Read His Words Before Ours!
Wilderness wilds take on many forms in our lives.
For every wanderer, an oasis beckons.
Sweet waters meant to be consumed, delighted in, and strengthening to the sojourner. Daily, they are available. Hourly. Breath by breath.
This is the secret of survival in desert’s dearth.
Some may think Cain’s wilderness began the day he murdered his brother and was cast from God’s presence, ejected from his family for his gruesome crime. But Cain’s heart wandered desert sands, sensing the scorch of perceived abandonment long before his leathered hand reached for the rock to slew Abel.
Thousands of generations later, God would uncover Cain’s covert sin as Jesus spoke to a quickly gathering crowd during His most famous sermon.
“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, “Do not murder”, and “whoever murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. (…) Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
Sin’s stealthy snare woos us to use our anger to injure another. (Proverbs 12:18) It sneakily deceives, “You deserve to be angry! You’re more powerful if you voice your anger. Raised voice, pacing feet, sarcastic words, or snubbed shoulder; do it all, girl, whatever you feel. Let it roar, rage and burn!”
Jesus’ half-brother, James’ penned, “Each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
Cain’s sin was the gateway to his literal (when he was angry) and figurative (when he was banished) wilderness, but for Abel, his wilderness was felt along the cold hard edges of broken relationship. Perhaps the brothers once shared a close relationship. Perhaps they had fond memories of building forts, exploring caves, and scattering father Adam’s gardening tools. But hearts changed, distance grew, and where one brother drank freely from the oasis of heart worship to God, the other brother grew bitter and angry, spurning the cooling drink and claiming to love the blisters on his feet instead.
Both were wandering, but only one was lost.
Still, the Lord held them both.
Adam and Eve’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, were the first boys naturally birthed in the entire human race. Immediately, sin crouched at the door of their hearts, seeking to rule them. (Genesis 4:7) Both had a choice, just as their parents did, to worship the Lord or themselves. Their real-life actions flowed from the heart decisions they had already made.
As Cain and Abel approached the altar of the Lord that day, one brother would be dead within hours, but the other brother’s heart had already chosen death for himself. (Romans 5:12)
True, his hands stole his brother’s life, but his own choices had strangled him long before he reached for that rock.
Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground for mercy (Genesis 4:10), but his soul was already safe with Him because Abel had chosen worship. (Revelation 6:9-10) While alive, Abel chose to drink from the oasis of worshiping the Author of Life. Cain’s life still flooded his veins when his brother’s heart stopped, but God’s curse was upon him, rendering him dead because of his own sin-wrecked heart-condition. (Genesis 4:11-12)
When we look in the mirror, Sisters, it’s Cain’s image we should see reflected. Whether another’s innocent blood is on our head or not, we are all certainly responsible for the wounding caused by words spoken in anger.
“Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire”. Jesus’ words remind us that sin has stained us all. We all deserve Cain’s banishment. We all deserve his disownment, for we have all, at some point, chosen to reject the oasis of worshiping the One True God over our sinful selfish desires.
Here, Cain’s story takes its most remarkable turn, for God does something entirely unexpected. To the firstborn boy in the history of the world who has freshly murdered his brother because of selfish pride and jaded jealousy, the Lord gives mercy. (Genesis 4:15)
Excuse me, what?!
Death, Lord, Cain deserves death. Send a lightning bolt from heaven and consume him for killing his innocent brother! Or smite Cain for not worshiping you whole-heartedly as Abel had! Don’t give him mercy.
Words flow easily when we’re angry, outraged, offended, indignant, until we look in the mirror and see Cain’s heart in our eyes. Lover of self depicts us all. And to all of us, the Lord says, “While she chose sin, I chose to die for her.” (Romans 5:8, my paraphrase)
The Lord banished Cain for his sin.
The Lord banishes each of us for the same reason.
Not the same sin, but the same offensiveness against a holy God.
The Lord marked Cain, giving him mercy,
so none would kill him as he had killed his own brother.
The Lord sets His love upon us, offering each of us His merciful forgiveness
so we don’t need to suffer the eternal death we deserve.
Cain’s wilderness was one of his own hand, and so is ours,
but we can accept the mercies of the Lord and drink the waters of His life!
Leave the desert, friend.
Worship the Lord who has marked you with His grace!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!