06 August, 2016

Genesis 4:15—Was Cain a Recipient of Common Grace?


And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him (Genesis 4:15 KJV).




(I)

Rev. Angus Stewart



Reprobate Cain was a child "of the devil" (I John 3:10), who "slew his brother" because his "works were evil" (12). Thus Cain was an "abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 3:32; 11:20; 16:5), as was everything about him: his "hands" (6:16-17), his "lying lips" (12:22), his "thoughts" (15:26), his "sacrifice" and his "way" (15:8-9).

God spoke with Cain (Gen. 4:6-7, 9-15)—a rational-moral creature—laying before him the ways of life and of death (vv. 6-7) and explaining his evil deed of fratricide (vv. 9-10), thus leaving him "without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). So far was God from bestowing "common grace" upon Cain that He did not bless him, but cursed him (Gen. 4:11-12)!

God marked Cain so that no man would kill him (v. 15). Cain’s prolonged life meant that he heaped up more wrath to himself (Rom. 2:5). God willed Cain’s continuance on earth for some years so that the line of the reprobate would continue and develop in sin (Gen. 4) over against the line of the elect (Gen. 5).

Nor were Cain’s city building (4:17) or the riches, artistic talent and technological advances of his descendants (vv. 20-22) signs of God’s love for the reprobate. God’s purpose "when all the workers of iniquity do flourish" (including Cain and his seed with their earthly prosperity) is "that they shall be destroyed forever" (Ps. 92:7). God does not immediately cut off the wicked for He is digging the pit for them (Ps. 94:13)—just as He did with Cain, that child of the devil, who killed the first martyr, Abel, his own brother (I John 3:10-12)!


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(II)

Prof. Homer C. Hoeksema


In contradiction to Cain’s defiance [vv. 13-14], the word of God [in verses 11-12] must stand. The Lord will indeed work out his purpose with Cain. Cain himself must be a sign, a sign of the truth that the righteous shall inherit the earth, while the wicked shall be disinherited. He must serve as a sign and concrete illustration of the everlasting punishment of the wicked, who shall go on forever existing, yet absolutely disinherited. Thus in Cain is realized a theme which occurs often in the Psalms, for example, Psalms 59, 69, and 109.

So that his purpose may be realized, the Lord appoints a mark, a sign, upon Cain (Gen. 4:15). There is no profit in joining the speculations that have been made as to the nature of that signwhether Cain was a leper, or had a horn, or was afflicted with trembling, etc. The simple fact is that the Bible does not tell us about this, and we do not have to know. The point is that it was a clearly visible and recognizable mark which served to prevent Cain’s being killed by warning and threatening everyone of a sevenfold vengeance upon the man who might lay hands on this God-appointed vagabond. Nor must we mistake the purpose and motive of this sign. There was no expression of grace and long-suffering in it. This is impossible; grace and the curse do not go hand in hand. In fact, this sign had the very opposite motive: it insured the execution of God’s sentence upon Cain.

The significance of this mark of the curse is that Cain must serve as a living testimony of the fact that the Lord takes his people’s part in the conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Here is a revelation that God and all things are for his people, and against the wicked; that God’s people can suffer and be hurt for a little while, but that their enemies must soon perish, while the righteous have the victory.

The significance is further that the Lord’s justice is executed upon Cain in such a manner that he is kept alive and becomes the progenitor of an ungodly generation, and so that he and his generation are given a separate place, away from the presence of the Lord in Eden, where they can develop in ungodliness and where the sin of Cain can ripen and bear its full fruit.

Finally, the significance is that the very form of the curse pronounced upon Cain becomes, under the providence of God, the occasion for Cain and his generations to become civilization builders. It must not be considered mere coincidence that when Cain goes out from the presence of the Lord, he goes about building a city. This should be viewed as a consequence of his wrestling against the curse pronounced upon him, and as even more evidence of his defiance against God. The Lord had told Cain that he was to be a fugitive and a vagabond, with no abiding place. Cain promptly goes out and builds a city as a permanent abode. But even this effort must serve ultimately the divine purpose of the defeat of the seed of the serpent, for as the line of Cain becomes great in its worldly achievements, so it also progresses in wickedness, finally filling the measure of iniquity and becoming ripe for the destruction of the flood.


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(III)

More to come! (DV)


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