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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Perception of Mercy

The first child on the planet grew up in a fallen world. Cain clearly knew right from wrong. He had probably heard his parents’ account of the Fall more times than he cared to. But, as young people are prone to do, he decided to do things his own way. When he gave an offering to the Holy God (Who had obviously told Man what He expected) Cain offered plants instead of animals. His younger brother offered a lamb or goat, as God had ordered.

God somehow showed that He accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s.

Cain was mad! The Bible says, And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:5b).

And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him (Genesis 4:6-7). God reached out to Cain, even though Cain was mad at Him. God went to him, even when Cain was being rebellious. And God warned him about sin—that once sin takes root, it begins to rule.

But Cain didn’t want to listen to God. And so, he tricked his brother and killed him.

The first child is now the first murderer.

God reaches out to him again. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? Cain answers with a smarty I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis 4:9)

Then God said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand . . . a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth (4:10-12).

This story takes place before the Law was given to Moses. Consider this: in the Mosaic Law, the penalty for murder was death. God gave that Law. Here, clearly, God shows mercy on Cain. But Cain, instead of falling down in worship for God’s sparing his life, whines, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me (4:13b-14).

Again, God responds in mercy: And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him (4:15). God made sure Cain wouldn’t be killed for killing Abel. It’s impossible to know how many people would be on the earth, thinking about avenging Abel, but one would think there would be few. Adam and Eve probably had many sons and daughters after Cain and Abel. Some of them might have wanted to seek revenge for their brother. We don’t know. I find it amazing that God would protect this unrepentant, smart-mouthed murderer by giving him some kind of a mark, some kind of divine bodyguard, so that no one would dare to kill him.

That’s mercy.

Cain deserved the death penalty. Instead he got Divine protection.

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch (4:16-17). Cain went on to marry, have a family, found a city, and have a huge number of descendants.

Much has been made of the “mark of Cain” and “where Cain got his wife.” Ridiculous, really, as God didn’t tell us what the mark was. If He didn’t think it was important for us to know, why speculate? And clearly, Cain’s wife had to be a sister or a niece. That isn’t so difficult to figure out! But those rabbit trails totally miss the lesson.

Mercy. The Free Online Dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.” Synonyms are: leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance.

How did God show mercy to Cain?
  • He reached out to him, multiple times.
  • He extended mercy to him, even after Cain murdered his brother.
  • He protected him, when he deserved no protection.
  • He allowed him to have a family, found a city, and have many descendants.

I wonder whether Cain ever appreciated God’s mercy.

I fear that sometimes we act like Cain.
  • We may do our “Christian thing” our way instead of God’s way.
  • When God speaks to us (through the Bible), we may shrug it off or even smart-mouth Him back.
  • When God clearly shows us our fault, we might be angry with Him.
  • We might even lash out against others.
  • When God extends mercy—unmerited favor—we might not appreciate it.

God extended mercy when He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus died so that we might have favor with God, so that we could trust in Him and go to heaven. He extends mercies to us each day: It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Did Cain eventually believe? I hope so.

Do we?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace
in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:4-8).

God help us to daily acknowledge His mercy! Praise Him.


  1. Se que el Señor a tenido misericordia conmigo, no es malo recordarlo pues ayuda a no olvidar todo lo que el Señor nos ama.



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