Wanderer by Abidan Shah, PhD

WANDERER by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: I’m always fascinated with some of the one-line bios on social media. They are usually a line from a movie, show, or even literature. A popular one is “Not all who wander are lost.” When someone has that in their profile, it is probably because they want people to think of them as free spirited; someone who walks to the beat of their own drum. They’re claiming that they don’t like to be stuck in some program or itinerary; they like to go off the beaten path; or even that they love the outdoors. All those things are wonderful, but that line actually comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring” that reads: “All that is gold does not glitter; Not all who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither. Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” Tolkien did not write that about being free spirited or hiking. He was describing Aragorn, the rightful king of Gondor, who was wandering Middle Earth to learn about the inhabitants and the landscape so that he could be a good king one day. In today’s message, we’re going to focus on the first wanderer in history: Cain. As you know, we are in our series called CONTEND, and here are some questions that people have asked, even last week: Why didn’t God judge Cain with capital punishment? What was the mark of Cain? Did Cain go to hell? Main point: All of us have been wandering away from God since the beginning of time. It is God’s grace and mercy that keeps pursuing us. In fact, Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, and he wants to take us to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Genesis 4      13 And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

Context: Last week, we learned about the way of Cain. He chose to disobey God’s command to offer the blood sacrifice of the first born of the flock and decided to make his own gospel. Consequently, God accepted the sacrifice of his brother Abel but rejected his sacrifice. Instead of repenting of his sin and doing what was right, Cain began to burn. If you remember in the last message, it was much more than just “anger.” He was seething with bitterness. It began to eat him up, and even his face fell, turned downwards. Scholars believe that he literally pushed himself into depression. This is very important to understand, especially where we are in our culture today, because it has become almost fashionable to be depressed. There are consequences. Research over the past 40 years has shown that there is a strong link between depression and hostility. According to an article titled “Clinical Evaluation of Hostility in Depression” in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1971, the hostility in depression is especially directed towards one’s own family members (Also, see Edward Bibring’s “The Mechanism of Depression,” in the book The Meaning of Despair).How accurate! Cain killed his brother Abel. What did Abel do to Cain? Nothing.

Application: Are you seething about something? Have you given it to God? Are you willing to do things God’s way? Are you struggling with hostility towards your loved ones? It is time to seek God’s forgiveness and grace.

When God confronted him, he lied about it and even tried to be sarcastic – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Now came God’s judgment – 10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you…” Here’s the answer to the first question: Why didn’t God judge Cain with capital punishment? Doesn’t it say in Deuteronomy 19:21 “Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot”Keep in mind that, in a sense, Cain had committed pre-meditated murder, but, in a sense, this was simply a homicide or maybe even a manslaughter. Murder is intentional killing. Homicide is just killing. Manslaughter is unlawful and unintentional killing. Until Abel’s death, death had not been experienced by human beings. Even though God warned him, how would Cain truly know that what he was doing would end a life? How would he have known that ending the life was very serious? God is a just God, and he wasn’t going to judge Cain any more than his crime deemed. Since the earth had been stained with Abel’s blood, the earth would no longer bring forth the produce like before. Psalm 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne…” By the way, you and I can no longer claim Cain’s defense. We know what death is. We know what murder is.

Something worse – 12 “…A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” Cain will be a “na wanadh,” meaning unstable, tossed about, shaken up, homeless fugitive. This was much more than just some nomadic life of wandering shepherds. This was a life that will not have any roots, no sense of belonging, no foundation, no stability. It was a life that will be restless but must keep running to find rest. Cain knew what that meant because he cried out in verse 13 “…My punishment is greater than I can bear!”

Application: Are you running? Do you think that in running you can run away from your problems? Are you looking for rest? Jesus promises rest for the weary.

Last weekend, after our message titled RIVALRY, several people asked me if Cain would be in heaven. I’m not 100% sure, but verse 14 tells me that we may very well see him in heaven one day – 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face…” No unbeliever would be concerned about not being able to see God’s face. He sounds very much like David in Psalm 51:11 “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” We’ll come back to that in a moment, but Cain has one more big concern – 14 “…I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” Who was Cain afraid of? Keep in mind that this could very well have been a hundred years into the creation. We tend to think of them as young adults, but they could’ve been over 100 years old. They had their own children and maybe even grandchildren by this time. According to some estimates (Henry Morris), by the time of the Great Flood, the earth’s population could’ve been 8 billion people, or even more. Next week, I will spend some time explaining population growth before the Great Flood. Cain could see the future where descendants of Abel may come after him. So, even in God’s judgment, there was mercy – 15 And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. We don’t know what this mark was, but it was visible. The same word “oth” is used regarding the Passover Blood and Rahab’s house in Jericho.

But, here’s a sad verse to me – 16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech. 19 Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. 20 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. 22 And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. What a successful family!

Cain’s demeanor now reappears in his great-great-great grandson – 23 Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Was this something he did or was it a threat? The verb “haragti” = “I have killed” is a perfect form, which implies past tense, but can also be conditional – “Just in case, any of you think that God’s protection has been lifted from our family, here’s my declaration.” Unlike great-great-great grandaddy Cain, there was no confirmation from God and no mark from God. Just a presumption. Also, a reflection of how wicked and violent the world was becoming!

Was Cain saved? I believe so. Was he faithful to God? No. In fact, he became a negative example for believers:

1 John 3John warned against those believers in the church body who are unloving to one another, who try to kill each other’s reputation with their words – 12 “not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 

Jude warned against those who come in as false teachers and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ – 11 “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever…19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

Invitation: Are you a wanderer? Are you a wandering star? Are you pulled through fire, barely making it? What will you be remembered for? How will your descendants think of you? Will you be successful by God’s standards? Are you saved?

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