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 had flaws in his character, but so did Abel. All fall short of God’s glory. But that is not an excuse to destroy someone because you have a problem with God. When Cain failed to obtain God’s favor did he think he would gain it by killing a man God approved.
God gave us freedom to choose how we will live. He has not given us freedom from the consequences of our actions. Cain could have repented and learned how to obtain God’s favor from Abel. When he solved his problem by murdering an innocent man, God decreed a severe judgment. For his sin, Cain lived a cursed life of restlessness and poverty.
Surely Cain’s crime warranted the death penalty! The law, God later gave to Moses, approved death for the murderer. When Cain complained someone would kill him in retribution for his deed God responded, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over,” (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 might say the justice was in a fate worse than death. Cain paid for his sin with a lifetime of restlessness and lack cut off from God’s presence.
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).
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 space and time to change his ways and do the right thing.