More Thoughts on the Story of Cain and Abel…


God’s statements about Cain’s action towards his brother:

Gen. 4:10- “…your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”

Gen. 4:11- “And now you are cursed from the ground.”

Gen. 4:12- “When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you it’s

strength.”

Gen. 4:12- “…you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Thoughts:

-Our violent actions towards others cut us off from Eden’s strength and richness. We trade God’s provision and personal protection for Want and Fear. Our attitude changes from receiving gratefully with intentions of mutuality to taking with selfishness and exclusion. We walk away from Eden and settle in Nod to build self-made empires which war with Edenic principles.

Cain’s response:

Gen. 4:13- “My punishment is greater than I can bear!”

Gen. 4:14- “Today you have driven me away from the soil…”

Gen. 4:14- “…and I shall be hidden from your face.”

Gen. 4:14- “I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth…”

Gen. 4:14- “…and anyone who meets me may kill me.”

Thoughts:

-Cain’s thoughts about punishment show immaturity regarding the responsibility and consequences of his own actions. Violence sows the seeds of its own punishment. Living by the sword and exerting power is self-defeating. Humans and the earth have long memories. Cain speaks as a child punished by a greater, adult power rather than as an adult who realizes with horror the sad viciousness of their own behavior, and the isolation of their own hatred. Power isolates; it doesn’t bring the healing coalescence of forgiveness and repentance. Cain’s statements about his “punishment” being “greater than I can bear” points to the need for a “second Abel” who’s death and resurrection frees us from the dysfunctional society brought about by a reliance upon power as a means of interacting with each other. The words, life, and death of Christ absorbs the power of violence, and reinstates Edenic principles which embrace death while inviting us into daily life unencumbered by fear while bracing into the Garden-life given us by God.

-“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain’s unanswered question continues to reverberate in our experience. While there is a sense in which we are our brother’s/sister’s keeper, there is also a dissonant chord in life and throughout the scripture which weds communal connection with personal responsibility. The economic structures of Levitical law maintain this dissonance. Although it is still possible for one to sell themself into bondage, there is also a Kinsman Redeemer who arrives to buy the family homestead back into the fold of the larger community. By so doing, generational poverty is averted, and the gifts of God are redeemed.

-While Cain’s violent action towards his brother is allowed, he is saved from the vengeance of those unknown persons living in lands through which he might wander. God places a “mark” on Cain, which distinguishes him in his wanderings as one forgiven and protected. By so doing, God redeems his life, yet doesn’t restrict his freedom. God’s daring work of grace invites Cain back into relationship with God, but also into the community. Cain’s mark hints that, although Cain is in exile, God goes with him into exile.

-Is violence always a physical act? Is there a difference between power and control?

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