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THE FIRST MARTYR Genesis 4:1-16

To begin with: Adam and Eve had been expelled from paradise. They had to learn live in a world of sin and death, where God can no longer be seen; one can only believe in Him. Adam and Eve could fortunately hold on to the promise about the one who would bruise the head of the serpent, about the one who would solve the problem of sin and open again to them the way to paradise.
Verses 1-2

• What do you think it might have been like for Adam and Eve when expecting a child and giving birth? Was the situation different for the next generations?

• According to the reference in the ESV bible, the name Cain is close to the word «produced». Why did Eve want to choose this name for the firstborn?

• According to some translators the end of the first verse could also be translated: «I have received a boy, the Lord.» If this translation is possible, what could Eve have meant?

• Abel’s name means «emptiness, vanity». Why did the parents give this kind of name for their son?
Verses 3-5a. Before the fall, animals were not killed or sacrifices sacrificed. These offerings are the first ones in the history of the world, except for the ones that the Lord performed in paradise (1:21).

• How did people know that they should offer to the Lord?

• What may Adam’s sons have achieved with the offerings?

• At that time, sheep were not kept for meat but for wool. How may Abel have felt, as the first man in the world to strike a stone knife to the heart of his sheep?

• Traditionally, one has believed that God accepted Abel’s offering by lighting his offering or by rising the smoke but refused Cain’s offer by lowering the smoke from his offering. Why did the Lord accept the firstborn lambs but not grain?

• Why does God not accept everything that people decide to offer Him?

• Hebrews explains the case like this: «By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.» (Hebr. 11:4) How does this verse help to understand Abel’s and Cain’s offering?

• What was the difference between Abel’s and Cain’s faith? (How did Cain believe he could be accepted by God, and how did Abel?)

• In which way was Abel Jesus’ image and his offering the image of Jesus’ offering?
Verses 5b-7. In verse 7, the originally feminine word «sin» is made masculine – this refers to the serpent. Jesus said also that Satan has been a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).

• Why did Cain find it difficult that his offering was not accepted (5b-7)?

• What should Cain have done when he realised that his offering was not acceptable to God?

• What did God mean when he talked to Cain in this situation?

• According to the Bible «everyone who hates his brother is a murderer». (1. John 3:15) How could we let our anger go before it is burst out as words and actions?
Verse 8-10. Notice that the first death on earth was a brother’s murder. Jesus called Abel the first martyr (Matt. 23:35).

• Cain’s attack against this brother was also the first persecution on earth. From where does the world’s hate towards believers come?

• Which weapon did Cain possibly use when killing his brother?

• What was especially heartless in Abel’s murder?

• Compare Cain’s sin to his parents’ sin in paradise.

• Why did the Lord ask Cain what He already knew?

• What does Cain’s answer show?
Verses 11-12

• What do we learn about the relationship between people and the earth? And about climate change? See also the verse 10.

• What have killings, murders and abortions done to our own country?

• We remember that God’s blessing comprised three things: descendants, own place and sabbath. What is God’s curse according to verses 11-12?

• The leader reads Hebrews 11:4 once more. What does it mean that Abel still speaks after his death?

• What does it mean that Jesus’ blood (in communion) «speaks a better word than the blood of Abel» (Hebr. 12:24)?
Verses 4:13-16

• What do you think about Cain’s answer to God’s curse – what does it show about him and his relationship to God (13-14)? What does it show about his relationship to his dead brother and mourning parents?

• What does it mean that somebody is hidden from God’s face?

• How do we notice that God nonetheless loved Cain?

• A guess: what was the mark of Cain?

• What do we know about the place where Cain moved?
Finally: The only offering that is acceptable to God is the blood of the lamb. Abel’s blood was an image of Jesus’ blood offering, and Abel was both the offerer and Jesus’ image as a martyr. Hebrews says that Jesus’ blood «speaks a better word than the blood of Abel» (12:24). It speaks forgiveness to every sinner who repents: to Cain, to you and to me.


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