Failure Upon Failure, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #40)


Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 4:6-8 which reads: “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

The Hebrew in verse 7 suggests a threatening demon crouching outside the door of a house. Perhaps there is also an allusion to the serpent lying in wait to strike the heel.

Knowing Cain’s heart, God warns him not to submit to the murderous temptation of the devil. Although unregenerate humans can rule over the ground and flocks, they cannot finally master sin on their own.

Ignoring God and His warning, Cain’s subsequent actions reveal his answer to God’s earlier question. Abel is mentioned only for his birth, offering, and death.

The fracturing of family ties by sin, begun in Genesis 3, quickly reaches the extreme of murder. Seeking autonomy from God like his parents, Cain usurps divine sovereignty over life.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Horace Greeley. He said: “It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Failure Upon Failure (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Genesis takes us to a point where Cain and Abel bring sacrifices to God. We are not even told whether these were the first sacrifices they had brought, although I am inclined to believe they were not. One reason is that it would seem unlikely that Adam and his family did not sacrifice during the period from the expulsion from the garden to this event. It is probably not even the first sacrifices that the boys had brought on their own. Key to the situation, the text seems to suggest that Cain and Abel had different attitudes regarding their sacrifices. Abel brought the firstlings, that is, the best he had. Cain merely brought an offering.

Apparently, it was for this reason that God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, because later God told Cain that if he did well, he would be accepted. Instead of following God, Cain murdered his brother Abel. As a result, he was driven from the expanding family and developing civilization, although apparently taking his wife along with him. In the process, he was given a sign of God’s protection so that anyone finding him (other descendants of Adam and Eve who might recall Abel) would not take vengeance into their own hands but would leave retribution to the Lord.

After dealing with Cain, the writer discusses the highlights of the development of the pre-Flood civilization, although at this point he only addresses the line of Cain and some of the advances associated with it. Within seven generations of Adam, we see the development of animal herding, metallurgy, cities, and musical instruments.

Cain’s line is covered in a perfunctory manner until we reach Lamech, who is the sixth generation after Adam (some mention is made of Lamech’s sons, but here the line appears to end). Lamech is interesting for two reasons. One is the fact that he had two wives: his is the first recorded case of bigamy. The second is that he seems to take pride in having killed a young man: when we read his “song,” we sense a note of arrogance that seems to exalt how “bad” he is compared with Cain.


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