My college friend, Mary Ann, invited me to participate in an online Chronological Bible Study and I am loving it! I had been a part of group studies for many years until my schedule got so busy I couldn’t commit to a weekly gathering. So it’s the beginning of the year, and that means we’re in Genesis, and God has opened up new insight into the first book of the Bible.
I want to take you back to the first recorded case of sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel. You may remember that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but did not accept Cain’s. Why? They both brought God a gift. The difference was Abel brought God the “best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock” and Cain presented “some of his crops” to God. Abel gave God his first and best; Cain gave whatever he had on hand.
And you probably know what happened next. Cain became angry and his jealousy of Abel overpowered him. So he murdered Abel in a field.
But I want to highlight a conversation God had with Cain prior to this cold blooded killing. He knew Cain was angry because his sacrifice was not accepted and said, “Why are you so angry? Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Genesis 4:6–7).
Our merciful God was telling Cain that this was a temporary rejection and that Cain could make it right by bringing his first fruits the next time. He provides the same mercy in our lives today, thanks to the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
What I’ve discovered personally is that God is a God of second, third and fourth chances today, and he gives each generation a fresh start to undo the sins of their forefathers.
Cain was unable to subdue his sin, and followed through with the murder of his brother. So for his punishment he became a homeless wanderer. Merciful God still put a mark on him that protected Cain from being killed by someone else and his lineage continued.
No matter what your family members may have done in the past—murder, adultery, abuse, to name a few—it does not have to define you. God gives each of us a fresh start through belief in His Son, Jesus. He is the restorer of lives. He will always provide another opportunity to do what is right, and when we choose righteousness, the blessing follows.