Genesis Chapter Four, The Downward Spiral

In our study of Genesis chapter four, we look at how the curse of sin was passed on to the next generation. We will also see how that generation began a downward spiral that would eventually end in God's judgment by flood.

Genesis 4:1 & 2

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, 'With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.' Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.

So, Adam and Eve started the family with two boys. One (Cain) was a farmer while the other (Abel) was a shepherd. We should understand that Adam and Eve would have thought that Cain was the man spoken of in the curse to the serpent (see chapter 3) that would crush his head.

Genesis 4:3 & 4a

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

"In the course of time" speaks to the fact that these offerings were brought to the Lord on the Sabbath. We see that Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his sheep while Cain brought some of the grain from his crops.

Genesis 4:4b & 5

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

The Lord accepted the offering of Abel but not that of Cain. We may ask ourselves why this is so and the answer is very simple. Man was created to be a caretaker of all that God has created (see Genesis 2). Sin resulted in man working the ground to grow his food instead of just picking fruit from the trees that God provided. The fat portions that Abel brought were a praise to God for what he had provided while the grain that Cain brought was a result of his work (work that God had not created man for). This was, in fact, an offering of works to God instead of an offering of faith. We see in this also the struggle between the law and grace that is evident in the world today. Abel's offering was thanking God for His provision (grace) while Cain's offering was a picture of the coming law. Only the grace of God demonstrated through our Lord Jesus Christ has the power to make us right with God.

Genesis 4:6 & 7

Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'

God knows our hearts and, here, we see that in Cain's heart was the fear of losing the place of the firstborn. God is telling him to get this under control or this sin will lead him into other sin.

Genesis 4:8

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Cain was worried about losing the place and inheritance of the firstborn son and so he killed his brother. God had urged him to do what was right and warned him about the downward spiral of sin but he had not listened. The same type of thing happens to many people today as they start with what they consider to be a "small" sin and end up very far from God. This is due to the lack of understanding that all sin is detestable in God's sight and He does not have "small" sins.

Genesis 4:9

Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don't know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother's keeper?'

When confronted by his sin, Cain denied what he had done as if it could be hidden from God. That is the same thing that many people are trying to do today and hoping that they can get by and get to heaven based on their own righteousness.

Genesis 4:10

The Lord said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.'

Just as his father and mother had done, Cain tried to hide from God what he had done. Cain did not realize that God already knew and was only asking the question to get him to realize what he had done. God does not need us to confess our sins to know what we have done. He wants us to confess our sins so that He may forgive and forget them.

Genesis 4:11 & 12

'Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.'

Once again, we see that sin has a price and so Cain must wander the earth. Cain had trusted in the work of his hand in bringing crops as an offering to God and now he will not be able to grow crops. God is giving him the chance to see and understand that it is He that is the provider of all things. This is the same thing that all of us (even Christians) struggle to understand.

Genesis 4:13 & 14

Cain said to the Lord, 'My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.'

Cain pleads for God's mercy but he does so without repentance. In his plea, Cain never confesses his sin and so there cannot be forgiveness. The same thing is true for us, in that, we cannot see our need for a savior without a change of our minds (repentance).

Genesis 4:15

But the Lord said to him, 'Not so, if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.' Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

Cain feared for his life but God reassured him that his life would be spared even though he deserved death. Anyone who killed him would be completely dealt with by God as He put a supernatural mark on Cain to ensure his life. This is a picture of what was to come in the Passover (see Exodus 12) and is to come when God puts his seal on the witnesses in the last days (see Revelation 7).

Genesis 4:16

So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

And so Cain went to live in the land of Nod (wandering).

Genesis 4:17

Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.

Once again we see the disobedience of Cain in that he was building a city even though God had said that he would be a wanderer. He had a son and named his work (the city) after Enoch.

Genesis 4:18 & 19

To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech. Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.

Now, we see the downward spiral as the disobedience of Cain has led to the practice of polygamy (having more than one wife). We have already seen God's plan for a man and his wife but, just a few generations of disobedience have led to this. This is the same type of thing that we see in many families today as generations of wickedness have led to a complete disregard for the ways of God.

Genesis 4:20-22

Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain's sister was Naamah.

We are introduced to the seventh generation of people and remember that seven is the number of completion throughout the Bible. Because of the fall, men were required to work and, here, we see the start of various occupations such as shepherd, musician, and ironworker. Although we are not told of Naamah's occupation, her name suggests that she was a singer.

Genesis 4:23 & 24

Lamech said to his wives, 'Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.'

The downward spiral has continued to the point of murder. Not only do we see that Lamech went so far as murder but he was even proud of the fact. He compared himself to God's promise of avenging those that would kill Cain and elevated himself above God.

Genesis 4:25 & 26

Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, 'God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.' Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.

God gave Adam and Eve a third son named Seth. He had a son (Adam and Eve's grandson) who he named Enosh which means "man" or "mankind". And so begins the population of God's creation and men acknowledged God the Creator.