I hope at this point I haven’t lost you! I find much depth in this story of these brothers as their story has been used for generations to shed light on our story of today. These two are born out of the human capacity to love and procreate. The second story of humanity comes on the heels of our first story of a couple who desire knowledge more than life. They are in Eden, the place of purity and freedom, and choose another path. And God allows it.
Now, our second story is one of kindred. The question becomes, how do we treat our brother (in the generic term which includes people). Inevitably we will feel slighted, jealous, and even, dare we say, murderous. What do we do with these soul-based emotions? One commenter asks, ‘What do we do with a bruised ego?’ Abel’s sacrifice is accepted and so his brother seeks his demise rather than to rejoice with his brother!
Perhaps you grew up with siblings or had multiple children of your own. If so, you have experienced and/or seen the unique ability of siblings to compete for attention, time and affection. It is clearly a human need and each of us want to know that we are accepted and loved. That is why equal number of presents under tree, pictures on the fridge, and such things as this matter so much to kids.
Just as Adam and Eve had trouble owning their choice (so-and-so made me do it), so too does Cain. When asked what has happened, amnesia strikes him. His copout is simply, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In the midst of his choices, his denial, and his being exposed, he experiences life as a nomad—one who wanders. You can be a wanderer without ever leaving home! A wandering is one who lacks a base or a place of grounding. Is that the deeper truth to Cain’s experience? As the old hymn states,
“Let thy goodness like a fetter Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above!”