WHAT IF GOD HAD PREVENTED CAIN
FROM KILLING ABEL?
The first shocking human
murder is described in Genesis 4. The event is exceptionally tragic for
various reasons. First of all, it is the first murder of a human
being; secondly, it is a fratricide, that is a murder of a brother by a
brother; lastly, because it foreshadows a way of life that has characterized
humanity ever since.
The event is also
meaningful because, for the first time, God does not intervene in human
affairs and allows the actual murder of an innocent person to take place,
even though He clearly knew it was going to happen and witnessed its
happening. God had warned Cain that sin lay at his door “and its desire is
for you” (Genesis, 4:7). But God’s warning fell on deaf ears “…and it came
to pass, when they rose in the field, that Cain rose against Abel his
brother and killed him” (Genesis, 4:8).
But what if God had intervened and had prevented Abel’s
death? What if God had simply warned Abel of Cain’s intent and had asked him
to stay away?
If God had
intervened, a different pattern would have been set for God’s relationship
with humanity. To be consistent, God would have had to intervene every time
a potential murder was on the way, or before any wars occurred. If God had
chosen the path to intervention and prevention, it would have also made
logical sense for Him to prevent thefts, lying, fornication, adultery, and
Some might say that this
approach would have been more reflective of a God who is supposed to be
loving and just. After all, God’s consistent intervention in preventing evil
would have brought about a decent, peaceful and safe world free from sin and
suffering. This reasoning seems to be sound, but is it?
When Adam and Eve took of the
Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they placed all of humanity on a path to
independence from God and of slavery toward Satan. The Bible makes it plain
that Satan, not Almighty God, is humanity’s chosen god (II Cor. 4:4, Eph.
2:2). From the start God has been set aside by a rebellious humanity, and He
“gave them up to uncleanness…and a debased mind to do those things that are
not fitting” (Romans 1: 24, 28). Adam and Eve, and their descendents, were
going to be allowed to taste the horrors of sin in their entirety. Humanity
would learn the hard way what it means to reject God and follow in Satan’s
No doubt standing aside and
watching untold evil and its tragic consequences from taking place must have
been very painful for a God of love. Yet, in the long term, God is showing a
kind of love we do not understand. We humans can only see the immediate. God
sees the very long-term, eternal benefits. He sees that the learning of
this eternal lesson will ultimately lead to eternal peace and joy.
Thus, he is willing to suffer along with humanity as long as, in the end,
humanity will inherit eternal blessings.
God, therefore, is allowing sin to
be manifested for what it is: a destructive, pain-filled choice that hurts
perpetrators and bystanders. God wants humans to see the horrors that
Satan-inspired actions will bring upon humanity. The long-term lesson is
that sin hurts and that righteousness is always the better way.