Genesis 4: 13-16: Repentance or resentment?
“13 Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ 15 But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” NIV UK
There is a difference between repentance and resentment. Resentment is not repentance.
There is a difference between repentance and remorse. Remorse is not repentance. You can feel remorseful about the consequences you have to live with, but not repent of the sin(s) which brought about those repercussions. ‘Cain responded to this punishment with self-pity and remorse…To feel remorse is to have regrets, to be distressed by a bad outcome. Remorse can even include an awareness of having sinned (Matthew 27:3-4). But it does not include humbly confessing that sin to God and resolving to turn from it – which is true repentance.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.140.
Cain was not a repentant man: ‘…Cain was not convicted about his sin; he was concerned only about his punishment. Cain’s unbelief, hatred, and deceit destroyed every relationship in his life: his relationship with his brother, God, himself, and the world around him.’ Warren Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.18.
When God speaks to you about your sin, don’t get angry; instead, get right…with Him. This is your opportunity to repent, and find forgiveness.
God is merciful. He was merciful to Cain even though he didn’t repent. Since he would not have the protection of a settled community he was naturally fearful. So God promised to protect him and He placed a ‘’mark’’ on him. We don’t know what it was, but anyone who might seek to kill Cain would somehow recognise the mark, and know that he was under divine protection. (Some scholars think this mark may actually have been the ‘’city’’ Cain later built, verse 17, which would afford him protection).
Since the fall, every human-being is born ‘’east of Eden’’, separated from God. The good news, however, is that there is a way back to God, through faith in Jesus who died for all of our sins. But it is a way which involves repentance. Mere remorse, or regret, or resentment fall far short of the mark.
THOUGHT: God, in His grace, gives us what we do not deserve; God, in His mercy, does not give us what we do deserve.