Genesis 4:1-8 • When Anger Takes Hold


Why is it we’re “surprised” whenever we try to take a spiritual “shortcut” believing we don’t “really” have to follow the rules because we believe the ends will justify the means, only to find out that the ends are nullified by God Who IS concerned about the means? From the very beginning, God establishes that the process is just as important—sometimes even more so—than the goal. Obtaining a goal does not negate the unfaithful, disobedient life that engaged it. In fact, we repeatedly fin

Read verses 1-5

Q: To whom does Eve give credit regarding her pregnancy and the birth of Cain? How does the use of the name change from previous verses? (Compare in the table below.)

A: Eve refers to “the Lord.” In some Bibles (NASB), upper case letters are used to designate the formal and proper name of God designated by the name Yahweh, or YHWH. This is the holy name of God written but not spoken aloud by the Israelites. (When reading this word aloud, Jews substitute the word Adonai, meaning “Lord”, as opposed to Yahweh which in the NASB is written “Lord”.) It is the name God gives when asked by Moses, and becomes the personal name of God for the Israelites. Up to this point in Genesis, the term “lord God” has been used. Satan omits the YHWH part and refers only to God, recognizing Him as creator but not as lord. Eve refers to God personally…Yahweh…or, as some older translations put it, Jehovah.

Normal Use of God's Name Satan's Use of God's Name
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” ―Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” ―Genesis 3:1
Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” ―Genesis 3:9 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” ―Genesis 3:3
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” ―Genesis 3:13 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ―Genesis 3:5
I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord. ―Genesis 4:1  

Q: Adam and Eve have a second child, Abel. Who is the firstborn and who would therefore be the “traditional” heir of Adam, the one who would inherit the rights of the father? What roles do each son assume?

A: Cain is the firstborn and would be the more responsible son to carry on the line of the father. Cain tills the land and Abel keeps the flocks. As meat was probably not eaten until after the flood, Cain’s responsibility was probably greater, for he was responsible for providing food, whereas Abel was responsible for providing wool for clothing.

Q: In verse three, both sons bring an offering to the Lord. (This was probably learned from Adam, but the story focuses on the sons.) Why did they bring offerings and what was the primary difference and significance between Cain’s offering and Abel’s?

A: Most probably, God instructed Adam how to bring offerings and Adam taught his sons. The purpose of the offerings was to recognize that God is God over their lives and perhaps also for the recognition of their sin; thus, sin offerings.

Although offerings were formalized in the Levitical laws, in general meat (blood) offerings applied to the issue of sin, whereas grain offerings applied to the issue of dedication and devotion.

The primary difference in Cain’s and Abel’s offering is twofold: Abel’s offering was of the “firstlings” of the flock (not stated that Cain’s was of the first fruit of his harvest), and, more importantly, Abel’s offering involved the “fat portions” of the sacrifice. That could only mean that an animal had been sacrificed and blood was shed. (“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” ―Genesis 3:21 Adam and Eve witnessed the requirement of blood to cover sin.). The significance is that for the forgiveness of sin, the shedding of blood is required. This foreshadows the death of Christ, as does the Atonement sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22

Q: In 5b, how does the Lord respond to the sacrifices? What does it mean to have “regard”?

A: God, being God, has the right to determine what constitutes an acceptable sacrifice. He is the offended party as the result of mankind’s sin, and He is the one to whom reconciliation is due.


Read verse 8

Q: How well did Cain deal with his anger?

A: Not as one would hope. Turn to John 8:44. To what incident was Jesus referring when He said, “…he was a murderer from the beginning…”?

Q: From where do you think Cain got the idea of killing (murder)?

A: The idea for killing his brother was probably placed in his mind by “the crouching one”; that is, Satan. In other words, the “sin” what was “crouching at the door” was Satan, waiting for an opportunity to destroy the only one who brought the correct sacrifice and knew the significance of man’s sin.

Q: In verse 11, Cain comes under God’s curse. How does this affect the descendants of Adam?

A: Cain, the firstborn, is cursed; Abel the man of faith, is dead.

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”

―Hebrews 11:4

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

―1 John 3:11-12