What Is Lying at Your Door?

November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am | Posted in Genesis | 22 Comments
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When I was a very young boy I had a dog named Trigger. Trigger was the best dog in the world. He was affectionate, friendly, brave, playful, easygoing, and, above all, loyal. He was an “outside dog,” and his tendency was to lie in wait near the door of my home. If I came bursting through the door, on my way to play in the woods, Trigger was right there, leaping to join me, as if he had been poised, anxiously expecting me at any moment. In a way, his desire was to please me, and I ruled over him.

Cain and Abel were brothers. Each brought an offering to the Lord. Abel’s offering was a slaughtered animal. Cain’s offering was some type of fruit grown from the ground. Abel’s offering pleased God. Cain’s did not. We do not know for sure if Abel’s offering pleased God because it was a blood offering, given as a sacrifice for sin. If so, then Cain’s offering, which was bloodless, could have been rectified. He could have made a second, proper, sacrifice. We do know that Cain had a bigger problem with his offering than the thing that was being offered. The bigger problem was the condition of Cain’s heart, evidenced by his attitude toward God.

Genesis 4:5 tells us that Cain was “wroth:” burning with a fierce anger. God addressed the condition of Cain’s heart with him in Verse 7: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted..?”

God did not ask Cain the question in the first part of the Verse because He didn’t know the answer. God is (and always has been and always will be) omniscient. He may have asked Cain this question in order to give him a chance to repent, or to make a point. Then, in the rest of the Verse, God sets forth a warning: “…if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

Some Bible scholars believe that God was referring to Abel, Cain’s younger brother, when He said, “unto thee shall be his desire,” meaning that Abel would continue to look up to, respect, and try to please his older brother if Cain did what was right.

Others believe that God was telling Cain that, if he did what was right, he should (shalt) be able to rule over sin by not giving in to it, even though his wrong-doing had brought sin to his door.

Or is it possible that God was telling Cain that the attitude of his heart had brought sin to lie at his door like a faithful hound? Sin would be lying there, waiting obediently, and its (sin’s) desire would be to do the bidding of Cain, and those who followed the “way of Cain” (Jude Verse 11). Just as Trigger was anxious to please me, and have me “rule” over him, so sin would be the servant of Cain and all those who opposed the righteousness of God, and who encouraged others to rebel against Him (Proverbs 10:16). It is true that unregenerate people are the servants of sin (Romans Chapter 6). But it is also true that sin serves them as they attempt to corrupt and influence Christians (Romans 16:17-18).


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  6. […] Verse is about Cain and Abel, but it illustrates the early Bible concept of “desire.” The “desire” of […]

  7. […] expression came first, it might have originally been a reference to the Bible’s account of Cain and Abel. And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from […]

  8. […] Bible pictures being a shepherd as a noble vocation. Abel was the first shepherd, and he was more righteous than his brother, Cain, who was a farmer. Moses […]

  9. […] bondage than the bondage of earthly slavery. Just like you and me, he was a slave to sin, and in a sense he was owned by […]

  10. […] what I mean is, avoid the temptation to compare yourself to Abel, for example. Rather, think about Cain as you study Genesis Chapter 4 and ask yourself, Do I struggle at times with unrighteous anger? Do […]

  11. […] soul-calming rest of knowing God. You can abide in His presence right now – by faith. You are not a slave to sin – and you are not a slave to any laws or rules – if you are in Christ Jesus. You are a child of […]

  12. I had also heard, but don’t know for sure, that the word translated sin in Hebrew is the same word which is translated sin offering elsewhere. The implication that teacher supposed was that God was reminding Cain that a proper sacrifice was in his reach. That is, Cain didn’t need extra cash or to do extra special work to do what pleased God, God had already provided the “sin offering.”

    I would say that thanks to the enlightenment of Hebrews, we can know for sure that bloodless sacrifices do not bring remission of sins.

    And you are right, the heart is the root of the issue. But in order to please God we must come to him by faith, so I believe we are OK to have SOME assumption that God had somehow indicated what an acceptable sacrifice looked like, and that Cain decided his own works ought to be considered righteous enough.

  13. Those are good points. I think it’s also important to remember that Cain was “of that” wicked one: the devil. Therefore, he would be a liar and a counterfeiter – and a blasphemous counterfeiter. “Slew” in I John 3:12 can mean to slaughter – as in the way a sacrificial animal was killed.

    Genesis 4:8 says “slew,” as if Cain was saying to God, “Okay, God, you didn’t like my first sacrifice – you wanted a blood sacrifice – a slaughtered beast – here you go,” in a very rebellious, very arrogant, very evil way.

    So I John 3:12 may be revealing the demonic nature of Cain in his outright rebellion against God. And Genesis 4:9 (“I know not [where my brother is]“) certainly reveals his lying, which is also the way of Satan. How quickly sin – in the very first descendant of Adam and Eve – begins to completely reach its full depths of evil! Adam and Eve’s very first child turns out to be not just greedy, not just jealous, not just rebellious, not just dishonest, not just disobedient, but a murderer! And not just a murderer but a perpetrator of fratricide!

    Think about all the questions God asks in Genesis 4:6, 7, 9, and 10: “Why art thou wroth?” “Why is thy countenance fallen?” “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” “Where is Abel thy brother?” “What hast thou done?” God gave chances to admit to sin to both Adam and Cain. Adam tried to avoid God; Cain outright lied to God. Then notice Cain’s selfish, Luciferean point of view in verses 13 and 14: “And Cain said unto the LORD, ‘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.'”

    I also think that God’s acceptance of Abel over Cain was the first example of the Lord choosing the younger over the elder brother (see Isaac over Ishmael; Jacob over Esau; Joseph over Reuben; Rachel over Leah; Zarah and Pharez), which highlights God’s predestinating grace.

  14. Amen, particularly the last few sentences.

    Although, I’ve always wondered, do we know for SURE that Cain was the firstborn son/child of Adam?

    I mean, when we consider that we know that Adam had LOTS of sons and daughters, can we really say Cain was 1st, Abel 2nd, or Cain first, then Abel sometime??

    In the Scripture it sounds like Cain finds a wife pretty soon after he murders Abel. So who’s to say Cain was 1stborn? Always wondered and I never heard anyone say for sure.

  15. Woah! That’s very Berean of you (and not very Berean of me.) I guess I just assumed all this time that Cain was the firstborn because he is the first one mentioned. I have a commentary that says Cain’s name meant “that which was acquired,” which is supposed to lend credence to the thought that he was their first, but I’m not sure that follows. A plain reading makes it sound (to me at least) that Cain was first, but I guess there could have been some intervening siblings before Abel. Interesting.

  16. Thanks. Being called Berean is a compliment to me.

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