Cain, the “worker of the ground,” is angry. His offering to God has brought him “no regard.” (Genesis 4:2,4) His face falls. God asks, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Then God warns, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
Sin desires to rule over Cain, and succeeds. Cain’s anger against God turns to envy of and jealousy against his brother. He rises up against Abel and kills him “when they are in the field.” (Genesis 4:8)
Anger against God results in failing to be our “brother’s keeper.” (Genesis 4:9) Since we are unable to strike out at God in any direct manner, we turn against our brothers. In our anger is the seed of murder.
Sin has a consequence for Cain, one which “is greater than [he] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13) He “goes away from the presence of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:16) “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) The consequence – separation from God – “is greater than [we] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13)
Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Odd how we speak of man’s free will while denying God’s sovereignty in all matters. We don’t appear to have any difficulty accepting that God obviously preferred Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s though both offered gifts of significance — after all, Cain appears to be just as sincere as Abel. The big difference is Abel’s sacrifice reflects Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and the shedding of His blood for our sins. Cain’s offering represents mankind’s self-effort, the work of his hands. As such, no matter how good it appears, it is lacking and unacceptable to our God.
We don’t doubt God’s sovereignty in His choice of Abram and Sarai to become a great nation, or His selection of Joseph rather than his brothers or of Jacob rather than Esau — even before either one had done good or evil. And God chose Mary to be the vessel for His Son, Jesus. God even, most especially, chose Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss.
Paul deals with God’s sovereign choice especially well in his letter to the Roman church. Some are destined [not designed] to be vessels of God’s mercy while others show forth God’s wrath — the wrath which remains on them just as it is removed from others. All are born as vessels of wrath. These vessels of wrath show forth God’s great mercy which He has in store for those who are vessels of His mercy.
Many are called; few are chosen. This, I know, on the surface appears extremely unfair. But the reality is that once our DNA was altered by Adam and Eve’s sin, God just as easily could have abandoned us as a worthless project, a project gone wrong. Instead, He sent His Son into the world so that He might save it.