Where Is Your Brother?
Father, You are the source of my hope and the giver of grace. I bow before You now.
Read Genesis 4:1-26
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along” (Psa. 133:1, The Message). It’s such a blessing!
Gospel summaries sometimes mention Genesis 1-3 and then jump to the New Testament! This neglects the many links showing that chapters 3 and 4 are to be read together: e.g. “desire, rule” (7; 3:16), “where?” (9; 3:9), “curse, ground” (11; 3:17), “work the ground” (12; 3:23); “drive/banish” (14; 3:23), “hide from God’s presence” (14; 3:8); “east of Eden” (16; 3:24), along with similar interplay of narrative and dialogue.
God’s questions stand out: “Where are you?” (3:9) is matched by “Where is your brother…?” (9). “Keep” (9) describes constant watching over, like a shepherd with sheep, or a guard, or God with his people (Gen. 30:31; 1 Kings 14:27; Psa. 121:4-8), so Cain is exaggerating his responsibility: “Do you expect me to know where he is every minute of the day?” Just as Adam and Eve’s passing the buck is a common ploy when one has done something wrong, so is claiming that unreasonable demands are made! We have a responsibility to “love” our neighbor, not to “supervise,” but that responsibility cannot be evaded.
Reading the opening chapters together shows that “‘Man’ is not just Adam and Eve, but also Cain and Abel. Christ’s work was directed as much to the person as a social being as to the person as an individual. If the sin of ch. 3 was turning away from God, in Cain it is turning from one’s fellow human. Cain’s sin brings God’s judgment, but Cain continues to live with a protective God-given “mark,” associated with judgment on anyone who seeks vengeance (15). God is setting a pattern that treats seriously the damage done by human sin, but continues to care and provide for the sinner.
Bring to God in prayer your relationships with others, particularly brothers and sisters. Ask God to heal them, where that’s necessary.
Lord, I pray for the families of victims of homicidal violence. Comfort and encourage them, and provide them opportunities for healing.