Cain And Abel Essay, Research Paper
Cain and Abel are the first two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain is the eldest and Abel is the youngest. Cain is described as the tiller of the ground whereas Abel is the keeper of sheep. Both men know that God requires an offering, but the offering of Cain is quite different from that of Abel. Abel fears God, and because of this he offers the best of his flock to the Lord. He kills the animal and makes a sacrifice of blood. Abel understands that the shedding of innocent blood for the forgiveness of sin is acceptable. He also knows that this action of his is representative of surrendering his heart to God. By contrast, Cain brings what he has grown and gathered from the earth. In a way, a foolish man would think that any effort of his own could satisfy and infinitely holy God, and this is what Cain thinks. The offering of Cain signifies the work of his own hands, but Abel’s offering signifies the finished work of Christ.
God accepts Abel’s offering and rejects Cain’s. Abel is hated by his brother and since Cain’s offer is rejected, he is detested even more. Perhaps Cain’s only sin at this point is that he is trying desperately to win God’s acceptance instead of being faithful and humble. Abel offers a sacrifice and trusts in God to make him acceptable. Cain offers a sacrifice trusting only in his own abilities to make him acceptable. Cain feels unacceptable and reacts with anger and resentment when God has no regard for his offer. God comes to Cain and reminds him that his job is to do his best and trust in God. He also tells Cain that he is responsible for his actions no matter what the nature of sin is or what feelings he may be experiencing.
Cain plots to get rid of his brother thinking that the problem will then be resolved. Cain lures his brother out into the field and rises up and kills him. God comes to Cain to confront him with the responsibility and Cain denies him. God comes not to find the truth, but to allow Cain the opportunity to admit the truth. Never being able to admit his sin and receive God’s blessing, he receives a curse. His farming shall not flourish as it once did, and he must wander and be a fugitive. God puts a mark on Cain as one of deserving of death yet one chosen by God to live. One interpretation of the mark is that God believes death is too good for Cain and punishes him by making him live with what he has to do. It can also be looked at as allowing Cain an open door through which he can return whenever he is ready to face things more honestly.
Cain is very much like each and every one of us and it seems that we are fascinated with him. This could be because there is good and evil in every one of us. Of Abel, we basically just hear that he was born and murdered by his brother. Without a lot of explanation we are left with the nagging mystery of the death of an innocent man. We deal with that continuing mystery each day as innocent people are killed. In some ways you find out that murderers are more like you than different from you. Most of them have snapped during a horrible time in their life and taken the life of a loved one. For them it was not a logical move because none of them really were thinking logically at the time. Typically it was an action coming out of being totally absorbed in the other person. In a way it is not that they have total disregard for the other person, it is more that they have way too much regard and their attention has to be eliminated in order for their lives to go on. This is exactly what happens between Cain and Abel.
Envy is also brought into the book through the story of Cain and Abel. It is introduced as something we are born with and tempted with all our lives. Finding we can’t get what we think we want, we act to take something away from the other person. Everyone has been envious at least one time in his or her life. Sometimes a person can be so envious of another that they end up hurting the other person. An example of this would be if you were jealous of another person’s beautiful hair, and you snuck into their room at night and cut it all of.
The story of Cain and Abel illustrates a horrible limitation and a horrible potential that each of us possess. The story is not about good and bad, but more about how each human has within him the potential for good and the potential for bad.