“And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell” (4:4-5). The Lord warned Cain, “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (4:7). This has been our problem ever since, hasn’t it? How we struggle to do right and not to sin! We know we must rule over sin but we do not find the strength within ourselves to do so. So often, with Paul, we find ourselves doing what we know we should not and failing to do what we should. And when confronted with our sin, how often do we resort to the sort of deflection offered by Cain when God asked where Abel was: “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” (4:9).
But God knew where Abel was. And God knew what Cain had done. God knows! And God judged Cain so that, fearing he would be killed as a fugitive, Cain cried out, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (4:13), But “the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him” (4:15). Grace upon grace! We begin to learn, with this story, about the terrible consequences of sin but, also, about the marvelous grace of God. It is never too late, it is never fruitless, to cry out to God in genuine repentance and ask for grace. Our God delights in grace. Hear the sure promise of the gospel.
Pardon and peace from God on high;
Behold, he lays his vengeance by;
And rebels that deserve his sword,
Become the favourites of the Lord. –Isaac Watts (1766)