Did Cain Repent?
“And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Why does God ask questions? It is clearly not because He will benefit from the answer. God is omniscient – all-knowing. He already knows the answer to the question. So if the answer to the question is not for God’s benefit, it can only be for the benefit of the person asking the question.
For example, when God asked Cain “Where is Abel your brother?”, God already knew that Cain had just murdered Abel. The purpose of the question, therefore, was to give Cain the opportunity to admit his crime and to repent of it. This leads us to the remarkable conclusion that it is possible for a murderer to repent and, therefore, to be saved and forgiven. This is a hard truth for some to accept, but there will be murderers in heaven – men and women who have committed the most dreadful crimes but who have repented and been forgiven. (As a qualification, I would say that this does not affect the way that human authorities should deal with the murderers.)
Eventually, Cain says, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Is this repentance? I think not. Cain regrets what he will have to endure, but there is no evidence from this statement that he has turned away from his life of sin. From the time of the world’s first murder, and onwards, we must note that repentance is not simply being sorry. It is a complete change of direction, throwing oneself on the mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, do not let our hearts be hardened by our sin. Help us to confess it to You, seeking forgiveness through repentance, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Ref: Morris, H.M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), p. 141. Image: © Ben Peter Scotton, used with artist’s permission.
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