When we last saw Adam and Eve—at the end of Vignette #3 of God’s One Big Story—they were being evicted from their Garden home for violating God’s one and only condition in their lease agreement, which was to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree was one of two special ones located in the middle of the Garden and, by partaking of its fruit, they became guilty of disobeying God, and became sinners with a firsthand knowledge of Evil. This, of course, meant that they could no longer stay in the Garden, where they would have continued access to the other tree at the Garden’s center, the Tree of Life; for, if they had eaten of the Tree of Life then, they would have lived forever in their fallen states, and would have never known the joy of becoming a redeemed Child of God.
The curtains here at Stage #1 are preparing to open again on what will be Vignette #4 of our Story and, as they do, we hear the voice of our off-stage Narrator bringing us up to date on what has happened since that sad and fateful moment when Adam and Eve were thrust out of their first home—the place where they had only known the Good that life had to offer. He lets us know that a lot has changed, and that a considerable amount of time has gone by, when he tells us that…
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.’ And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. (Gen. 4:1-2)
It is at this point that the Stage comes fully into view and, while Adam and Eve are nowhere to be found, we see before us two young men in the foreground: the one on our left is Cain, who is tending to his crops; and, the one on our right is Abel, who is tending to his flocks. Behind them is a field, and beyond that, at the back of the Stage, there is the Angel with the flaming Sword who is still guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Close to this entrance, there is also a pile of stones stacked neatly in the form of an altar—which, from the looks of it, has been used a number of times in the past.
As we continue looking at the Stage, our characters continue going about their work, even as the lights are dimmed and then relit six times—simulating the passage of six days and nights. At the end of what would be the sixth day, however, their day-in, day-out routine is interrupted when Cain gathers up a portion of his crops, Abel selects what appears to be the very best—the firstborn—lamb of his flock, and they both head toward the altar at the back of the Stage—the place where they plan to meet with and to worship God, as they offer up to Him their sacrifices.
When they arrive there, the first thing they do is check to make sure the stones of the altar are clean and that none of them are loose; and then, after going out and gathering up sticks, they proceed to light the fire for the altar. Once they have it burning, Cain wastes no time in putting his offering on the altar—an offering which is very quickly consumed by the flames, and one which leaves behind no particularly fragrant odor to enjoy. Abel’s offering, on the other hand, takes a good deal longer to prepare. First, he inspects the lamb to make sure that it is unblemished in every way. Next, he kills the lamb and cuts its body into pieces, draining the blood from it as he does. Finally, he places the pieces on the altar—being sure to include the choicest pieces of fat—and then pours the blood out on the ground at the base of the altar. He, now completely covered with the lamb’s blood, stands back, watching as the flames consume his offering, and as its sweet-smelling aroma wafts its way to heaven.
Almost immediately, the Lord lets the brothers know that the sacrifice that Abel made has been found to be acceptable, while the offering made to Him by Cain has been rejected. When this happens, Cain becomes so obviously angry that it prompts God to question him in the following manner…
God: Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen. 4:6-7)
Sadly, it appears that Cain has taken no heed of God’s warning for, as he and Abel are returning from the altar, he begins arguing with his brother. Although we cannot hear what is being said, we can see that the argument is escalating very quickly—so much so that, by the time they reach the field, Cain has picked up a rock and has begun hitting Abel in the head with it. After a couple of well-placed blows, Abel’s lifeless body collapses on the ground. Upon seeing his brother lying there motionless, Cain, seemingly in a state of panic, rushes back to the front of the Stage. If he had hoped that, in distancing himself from the scene of the crime, he would be able to claim his innocence, he was very quickly and sadly mistaken; for, no sooner than he had arrived, he found that God was there to meet him for the following confrontation:
God: Where is Abel your brother?
Cain: I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?
God: What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.
Cain: My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from you face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.
God: Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.
At that, we see God placing a mark of some kind on Cain’s forehead—a mark designed to keep any avenger of his brother’s blood (possibly one of their other brothers) at bay. Once that is done, we watch as Cain calls his wife, gathers up his belongings, and heads off into the distance—to a land east of Eden called Nod. As he leaves, and as the lights dim on him and his wife, our Narrator offers us some insights into what Cain’s future holds, as he tells us that…
Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. [And] When he [Cain] built a city he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. (Gen. 4:17)
Although we are not told so, we are left to imagine that, in his building of a city, Cain was trying to provide himself with a fortification where he would be safe from anyone seeking vengeance upon him. We are also not told how he would be making a living, given that his former occupation was no longer a viable option for him. But, we can wager a guess that, as a result of lives lived apart from God, the end that he and his descendants would eventually come to would not be a good one. We are given an indication of this as several men and a few women line up on the Stage before us—and, as our Narrator announces that…
To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
As our Narrator announces the name of each of Cain’s descendants, a spotlight shines on each one briefly, before moving on to the man in the next generation. However, when the light shines on the last man, Lamech, we are surprised by his sudden and arrogant outburst to his wives…
Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-seven fold. (Gen. 4:23-24)
If Vignette #4 were to end here, it would be a very sad ending indeed. But, we are given renewed hope when our Narrator once again interjects…
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. [And] At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. (Gen. 4:25-26)
Praise God, all is not lost!
Join the Gaithers in “There is Power in the Blood”…