One of the striking features of the narrative of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4 is the way in which God shows up and how much. This seems often go to overlooked because our attention is drawn immediately to the conflict between siblings. We are captivated and horrified by how things unfold between brothers.Yet, at the center of the story is God who is pursuing and protecting Cain. God’s mercy.
God’s actions toward Cain are even more striking when we observe not only Cain’s actions toward Abel but also toward God. Cain gives no impression anywhere in the narrative that he respects or honors God, or desires to follow Him. We see no acknowledgment on his part that his sin is against God. Instead, rejecting God’s not-so-subtle warning, Cain acts out his rage, flippantly deflects God’s confrontation, and pouts about his self-inflicted consequence.
Cain’s Fury and God’s Mercy
God, on the other hand, as a loving Father, weaves His way into every step of Cain’s journey. As Cain’s fury burns, God meets him face-to-face admonishing him to stop and re-evaluate what to invite through his front door for a game night because he is engaging in a dangerous dance with sin. Cain ignores. God shows up again later and Cain, now overtaken by sin, bemoans the unbearable burden he now carries. Rather than taking this as an opportunity to turn to God, Cain builds out a complex imaginary scenario in which God has abandoned him and someone will surely murder him soon.
God patiently listens and simply responds, “not so.” God’s reassurance is followed by a compassionate response to Cain’s specific concern. God places a mark of protection on him, likely more for Cain’s sake than anything, so no one will murder him. It would appear that Cain assumed since his heart was filled with bitterness and hatred that everyone else’s was as well.
Cain acknowledged his consequence for sin was more than he could bear, but he refused to move to the place of surrendering to God in repentance and confession, and there is a difference. And yet, God showed immense mercy to the man who would rather leave the presence of God than humble himself and repent. Scripture tells us that God does not change.
Every human being still enjoys the mercy of God whether we realize it, acknowledge it, or even want it. That’s just who God is and that’s just how He loves us. Even so, in order to experience freedom from our bondage to sin, we need to do more than acknowledge that our sin brings a brokenness that is greater than we can handle. Jesus died and rose again so that we could surrender our sin to him in confession and repentance receiving His forgiveness and new life. God is showing up in your life with new mercies every morning.
Do you see God’s mercy, or like Cain, has your sinfulness blinded you to the truth?
This article on God’s mercy originally appeared here, and is used by permission.