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Sunday: Cain and Abel — 15 Comments

  1. There was this church in the twenty-first century where the congregations had different ideas about what was right and wrong. One side ate only plant-based foods and drank only water. They checked the sunset timetable every week, they paid tithe, they gave to missions, they knew the twenty-eight fundamentals, and, they were always on the case of the the other side of the congregation. The other side of the congregation ate the occasional chicken, drank coffee during their Bible study, paid their tithe to projects, didn't worry all that much about the marital status of their members, and preached love and tolerance.

    In the end the first side could stand it no longer, they met and disfellowshipped the second side of the church because they had the numbers (and were the tithe payers)

    While the scenario I have sketched above is a bit extreme, I have witnessed some of those divides in our church. And after a lifetime of church membership, I have come to the understanding that being right, is not as important as acting right. At an intersection, when driving my little Mazda 2 and have right of way, I have given away that right when a thundering great double-B enters the intersection in the wrong. I have been known to sit on the horn for a while after such interactions and that shows I have a little way to go in the lesson on graciousness.

    We often read the story of Cain and Abel as Cain was wrong and Abel was right because of the sacrifices they brought to God. And we sometimes miss the point that the real issue was what was in the heart.

      • Yes, brother Maurice. I like to think outside of the box too.

        As I was reading what the author said about Cain in the introduction on Sabbath, I wondered: Did Cain have the same attitude that many talented christians, and non-christians, have today? That attitude, that "I have been given a special talent, and I know that I'm all that", ie, arrogant fools. Cain was so arrogant that he even had an attitude with God Himself, "Am I my brother's keeper".

        Cain was blessed with a great ability to toil the ground, to make anything that is planted in the soil to grow in abundance. This is a special talent, because I've kill every plant that I've ever tried to grow, lol. I just had a $600 dogwood tree planted in my front yard,
        ; so, let's see how long it last. I'm praying for my little tree every day, that God will allow it to grow strong and tall, I've only had it for about two months, and it's already has a lot of blossoms on it; so, I'm happy.

        But back to my point: I've noticed over my many years of life that some o these people with great talent forget the source of their talent, the great giver of their talent. And they prance around, or go through life as if they gave themselves the talent. Seriously? Instead of being humble and thankful for the gift that God has given them, that they can use for His glory.

        May God bless you all!

    • When my heart is right, my Sabbath keeping will be right..and when my heart is right my health reform will be right..my tithing will be right too...thanks much Bro.Ashton

  2. In reflecting upon today's lesson and knowing how the birth of these two children is going to turn out down the track, I found myself also reflecting upon and revisiting Genesis 3:16.

    If I merely read Genesis 3:16 as it appears to stand, it certainly looks like God caused Eve to experience painful labor. But if I keep in mind an important principle of bible interpretation that "in order not to misconstrue certain kinds of statements, it is important to recognize that they were addressed to peoples of Eastern cultures and expressed in their thought patterns" and therefore that "the inspired writers of the Scriptures commonly credit God with doing actively that which in Western thought we would say He permits or does not prevent from happening"*, a different picture emerges.

    It would appear that while God's design and intention was for a world without pain and sorrow (Revelation 21:4), it was Eve and Adam (through embracing self-seeking and self-reliance in their hearts in place of trust in God) who unfortunately unleashed the impacts of sin/lawlessness (1 John 3:4) - the hallmarks of which are pain, suffering and sorrow (ie steal, kill and destroy: John 10:10).

    Thus, as the psalmist notes (Psalm 51:5), entry into this world for now is inseparably linked with exposure to the pain, sorrow and suffering. I suspect it is God's hope that the pain, sorrow and suffering will, like Abraham (Hebrews 11:10), drive us to seek something beyond this sin-infected existence - including seeking to be progressively restored in harmony with the abundant life that Jesus offers to all who are willing (John 10:10; 3:16).

    * Methods of Bible Study: Section 4.16

    • I see it similarly. I believe God informed Adam and Eve of the consequences of their choices. There was no "curse" on Adam or Eve. There was a "curse" on the serpent that changed its physical appearance and habits - something that doesn't sound like a "natural consequence." But the words regarding "enmity" between the serpent and the offspring of the woman was a salvation promise. A "curse" is also mentioned regarding the "ground." Life would be harder for Adam and Eve as a result of their choices, but I believe that was a blessing in disguise.

      • Thanks Inge

        So I can try to understand your viewpoint better, could you explain a bit further how/why you see that the degradation of the serpent's physical appearance and habits could not possibly be due to inherent consequences that directly flow from the "lawlessness" that is (and is unleashed in as a consequence of engaging) the core nature and character of sin (as per 1 John 3:4)? This is not a trick question, I genuinely want to try and understand how you see things.

        • Considering the available evidence, perhaps the burden of explanation rests on you regarding how the change in the serpent resulted from "inherent consequences that directly flow from the 'lawlessness'" and was not the direct result God's word.

          3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. (Gen 3:1)

          That sounds like the serpent used by Satan was at that time the most intelligent of God's creatures, next to man.

          If you will accept the insight of Ellen White, then there is this:

          This serpent was a very beautiful creature with wings; and while flying through the air his appearance was very bright, resembling the color of burnished gold. He did not go upon the ground, but went from place to place through the air, and ate fruit like man. (Spiritual Gifts, Vol 3, p. 39 )

          And from the Bible:

          14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:

          “Because you have done this,
          You are cursed more than all cattle,
          And more than every beast of the field;
          On your belly you shall go,
          And you shall eat dust
          All the days of your life. (Gen. 3:14)

          This amplification by Ellen White:

          The Lord then passed sentence upon the serpent: “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” Since it had been employed as Satan's medium, the serpent was to share the visitation of divine judgment. From the most beautiful and admired of the creatures of the field, it was to become the most groveling and detested of them all, feared and hated by both man and beast. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 58 )

          From our own experience we know that the serpent is no longer generally admired as beautiful and intelligent, but slithers along the ground and is detested by all but a few snake lovers. What is not so obvious to us is how this drastic change was due to "inherent consequences that directly flow from the 'lawlessness.'"

          It seems to me that your explanation of the Genesis curse should also be applicable to Christ's curse of the fig tree and should show how the withering of the fig tree was from "inherent consequences that directly flow from 'lawlessness'" (whose lawlessness?):

          12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
          20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
          (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21)

          Thank you for considering my questions.

          • Thanks Inge.

            I accept the responsibility for the "burden of explanation" and will comment further on this important issue later in this week's lesson where it arises again.

  3. Favouritism! Have you experienced it at home, at work or in social circles? It is destructive because it gives both unmerited opinions of themselves, either too high or too low. Did Adam and Eve favour Cain over Able?
    Did the LORD show unmerited favour to Able's offering?
    Or was his offering truly more excellent/acceptable than Cain's offering?
    What did Cain think? Did he say "its not fair"?
    Did he know why the LORD required the sacrifice of a lamb?
    How might the fact that his parents thought/hoped he might be the Messiah affect his attitude?

    • Great comments, Shirley. I was wondering when someone would address the parenting aspect of this story.
      I have long noticed the effect of what I called, in my own experience, “First child syndrome”. I suffered not so much from favouritism, but of trying so hard to get my parenting experience right that I got it wrong - my child was going to be the ‘perfect’ outcome of ‘right’ parenting; I was not going to make the same mistakes my parents made, etc.
      Ultimately, we are all scarred with pride and self, so that any and every endeavour of ours will not be perfect, but it will be wonderfully blessed when we allow God’s grace and power to work in us. Therein is the crux of Eve’s, of Cains, and of our struggle.

  4. I don't think it's about about whether or not to sacrifice a lamb or crops. I believe it is what the heart is saying in the offering. You see Cain didn't sacrifice the best of his crop just some of it. And his heart was doing it for his own Glory. On the other hand, Abel took the best of the lambs in his flock to worship for God's glory and not his own. Abel did it out of love whereas Cane did it for selfish reasons. God never told Cane that he had to sacrifice the lamb in order to do what is right. He said, instead, "If you do well, would you not be accepted?" So I don't see that to be the precedent.

    • The Bible provides only a brief, skeletal outline of events as they happened. Believers of the time likely knew more of the details that we no longer know. However, the same Holy Spirit who inspired Genesis inspired later writers to shed light on the subject, and Hebrews 11:4 informs us that faith made the difference. From that we can deduce that Abel offered a lamb, looking forward in faith to the coming Redeemer. Cain, by contrast, only offered the result of his labor, perhaps regarding it as a gift which he expected God to appreciate.

  5. When I think of Cain's legacy I think of sibling rivalry. Look at the book of Genesis alone! Besides Cain and Abel, we have Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel, Ishmael and Isaac, Joseph and his older brothers. Later on there is quarreling between Moses, Aaron and Miriam and the dismissive attitudes of David's brothers. In the NT we have Martha complaining about Mary, Jesus's disciples fighting over who was greatest, the jealousy of the Prodigal Son's brother, Jesus's brothers dogging Him. I'll bet there are more examples.

    The Holy Spirit is asking me to apply this, to go deeper into God's patient, selfless love with my family of origin. We need God's healing from a history of family dysfunction, and I am so grateful that through God's mercy and power I can see that it is happening, my family is growing in His grace!

    "Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbling around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness." 1 John 2:9-11 The Message Bible

    “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 NIV


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