“‘Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” – Genesis 4:15-16
The tale of Cain and Abel is quite sobering. If we seek approval from the wrong sources, or with the wrong approach, there is a terrible consequence to pay. Our actions matter a lot. Every decision we make takes us down a pathway of sin or a pathway of righteousness.
The story’s finale provides a basic reality as a firm foundation upon which we can stand. The truth is that God still accepts Cain. God still loves him and protects him. As Cain goes, he leaves with God’s mark of protection on him.
We cannot be good enough to gain God’s acceptance. His acceptance comes by grace. Approval comes through our decisions, but acceptance comes through God’s grace.
Like Cain, we are living our lives “east of Eden”, outside the garden of perfection. We make mistakes, sometimes grave ones, and the Lord does not approve. There are consequences for our deeds, and ample reason to strive to make good decisions. But those who have received the gift of salvation are always accepted. We are marked as his children. His acceptance follows us wherever we go.
As Cain moves on from this terrible episode, he moves with the mark of the Lord. So do each of us. No matter what messiness we are coming out of, the Lord watches over us. No matter how rough the ground is to work or how far we wander, the presence of the Lord is near.
The story of Cain and Abel is a classic narrative rich with insights and invitation. This is the final part in a five-part devotional series from Yellow Balloons that explores the journey of Cain (and Abel) as he struggles to hear and perceive the ways of God. All along the way, the Lord stays near to Cain and offers us hope for redemption, no matter how great our sin.