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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Proffitt

Podcast: Brotherly Love? With Terry Feix

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Check out the So We Speak podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Many Old Testament stories tend to have a “Kids Sunday School” feeling with easy moral lessons that can easily follow us into adulthood. However, the Old Testament narratives are designed to teach us deep theology about God and mankind. This is no less true for the opening chapters of Genesis.

A good exegetical rule is to let the text speak for itself – let Scripture interpret Scripture. The story in Genesis chapters 1-3 focuses on God creating the universe and the sin of Adam and Eve… nothing is mentioned about a literal six days, a gap theory, day ages, or any of the many controversies surrounding creation. These are valuable conversations but should not supersede the major emphasis of the narrative. The point of the story is God and mankind, not apologetics.

For more of an overview of Genesis, check out this article Questions In Genesis.

Cain, Abel, And Shame

On the surface, it seems like the main focus of Cain and Abel is sibling rivalry. Yet Abel has no lines – he is never quoted. The majority of the text is spent chronicling God’s conversation with Cain.

The main point of this story, relayed in Genesis 4, is that sin grows, gets out of control, and leads to a confrontation with God. Even so, God does not give Cain what he deserves, which is death. But God has mercy on Cain and gives him a mark so that no one who finds Cain wandering in the wilderness will harm him.

At the beginning of the story, Abel brought God the best of his flock as a sacrifice. Cain brought some of the vegetables he had grown. Cain’s offering was rejected by God, whereas Abel’s was accepted. Cain became angry, and “his face fell.” He was experiencing shame because his offering was rejected, and he attempted to cover this shame with anger.

Cain responded with anger instead of repentance and humility. God came to Cain in a teachable moment without condemnation in an attempt to correct Cain. Yet Cain responded to God in anger.

God’s Compassion in Our Shame

When Cain was struggling with his shame and anger, God was not absent. God pursued Cain, not with condemnation, but with encouragement to do well and to bring the right sacrifice.

This portrays a compassionate image of God that we see throughout the Old Testament. So often, we subconsciously believe that when we are angry at God, he is angry with us. Our self-condemnation is imposed by us on God’s character, and we believe he is just as condemning (if not more) than we are of ourselves. This is not the case.

In Cain’s crisis moment, God drew near and gave Cain a chance to repent and make the right sacrifice. This was rejected, and Cain gave in to his anger – leading to the murder of his brother and being an outcast from the presence of God.

Abel’s Blood

Hebrews 11 chronicles Abel’s blood as a type of Christ – pointing toward the ultimate death of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of guilty, shame-ridden sinners. Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance, whereas Christ’s blood called for grace and mercy.

Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.


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