Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered October 31, 2009 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

The Mark of Cain

1 John 3:11-15

(RealAudio available)

I would like to speak with you this morning about the mark of Cain.  How many of you know what the mark of Cain was?  Genesis 4 gives us the shocking story of two brothers.  Let me begin with verse one.  “Eve became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’  Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.”

Both brothers had the same heredity.  The same environment, house, parents, food and the same chances.  Father Adam and Mommy Eve didn’t worry about their boys going over to the neighbors and what they were doing there.  There was plenty of work to keep them out of trouble.  Both boys were successful at their work.  Cain was a farmer and his brother was a sheep herder.  Both of them knew God.

When Eve gave birth to Cain, her first born, she believed that he was Jesus.  She believed that he was the promised Deliverer.  And how do we know that.  The Hebrew language reads:  “I have gotten a man, the LORD.”  She thought she had given birth to the promised Saviour!  Little did she know that instead of being the world’s Deliverer, he would be the world’s first murderer.  Cain was sweet as a baby.  She held little Cain and probably thought, “You are the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.”  But he was the first murderer, in the making.  Eve must have been sick when she saw Cain grow up with a selfish spirit.  The boys played with puppies, lambs, & rabbits.  They picnicked near the Garden gates watching the Cherubs with their flaming swords.  Cain wished he could enter the Garden of Eden.  It was a weed free zone.

Cain fought weeds all day while Able watched Sheep.  Cain was older and may have thought his work was harder and more important.  Farmer Cain was proud of his crops but he had a hard row to hoe.  He felt the curse that God placed on the ground much more than Able.  Cain thought it was too severe.  Why must he labor under his fathers curse?  Daddy ate of the forbidden tree, not me!  Every weed he pulled and every time he got scratched by a thorn he hated God more.  “It is not fair”.  He whined continually against God.  God is punishing me.  Why me? I didn’t eat that apple!

God had made known to Adam that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin.  The boys were given the same instructions.  One day Cain got to thinking, I’ve shed enough of my own blood and sweat working with these cursed weeds.  My veggie’s are just as important as Abel’s sheep.   Look at verse three.  “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.”

Now what does that mean, “In the course of time.”  The King James says: “In the process of time.”  What does that mean?  The New American Standard Bible, a literal translation says “At the end of the days”.  This refers to the Sabbath. They worshiped on a specific day, the Sabbath Day at a specific place where both boys gave an offering.  We still do this.  On Sabbath I see God’s faithful people bringing an envelope in their pocket or in their Bible.  They want to give an acceptable offering to God.

But there was a problem.  Cain brought his vegetables.  Able brought an unblemished first born sheep.  Who was right?  Cain may have thought, I am the first born!  My brother is crazy to slay the best of his flock.  My produce is just as good as his smelly sheep.  He works with sheep and I work with vegetables.  If God is fair, God will accept the product of my labor as well as the efforts of my brothers labor.

Verse four. “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”  Cain felt spurned by God.  He had brought quality vegetables that would win a blue ribbon at the county fair.  His flowers were beautiful.  His herbs were so fragrant.  Only the biggest and best tomatoes and fruits were gathered.   Both brothers spent much time preparing a really first class offering that would make God happy.  Both built up a stone altar.  Both selected wood for the fire.  Both knelt and prayed, giving their offering to God.  But heavenly fire only fell on Abel’s lamb.  Cain’s vegetables were still there.  Obviously God had rejected Cain’s offering and even worse God had rejected Cain. 

That Sabbath, both boys sat there listening to their fathers sermon.  Adams words may have described what things were like inside the garden of Eden.  He may have told about the coming deliverer.  He may have urged his little family to be faithful to God.  Sadly, It was the last Sabbath sermon Abel would ever hear.  In fact, neither boy would ever attend church again.  The very next Sabbath Adam and Eve would attend alone.  They had lost Eden and now they lost all their children on one dreadful day.  The next Sabbath was probably spent in weeping with many tears.  Their family was gone.

How did this tragedy happen?  The Bible says Cain became very angry and felt rejected.   Why did God reject Cain?  Was it because of a vegetable?  His attitude?  Cain’s lower lip stuck out as his blood pressure went up.  He kicked the altar.  Abel’s offering was a blazing bonfire.  His was untouched.  Cain thought, it is not fair.  I am the first born and my brother gets all the special treatment.  Cain got stark raving mad.  Evil thoughts were pacing about in the halls of his mind.  You know that anger is just one little letter short of danger!

Cain was rejected!  He thought:  “Abel’s lamb got the fire. God has accepted Abel and rejected me.  Now Abel will have all my rights as the first born.  I’m going to lose my birthright!  My younger brother will become my ruler.  He will inherit the farm.  God loves him more than me.  Abel is his favorite grandson.  I know how to solve this.  I’ll kill him rather than submit to him.  I’ll be first at any cost.” 

Then God came down to talk.  Notice verse six.  “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’”

Now Who was God?  God was Cain’s Grandfather.  Grandpa tried to urge obedience.  He tried to explain the importance of a blood sacrifice.  He may have pointed to the coming Redeemer and His death for mankind.  But Cain’s lower lip became hard set.  He remained stubborn and unrepentant.  He complained that he had been treated unfair.  God did more for his brother than he did for Cain.  He became exceedingly angry over this ‘injustice’.  Cain hated God and hated Able.  You know that hatred is like a high powered rifle with a plugged barrel.  The backfire is worse than the shot.

Unless you master the sin crouching at your door, your sin will master you.  Unless you control your temper, your temper will control you.  You either overcome evil, or evil will overcome you.  Cain was at the turning point of his life.  God tried to help, but Cain stomped off. 

Verse eight.  “Cain ‘talked’ with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Cain was right in Abel’s face, yelling and cursing at his brother.  The blood vessels in his neck were sticking out.  His face was red.  Perhaps at that awful moment some of the world’s first swear words were shouted out using God’s name in vain.  Wickedness was blossoming.  Satan and his imps were like excited fans at a dog fight egging Cain on. 

Do you know that a heated argument is just one step away from murder?  How often we have said: “I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”  Yet most of us don’t have much to spare in the first place.  Try to avoid hard feelings.  Walk away from an argument.  Leave the hot words.  Not long ago I heard on the news that two people were arguing over 40 dollars.  One pulled out a gun and killed the other.  40 dollars.

Cain killed Able.  Cain, the hoped-for  deliverer became the world’s first murderer.  Cain was a fool. Instead of humbly listening to God, he held on to his anger. He took his anger out on Abel.  Cain said "Let’s go out to the field."  Here is the origination of the first Sabbath afternoon walk.  And it was not a good walk.  Cain was walking away from God.  This murder was obviously premeditated wasn’t it? 

People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.  Cain was burning with anger!  He who died would eventually live forever.  He who lived would eventually die forever.

First John three gives the reason why Cain killed Abel.  First John 3 verse 12  “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.”  And why did he murder him?  “Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.”

Cain slew Abel because Abel was more able.  He was better.  The righteous have always been persecuted because of their righteousness.  There has always been “Enmity between good and evil”  It started from day number one.  This same hatred will exist in the last days when the world largely belongs to Satan.  This hot hatred brings about the time of trouble upon God’s last day people.  Abel was the first of millions of Martyrs.  Verse 12 says Cain belonged to Satan.   When you lose control of your temper, at that point, who does control it?  Satan does!  At that point Cain belonged to the Devil. 

Cain was cursed.  Did God curse Cain?  Cain brought the curse on himself. God does not say, “I will now curse you.”  God simply states the truth, “Now you are cursed' You brought it on yourself.”.   We Christians can bring a curse upon ourselves because of some of our struggles with sin.  We must work to overcome sinful weaknesses, or they will be passed on to our children and descendants.  You study Cain’s family on down the line.  Cain did not control it.  Our curses will be propagated to our posterity.  We’ve got to overcome sin.

Genesis 4:15 tells what God had to do.  He was worried that people would go and kill Cain.  In fact, Cain himself was worried about it.  “Everybody that finds me will kill me.”  And who were these ‘everybody’?  These were his brothers and sisters.  “They’re going to kill me.”  This is vigilante justice.  “You’ve got help me Lord.”  So what did the Lord do?   “The LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.”

What was that mark?  The mark of Cain.  Number one.  Some people think it was the color of his skin.  Here would be the world’s first white man or black or red. . Others think it was a brand that God stamped into his forehead which would identify him.  “That’s the one.  You kill him and you’re in trouble with Me because I am his God.  I am his Grandfather.” 

But there is an interesting statement in the last pages of the Adventist Bible Commentary.  It says that some people today still have the mark of Cain.  Now think about this.  Let me read this statement to you.  It’s in the first volume of the Bible Commentary.  It says, .”Any man who seeks to compel or control the reason of any other man, becomes an agent of Satan, to do his work, and in the sight of the heavenly universe he bears the mark of Cain.” (MS 29, 1911).  {1BC 1087.3}  Now let me just reread part of that.  “Anyone who.”  A wife seeking to control a husband.  A husband seeking to control a wife.  A brother seeking to control a sister.  “Becomes an agent of Satan and bears the mark of Cain.”

So what is the mark of Cain?  It sounds like it could be an uncontrolled angry temper.  Angry force or Satanic zeal used to control another.  The Mark of the Beast is a sister to the mark of Cain.  In the last days the mark of the Beast will require Satanic force to compel innocent Christians to reject God’s clear commands and follow Satan under the penalty of death.  God’s clear command is that we should be Christ-like.  The opposite of the mark of the beast is the mark of a true Christian.  It is one who is Christ-like, kind, gentle, slow to anger, and has self control.   

Genesis four, verse 16.  “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden."  He went out to the east of Eden.  Dwelt in the land of Nod.  ‘Nod’ means wandering or vagabond.  He became the world’s first gypsy.  What does that mean?  What was Cain’s occupation?  He was a farmer.  Can a farmer be a gypsy?  Can a farmer be a vagabond?  No.  A farmer has to stay put.  He has to plant his blue-berry bushes and his fruit trees and his crops.  So Cain lost his occupation, and now he becomes a wanderer which is basically a hunter-gatherer.  He lost his green thumb that day.  He lost his land.  He lost the farm.  He was destined to a restless life of moving to and fro in “the land of Nod”. 

I think in America we are a people who are wanderers.  We are gypsies.  We’re a nation on wheels.  We’re empty.  Fruitless.  Homeless.  Wishing that we had the home that we remember, that our grandparents had and never finding it.  Never having that peace.  Like Cain, we post-moderns are lonely, hurting fugitives from real life

Hebrews chapter 11 talks about Cain.  Look at verse four.  It says, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.”  By faith.  Cain didn’t have that.  “By faith he was commended as a righteous man.”  That’s what Abel had and God spoke well of his offering, “and by faith he still speaks even though he is dead.”   He’s speaking today during this sermon, you might say.

Cain's basic sin was not just the murder of Abel.  Abel's sacrifice was judged righteous by God, and Cain's bloodless one was not, because Cain "was of that wicked one" (1 John 3:12). He had refused to offer the blood of an acceptable sacrifice for his sins.  Instead he offered the fruits produced by his own efforts.   If you offer your own works to God you will be lost.   “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission.”  Hebrews 9:22. There is only one acceptable Sacrifice,  Jesus and His righteousness.  Cain brought an offering.  Able brought a Sacrifice. 

Now I want to share with you what type of religion Cain was teaching and demonstrating.  Cain’s religion, like all false religions, was based on human works.  You think of all the false religions out there, and I could start naming them.  You know what they are.  They are religions of works.  Number two  Cain’s religion, like all false religions, was a religion of force.  Think about the dark ages.  The religion forcing people was wrong.  Abel’s knife slit a lambs throat.  But Cain plunged his knife into his brothers heart.  He would force his brother, or kill him.  Abel was the first Martyr.  False religions resorts to force whenever they can.  Persecutions and terrorism follow them.  You look at the terrorists today.  Is that what God wants?  Number three.  Cain’s religion, like all false religions, was marked by lying.  I could reword that and say God’s true church is marked by the truth.  One preaches the truth and the other goes by lies.  Let’s make sure we are a people of the truth.  What was the lie, by the way?  God said to Cain, “Where’s your brother?”  Cain said, “I don’t have a clue.  Am I my brother’s keeper. I don’t know where he is.”  Was that truthful? 

Cain, the human founder of the world’s first false religion became a vagabond like Satan and his bones lie in a nameless grave at an unrecorded age.

God is the real Hero in this story.  Did you know that?  God is the Hero.  God’s mark protected Cain. Can you imagine God doing that?  God was harboring a criminal.  Why would He do that?  Instead of striking him dead with some lightening sent down from heaven, God put a mark on him to shield him from harm.  God put a circle of protection around him, of love.  You think God hated Cain?  Does God hate sinners?  God loves everybody.  The guilty sinner was still God’s property and God put a mark on him.  Why would God put a hedge around Cain?  I think to give him time to repent.  God does not want anybody to be lost. 

Have you noticed that if you get out here on the highway and you observe the wrecks, that many wrecks are caused by a drunk, and many drunks hit Christians.  And who will die in a wreck where a drunk hits a Christian?  Which person dies, almost always?  The Christian.  The drunk lives.  Why does he live?  Maybe God is giving him time to repent.  The Christian is ready.  The drunk isn’t.  I don’t understand how all that works, but God doesn’t want anybody to be lost.  Cain’s mark was the mark of God’s grace.  God loves sinners.  He wants them to repent.  We don’t know if Cain ever did repent, do we?  You might meet Cain in heaven.  We don’t have any idea.

But each of us has been given time to repent.  Have you repented?  You know friends, we want to conquer temptation.  We’re all tempted and we don’t want to yield to temptation.  We want to gain the victory over anger and over sin, so let’s respond.  We’re going to sing our closing hymn.  Yield Not To Temptation.  Get the victory over the devil.  Be like Abel and offer the sacrifice that God wants.  Give Him your heart.  You know, let’s respond with love to God’s great grace.  He loves you.  He loves you with an unfailing love.  Respond to Him and His great righteousness.

Dear Father in Heaven.  It’s been 6 thousand years since Cain murdered his brother.  I pray that we will be our brother’s keeper.  That we will be loving and kind.  That we will be Christ-like.  We are here today in a Christian church.  Help us to always believe the truth.  To accept Jesus, and to live a Christian life in our home and to someday be in Your kingdom to meet Adam and Eve and Abel, and maybe Cain, we don’t know.  Keep us faithful, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Hymn of Praise: #93, All Things Bright and Beautiful
Scripture: 1 John 3:11-15
Hymn of Response: Old Church Hymnal, Yield Not to Temptation

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 11/18/09