Genesis 4:15 tells us about God putting a mark on Cain to assure him that he has protection from anyone taking vengeance on him in response to his murder of his brother Abel. Cain tells God he’s afraid that anyone who finds him will exact vengeance. But, “Then the Lord said to him, Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.” Cain’s life is marked by God’s grace everywhere you look. Even though he offered an inferior sacrifice to God, God did not abandon him. That’s grace. God approached Cain in a fatherly manner giving advice and counsel concerning Cain’s attitude. That’s grace. God exhorted Cain to resist temptation and live honorably in His presence. That’s grace. After he murdered Abel, the Lord confronted him in his sin and offered an opportunity to repent. That’s grace. Cain resisted God’s grace and failed to repent. Even so, God placed a sign on Cain that would protect him throughout his natural life. Now that’s amazing Grace.

What that mark was has been the subject of debate for millenniums. Some argue that it’s a tattoo of some kind. There’s a website ( which has a blog on “Cain’s Mark.” Some suggest it was a special hairstyle. That’s funny. Others have suggested in was his color, i.e., he was made black. Eastern Christian writing says “the Lord was wroth with Cain. . . He beat Cain’s face with hail, which blackened like coal, and thus he remained with a black face.” Until recently the Mormon’s taught this and refused admittance of any black man to the priesthood. (How strange is that?) It’s not possible. One ancient Rabbi suggests that God gave Cain a dog that went with him everywhere he was and protected him. I can imagine a huge Doberman with a spiked collar and a surly disposition. Some renaissance painters put a horn in the middle of Cain’s head. I don’t think so! Some argue that the word “mark” should be translated as “sign.” God gave Cain a sign that assured him of his protection from vengeance. Maybe! Who knows?

But whatever the mark was, it is certainly an indication of God’s grace for one of his created beings, even a murderer. God offered Cain His Amazing Grace of forgiveness and restoration. But Cain refused. He offers all of us sinners the same thing. And Like Cain, we all need it. Horatius Bonar wrote in 1861:

Not what these hands have done can save this guilty soul.

Not what this toiling flesh has borne, can make me whole.

Thy Grace alone, O God; to me can pardon speak;

Thy power alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.