“‘Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear.’” – Genesis 4:11-13
There are consequences for our actions. The choices we make affect others and can impact our circumstances, relationships, and settings.
Cain violates a boundary. And the consequence is stiff. The consequence for the sin of Adam, Cain’s father, was to be exiled from Eden. Exile is a form of death. Further, work was cursed, the earth became difficult to cultivate. For Cain, the consequences go a step further – the ground will no longer yield crops at all. Cain is exiled from his livelihood. He now must be a “restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain responds that this is something that is more than he can bear. Recall from verse 2 that Cain was described as someone who tilled the soil. It was not just his occupation, it was part of his perceived identity. Now that has been stripped away.
We are all descendants of Cain and Adam. We are exiled from a perfect garden. We are not living the existence for which we were created, to rule the earth in harmony with one another, with nature, and with our Creator. Like Cain, we are restless wanderers. We seek a place to settle, a place to rest. We desire a return of our authority, to rule the earth. We long for a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Thankfully, there are positive consequences for good choices. When we make a decision that honors God, serves others, and reflects the glory of Christ in each of us, we reap positive consequences. The beauty of joy. The grit and intimacy of steadfastness. The hope of trusting.
Our good choices may not work out as we hoped in this life. But exercising sound judgment and noble character always reaps a good consequence, a godly reward. Sometimes those rewards are put on layaway.
The great loss experienced by Adam and Cain can be restored through faithfulness. That is a promise worth pursuing with all our strength.
The story of Cain and Abel is a classic narrative rich with insights and invitation. This is part four 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.