Adam knew Eve – in the Biblical sense! The word knew in the Old Testament most often means had sexual relations. The first man and wife make love. There’s wonder in sex done the way God created it to be – between husband and wife. Outside of that covenant permanent relationship there is only short term pleasures of lust and pain.
Eve bore a son Cain and acknowledges the Lord’s hand. It is God who fearfully and wonderfully knits us in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139) and it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs for childbearing (Gen 30).
The two sons Cain and Abel are very different – Abel tends sheep and Cain works the land. In due course they bring an offering to God.
Cain’s is an “offering of the fruit of the ground” – we don’t know whether it was a lavish offering trying to impress God and earn favour, a stingy offering begrudgingly given or an exact precise offering and no more. What we do know is the implication that it is not faith filled. Abel’s offering is of the firstborn and the fat. That implies faith – giving the first one that is born in faith that there will be more and giving the best – the fat. So God looks on and sees these two offerings and is pleased with the faith of Abel.
Cain is of course angry and the Lord warns him “Sin is crouching at the door, its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” That’s the same word construction as 3:16 where the woman’s desire is against (literally) he husband but he will rule over you. The desire is sinful and it is strong. The sinful nature is strong. Temptation leads to desire leads to action. Thank God that Jesus sets us free so that sin shall not be your master and we can rule over it! (Rom 5:20; Gal 6:14)
Sin does rule over him and Cain murders Abel. God comes and asks a question He already knows the answer to “Where’s Abel your brother?”
The consequences for Cain are that he can no longer farm, becoming a wanderer, but with the Lord’s protection over him all the same.
The first main point of this passage is that God loves faith filled offerings. Ones that are the first of what we earn or produce, not what is left over if anything!
Secondly we will be hated for our faith – godly living exposes wickedness and thus inspires hatred (John 3:20 and Luke 21:14-17)
We all want to be Abel, but we start out as Cain – hostile to God, alienated from him and unable to stop sinning. BUT God sent Jesus, whose blood speaks a better word than Abels (Heb 12:24) who died for us so that we could be forgiven and given the power to master over sin and reign in grace.
Thank you Jesus!