Have you ever felt rejected personally when you believed the person you valued did not appreciate the work you had done for them?
People who have their identity in what they do and not who they are do not respond well when their hard work is not enough to keep them where they believed their hard work had placed them. Their “old self” shows up.
The question that must be asked and answered is: Was there ever a new self or did the person just hide their “old self” well until they believed they were rejected? And then everyone gets to see their old self!
Cain was such an individual. Cain worked hard for God. Cain believed his hard work positioned him in a special place with God, and when God did not have the same value for his hard work, Cain proved his heart was never after God’s heart. This is the very reason Cain’s hard work was rejected. By the way, God did not reject Cain! God rejected his hard work as an offering of true worship.
Cain never understands their hard work does not place them where they are. Acceptance, value and honor place them where they are but their lack of honor disqualifies them for remaining where they had been placed!
When what we do is rejected we discover our lack of depth in the relationship with the one we did the work for! Cain saw God as his problem and the one who did not value their relationship.
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Genesis 4
When the Lord rejected Cain’s offering [of the work of his own hands] the world around Cain felt the wrath of Cain’s lack of honor for God and His will [true worship based on His work].
God is looking for those “whose hearts are fully His!” [2 Chronicles 16:9] This statement is within the context of King Asa who only obeyed God when it was convenient. The king lashed out at the prophet who represented the God who rejected his partial obedience.
People who think God is impressed with their hard work and deserve special treatment because of their hard work reveal that they do not understand real relationship with God, or the kind of worship God looks for. God looks for those whose heart is fully His.
That is why Jesus would later talk about a people, “Who worship Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.”
Relationship with God and His people begins with valuing what He values. Cain never connected to God’s heart because he was only interested in his hard work. His false belief created a heart that was hard and out of his hard heart he fell into what he carried in his heart – wrath.
People who carry wrath in their heart instinctively want judgment on others who do not do what they want.
They believe God has judged them so now they have a license to judge others!
Punishment of others is comfort food for Cain!
God gave Cain the opportunity to rise up after his countenance fell. God offered Cain a promotion! God offered Cain the opportunity to rise above the place he dwelt in his heart so that he would be able to see and experience God’s heart. Cain rejected the promotion!
Instead of seeing what God had offered him, Cain, because he did not value God or God’s community, continued his downward slide toward murder. Cain carried murder in his heart before God rejected his offering. When God rejected Cain’s offering Cain took it as personal rejection. The rejection did not create Cain’s hard heart but it did reveal it.
There are a lot of Cain’s in Christian communities [churches]!
Cain, God bless them, worship what they create instead of worshiping the Creator!
There are many examples of this in Scripture. Lucifer, Cain, Saul, and Judas are just a few of the personalities in Scripture that fell because they worshiped ‘their’ worship instead of the God who looks for worshipers who will worship Him in [by] spirit [not self] and [His] truth.
Idolatry is false worship and is condemned by God because it elevates what we have done above what God has done and is doing.
False worshipers become apparent when their expression of worship [what they worship] is not accepted by God. They look for someone else to blame instead of dealing with their false worship. This reveals their true intentions and why they are in the Community of believers. They need people of faith to affirm what they do because they do not have a real relationship with God. We know this is true because when they feel rejected they begin accusing God and those who they feel have rejected them.
They want and need to be accepted for what they do because they are hiding among the baggage of their old self! Never realizing they have been accepted and if what they do is rejected it is not a reflection of the value that God or His Community has for them!
When we believe we are rejected instead of understanding that our behavior is being rejected we disconnect from the people and place that has accepted us!
In verse 8 we read, “Cain told Abel his brother.” What did Cain tell Abel? Did Abel respond to Cain? If Abel responded to Cain what did he say?
Let’s look at a possibility!
Abel was Cain’s brother until Abel did not come into agreement with Cain. People who want others to tell them what they want to hear cannot handle being told what they need to hear. Now, Cain has felt the sting of rejection by God and his brother. And Cain is going to destroy the very one who was representing God to him by telling him the truth!
When Cain shows his true self [his old self] he proves he was not worthy of being in the Community.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 “When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear!14 “Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Genesis 4
Verse 16 is a sad but revealing verse. “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Cain settled [sat in judgment] in the land of Nod [aimlessness, no connection to anything stable], east [that which is before] of Eden [the place of God’s pleasure].
The Garden God created for man to have access to and have responsibility over was ‘east of Eden’. Cain, because of his irreverent and dishonorable behavior settled farther east of the place of God’s original pleasure, which was the place He placed original man, his parents.
Cain wanted nothing to do with God or what pleased Him. Again, this decision revealed what Cain carried in his heart the whole time he was in God’s presence. He wanted the benefit of a relationship without being responsible in the relationship and when he did not get his way he totally disconnected. That never works out well!
Many people believe God drove Cain out from His presence! Cain is the one who said God was driving Him away. Cain, who was never truly connected to God, now totally disconnected from God! “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.” Cain was still operating out of his will be done, not God’s!
God stated in verse 12 what had always been a reality in Cain’s heart. “You will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” God was simply revealing to Cain the truth that he was already a vagrant [a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging; one who wavers] and a wanderer [an aimless traveler] on the earth.”
To waver means you can not settle on what is established truth. Cain mixed his version of truth with God’s truth and then he settled on his version of truth.
People who mingle their version and perception of truth with God’s established truth will always feel rejected by those who have settled the matter of whose truth they will live by. Unsettled people cannot connect completely to settled people!
They are vagrants and wanderers. These are the ones who say, “God called me to serve you and to serve with you” and then when their lack of honor and reverence show up and is confronted, God mysteriously changes His mind. Now, “God told me to go over there and serve over there.” No He did not! God knew where you needed to be and when what you carried in your heart was confronted by those God called you to serve you revealed your vagrancy and your inability or unwillingness to settle down in established [God’s] truth.
Nepios [carnal, childish] believers are revealed by their instability!
Ephesians 4:14 – “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine [their own version of truth], by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;”
Mature believers can handle the truth because they speak truth!
Ephesians 4:15 – “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,”
Truth is found in what God wants us to hear not what we want to hear!
Can you handle THE truth?
From their instability nepios [immature] believers blame the mature believers when they are not moved [manuevered or manipulated] by their immature behavior.
Instead of staying connected to those who are stable they disconnect and drift into places where they find other immature believers so they can feel comfortable with their immaturity.
The Cain’s of the Community are self-centered!
Verses 13 and 14 reveal this truth – “Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the [good and productive] ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.'”
Cain continued to blame God for his condition because the Cain’s of the Community can never be in the wrong!
“Whoever finds me will kill me” is a clear indication that Cain was looking for self preservation. He was not concerned with the preservation of God’s established truth or his brother Abel’s life. Cain’s only think of themselves! ‘How is this affecting me?’ is one of their core values when, ‘How is my childish behavior affecting the Community?’ should be their core value!
Loyalty and faithfulness are discovered in the process of disagreement and options!
Can you, or will you be loyal and faithful during disagreement or will you use the disagreement as your excuse to disconnect?
Because you have so many options for “worship” will you stay in the process of refinement where God called you to be and set you in to grow, or will you use the disagreement to move to Nod farther east of Eden, and therefore be a vagrant and wanderer forever, or at least until you decide to quit running and hiding?
Only you can answer these very important questions!
One thing is for sure, your future well-being depends on how you answer these questions!
Keep HIS Faith! Keep HIS Passion!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury