8 Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" 10 And the LORD said, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." 13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me." 15 Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.
God left Cain with an option to repent or risk being consumed by his sinful delusions. Cain will not listen. Abel must surely have been an ever present reminder to Cain of God’s displeasure with him. So Cain set to work creating his own reality. He would eliminate Abel and be left to pursue his delusion in peace.
Murder is always horrible but some types of murder are more disturbing than others. In our day, the murder that seems to create the greatest shock and revulsion is spousal murder. It is the ultimate violation of what should be the ultimately intimacy. Not so for ancient culture
Households in Greco-Roman culture were ruled by the Father. Marriage was mostly a contractual arrangement to provide offspring to perpetuate the Father’s lineage. The primary relationship of true caring and equality was between siblings. Even married women gave their ultimate allegiance to their brothers' households. The most horrifying stories in Roman culture were of siblings at odds with each other. We have our O. J. and Nicole Simpsons or Scott and Lacey Petersons. The Romans had epic tragedy’s about brothers like Romulus and Remus. The same would have been true for the ancients. Not only did Cain commit the first murder, but he murdered his brother, violating the most intimate of all relationships.
Unlike the sheepish admittance of his parent’s when they sinned, Cain become bold in his delusion. He believed he could even trick God with his lies and illusions. When God called him on it, did Cain repent? No. By implication, Cain’s fear of being killed suggests that his conscience knew the just penalty for what he had done: Death. Remember that murder had never happened before. Did this awareness drive him to repentance? No. Instead Cain complained about the severity of his punishment.
What did Cain find unbearable? Was it that he would be apart from God? No. Is it that he had killed his brother? No. God had told Cain to be about “filling the earth” but Cain instead put down roots. Cain created an illusion of control and comfort in defiance of God. God told Cain that his punishment for killing Abel was to be uprooted from his illusion and made a wanderer on the face of the earth. What is unbearable for Cain is that he has lost the safety and control of his illusions. It was not that he had lost God!
God places a mark on Cain to protect Cain, but do we see any remorse from Cain? Do we see any thanks for Gods protection? None. Cain’s sinful delusions have utterly blinded him to reality.
But Cain’s delusion is not over yet.