Genesis 4:3 Cain and the sin of self-interest over God’s Interest
I was musing on Cain and why he chose to use his harvest as a sacrifice instead of meat like his brother Abel. One would think that an omnivore would be more prone to physical violence than a herbivore.
But that is neither here nor there. I focused on the progression of sins made against God since man’s creation. The first sin was the first lie told by lucifer to Adam and Eve. The second sin was Adam & eve’s disobedience to God. This was the first instance of Man choosing self-interest (ye shall be like Gods knowing good and evil) over God. Specifically in this case his commandment to not eat fruit from the tree of life.
The next to do so was Cain. He is most known for being the first murderer (and being cursed by God for it) but no one speaks about WHY he came to do it. God explains as much when he admonishes him BEFORE he kills his brother.
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.
We know that God took pleasure in Abel’s sacrifice because he offered to God the choice parts of the lamb instead of keeping them for himself. The bible does not say what Cain did but logically, we know the bible says Abel did so without self-interest and he was given favor. God’s favor hinged upon this sincere sacrifice of the self. We must therefore assume that Cain made his sacrifice without a greater interest in God and focused more on his OWN SELF-interest.
God then responds as follows:
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.”
Another version says
What’s wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? 7 If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you, but don’t let it!
We see that Cain’s sin of holding back the choice parts of his sacrifice from the harvest was the sin that ENABLED the murder of his brother!
8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.
Sacrifice to God is a continuing theme in the bible. It occurs constantly in the old testament and also in the new testament. The meditation that I have arrived at in this passage is this: God grants his favor, blessing and protection to those who choose to do what is in God’s interest over their own self-interest. Doing what is right and good is sometimes at a direct contradiction of what is best for us. Think about the Christian priests and laity that hid Jewish families at the threat of they themselves being killed.
There many over examples but at the core of our faith this statement makes the perfect choice for the last phrase to be uttered here today: