers of the family line have been birthed, that people began to call on and preach the Name of the Lord. [v26] This note indicates that the gap has widened between the general population and Father God such that some have responded either by calling to God in prayer or else preaching about him in the street corners, just as they do today, in a bid to redress the gap and turn their family/friends back to their Maker.
Throughout the Creator’s epic Play, names mean something. Taking time to look up their meanings, will open up for you more treasures that have been stored in secret places.[h] Cain, for example, means “brought forth” or “acquired”. But instead of acquiring wisdom from God’s advice, he “brought forth” sin and death. Seth means “granted”, “placed” or “appointed” and Enosh means “mankind”. [v25-26] So at a time when you may be wondering what else could be granted to mankind, humans began to call upon and proclaim the Name of the Lord.
Every story deserves a happy ending so, in response to their call, Father God’s sets about writing a divine redemptive story that, from the beginning through to the end, has only ever been about getting humanity placed in their permanent home with Him, and appointed to the position they were designed for: co-rulers in His Kingdom.
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 2:7, 68:5 and 103:13; Isaiah 9:6, 63:16 and 64:8; Jeremiah 1:5; Malachi 2:10 and 3:17
[b] Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 20:12
[c] Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 11:20; Matthew 15:19; Hebrews 4:12
[d] 1 Kings 8:47
[e] Psalm 139:7-12
[f] Psalm 147:4
[g] Exodus 33:17; Psalm 91:14; Isaiah 43:1
[h] Isaiah 45:3