Genesis 4:8-15 God is my justice and restorer of all things
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.
Cain, in the thick of his envy rises up against his brother and kills him. God takes Cain to task by invoking a curse estranging him from the land and his family but not without handing him a sign of divine protection. Today’s devotion teaches us not to actively seek vengeance for ourselves. By leaving the matter to God, we can move on with life, while trusting God to bless and to restore. God is our justice and restorer of all things and He will in His perfect time execute swift justice upon all evildoers.
“Where is Abel your brother?”…
God invites Cain to come to terms with his wrongdoings against his brother. When Cain is challenged, he tells a bare-faced lie, “I do not know” followed by a rude remark to deny his involvement in his brother’s untimely death. His outright denial and deception shows he is much more hardened and depraved than Adam, the first human being. When Adam is asked to account for his actions, he at least displays signs of guilt and tells the approximate truth (see Genesis 3:10-12).
The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground… Now you are cursed from the ground.
In the ancient laws of Israel, as man is made in God’s image, all homicide must be avenged. And Abel’s blood is depicted as “crying” out to God for vengeance. For murders that are unavenged, the land becomes cursed and need to be atoned for. And a rite must be carried out to cleanse the land (see Deuteronomy 21:1-9). The consequence for Cain is a curse (from the ground) of banishment from the cultivated area and from the community. His estrangement which makes him a wandering vagrant is in part due to an even harsher environment: When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you. And in part, expulsion and excommunication from his family, which is a fitting consequence of one who murders familial members. Cain’s punishment includes having all relationships with God and with family broken.
So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.”
Cain responds not in remorse but in a cry of self-pity. His fears include social exposure of his crime and certain retribution but not is not concerned about his estrangement from God. Nevertheless, God hands Cain a sign giving him divine protection from vengeance seekers. Sevenfold connotes full divine retribution. The nature of the divine sign is not detailed but it may involve warnings in a form of dreams that serve to deter his would be hunters.
God is faithful and zealous to avenge the innocent.
We come to this conclusion by observing the sequence of events that transpired.
a. The fact that God wasted no time in confronting Cain.
b. Confrontation is immediately followed by invoking of a curse upon Cain as a consequence for his crime.
Here, we come to a realisation that God demands prompt and full recompense from the perpetrators. Isaiah the prophet says concerning vengeance for ancient Israel who are severely mistreated under the rule of foreigners. There will come a day when these foreigners will slave for them, and Israel will feast on the wealth of the nations and be raised up among them,
And they (the foreigners) will repair the ruined cities (of Israel),
The desolations of many generations.
Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks,
And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers…
For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them (the Israelites) their recompense. Isaiah 61:4,5,8
As we know it, Israel regains their sovereignty as a nation and foreigners did help build their nation. Therefore, God’s people no longer need to carry the burden of justice and personal vengeance while fully trusting in God to do that. If God spares not His own son so that man’s forgiveness can be fully realised, we can surely depend on God to avenge His people.
Many people cannot forgive their enemies because they fear that apart from them, no one else will grant them justice. However, we have God who is ever zealous to avenge the innocent. Paul encourages believers, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” Romans 12:19. Still, there are many who harbour a grudge ever hoping for the demise of their enemies. Such rob themselves of the abundant life that they have been seeking all along. Only God reserves the right to punish evildoers, man’s part is to forgive and to love. Jesus teaches, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45.
God will avenge the innocent in His perfect time.
Some may think that Cain, despite being cursed, has gotten away lightly for his brother’s murder. In fact, many are of the view that Cain should be struck dead immediately. By releasing him back into the wild after committing so great a crime is unacceptable and let alone handing him a sign of divine protection.
God, as seen throughout biblical history has been faithful and zealous to avenge the innocent, but He will execute his vengeance in His time. The preacher says, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.” Ecclesiastes 3:17. God allows evil to fester until an appointed when He will execute swift judgment upon them. Nevertheless, many cannot rest until they see the demise of their perpetrators. Hence, they live in perpetual misery until the time that God avenges them. The psalmist in response to those who hope for the quick destruction of their perpetrators,
Do not fret because of evildoers,..
For they will wither quickly like the grass…
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Psalms 37:1-2,4-5
Believers must turn from their bitterness and take joy in God’s promises to bless and restore all they have lost. By leaving the matter completely in God’s hands, they can move on with life while awaiting God to avenge them: Trust also in Him, and He will do it. No one must be given the right to rob us of our joy for the remaining days of our lives. God’s people must learn to move on and embrace the future trusting God to fulfil their heart’s desires.
Are you in constant anguish because of the prosperity of the wicked? And it has affected your faith in God’s guidance over your life. You are afraid that God may not avenge the innocent and allow the wicked to keep prospering. The psalmist is equally troubled by what he sees,
When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Psalms 73:16-19
God extends His grace and mercies to the righteous and the penitent. But the wicked and the unrepentant will be swept away by sudden terrors. Take some time out to ponder Psalms 73 and allow the Spirit to imprint in your heart His unwavering righteousness and wisdom by which He will avenge every wrong and make right. By leaving our injustice to God, we no longer hold it in memory as an unfinished business. By faith, I have considered justice and vengeance in this matter done and accomplished.
Dear Lord, I believe you are not only a merciful God, but also a righteous and just God. Having understood my own fallenness and that I have also in time past contributed towards the evil of this world. Forgive me for my selfish ways and restore within me a clean heart. I forgive those who has done harm to me. I desire to release the matter into your hands and to fully focus my energy to rebuild my life and to fulfil the dreams you have put in my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.