Genesis 4 – Consequences
In Genesis chapter 4 we see several things happen. First the mention of Adam and Eve’s offspring, the first sacrifices by people, and the first example of sin’s corruption outside of the Garden of Eden. We also see the consequences of disobedience and God’s mercy and compassion in Cain’s punishment. Even though he was an outcast, God gave him a special sign to keep him safe. But what lay in Cain’s heart to cause him to kill his brother Abel?
Abel, the second born, was a keeper of flocks while first born Cain worked the fields. When it came time for the sacrifices Abel brought forth, not only the best lamb he had to offer out of a reverent heart for the Lord, he also gave the type of sacrifice God required – a blood sacrifice. Cain, on the other hand, just brought some of his crops. While Abel gave the very best that he had and what the Lord required, Cain gave whatever he wanted. Although it is not clearly stated in this chapter, a blood sacrifice was required and Cain most likely knew this but ignored it. God accepted Abel’s in the end because he gave in obedience. Cain’s was rejected because his heart wasn’t right.
God takes obedience very seriously. In 1 Samuel 15 we see that when the Lord commanded Saul’s army to destroy all the Amalekites, including all their possessions and livestock, Saul’s clear disobedience ruined his chance of remaining king of Israel. We also see in Joshua 7 the tragedy of Achan’s disobedience. Like Saul he kept some of the spoil from Jericho and hid it, even though the Lord had commanded them to destroy it all. Sadly Achan’s family was also included in the punishment for his disobedience. These are just two of the many examples of God’s hatred of disobedience.
In contrast, examples of obedience are also found throughout scriptures. In Genesis 22 we see the testing of Abraham’s obedience when the Lord asks him to give up his only son and sacrifice him on an altar. This is after God’s promise to Abraham that He would make him the father of many nations. In Genesis 6 Noah showed obedience when the Lord told him to build an ark. He had never even seen rain and was building something large enough to protect his family and a bunch of animals he’s never heard of. Genesis 6:22 reads “Noah did everything just as God commanded him”.
God’s character cares about a heart of obedience. God is pure, holy, and just. Abel understood and obeyed with a pure and reverent heart. Cain, sadly, didn’t understand or care about God’s character regarding obedience and the heart. His disobedience towards God shows the consequences of an impure heart.