The ritual was over. Abel was beaming. God’s acceptance was proven by the pillar of fire that had consumed the perfect lamb offered from his flock down to the bare stones upon which it was offered.
Cain’s sacrifice, the first fruits of his harvest, however, were nothing but ashes. God had shown no respect for his work nor the fact that he had burned the best of his crop to try to please Him. He was angry and he was hurt. Why? What was wrong with him? Why was Abel so special? Wasn’t he the first born? Wasn’t he the one who worked so hard tilling the soil to produce the finest crop? His mind was spinning! He wanted answers and he kept going over these questions time after time and could find no reason God should reject his offering except that God didn’t want a relationship with him. That conclusion was inevitable. He was undesirable in the eyes of God. Days had passed and he was still in the same loop of questions. He could not come to any other conclusion and the more he tried the angrier he got.
Then he heard a voice he had never heard before saying his name! No ordinary voice, but The Unmistakable Voice! It said, “Cain, why are you seeking answers to the result of your sacrifice within yourself and why have you turned your back on Me? Don’t you know that if you do well you will be accepted? But if you don’t do well, you must deal with your sin, its desire is to be always in your life and you shall be its master.”
Cain heard the voice. Cain heard the words. But Cain was beyond listening. All he could think of was his rejection. It seemed as if all God wanted was blood. The work he had done, the beauty of his crop, the willingness of his sacrifice meant nothing. Perhaps if he talked to Abel he could figure it out. Maybe if Abel would listen he would help.
They had talked for hours. Cain had asked Abel to come out to the field from which his sacrifice had been gathered. Abel had agreed that Cain’s crop was perfect; had tried to explain to him as they walked, that God wanted to wipe away his sin, but without blood that could not be done. He told Cain that he needed to talk to their father, Adam, to find out more about why the sacrifice of blood was so important.
Adam had never before even mentioned a sacrifice to them until he had told them they must do such a thing for themselves. He really wanted Cain to know from their father why it was so important. But Cain did not seem interested in going to Adam. So Abel was doing his best.
Abel asked him to think about what had happened to them when they had looked upon the guards of Eden. He told Cain that even though his grain was the result of a lot of very hard work that his work was not the kind of work that God was looking for. He told Cain that even though his grain was beautiful it was not the kind of beauty God was looking for. And, he told Cain that even though the grain was pure, it was not the kind of purity God was looking for. He told Cain that it was a question of the condition of his heart even more than the actual contents of the offering. Well, that had done it.
All Cain heard from then on were Abel’s lame platitudes that God would forgive…if… . God tells me I’ll be accepted…if… . All of MY works mean nothing, NOTHING! Abel’s voice faded behind a red haze of hate. Hadn’t HE made the effort? Hadn’t HE grown the crops and rooted out the weeds? Hadn’t HE produced a perfect sacrifice? He had asked these very questions of Abel, and what had Abel said? “Without blood there can be no remission of sin.”
As they talked they had continued to walk and by now found themselves in the fields where Abel’s flock was grazing. Cain had said he would think about it and try to understand and he turned to go. But he had a cold fury burning inside him. Who did Abel think he was to tell him his heart needed changing? Who did he think he was to criticize his offering as not being good enough? God wanted blood? Okay! Blood it would be. And with the heavy hoe he always carried, he turned on Abel.
Abel’s back was to him, his attention taken momentarily by some disturbance in the flock. He never saw it coming. Cain struck him, and struck him again and again and again giving full vent to his fury. He was in mid-swing when he heard it.
The Unmistakable Voice said, “Cain! Where is your brother Abel?” He froze. His mind racing he said, “How should I know? Am I my brother’s keeper?” And The Unmistakable Voice said to him, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground! Now you are cursed from the earth which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand! When you till the ground it shall no longer yield to you her strength, a fugitive and vagabond traveling the earth is what you shall be”
And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! This moment You are driving me from the face of the earth from which I have always drawn strength, and as a fugitive and wanderer in the earth I shall be hid from Your face. What shall come of that but that everyone who finds me shall slay me!” “It shall not be so,” the Lord said, “for I set my mark upon you that whosoever takes your life, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”
So Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and wandered in Nod, the land east of Eden. In the beginning he eked out a living by selling tools and such to those who farmed the land. By the time his wife conceived and bore Enoch his name was spread abroad as one who could craft fine tools and people were seeking him out to buy them. So he settled on a hilltop overlooking a pleasant valley and began to teach his sons the craft to keep up with the demand, naming the settlement after his first born son.
As the years passed, the reason for the mark God had placed on Cain was a fading memory and many ignored it completely because of his talent and ability as a craftsman. His sons gained great respect and fame as artisans, craftsmen and musicians. The fear of God’s curse faded to naught. In time even the Sons of God came seeking out the daughters of men to take as wives because of their beauty and sophistication. And in his old age Cain looked at his world and thought in himself, “If this be the result of God’s curse, why should I need His blessing!”