ABEL – What could Cain have been thinking? Lesson 3

Genesis 4:1–5 (KJV 1900)
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:1-5)

There are several good hints to the state of Cain’s mind at the time of his offering. Let’s take a look at the deeper meaning of the words surrounding the offering, and see if we can reach the mind of Cain even deeper!

Cain was a “tiller of the ground.” English readers often picture Cain as an honest and hardworking farmer, producing crops that feed the masses. After all, farming is one of the noblest efforts made by working man that provides sustenance for all. Present day, it is an honorable profession with the Salt-of-the-earth good people of the land, participating in a task invaluable to society.

Take care with that literal interpretation that applies today’s definitions! A “tiller” is a lesser work that is indicated by our English word “farmer.” The Hebrew word for “tiller” is “abad.” This word describes a tiller as one that is a “servant to the land.” This land is the same ground that the LORD God cursed for the disobedience of Adam.

Cain was a servant to cursed land!

What does a servant to cursed land do?

The Bible tells us exactly his duties and the fruit of his effort. He will sorrowfully labor in trying to produce crops with the land, but it will be unsuccessful. No good fruits would come from cursed ground! The only crops from the land will be thorns and thistles and herbs. That’s exactly what the LORD God said would come from the cursed ground!

Genesis 3:17–19 (KJV 1900)
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:17-19)

The product of the cursed land would be an inferior product from that which was possible. No longer would the perfect fruits of the LORD God grow into the magnificent trees providing the spiritual needs of mankind. Now only thorns and thistles and herbs will come out of the ground, and barely supply the natural life needs of mankind.

What could Cain have been thinking to bring to the LORD God the inferior fruits of thorns, thistles, and herbs from the cursed fields that he labored as a servant? Why did he offer a gift of the imperfect produce fit only for a servant of the cursed land for natural life consumption? What must he have been thinking? Again, the Word of God reveals a portion of exactly the motive behind the offering given by Cain. The evidence is revealed through his emotional reaction to the LORD God’s disapproval of the offering Cain brought.

Genesis 4:5
“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:5)

The LORD God saw the offering that Cain brought to Him, and he looked away from it. It was not worthy as a gift to the almighty LORD God. It offended Him. Cain’s reaction to this rejection was an extreme anger toward the LORD God. Cain reacted with angry offense that the LORD God would dare reject a gift produced by his servant labor on the cursed land! The Hebrew word for this anger is “charah.” While “wroth” describes his reaction perfectly in old King’s English, a newer use of the word would be “wrath.” Cain was INCENSED and HOT and ANGRY; the Word described his action as “very wroth,” and the “very” says it all!

Cain’s anger led to his countenance falling. He had once looked upon the LORD God in a favorable way. However, the moment his offering was rejected, he turned away from the LORD God. His countenance was no longer seeking the approval of Him, but rather, focused upon the unfair treatment of God toward his effort. Just as today’s wicked interpretations of the account of Cain’s offering suggests, Cain surely argued that God was unfair and treated him poorly, and as a result was a God that was unworthy of his attention.

Even in the midst of extreme anger and rejection, the LORD God tried to bring Cain to understanding. He tried to teach Cain.

Genesis 4:6-7
“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.” (Genesis 4:6, 7)

Cain would have nothing to do with the teachings of the LORD God. He was angry, and he purposely turned from Him because he did not get approval for his offering.

What could Cain have been thinking? Evidence strongly suggests that Cain thought the fruits of his servant labor from the cursed ground were more worthy that the fruits of God’s creation from above. Unless the LORD God accepted Cain and his offering, unless God bowed to Cain’s will, there would be no relationship between them forever more.

That is what Cain was thinking.

Genesis 4:8–16 (KJV 1900)
8 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. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. 16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (Genesis 4:8-16)