In Genesis Chapter 4, Cain murders his brother Abel. He then lied to God about knowing where Abel was and then rejected the notion that he had any responsibility for his brother’s wellbeing. God, then, asks him another question to which he already knew the answer. Genesis 4:10 tells us, “And the Lord said, ‘What have you done?” Cain had not properly assessed the seriousness of his deed. I remember as a kid listening to my Kingston Trio 33 LP album that my grandmother bought me and puzzling over the song, “Bad Man’s Blunder.” This is its opening line, “Well, early one evening I was rollin’ around. I was feelin’ kind of mean. I shot a deputy down. Strollin’ on home, and I went to bed.” It goes on to tell the story of his arrest and trial, and finally, the sentence was 99 years breaking rock in prison, and the murderer in the first person says, “and all I ever did was shoot a deputy down.” Cain made the “bad man’s blunder.” The Blunder was not seeing the seriousness of his crime. Kissling says this is the same problem that Cain had. He writes, “The Lord does not ask the question, ‘What have you done?’ because he needed information. It appears to mean something like, ‘Do you understand the magnitude of your actions? Do you know what you have set in motion by your petty jealousy and senseless violence?’”[1] From Cain’s murder to the days of Noah, we see violence multiplying on the earth until God destroys the world over it.

Not only did Cain diminish the seriousness of the crime, but he also thought it possible to hide it from God. Verse 10 continues, and God tells Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Abel’s blood has been shed, and the first person who has been born in the image of God has been murdered. Abel’s blood is personified as “crying out” to God for justice. In the poem, “The Ghost of Abel,” William Blake writes, “My desire is unto Cain, and he doth rule over me: therefore, my soul in fumes of blood cries for vengeance, sacrifice on sacrifice, blood on blood.”[2] Revelation 6:10 tells us that all the martyrs cry out. It says, “They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” Innocent blood pollutes the land and cries out for justice. God cannot ignore it. Isaiah prophesies the second coming of the Lord. In Isaiah 26:21, we read, “For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it and will no more cover its slain.”

If there is anything that demonstrates original sin, it’s Cain’s life. Strassner puts it this way, “Cain became a carbon copy of his sinful father. And Cain is a picture of us all. Why do we find ourselves alienated from God? Why are we weighed down with selfishness, bitterness, envy, and the like? Because we have inherited Adam’s sin nature; ‘through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.’ And, in inheriting Adam’s sin nature, we have inherited the death that comes with it.”[3] Romans 5:17 is our only hope. It says, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”


[1] Kissling, Paul J. 2004–. Genesis. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.


[3] Strassner, Kurt. 2009. Opening up Genesis. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications.