Genesis 4

Introduction: More recently, there seems to be so much unnecessary death.

At Schools, concerts, churches, synagogues even shopping malls.

What is going on? Taking of innocent lives!

I want to use the narrative of Genesis 4 to speak about the significance of life!

(Much is being written about what we call the ‘sanctity of life’ today.) Includes everything from euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment and war, and many other things.

Application: Movie on Netflix. Don’t remember title but it was about Russian Jews in a German Concentration camp.

In one scene, it’s twilight, dark, and smoke is billowing from the chimney connected to what was no doubt a furnace of death.

I was thinking, ‘What must God have been feeling, smelling, seeing and feeling at that moment?’


The story of conflict between brothers has long captivated interpreters.

Cain and Able is a narrative that clearly sets themes of primogeniture (first-born rights and privileges) and sibling rivalry in place, providing continuity across the whole of Genesis.

The chapter combines various types of literature: a tale of two brothers (vv.2b-16), enclosed by genealogical materials and expanded by etiological (causes and origins) elements regarding various cultural realities (v.17-22).

What is also of particular interest is how the narrator seems especially concerned not in the brief notice of the murder itself, but in God’s interaction with the words and deeds of Cain.

Structurally, vv. 7-15 are similar to chap. 3, moving from temptation to sinful deed to divine interrogation to expulsion to the east.

Chapter 3 establishes a pattern that will be followed down through the generations.

What happens in the garden in chap. 3 and begins to manifest itself in disharmonious relationships of all sorts accompanies the history of humankind outside the garden in chapter 4.

The reality of sin continues and intensifies Cain’s problematic relationship to God, to other people (especially to family), to his own feelings and actions, and to the ground.

Let’s look at the text and make a few observations:

  1. The Offering: It does come as something of a surprise that God accepts Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.

Two puzzles emerge: (1) We are not told how Cain discovered that neither he nor his offering was accepted. Given God’s way of responding in the story, Cain may have been told directly. (2) No rationale is given; hence God’s actions appear arbitrary (to readers and probably to Cain). Most commonly, scholars have appealed to differences in their offerings. Abel offers the firstling (Exo. 22:19_ and choice of fat portions (Lev.3:3-17); Cain’s offering is not described in such detail.

Yet it seems unlikely that later Israelite practice would apply. Their motivation or attitudes may have differed, but God looks at both the offerer and the offering.

God makes a decision for the younger brother. Cain’s response to that decision sets the rest of the story in motion.

It is attitudes and motivations that set everything into motion!

God’s response suggests that Cain did not ‘do well.’

Cain’s response was ‘resentful,’ and ‘distressed.’

The downcast face (external manifestation of the inner feeling) reveals more the idea of dejection, feelings associated with rejection, than anger.

Cain must care about what God thinks of him and his sacrifice. But the basic issues comes not that Cain acts in a dejected fashion, but how he responds to God’s interaction with him about the dejection.

2. The Attitude

Principle Established: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (NKJ)

In view of Cain’s rejection and dejection, God graciously lays out Cain’s options and their consequences.

Cain does not attend well to God’s warning. When the brothers are in open country, Cain overpowers Abel and kills him.

God immediately interrogates the offender in order to elicit Cain’s response. Cain takes the road of denial rather than hiding from God; even more, he turns the question back to God (Am I my brother’s keeper?)

Abel’s blood crying out to God from the ground.

3. The Act

‘Shed blood cries out from ground’.

Blood = Life; innocent life; justice and injustice for life taken is crying out. (There is grace/forgivenss for everything…but it does require justice. Unrepented taking of life requires justice.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all1 the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:26 NKJ) (NKJ)

Question? What about War?

What about inmates / death penalty? There is forgiveness for everything but justice from a governmental / societal requires justice too.

Justice established to keep order in society.Importance: The idea assumes that blood as the conveyer of life belongs to God and spilled blood cannot be covered up. 

Transition: To my theme, the sanctity of Life.

‘When God infused spiritual life into Adam, He imparted something infinitely greater than material existence. Holy Scripture affirms a dimension to human life that transcends chemical processes, and neurological functions. Nothing else in all of the material creation shares this spiritual dimension.

  • Men and women were created with imperishable souls to fellowship with God throughout eternity.
  • The value of human life is infinitely greater than the relative worth currently ascribed to it by a secular society. Human life has intrinsic value because of its worth to God.
  • Contrary to widespread contemporary belief and materialistic views, men and women do not own themselves.
    • Illusions of personal sovereignty, human autonomy, and unfettered choice outside the parameters of God’s law are false. They inevitably lead to bondage, purposelessness, and separation from the Creator.’

‘Human life is sacred because ultimately it belongs to God. Human beings were created to reflect His glory. It is His by right of creation and, for those who have professed faith in Christ’s sacrificial death and Resurrection, by virtue of redemption.

  • While God gave humanity the authority to kill and eat other forms of life (Genesis 9:3), the murdering of other human beings is expressly forbidden, with the penalty being death (Genesis 9:6).
  • Beyond the sanctity of life, there is a much better argument against these things: the greatest commandments. In Matthew 22:37–39Jesus says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
  • In these commandments, we see that our actions are to be motivated by love for God and love for others. If we love God, we will value our own lives as part of God’s plan, to do His will until it comes about that His will is better served by our deaths. And we will love and care for His people (Galatians 6:10Colossians 3:12-15). We will see to the needs of the elderly and sick. We will protect others from harm—whether from abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking, or other abuses. While the sanctity of life can be the foundation, love must be the motivation.’

4. The Image (of God)

Questions: Why are humans and Life so valuable?

Genesis 1:26–28

26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’

Question? What is the image and likeness of God?

On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus, He finished His work with a “personal touch.” God formed Adam from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath (Genesis 2:7).

  • Accordingly, humanity is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit.
  • Having the “image” or “likeness” of God means, in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God. Adam did not resemble God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood. Scripture says that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and therefore exists without a body. However, Adam’s body did mirror the life of God insofar as it was created in perfect health and was not subject to death.
  • The image of God (Latin: imago dei) refers to the immaterial part of humanity. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and enables them to commune with their Maker. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.

Question? What should we as Christians understand about the ‘sanctity of life’ and why life Matters:

  1. Because every life is precious to God it should be precious to us.
  2. The Life of every creature is in the blood.
  3. The Holiness and Justice of God requires/demands justice of shed Innocent blood.