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March 24, 2008



Your post made me think of something I never really considered before: the similar way in which the Jews and Cain respond to God.

Comparatively speaking, Cain seems far from religiously ignorant: he believed in God, and, more than that, believed that God was good. Why else would God's approval have motivated him? Even in "religious" circles, how many people take action motivated by a desire for God's approval, as Cain did? At first glance, he seems to have some thoroughly good qualities...

And yet, he 1) apparently didn't tender an offering to God on God's terms, and 2) let his ardor for God's blessing and approval be commandeered by murderous impulse.

This, to me, seems eerily similar to what Paul wrote about his Jewish brethren, the pharisees: Romans 10:2-4 "For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God."

Anyway, I think it's interesting that both the Jews and Cain wanted something from God: for Cain, approval; for the Jews, political messiah. What's even more interesting to me is that both of these desires have sound underpinnings: a belief in God's good plan and a belief that his approval matters.

And yet, each had a "righteousness of their own" that wouldn't yield to whatever God had in mind. The Jews declined to accept Jesus as more than a political messiah, and Cain declined to tender a sacrifice according to God's guidelines. Both seem to have ultimately committed murder under the banner of zeal for God.

I guess I'm left wondering whether to conclude that Cain and his Jewish descendants insincerely laid claim to Divine motivation, or if the abyss of man's fallen nature is so dark and terrible that even his best efforts at living and loving God's law come out horribly wrong.

Jim Fleming

Astute observations! A striking parallel, indeed! As to your question, if you read God's appeal to Cain in Genesis 4, it appears that Cain's was a conscious failure. Cain wanted God's approval, yes, but chose to willfully defy God by seeking it on his terms.

By the way, the Jews are NOT descendants of Cain but of his younger brother, Seth.

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