So today’s a heavy day. I spent hours yesterday afternoon watching the news, and just praying. My heart was heavy, and breaking. The world is broken, the world is fallen. What am I supposed to think? Who should I believe? Like many, I’m tired. I’m tired of not knowing what to believe when I read “the news” (and having to put scare quotes around the news because I have no idea if I’m reading something that is true or something that someone wants me to believe is true).
We can all agree that there is terrible injustice going on right now, in our nation. But we are absolutely divided over what those injustices are, and who are the ones that are perpetrating them. If you read that last sentence and thought, “Speak for yourself, I know exactly who is right and wrong here,” then please bear with me a second. That’s not exactly my point here. There’s no center that holds us together in our culture. We can all agree that we are being lied to, and manipulated, but once again, we are absolutely divided over who is doing the lying and manipulating. We have our experts, our fact finders, our medical professionals, and they confirm our understanding of the world. We lump people together in groups and then villainize them all in one broad stroke of the brush. It’s happened all this year, and I don’t think anyone has been immune to it. More clearly now than in a long time, we are people groups with fundamentally different ways of seeing the world trying to live in the same space together.
I wrote a lot of other things next but I’ve decided to delete them. Hopefully, there’s wisdom in that!! In short, conversations about most things are exhausting these days. There are lines to toe, things we must agree on, things that are just taboo to believe, and I’m expected to agree with everyone who says they are actually an expert.
I know I’m not alone in that feeling either. And usually, I’m okay with it. I want to learn, want to educate myself, and form my opinions and beliefs. I have them, and they’re important.
But today I’m exhausted by it.
And today, I had to get up and write my sermon for Sunday. And just being honest, I really didn’t want to. I want to just climb back in bed and sleep, maybe like Rip Van Winkle, for a few generations.
But I can’t. I need to preach to my people on Sunday. So I open my Bible to the passage for this Sunday, and guess what. It’s Cain murdering Abel and getting cast out of God’s presence for it. My shoulders actually slumped when I sat down at my desk because I thought, “here’s more heaviness to drop on a heavy day.”
But God is an amazing God, kinder and more wise than I could possibly understand. And He knows what his people need, always. I may be exhausted by life, but God is not. I may be tired of this fallen world, but there’s hope in the Bible when I realize that God hasn’t ever given up on this broken place. So, here’s my first point from my sermon for Sunday, and while I’m still exhausted by today in America, I can trust in the God who has shown us his plan, and is not exhausted by sin and darkness because He has made the definitive response to it.
Our first point this morning is: God Is Not Blind To Sin and He Does Not Ignore It
“And the Lord said, what have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
Great evil did happen. A righteous man was murdered by his brother. And God was not blind to it.
Cain is flippant. You can feel the contempt when he says, “Am I brother’s keeper?” He doesn’t care.
And God’s response is a reminder. He doesn’t simply say that Abel’s blood is crying out. He said Abel’s blood was crying out TO HIM.
Why to him? Because he is the creator, yes. He is all knowing, yes. But Abel’s blood is crying out to God because God is the judge of his creation. It’s God’s role to be the judge of the earth. And sin can’t be hidden from him. Clearly, Cain tried to hide Abel after murdering him. But it doesn’t work that way.
God is not blind to sin and darkness. As armchair deities, we might think he’s blind or uncaring because his response to sin and darkness is either 1.) not immediate, or 2.) not what we want his response to be.
And what happens? We might engage in sin ourselves, and crouch down, waiting for the lightning to strike, and when it doesn’t, we straighten up and think, “Okay, I got away with that.” We do it again, “Okay, got away with that..” And we become conditioned to think, God doesn’t seem to care about that sin.
Or we see someone else sin in awful ways, and God doesn’t do what we think should be done. He let’s people get away with evil. He lets them get away with terrible injustice. And we think, “Why wasn’t God watching? Why wasn’t God there?” There’s no hope in the face on injustice.
But see God speaking with Cain here, and make sure you realize, God is not blind to sin, and he does not ignore it. Abel’s blood cries out to God. Demands justice, demands vengeance. That’s why God’s here with Cain. He’s not overlooking the sin. But he’s not doing what we might expect either. He isn’t executing Cain. He is doing something else.
He allows Cain to live, to go and have a family, found a city, live his life. Yes, he’s cursed, but he’s alive. Cain is going out to actually create a culture. We are seeing the beginning of a world that the Apostle Paul tells us has death as it’s king because of sin.
And Abel’s blood is crying out for justice. But God is not blind to it. He’s not ignoring it. But why is he waiting? He has something else in store.
And every person, or group of people, who get away with their sin and evil, and think God has let them off, does not understand the Bible. And Christian, we can’t think God is doing nothing if we know what it is that God has in store.
God will bring absolute justice to every sin, every evil. and he will do it either through one of two ways. He will bring a final, perfect condemnation against all sin and rebellion. And that looks like hell. Or he will punish his substitute, Jesus, for the sins of those he forgives.
So, Abel’s blood cries out to God. He doesn’t overlook it. But he waits because he is doing something more than we comprehend. And that something more was Jesus. God waited through millenia of sin and darkness. We’ve talked about that during the Christmas season. ‘The people walked in darkness’ was not a poetic statement. It was an absolute truth. But God was not exhausted; He was unfolding his plan.
Listen to how one pastor explains it-
“Hebrews 12:24 declares that ‘The blood of Christ has better things to tell than the blood of Abel’ (NEB). The blood of Abel cries out for vindication and judgement; it is blood appealing for justice. But Jesus’ blood brings cleansing, forgiveness and peace with God. Jesus’ blood pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy! As the apostle proclaimed, ‘… the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin’ (I John 1:7). This is the heart of the gospel.”
God already knew that the blood of Jesus was going to be the perfect response to the cries of the blood of Abel. He had plans we couldn’t see until he unfolded them for us. And he still does have plans. Justice would be met as Jesus took the punishment God’s people deserved. And Mercy, sweet, precious, life giving mercy, was given by Jesus’ blood when he was murdered. And Jesus will return and a final justice will be brought.
So, God is not blind to sin today, and he doesn’t ignore it either. Every sin cries out to God for justice. And he will have it, in his time. Be assured, and maybe unsettled, by that. But Christian, our joy comes not from seeing Cain judged here, our joy comes from seeing Christ’s blood spilled as a way for the sinful world to be saved.
Our joy comes not in seeing Cain cast out from God’s presence. Cast out like a prodigal son, cast out on his own, cursed to wander the earth and find no rest. Our joy comes from the fact that God invites the prodigals home, gives the prodigals rest from their sojourning, and makes the sinful, cursed prodigal righteous again through the blood of Jesus.
So, if you’re exhausted like me, make sure you come to Jesus. The identity he gives us is true and unchangeable. The grace he gives us is exactly what we need for our own sins. And the hope he gives us will hold us fast until he returns.