We took a bit of a hiatus last week with some Father's Day humor, but we have been looking at what we can learn about fathering from God, our perfect Father. Though there is probably more that could be learned from God's relationship with Adam and Eve, let's move on to look at how He dealt with Cain.
I don't know about you, but I have always thought of Cain as one of the most despicable people in the Bible. I have often wondered why God did not execute him for killing his brother, lying about it, being insolent toward God, being selfish and showing no remorse. Then I remember that I have been guilty of some of those same things at times in my life and am so glad that God is merciful and just rather than only just. We don't hear much about the merciful God of the Old Testament and some people believe that somehow we serve a different God than that mean Old Testament God, but let me assure you of two things: first, God is the same as he has always been; and second, if He had not been merciful and gracious then Adam and Eve would have been not only the first humans, but also the last and only humans. We just make the mistake sometimes of focusing so much on God's grace and mercy that we forget to accept his "harsher" attributes, but they are still part of who He is (Romans 11:22, 2 Corinthians 5:11, Acts 5:1-11).
God dealt with Cain fairly and justly, but also mercifully and graciously just as any father should deal with his children. God even gave Cain some special attention when he was in danger, but never took away his free will (If Calvinism were true, then God would be guilty of Abel's death). Let's begin by remembering that God does not expect anyone to do what they can't do or to please Him in some way that He has not already revealed. These principles were true with Cain. God had revealed the proper way to worship Him yet Cain did not do right. We know God had revealed the proper worship because Abel did it right and pleased God. We do not have a verse in Genesis that details those instructions, but Abel pleased God by "faith" (Hebrews 11:4) and faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God would not have told Abel but not Cain and yet expected Cain to know and obey. God also tells Cain afterwards in a rhetorical question that if he will do right he will be accepted. How cruel would it be to say that if Cain did not know what was right or how to do it. No, Like us today, Cain had the revealed will of God and just rejected it in favor of his own will.
Think, however, about this from the standpoint of fatherhood. How often do we expect our children to please us when they don't know either what to do or how to do it. We say to little Johnny, "Go clean your room." And off Johnny goes to push toys into the closet and dirty clothes under the bed. We become angry and tell Johny that he did not do what we told him, when, actually, he did not do it the way we wanted him to do it. If we have trained him in the past by showing him where his toys are to go and that the clothes belong in the hamper, etc. then we are right to be displeased. However, many times we have not explained, shown, and trained. Can you imagine how you would feel if (maybe this has happenned to you) your boss told you to do something that you did not know how to do and then after you had done your best was displeased because it was not the way he/she would have done it. That can be a very frustrating experience yet many children face it daily. If we do not train and explain what we want done and how we want it done, then we are leaving it open for expediency on the child's part just as God leaves some things open for expediency on our part. When you leave that door open it is unjust and unfair to be upset when the child goes through that door.
I hope this will help us to be better fathers by learning to give proper instructions like God does. We will look more at God and Cain next time.