This is the 3rd and final question in our most recent Sunday Q & A time. It was a question that left me ‘stumped’ and if you were here, you’ll remember me saying that I would need to do ‘some research’ and come back to it. The question was,
Q: Does the Bible mention any descendants of Abel?
The story of Adam and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel, is recorded in Genesis chapter 4. It’s also the story of the world’s first human death, indeed, its first murder. When Cain is confronted by God in the killing of His brother, he like his parents before him, deflects responsibility. But Cain goes further. He, unlike Adam and Eve, refuses to own up to the sin once confronted. The author of Genesis is reveling that the escalation of evil ‘east of Eden’ has begun. The violence would escalate until it is temporarily halted by the flood.
Abel’s life turns out to be just a vapor because of Cain’s violence leaving, as far as we can tell, no descendants.
Cain, as a result of his actions, is driven from the land. This would have resonated with the original readers, who were undoubtedly Jews living in Babylon after having been expelled from their land. That just as God had banished, ‘driven out’ the Canaanites from the land because of their violent ways through Joshua, the people of Israel had been banished from the land, at least in part, because they copied the violent ways of the neighboring nations. They also refused to own up to their sin, despite the numerous prophets God sent, calling them to repent. Chosen people or not, a society which lives by the sword will be ground into the dust of history.
Questions to wrestle with this week: What does this mean for followers of Jesus today? What does it look like to follow the one called “The Prince of Peace’? The one who admonished Peter ‘put away your sword’? What does it mean to follow THIS Jesus in a country that spends more on the military than every other nation on the planet COMBINED!? How should we, as a counter-cultural Kingdom society, function in an increasingly violent world?
Maybe there is some confessing, some ‘owning up’ that we need to do as Christians. Maybe we need to admit ways we have copied, or at least been complicit, in the violent ways of the world around us. Video Games? TV/Movies? Unquestioning Nationalism/Patriotism?
I know I went somewhat ‘beyond’ the original question. However, the story of Cain and Abel does lend itself to asking these kinds of questions, because they would have been on the minds of those who first heard this story. I pray that the answers lead us to be better, more fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Let’s continue to go ALL IN.