Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible.
Read Genesis 4:9-15
Abel had done nothing that deserved death. Jealously motivated Cain to murder his brother. Cain shared a common human problem-a flawed character. But he wanted God’s favor and the presence of God in his life. He chose to worship God, and he chose to solve his problems in the worst way.
God has given us freedom to choose how we will live, but he has not given us freedom from the consequences of our actions. He decreed a severe judgment for the first premeditated murder, but not as severe as the death penalty the law he later gave Moses required. Cain would live a cursed life of restlessness and poverty.
Surely Cain’s crime warranted the death penalty! God did not think it did. When Cain complained about God’s judgment, Cain’s fear someone would kill him is the only complaint God responded to. “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over,” said God (Gen 4:15). Then God put a mark on Cain to protect him from anyone seeking retaliation for Abel’s murder.
Why did God protect a murderer whose heart belonged to the devil? Why not cut his life short like Cain cut Abel’s life short? Where is justice for Abel?
We no longer live as long as our ancestors after Adam and Eve sins brought death upon all humanity. We could say everyone’s life is already cut short. Cain paid for his sin when God cursed him to a life of restlessness and lack cut off from God’s presence, a fate worse than death.
God gave Abel justice and Cain mercy when he protected Cain from death. “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends…. He [God] is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the end because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:8-9 The Message Bible). The suffering we bring upon ourselves will either destroy our character flaws or destroy us.
God treated Cain like a father treats a son he loves.
“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child. Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth, we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time, our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what it right” (Hebrews 12:5-11 God’s Word Bible).
The Bible is silent about Cain’s ultimate end. We don’t know if Cain resisted God’s discipline to his ultimate destruction or repented and obtained the favor of God he desired. But we do know God gave him time to do the right thing.