Responsible for One Another

KEY VERSE: “The LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?” —Genesis 4:9


OUR first parents had sinned, bringing upon themselves and upon their offspring the penalty of death. But God’s statement concerning the “seed” which was to “bruise” the “serpent’s” head (Gen. 3:14,15) implied that something was to be done about this penalty. Yet this could not be, unless the sin which led to their sentence was in some way remitted. So, having vaguely indicated his loving intentions toward his human, but fallen, creatures, God began to illustrate the manner in which they would be carried out—that it would be through the remission of sin based upon the shedding of blood. In both the Old and New Testaments this is clearly stated.—Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22

We are informed that “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Gen. 4:2) These two offered sacrifices to the Lord. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground,” while Abel” brought of the firstlings of his flock.” (vss. 3,4) The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but did not accept Cain’s. In the New Testament we read that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” (Heb. 11:4) It was more excellent because it was a flesh and blood sacrifice which pointed forward to the shed blood of Jesus, by means of which reconciliation is provided for Adam and all who were condemned in him.

Cain resented the fact that his offering was rejected by the Lord, while his brother, Abel’s was accepted. Instead of inquiring as to the reason for this in order that he might himself offer an acceptable sacrifice, he allowed anger, malice, and hatred to bum in his heart; and when the opportunity offered, he slew his brother. God said to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”—Gen. 4:7

When Eve said at the birth of Cain, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” it may have indicated her belief that Cain was the promised seed which would bruise the serpent’s head. If so, she doubtless had communicated this belief to Cain, and this could well have been the cause of his jealousy when Abel’s sacrifice was accepted instead of his own.

Actually, of course, neither Cain nor Abel was to be the promised seed, for this promise was to be fulfilled through Christ. God explained to Cain that if he offered the proper sacrifice it would also be accepted. But the Lord added, “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” This indicates the nearness of temptation to assert his own will in the matter. Perhaps he was determined that he would be the “man from the Lord,” the ruler, even if it were necessary to murder his rival, which he did.

After this crime had been committed, the Lord spoke to Cain again and asked, “Where is Abel thy brother?” to which Cain replied, “I know not,” adding those well-known words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The law of God for man, as it was later expressed through Moses, implies that we are our brothers’ keepers. Jesus, amplifying these commands declared that anyone becoming angry with his brother in a spirit of hatred had violated his responsibility toward another. And later John wrote that a Christian who hates his brother is a murderer—because hate is the basis for murder—and that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Hate destroys life, but love is willing to give life to aid others. The greatest example we have of this is Jesus, who, in his love, laid down his life for the whole world. God also loved the world, and he gave his Son, Jesus, to die that we might have life. What greater manifestation could be made to let us know that our great God and his wonderful Son take very much to heart the fact that they are their brothers’ keepers.

The Apostle Paul spoke of this great act of love as providing a “blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb. 12:24) Abel’s blood spoke of hatred, misunderstanding and death, and cried out from the ground for justice. Jesus’ blood spoke of brotherly love and justice for all.

In the Christian outlook there is no place for hate. Jesus emphasized that, instead of hating our enemies, we must love them and be willing at all times to do them good. In this way we will truly be the children of our Heavenly Father, who causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and on the unjust.—Matt. 5:43-48

Dawn Bible Students Association
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