As I had prepared an Advent message on “The Joy of the Promise,” I had spent time in Genesis 2 and 3 and I was reminded of the great passage of Genesis 4:4-5. It’s the first account of how God confronted sin. He did confront it, but He didn’t confront it in the same way most Christians do. The context is the offerings of Abel and Cain.
4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. (Gen. 4:4-5 NKJ)
There were two responses from God regarding the two sacrifices. The Lord respected one, but did not respect the other. In the Hebrew, where it says, “He did not respect” the words are, “He did not gaze upon.” He didn’t want to look at it.
Habakkuk 1:13 may be particularly relevant, which states God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil. I’m thinking, “Lord, there were only four people. Can’t You give him a break?” But, of course, God IS holy and He cannot look on evil. Who am I to question the holiness of God for the sake of man? Why would I elevate man by being more concerned about Cain, than the holiness of God? I must adjust to the holiness of God, because life is not about me, but about the holiness of the Lord and He IS worthy!
Then in verse five, where the passage says, “…his [Cain’s] countenance fell,” the Greek word used for “fell” is “imploded.” It’s very strong in that he was devastated. He thought so highly of himself and what he was doing that he didn’t regard what God had taught him or he assumed that what he did would certainly be good enough for God. Cain probably thought, “Look what I’ve done for You, Lord!”
Oh foolishness, foolishness. Who are we to think, we can do anything to please the holiness of God apart from God’s character and Word working through us? So God wouldn’t look on Cain’s offering and Cain imploded. It is pathetic, but a humorous interchange. Lord, help me see Your holiness more and more clearly every day!