The second conversation with God recorded in the Bible takes place between God and Cain after Cain kills his brother. And what is interesting about the conversation is that we think God brings judgment on Cain. But a closer look shows that Cain’s punishment involved natural consequences. First, because of what he did, relationships are lost. He has to leave his family after killing his own brother. Second, because he has to leave the proximity of the garden of Eden (very fruitful area), he has to wander in places that do not have as fertile soil as Eden.
Actually, what we see is a God of mercy. Instead of killing Cain (“an eye for an eye”), God protects Cain from others who might want to enact revenge.
The worst “punishment” is his loss of connection to God. It says that he “went out from the Lord’s presence”.
As I think about all of this in light of my own life, I am reminded of how I think my mistakes separate me from God. I know that God is good and that He is holy, and so my sin convinces me that I am outside of the Lord’s presence. But I am so grateful that this story reveals a God of mercy. He is quick to forgive and slow to anger.
This morning at Westside, we look at another story of someone who is separated from God and how Jesus comes along and shows mercy and kindness. And that kindness leads this man to restoration of relationship with God.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (Genesis 4:9-16 NIV)