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Cain and Abel

The Bible in Art: Cain and Abel

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Verses for Consideration: Genesis 4:1-16

1 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering-fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

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Have you ever been ridiculed for your beliefs: a family member questions your values a little too vehemently; a talk show host mocks your Savior; a protester waves a sign that offends you? Persecution still takes place today.

We think of the account of Cain and his brother Abel as the first murder. And it was. Yet it was also the first example of persecution. The rift that grew between Cain and his brother and ended in Abel’s death was caused by a difference of faith. The Bible tells us that by faith Abel offered a better sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4). Cain hated his brother for expressing his faith in God. Cain’s hatred boiled over into murder.

It need not surprise us when we are persecuted for expressing our faith. Satan always tries to turn people against God.

What can we learn from the account of Cain? God gave Cain every opportunity to repent. In fact, by asking Cain where his brother was, God was giving him a chance to confront the issue that must have been bothering his conscience. By marking him for life, his merciful God was also calling him to repentance. His desire for Cain, as for all of us, was that he would turn to the Savior who had been promised. Jesus was that promised Savior. His sacrifice took away the guilt of all sins, even the sin of murder. We are to have that same attitude toward those who persecute us.

People may ridicule us for believing the Bible, but they are the ones to be pitied. Let us not waver in our trust. Instead, may we reflect our Lord’s mercy and pray that they repent and find the forgiveness Jesus offers.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to be faithful witnesses of the truth, even if it brings persecution. Conquer the hearts of those who fight against you, that they may be won for your kingdom. Amen.

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Title: The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve c.1826

Artist: William Blake