by Christopher Harbin

This content is part of a series.

Protecting the Vulnerable (48 of 52)
Series: Discipleship
Christopher B. Harbin
Genesis 4:1-15

It is easy to give up on people. We find people in all walks of life we are willing to write off or walk away from. We give up on people for slighting us or disagreeing with us. God's way is different. God seeks out the vulnerable to offer protection, encouragement, and a better path forward. It is really so hard for us to do the same?

Our sense of justice does not mesh too well with God's sense of justice. We find a few texts in the Bible to substantiate our notions of how justice ought to work, but then we encounter God acting in a different fashion than what we would expect. Sometimes we are simply reading a passage incorrectly or attributing human concepts to God. We take the actions of human beings and assume they represent God's purposes. At other times, we simply can't figure out what to do with how God surprises us. It should not be that hard, as God begins working in those surprising ways as far back as the opening chapters of Genesis.

Genesis chapter four begins straightforwardly enough. There were two brothers and one wanted to kill the other. God told him not to do such a thing, and then he got caught having murdered his brother Abel. Yahweh returned to the picture and meted out Cain's punishment. That is all fine and well, except that is not really what the passage says. Let's try again.

Cain was the elder of the two and Abel the younger. They held different occupations, which would lead us to understand they were likely something other than siblings. They represent larger groups of people and the perennial conflict between farmers and nomadic herdsmen. Abel brought Yahweh an offering from the very best of his livestock and God was pleased with him. Cain brought an offering of his produce, but Yahweh was not quite as pleased with him. As Cain became jealous and angry, Yahweh warned him that his anger could easily lead to sin, and he needed t ...

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