Cain and Abel: The First Murder
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Cain and Abel: The First Murder


The harrowing story of Cain and Abel is one that traces back to the earliest days of humanity. As detailed in the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve, faced the repercussions of living in a fallen world steeped in sin.

In this pivotal story, we witness the first display of sibling rivalry, culminating in a catastrophic event that would forever shape history – the first recorded murder.

Genesis 4:1 tells us, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.'”

And just a verse later, we learn of Abel’s birth: “Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel” (Genesis 4:2). From the onset, we see the differing roles the two brothers held: Cain became a tiller of the ground, and Abel was a keeper of the sheep.

As the story unfolds, it reveals the pitfalls of jealousy, pride, and ultimately, the devastating consequences of unbridled anger.

The gruesome account of Cain murdering his brother Abel serves as a poignant reminder of the depths of depravity humans are capable of, but it also shines a light on God’s relentless pursuit of justice and His unwavering love and mercy.

Join us as we delve further into the lives of Cain and Abel, reflecting on the lessons within this tragic narrative and exploring its significance in the biblical story.

Together, we can seek understanding and wisdom, ensuring that we do not repeat the mistakes of our earliest ancestors.

Cain and abel: the first murder

I. Introduction: The Tragic Story of Cain and Abel

In the early chapters of Genesis, we find the tragic story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. As the first recorded instance of murder in human history, this story serves as a powerful illustration of the destructive nature of sin and the importance of living a life led by the Holy Spirit.

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Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve, and each brought an offering before the Lord.

“Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.” (Genesis 4:2-4, NKJV)

God was pleased with Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. Instead of heeding God’s instruction and amending his ways, Cain burned with angry jealousy, eventually lashing out and killing his brother.

Several valuable lessons can be drawn from this story:

  • God desires a sincere and heartfelt offering from his worshippers.
  • Failing to deal with envy and resentment can lead to destructive outcomes.
  • God’s mercy extends even to those who commit grievous sins, as evidenced by his protection and provision for Cain.

As we ponder the story of Cain and Abel, let us remember to approach God with sincerity, humility, and a heart willing to change. Furthermore, let us be vigilant in identifying and dealing with emotions that may harm our relationship with God and our fellow humans.

Above all, may we embrace the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ.

II. Unraveling the First Sibling Rivalry

Genesis 4:1-16 reveals the tragic story of the first sibling rivalry in human history, that of Cain and Abel. It began with the offerings the brothers brought to the Lord, demonstrating their varying levels of faith and devotion.

Abel, a shepherd, “brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat” (Genesis 4:4 NKJV), which represented a genuine offering of his best to the Lord. In contrast, Cain, a farmer, presented “an offering of the fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:3 NKJV), but scripture suggests it was not his best.

God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering and His rejection of Cain’s offering elicited jealousy and anger within Cain. The Lord, in His mercy, warned Cain about the sin crouching at his door and advised him to “rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 NKJV).

Despite the divine counsel, Cain chose to surrender to his sinful desires, leading to the murder of his brother Abel.

After committing this heinous act, God confronted Cain, asking, “Where is Abel, your brother?” (Genesis 4:9 NKJV). Cain answered with deceit, claiming ignorance of his brother’s whereabouts. The Lord, however, was fully aware of what had transpired and proceeded to punish Cain for his crime.

He said, “Now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth” (Genesis 4:11-12 NKJV).

The story of Cain and Abel provides valuable lessons for believers today:

  • God is pleased by genuine offerings, reflecting the reality that He recognizes the intentions and motivations behind our actions.
  • Anger and jealousy can lead to devastating consequences if we do not seek the Lord’s guidance to overcome such emotions.
  • God’s mercy and love are evident in His willingness to confront us in our sin, presenting us with a choice to either repent or remain in disobedience.

Let us strive to learn from the tragic tale of Cain and Abel in order to grow in our faith, cultivate healthy relationships, and live lives that honor and please the Lord.

III. The Fateful Sacrifices: A Struggle for Divine Approval

Throughout biblical history, we find numerous instances of individuals offering sacrifices to God as an expression of their faith and devotion.

In the Old Testament, these fateful sacrifices often represented a struggle for divine approval, with worshipers seeking to please the Lord and gain His favor. However, not all sacrifices were accepted by God, highlighting the importance of understanding the nature and heart behind the offering.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of this struggle for divine approval is found in the story of Cain and Abel, as recounted in Genesis 4:3-5. Both brothers brought an offering to the Lord: Abel’s consisting of the firstborn of his flock, and Cain’s of the fruit of the ground.

Despite their respective sacrifices, God only accepted Abel’s, citing the faith and motive behind his offering as the reasons for this decision.

The subsequent jealousy and anger that consumed Cain ultimately led to the murder of his brother, illustrating the critical impact that the outcome of these fateful sacrifices had on the lives and relationships of those involved.

Another demonstration of the significance of sacrifices in the pursuit of divine approval can be seen in the life of Abraham, the patriarch of the faith. In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Isaac – the heir of the covenant promise – on a mountain.

Though heart-wrenching and unimaginable, Abraham faithfully obeyed and prepared to offer his son, ultimately illustrating his unwavering trust and submission to the Lord. In response, God intervened and provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac, a powerful illustration of His grace and mercy.

The following are key takeaways to consider regarding these fateful sacrifices:

  • God’s acceptance of offerings is based on the heart and faith of the worshiper, not merely external conformity. The examples of Cain and Abel demonstrate this principle, as Abel’s offering was accepted due to his sincere faith (Hebrews 11:4).
  • Genuine sacrifice may require painful and difficult decisions, as evident in Abraham’s willingness to offer his beloved son. While we may not face such extreme tests, we are called to surrender our lives fully to the Lord and trust in His goodness and provision.
  • Sacrifice and offering should be understood in light of the New Testament, where Christ’s death as the ultimate and perfect sacrificial offering (Hebrews 10:12) fulfills the need for any further sacrifices for approval. As believers, we can now rest in the assurance of our acceptance in Christ, knowing that He is our true source of divine approval.

IV. The Curse of the First Murderer: Cain’s Harsh Punishment

In the account of the first murder, we find Cain driven by jealousy to kill his brother Abel, after God favored Abel’s offering over his own (Genesis 4:3-8). The firstborn, who was entrusted with certain responsibilities and privileges, committed a heinous sin, and experienced God’s swift judgment.

God asks Cain about his brother’s whereabouts, but he gives a dishonest response: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

When God reveals that He knows the truth, he places a curse upon Cain. “So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand” (Genesis 4:11). Cain, a farmer, is cursed so his agricultural efforts will no longer yield fruit.

The earth that accepted his brother’s blood will refuse to cooperate with him. Moreover, Cain is condemned to a life of ceaseless wandering as a restless fugitive, preventing him from ever truly settling and finding stability. He is no longer able to peacefully dwell in God’s presence.

Although this punishment seems harsh, God demonstrates His mercy as well. Taking Cain’s protests of his unbearable fate into account, God graciously places a protective mark upon him.

This mark would deter others from killing Cain in vengeance (Genesis 4:15). Despite his sin, God still provides for Cain’s welfare, albeit with necessary consequences.

  • Genesis 4:3-8 – Introduction of Cain and Abel’s offerings, the first murder.
  • Genesis 4:9 – Cain’s dishonest response to God.
  • Genesis 4:11 – God curses Cain.
  • Genesis 4:15 – God places a protective mark upon Cain.

In this story, we witness the tragedy of sin and its profound consequences on human relationships, as well as God’s justice and mercy. Though the punishment for Cain was severe, God still offered protection and the opportunity for redemption.

Remember, God seeks to restore us even in our darkest moments, but our choices will bear consequences, highlighting the importance of repentance and faithfulness.

V. Lessons Learned: Understanding the Moral of the Story

Through the various narratives and teachings found in the Bible, we can draw impactful lessons learned to lead a morally upright, Christ-centered life. Here, we’ll explore the story of the prodigal son as seen in Luke 15:11-32, seeking to understand its moral implications for our spiritual journey.

Perhaps the most evident and principal takeaway from this parable is the concept of God’s abundant grace and mercy shown for His children. Despite the prodigal son’s rebelliousness and selfishness, the father in the story welcomes him home with open arms, eager to forgive and restore his lost son.

This represents the unconditional love God has for us, ever ready to forgive us when we repent and turn back to Him. As it says in Lamentations 3:22-23: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Another important lesson we can glean from this parable is the danger of self-righteousness. The older brother, who stayed home and remained dutiful, was bitter and indignant at his brother’s return. He failed to grasp the essence of mercy and God’s love as shown by the father in welcoming the prodigal son back.

We must be careful not to judge others, but rather cultivate a humble heart, compassionate towards our brothers and sisters who may have strayed from the path. Jesus calls us to love one another, reminding us of His words in Matthew 7:1-2:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Furthermore, this parable teaches us about the consequences of poor choices and the power of repentance. The prodigal son squandered his wealth, faced hardships, and eventually realized his mistake. However, it was his decision to return to his father, admitting his wrongdoing, which led to his redemption.

This mirrors our own journey, as we too can make poor decisions, yet our Heavenly Father’s arms remain open. We must humble ourselves, confess our sins, and return to Him just as the prodigal son did. As stated in 1 John 1:9:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In summary, the parable of the prodigal son teaches us about God’s infinite mercy, the perils of self-righteousness, and the importance of repentance.

Let us take these moral lessons to heart as we navigate our Christian walk, remembering that Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, stands ready to forgive, restore, and guide us along the path to righteousness.


In conclusion, the story of Cain and Abel is far more than just an account of the first murder in human history. It’s a powerful narrative that speaks to the emotions and actions that can arise from jealousy, rivalry and a deep desire for validation.

We can all learn important lessons from this tale by examining our own relationships, our propensity for jealousy and resentment, and striving not to let those emotions overpower our sense of empathy and love for one another.

By better understanding the story of the first brothers and their fateful choices, we can attempt to prevent such animosity and discord in our own lives, and promote harmony and understanding among our family and community.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.