If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. — Genesis 4:7
The excited words, “Daddy, Daddy!” greeted me when I arrived home from work. Before I could even take off my coat, my little daughter pulled me to the kitchen where she proudly displayed a gift she had made for me. Lying on the kitchen table, in all its resplendent beauty, was a crayoned picture of a very pink horse. My daughter was quick to point out how painstakingly she had colored inside the lines. She had been learning that the “acceptable” way to color images was to keep inside the lines, and she had clearly put her very best effort into this picture. My heart was warmed with the knowledge that she had spent so much time and care in making sure her gift would please me. I knew it was truly a gift from the heart!
In today’s text, we read that the first two sons born to Adam and Eve brought gifts, or offerings, to God. We can quickly distinguish which of the two brothers, Cain or Abel, had a true desire to please God. While they both were aware of the need to offer sacrifices, only Abel’s offering was pleasing to Him. We read that God “had respect” unto Abel and his offering, but “unto Cain and his offering, he had not respect” (Genesis 4:4-5).
We know that if Cain had “done well”, his offering would have been accepted. In Cain’s case, his heart attitude was evident in his offering, and was outwardly demonstrated in his reaction to God’s rejection of it. He was wroth, and unmoved by the questions God asked him, which were indicative of God’s care and desire for Cain to examine himself and come to repentance. His nature was further revealed when he rose up and murdered his righteous brother, Abel.
When we know what it takes to please God and yet refuse to give what He requires from us, we will not be accepted by Him, and sin “lies at the door” of our lives, waiting to overwhelm us. Thankfully, that does not have to be the case for anyone. We can choose to follow the example of righteous Abel, and bring an offering to God that we know will please Him, from a heart of obedience and worship. When we do so, we can be assured that we will be accepted by Him.
Chapter 4 begins with the birth of Adam and Eve’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, and moves directly into an account of their offerings and God’s response to them (verses 1-7). Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s rejected. Insight as to why this was the case is found in Hebrews 11:4, where the Apostle Paul relates, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” Abel chose a lamb from his flock as a sacrifice, and the shedding of blood prefigured the Blood of the Lamb of God, which was to take away the sins of the world. Hebrews 12:24 refers to “the blood of sprinkling,” and states that it “speaketh better things than that of Abel.” “The blood” in this verse was not Abel’s own blood which was shed by his brother, but the blood that he offered, and by means of which he “obtained witness that he was righteous.”
Verses 8-16 record Cain’s jealousy and subsequent murder of his brother, and God’s ordained punishment: he was cursed, banished to a life of homelessness, and driven away from his agricultural vocation. The “land of Nod” referred to in verse 16 meant “land of wandering.” When Cain protested that he could not bear his punishment, God responded with mercy and set a mark upon him — a special sign as an assurance to Cain that he would not be killed.
Verses 17-24 give a brief genealogical summary of Cain’s descendants. Though Cain’s posterity were creative and possessors of varied talents and abilities, they were also godless.
The final two verses of the chapter record the birth of Seth, whose name meant “appointed” or “placed,” signifying that restoration would occur through this son.
Chapter 5 closes out the history of Adam, giving a list of his descendants. It is noteworthy that the list begins with the assertion in verse 3 that Adam’s son Seth was born “in his [Adam’s] own likeness” rather than “in the likeness of God” (verse 1) as Adam was created, thus indicating that successive generations were born with a fallen, depraved sin nature.
Their longevity notwithstanding, all but one of Adam’s listed descendants had something in common: they died, a verification of the effects of sin upon the human race. Notable in this genealogical record is the brief commentary on Enoch, who “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (verse 24). Enoch’s testimony of intimate fellowship with God brought about a delivering act of the Almighty (see also Hebrews 11:5).
The chapter concludes with the introduction of Noah, whose name meant “rest” or “comfort,” and whose account is developed in the next few chapters.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The early history of the human race
C. The posterity of Adam (4:1 — 5:32)
1. The birth of Cain and Abel (4:1-15)
a. Their birth (4:1-2)
b. Their offerings (4:3-7)
c. The murder (4:8)
d. The judgment (4:9-15)
2. The family of Cain (4:16-24)
3. The birth of Seth (4:25-26)
4. The family of Seth (5:1-32)
Let us purpose to be sure that our offerings to God are done from a heart of true consecration and worship.