Daily Devotions

The first human death

Genesis 4:6f

‘The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry?… If you do well — shall you not be accepted?…. Sin lies at the door!…. It desires you!”…. ( But) Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him.’ Genesis 4:6-8.

Cain was angry that God accepted Abel’s faithful of fering, but not his own. Calvin comments: “He does not consider that through his own fault, he had failed” — faithlessly! “Referring to sacrifices…, God will accept them — when rightly offered…. Cain could have no greater adversary, than that sin of his which he inwardly cherished…. Abel…was…a diligent worshipper of God.
But (Cain) the first-born, worshipped God negligently.. .. (So) Cain was admonished of his duty….

“Cain…did not keep his malignant feelings within his own breast…. He broke forth in accusation against his brother…. He deferredve ngeance.”

‘When they were in the field…, Cain rose up again st Abel…and slew him.’ Comments Calvin: “This single deed of guilt clearly shows where Sata n will hurry men, when they harden their mind in wickedness. So that in the end, their obstinacy is worthy of the utmost extremes of punishment.”

In his Institutes II:5:16, Calvin remarks: “The purpose of God, (was ) to point out the injustice of the envy which Cain had conceived against his brother. And this He does in two ways. By showing first that it was vain to think he (Cain) could by means of wickedness surpass his brother in the favour of God, by Whom nothing is esteemed but righteousness. And secondly, how ungrateful he was for the kindness he had already r eceived, in not being able to bear with a brother” whose sacrifice God had accepted.

“God…speaks of sin…. His words (that Cain sho uld rule over his evil desire) contain either an order or a promise. If an order…, this is no proof of man’s ability. If a promise — where is the fulfilment of the promise, when Cain yielded to the sin over which he ought to have prevailed?”….

“The dominion spoken of, refers to (dominion over) sin…. Both the nature of the case and the rule of grammatical construction, require that it be regarded as a comparison between Cain and Abel. We think the only preference given to the younger brother, was — that the elder made himself inferior, by his own wickedness.”

As the Apostle John later remarked: ‘Cain was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous .’ First John 3:12. Calvin comments: “Cain was driven to slay his brother, because his (Cain’s) works were evil… . Where ungodliness rules, hatred occupies all the parts of life…. May we learn to bear it patiently , when the world hates us gratuitously and without ju st provocation!”

‘Cain rose up against Abel…, and slew him .’ Genesis 4:8. That was the first human death! Not Cain, but Abel would rise unto glory. And so too, when we believers thus rise!