Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, to indicate that they both acknowledged that what they had was thanks to the provisions of God. But why was Abel’s offering more acceptable in Gods eyes? Was it because Abel’s was a blood offering? Or was it because Cain “brought some of the fruits of the soil” and yet Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock”? Many scholars believe that it is not what was given as an offering, but the way in which it was given which was the difference. It is thought that Cain did not appear to have given his offering with the full intent of joyful giving. In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus is describing what he can see when people are giving. We cannot give something we will not miss – we need to give our all. Sacrifice is only acceptable to God if it is perfect and costly (of which the crucifixion of Jesus is the most perfect example!) God is not going to be satisfied with our second best.
God then asked Cain the whereabouts of his brother – Cain must have realised that God knew everything and yet unlike Adam who confessed to his sin, Cain denied everything. This was his time to confess and yet he lied and even made a joke about not knowing where Abel was. The consequence for his sin was similar to that of Adam and Eve – he was exiled from his land and became a wanderer. And yet God still showed his mercy to Cain – Cain complained that he would now be in danger because of what he had done (presumably because the other people around were all family of Cain and Abel’s and would not have been happy on learning of the murder of his own brother). We don’t know what the “mark” was that was put on Cain but it protected him from any potential enemies. The graciousness of God perhaps even when Cain had committed such an awful sin! This chapter then illustrates how society was disintegrating with polygamy and another murder committed by Lamech. A ray of hope is in the last sentence – some people have realised that they need to turn to and trust in the Lord God.
Prayer - A small sin can soon grow out of control – Lord I pray to you and repent of my sins. I acknowledge that all I have comes from you and so I offer all of myself to you, to do with whatever is needed to bring my world back into relationship with you – Amen.