The Bible tells us that after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden they had two sons, Cain and Abel. As Adam had been cursed in Gen 3:17-19, so too these sons made their living off the land. “And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground” Genesis 4:2. In time they both brought a offering to God, Cain brought some of the crops he had grown and Abel’s offering was from his flocks. God had regard (looked with favor, NIV) for Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. This rejection of his offering caused great anger in Cain, so much so that he killed his brother.
Out of the 10 Commandments, the 6th is “You shall not murder” Ex 20:13. Jesus dealt with the root cause of murder, read Matthew 5:21-22 . Anger is the problem that Jesus deals with; it is what we have to deal with today. We might well say, I have not sinned in the same manner as Cain, but we have to ask have we been angry? Note Eph. 4:31-32
On reading the Genesis account of Cain and Abel we might be confused as to why God did not have regard for Cain’s offering, but He did for Abel’s. It is confusing and it appears that God was just showing favouritism. Fortunately we live under the New Testament and we have more information as to why this was so. In Hebrews 11:4 we read, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain…” It was by faith that Abel offered to God a better sacrifice. Roman 10:17 tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Abel’s faith came about from hearing the word of God – God told him how he was to be worshipped. Cain disregarded this instruction.
Many today are guilty of this same disregarding of God’s word. John 4:24 states, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” People are happy to worship in “spirit” but fail to worship in “truth”. Truth is found in the word of God (John 17:17). We too have to be like Abel and offer to God our worship by faith.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
After Cain killed his brother the Lord asked Him in Genesis 4:9, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain answers the Lord in a sarcastic, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Keeper as in one who watches over animals of prisoners). This leads us to consider our responsibility we have to our brethren. Galatians 6:2 states, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” See also Rom 15:1, John 13:34, Colossians 3:12-14
In the New Testament
We are given warning from Cain and Abel in the New Testament. These first decedents of Adam and Eve teach us from their graves. Note what we read in John 3:11-12, Jude 11, Heb 12:22-24.
In Genesis 4:17 we read, “Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son.” Many question where did this wife come from? It is a good question and one that needs an answer.
We know that the first man was Adam and the first woman was Eve. They were told to be fruitful and multiply, Gen 1:28. In Acts 17:26 we read, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” There were no other nations, all mankind came from Adam and Eve, including Cain’s wife. She was either his sister or his cousin. How can this be though?
There was not a prohibition on the marrying of brothers and sisters until the Law was given on Mt. Sinai. Adam was 130 years old when Eve gave birth to Seth, Gen 5:3. There was plenty of time for Adam and Eve to have had many sons and daughters.
In the first generation after Adam brothers and sisters would have married. As they had children they would have been able to seek others for spouses.