Monday, March 23, 2009


I have a friend named, Carol – a friend of a friend, really, but dear all the same. Roy and I had the pleasure of chatting with Carol and her husband, Gene, at a mutual friend’s wedding reception – just a lovely Christian couple, proud of their only son, J.P. Jason Paul Kent - a vibrant Christian young man, graduate of the Naval Academy, serving God and his country. Have you heard the story? J.P. is the son of Carol Kent, Women of Faith speaker and internationally known author - imagine the shock and despair when J.P. was convicted of first-degree murder. You may be asking yourself, “How could such a GOOD guy do such a bad thing?” Carol tells their gripping story of reckoning and recovery in When I Lay My Isaac Down. In Jason’s situation, his heart and mind focused on protecting the lives of those closest to him, but that meant the death of another. We can ask ourselves how someone who had experienced God’s presence could commit such an act of violence. But in the Beginning, just after the Fall of Humankind, Cain speaks directly to God after his sin – and scoffs at Him. The presence of God is not a guarantee of human goodness – only a promise of the opportunity for forgiveness.

J.P. Kent is now serving a life sentence in Florida, but his heart is eternally serving Christ, ministering to other inmates alongside the Chaplain, and helping his parents with the non-profit organization: Speak Up for Hope (a ministry to the families of incarcerated individuals). Cain, on the other hand, had no such redemptive turnaround….

Gen. 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.”

  • Did Adam and his family regularly slaughter animals for clothing/tools/supplies by this time? Had Cain ever killed anything before? We don’t know. But we know two things: 1) He didn’t shed blood for God’s sacrifice – as Abel had done (Gen. 4:4, Cain brought grain); and 2) This was the first human blood spilled in Creation. Sin crouched at Cain’s door (4:7), and when he didn’t master it, it overtook him.

Gen. 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?’”

  • At least when God asked Adam and Eve questions after the Fall (Gen. 3), the first couple answered with honest blame. Not Cain. He’s a lying smarty-pants! No repentance there. I marvel at Cain’s audacity, but how often do I blatantly ignore the first promptings of the Holy Spirit’s conviction?

Gen. 4:10-12 – “The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. 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’” (emphasis added).

  • Cain’s curse involved restless wandering in a wasteland – for the remainder of his life – away from the work that defined his life’s purpose. Imagine the modern version – a lifetime of airport layovers with all the restaurants closed. Never home, never satisfied, no hope of rest – ever.

Gen. 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’s first concern was separation from the land (food and work/identity) – secondary concern was separation from God’s presence. This is the difference between true repentance and all-purpose sorrow. And in a final moment of hysteria, physical well-being became his most urgent plea. Our true priorities come out in times of crisis.

Gen. 4:15-16 – “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. So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod,F(Wandering) east of Eden.[1]

  • Okay, don’t ask me where “Nod” is. All we know is, “east of Eden.” Hmmm. Must be all God thought we needed to know about it…Oh, and He also thought it was important that we know it means, “wandering.” God’s curse on Cain was three-fold: 1) life, 2) separation from God, and 3) restless wandering. Yes, life was a part of the curse – because it was a life lived in total separation from God. We have no understanding what that would be like because God’s Spirit is at work in believers on this earth, so He is present in and among us. Hell’s Lake of Fire is a great reason to believe in Jesus Christ, but the better cause is the eternal separation from God – no recourse, no reprieve in judgment. Cain experienced that separation in life on earth and wandered without direction or divine aid. Ugh.

Lord, thank You that any restlessness or wandering I may feel is never an end, but only a warning to draw me back to You. Protect me from the lies of the enemy that would seek to deceive, filling my mind with discouragement and self-loathing. Thank You that Your forgiveness and grace are as close as a prayer, and Your love never rests on my effort or deserving.

[1]Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

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