The general subject in Genesis 4 is the story of the offspring of Adam. In the opening verses, we see the sons of Adam, Cain and Abel; and their occupations, Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a keeper of sheep.
They both brought an offering to God. Cain brought fruit of the ground (Genesis 4:3); and Abel brought the first-born of the flock (verse 4a). However, God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s (Genesis 4:4b-5a) – thus angering Cain (Genesis 4:5-7). Cain was the first-born and had the birthright; but because of sin, he was set aside for his younger brother.
Our next verse tells of Cain’s murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8).
Then we are shown God’s revelation and judgment of Cain (Genesis 4:9-16). God knew of the murder (Genesis 4:9-11); and He punished Cain (Genesis 4:12-16). Cain’s punishment was that he would till the ground, but it would yield not (Genesis 4:12a). He would be a fugitive and a vagabond (Genesis 4:12b). And he was driven from the face of the earth and from God’s face (Genesis 4:14).
We see Cain’s reply:
“And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Genesis 4:13)
“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.” (Genesis 4:14)
God’s solution to this last part was to place a mark on Cain, “lest any finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:15).
Next we are told about Cain’s dwelling place and descendants (Genesis 4:16-24):
“And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” (Genesis 4:17)
“And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.” (Genesis 4:18)
Next is Adam’s third son, Seth (Genesis 4:25). Seth’s son was Enos; “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26).
There were two lines established:
- Fleshly line – Cain
- Godly line – Abel (Seth)
Some of the main thoughts are:
Cain and Abel are not showing the lost and saved; but the unprofitable and profitable servants. Cain is the type of Old Testament Israel (salvation by works). Abel is the type of the Church (regenerated people).
Cain’s losing of his first-born status, his birthright (see Genesis 4:6-7, especially Genesis 4:7). Being the first-born, he had the first-born’s position of ruler:
“And unto thee shall be his (Abel’s) desire, and thou shalt rule over him (Abel).” (Genesis 4:7b)
(Note: the Hebrew word translated “desire” is the same word used in 3:16, that Eve’s desire would be to her husband.)
God said (as was the case with Old Testament Israel):
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (Genesis 4:7a)
The problem with Cain was not Position, but Perception and Practice. (This is the same as the problem with Old Testament Israel.) When you only have Revelation, and not Revelation and Regeneration – you cannot perceive the first-born’s position in the First-Born, Christ.
Why not? Because you must be baptized into His Body (1 Corinthians 12:13); you must have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). This was Old Testament Israel’s problem – as identified by those in the wilderness that could not see the value of Canaan Land (or their inheritance). To see this, you must have the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14-16-18-29).
Therefore, without perception, your practice is ruled by the flesh, until regeneration (Romans 8:1-16); you still walk under the flesh’s power until regenerated.
Cain’s sin of rebellion was to offer to God his way (the way of works) and not by the blood way of sacrifice (the innocent dying for he guilty, typified in the lamb offering by Abel).
Cain’s sin led to the murder of Abel (we call it man-slaughter, not premeditated murder). God caught Cain and punished him.
The greatest punishment of all was that Cain was driven from the face of God (or from His Presence and Communion). From then on, Cain was a marked man, a fugitive and vagabond; he lived in fear, in the flesh; and so his descendants followed his path.
Abel was replaced by Seth, the Godly line or the faith line; those who called on the name of the LORD (Jehovah), a type of the Church.
These two lines of God’s people are followed throughout the Scriptures. Cain and Abel both knew God and both were bringing God an offering. But the only way to God is the Blood Way (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9) and not the works way (the law way) (Galatians 2:16). The difference is in Regeneration, the indwelling of God in a man’s spirit (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:1-7). You must be adopted; that is, come from being a baby in knowledge (as was Old Testament Israel) to an adult son in knowledge in Christ (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:1-7). Both lines are in the family of Adam; but as Galatians 4:1-7 explains, you must grow from an infant to an adult in knowledge, and the only way this is done is by Regeneration. Amen and Amen!
We will see this in: Lot and Abraham; Ishmael and Isaac; Esau and Jacob.
All these are types of the unprofitable servant (Old Testament Israel), and the profitable servant (the New Testament Church). The first-born being replaced by the second child:
- Cain / Abel (Seth)
- Ishmael / Isaac
- Esau / Jacob
See Matthew 21:43:
“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”