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Archive for May 31st, 2014


land of nod

Land of Nod

Saturday, May 31, 2014

  Genesis 4

Considering Cain and Abel

How do we see the story of Cain and Abel through the lens of Johannine thought? The keeper of flocks contrasted with the tiller of soil. The favored first-born versus the overlooked second. The key to the story, as we are constantly told, lies in verse 3: Through the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the firstlings of his flock.

Cain, the eldest and sower of crops, is described as crestfallen and greatly resentful when God favors the loving offering brought by Abel but God does not leave Cain alone with his anger, fear and envy. God asks Cain why he feels these negative emotions. No reply is recorded from Cain but further words from God are: If you do well, you can hold up your head. God warns Cain of sin and describes it as a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master. As we read this story we hope that Cain can resist the power of envy because we want to resist this green devil ourselves; yet we know the story too well. Cain goes out to speak with Abel and unable to resist the skills of the demon, he kills his brother. Several verses later Cain asks God to allow him to be killed as he wanders the earth but God refuses this request. So Cain finally settles east of Eden in the land of nomads, Nod.

When we consider this story through the perspective of the writings of the Apostle John, we might spend time today considering three points.

God is honest with both Cain and Abel, acknowledging Abel’s true love of God and Cain’s more egocentric self. God does not pamper us by avoiding the truth. We see this same honesty in Jesus as John tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11)

God does not abandon Cain in his sadness and grief. He abides with him, yet continues to present him with truth. God allows Cain the freedom to choose his own path. We see this same fidelity in Jesus when John retells his words about the Good Shepherd. (John 10:1-21)

God does not create an easy exit for Cain but rather allows him to experience the consequence of listening to the demon who lurks at the door. God offers Cain transformation through suffering. We see this same love in Jesus with every story John tells of the Resurrected Christ. (John 20 and 21)

And we also experience this same love from Jesus each day of our lives when, as true children of God, we take our cares and worries, our joys and delights to God.

Tomorrow, considering holiness and a prayer for true children.

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