Warren Wiersbe closes his comments on Genesis 4:7 by saying, “The Lord warned Cain that temptation was like a fierce beast crouching at the door of his life, and he had better not open the door. It’s dangerous to carry grudges and harbor bitter feelings in our hearts because all of this can be used by Satan to lead us into temptation and sin. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, ‘neither give place to the devil’ (Eph. 4:27). If we aren’t careful, we can tempt ourselves and bring about our own ruin.”[1] The sin, crouching at the door of Cain’s heart moved his emotions to such an extent that it affected the way he thought. Jealousy had penetrated, and now it worked its way out in action. Genesis 4:8 says, “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”

It appears that Cain’s murder was premeditated. At first glance, it might appear as a crime of instantaneous passion, but the opening phrase “Cain spoke to Abel” is consistently understood to be the enticement that Cain used to get his brother into the fields and away from the rest of the family in order to cover up his crime. The Handbook for translators even acknowledges that most translators agree. It says, “Most translators will realize that the decision taken about what Cain said to Abel will have a strong influence on the storyline of the narrative in this verse as a whole. If we decide to follow the ancient versions, …most readers will understand that Cain had already determined to kill his brother, and that this was the beginning of his plan to do it. The words of Cain tell us straight out that the brothers went away from where other people were, and then, either immediately or after a period of time, Cain killed his (unsuspecting) brother.”[2] John tells us not to be like Cain. 1 John 3:12 says, “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

Briscoe laments the reality of violence as the resolution of all our problems. It’s not only true with individuals but also on the national level. It’s no wonder that we haven’t destroyed ourselves by now. History is full of wars and rumors of wars, and even as I write, Russia is invading Ukraine. Apocalyptic literature floods our books and movies, looking for the end of the world. War comes because one nation has something that the other one wants. We will, as a race, destroy ourselves. Briscoe writes, “No sober-minded person dismisses that possibility as he views the ways in which man’s ingenuity is being put to work. Right at this moment, there are submarines at sea carrying more explosive firepower than the sum total of explosives delivered in human history. Therein lies the human puzzle. Brilliant but brutal, creative but catastrophic, ingenious but incorrigible, man is a bundle of contradictions. This became apparent right at the beginning of human history as the story of Cain and Abel clearly illustrates.”[3]

[1] Wiersbe, Warren W. 1998. Be Basic. “Be” Commentary Series. Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

[2] Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. 1998. A Handbook on Genesis. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[3] Briscoe, D. Stuart, and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1987. Genesis. Vol. 1. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.