Genesis 4:7 (If Thou Doest Well)

Genesis 4:6 “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”


Genesis 4 is a story that almost everyone is familiar with.  The story revolves around two brothers named Cain and Abel.  One brother, Abel, approached God with the best of his flock of sheep and was accepted while Cain brought the harvest of his crops and was rejected.  Cain eventually grew to hate his brother and murdered him.  This chapter is more than just a story.

Chapter 4 is showcasing a very important Biblical concept.  This chapter sets the foundation for how to approach God, and how He deals with man’s sin.  Other sections of the Bible build upon this chapter.  The clear way to obey God is taught in the story of Cain and Abel.

To understand this chapter, you first have to realize what happened in the relationship between God and man in the previous three chapters.  Chapter one records the creation of all things, including man.  While God was creating, the Bible records six times He stated, “It was good.”  The last act of creation was man.  After creating man, God then states, “It was very good” Genesis 1:31.  There is no mention of death or sin at this time, and no form of worship was mentioned.


Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”


In chapter 2, God first mentions death.  Man was warned not to rebel against God’s word or he would die.  Here is the first mention of death in the Bible, and it is directly tied to sin.  There is a severe penalty for sin which is death.  There is a cause and effect relationship between sin and death.  The physical act of sin brought both physical and spiritual death to man.  Spiritual death means eternal separation from God.

The correlation between sin and death is an extremely important concept when understanding why God instituted the sacrificial system that we first see in chapter four.  Genesis chapter two then becomes foundational to show the effect of rebellion against God’s word.  Both the Old and New Testament make a direct correlation between sin and death.  The Scriptures to show this follow:


Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death...”


In chapter 3, another very important foundational concept of Scripture was made evident.  This concept was that Adam’s sin alienated all of mankind from God.  Man rebelled against God and sinned.  The rebellion brought immediate judgment from God and fellowship between man and God was broken.  Man came under the penalty of sin which is death.

The immediate death was spiritual as Adam and Eve were driven from the presence of the LORD and no longer had direct access to God in the Garden of Eden.  Adam’s spiritual death was immediate while the physical death came later.

Adam’s sin had a devastating effect on all of mankind.  The effect of Adam’s sin had consequences right down today.  When Adam was banished from the presence of God, all of mankind was banished.  Adam could be looked at as the federal head of mankind and what he did affected all of man.

This banishment of mankind from God’s presence can be seen in Adam being driven from the Garden.  When Adam was driven away, a block was put at the Garden so no one could enter.  Adam was blocked so he could not obtain eternal life in the Garden, and thus he would have eternal life in a sinful state.  This would mean eternal separation from God.

It was not only Adam who was banished but all of mankind.  Following Adam in the Bible were Abel and Noah.  They did not sin like Adam; however, they were also blocked from entering the Garden because of what Adam did.  Adam’s sin had dire consequences for all of mankind.  The New Testament is in perfect agreement with this issue.  The sin of Adam touched all of mankind.  The Scriptures to show the Garden was blocked to all of mankind follow:


Genesis 3:22 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (23) Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (24) So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims , and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression...”


The principle that all of mankind inherited the sin nature from Adam was established from the beginning of the creation.  In the first chapter of Genesis, 10 times in five verses, God said that everything was to reproduce after its own kind.  This is a basic law.  Dogs reproduce dogs, etc.  When Adam fell into sin, his nature was passed on to his offspring.  He reproduced offspring after his own kind which meant they had the sin nature just like he did.  All of mankind came under the sin nature of Adam.


Genesis 1:25 “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth...”


God had commanded man to be fruitful and fill the earth.  This meant to reproduce after his kind.  Adam, in this fallen state of sin, reproduced people with his sin nature.  He was reproducing after his kind.  Everyone who has a human father has to be born with the sin nature that is traced directly back to Adam.

When Adam sinned, He hid before the presence of God.  God reached out to him.  God sought Adam and promised that fellowship would be restored.  God told Adam that a confrontation would come in which the seed of the woman would triumph over the evil which had seduced him.  At this point, God did not give details of how this victory would occur nor how long it would take.  He simply stated that man, through the seed of the woman, would be victorious over evil.  God did say the victory would entail violence, and there would be a physical confrontation between the seed of the woman and the seed of evil.  The seed of the woman would crush the evil.  This verse follows:


Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”


Immediately after man sinned, the Bible records the first physical death.  Man was now physically naked and needed to be clothed.  The Bible records that God made coats of animal skins and clothed them.  To make clothes of animal skins, it required the death of the animals.  The first deaths in the Bible were to cover man because of sin.


Genesis 3:21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”


In examining Genesis chapters one, two and three some very important principles are established.  These principles carry through the entire Bible and set the stage for the study of chapter 4.  When examining the Bible and especially the need for sacrifices, these principles must always be kept in mind.  The principles follow:


There is a penalty for sin which is death.

There is a direct relationship between sin and death.

Adam died spiritually the moment he sinned.

Sin brought immediate judgment from God which meant spiritual separation from Him.

Everything reproduces after its own kind; therefore sinful man reproduced offspring with the sin nature.

All of mankind came under the sin of Adam and were prevented from entering the Garden of Eden for eternal life.

Man’s sin caused the first physical death.  Animals were slain for skins to cover man.

God promised that man would be delivered from the sin.


God’s Remedy For Overcoming Sin

God’s remedy for overcoming sin was in His worship system as seen Genesis 4:1-8.  The word sin is used for the very first time in this section of Scripture.  There was no recorded worship system established in the Bible prior to this chapter, but Abel knew to bring the best of the sheep before the Lord.

It is obvious that God had established a system prior to this because Abel knew to bring the best of the sheep before God.  Perhaps when God told Adam about the coming redemption from sin, He also established the system.  Or, maybe when He slew the animals for garments, Adam was told about God’s method for dealing with man’s sin.  The Bible does not say when the system was established, but it was in force at the time of Cain and Abel.  The verses to show this follow:


Genesis 4:3 “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. (4) And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering”


There is no mention at this time of sacrifice.  The Bible simply states that Cain brought fruit of the ground as an offering while Abel brought the best of his sheep.  At this point, there is no mention of clean or unclean animals or sacrifice for sin.  The Bible does not even mention why the offerings were brought before God.  Cain and Abel just did it.

Later in Genesis, Noah adds more to this.  Noah knew about the clean and unclean animals.  He was told to bring two of all kinds of animals into the Ark , but of the clean animals he was told by God to bring in seven pairs.  There is no indication in the Bible how Noah knew the clean from the unclean.  The Bible does not tell us what were the clean animals, but Noah knew the clean from the unclean.  This was long before Moses and the law.

From the very beginning, the time of Adam and Eve, man knew about God’s worship system of sacrifices and why God required them.  The Scripture to show the clean and unclean animals follows:


Genesis 7:2 “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.”


After the flood, the very first thing Noah did was build an altar to the LORD and offered sacrifices.  These sacrifices were called burnt offerings.  This is seen in Genesis 8.  The Bible does not indicate that Noah was commanded to do this.  It does not indicate when he was instructed about building an altar and offering sacrifices.  He simply knew to do it.  He knew to offer only the clean animals as sacrifices to the LORD.  The Bible goes on to say that the offerings of the clean animals touched the very heart of God!

These verses show the importance of sacrificing clean animals to the LORD because it touches His heart!  The Bible is very clear that burnt offerings touched the very heart of God.  These verses are critical to understanding why God instituted sacrifices.  The verses to show this follow:


Genesis 8:20 “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

(21) And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”


The Bible is clear that God instituted burnt offerings, and this ritual was not the invention of man.  Job was well aware of the need for burnt offerings for sin.  He continually offered burnt offerings for his family in case they had sinned.  Job knew the direct connection between burnt offerings for sin and touching the heart of God.


Job 1:5 “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”


Job was given false counsel by close friends.  Some of this counsel involved a false understanding of God.  When Job’s time of testing was complete, God revealed Himself to Job.  One thing God addressed was the false counsel about Him that Job was given by his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  God Himself stated the remedy for this sin of false counsel was to offer burnt offerings.  The burnt offerings were seven bullocks and seven rams.

The key to this is that God Himself initiated the need for the burnt offerings to atone for sin.  It is clear that the idea of sacrifice to atone, or pay the penalty for sin was initiated by God Himself at the very time Adam sinned.  Abel, Noah, Abraham and Job all knew the need for the clean animals and burnt offerings.  The verses to show God initiated burnt offerings with Job’s counselors follow:


Job 42: 7 “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

(8) Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

(9) So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.”


Genesis 8 is the first time recorded in the Bible that an animal was sacrificed.  These Scriptures tell us why God wanted the clean animals sacrificed.  This process touches God’s heart and causes Him to overlook judgment for sin. Verse 21 shows that the sacrifices cause Him to stay judgment for sin.

The sacrifices allow God to deal with man and his sin nature.  The verse actually shows man’s sin nature: “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  This is man’s sin nature which was inherited directly from Adam.

There are very few things recorded in the Bible that touch the heart of God.  Two of them are found with Noah.  The first is the sin of man.  It grieved God in His heart that He had to judge the earth at the time of Noah.  Man was wicked and continually violent.  This wickedness and violence grieved God in His heart, and He had to move in judgment.  Sin touches the very heart of God.  The next is the burnt offerings made by Noah.  The burnt offerings of the clean animals were a sweet savour to God and touched His heart about man’s sin nature and judgment.  The verses to show this follow:


Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

Genesis 8:20 “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (21) And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”


Man sinned and brought upon himself the penalty of death, Genesis 2:17, and in Genesis 8:20,21 the Bible is clear that the death of the clean animals dealt with the penalty for man’s sin nature.  Later in the Bible there were others who offered burnt offerings.  Abraham and Job offered burnt offerings and in the law of Moses there are numerous times burnt offerings were made.  In fact, burnt offerings are a part of the rituals under the law of Moses.  All those burnt offerings touched the heart of God just as the burnt offerings that Noah had made.  It was the burnt offerings of only the clean animals that touched the heart of God.

Later in the Bible the clean animals are identified.  These animals would include: heifers, bullocks, sheep, goats, doves and pigeons.  The Bible says that Noah sacrificed burnt offerings of every clean animal and bird so Noah would have offered at least one each of the mentioned list.  Remember, Noah knew the difference between the clean and unclean way before the law of Moses.  The Bible even states that under the law identifying the clean from the unclean is connected with God’s holiness.


Leviticus 11: 45 “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt , to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

(46) This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: (47) To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.”


Now with this understanding of sacrifices, let’s look at the offerings that Cain and Abel brought before the LORD.  Cain failed to bring a clean animal before the LORD, but Abel brought the best of the flock.  Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected.  Cain failed to follow God’s method of approaching Him.  When Cain’s offering was rejected, he then became angry.  He became angry only AFTER his offering was rejected.  There is no indication in the Bible that Cain brought the offering in anger.  God would not accept the fruit offering and then Cain reacted with great anger.


Genesis 4:5 “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”


God then warned Cain what would happen if Cain did not follow God’s instruction of worship and coming before Him.  God told Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?”  The Bible clearly showed how Cain could do well.  The way was to bring the best of the flock of sheep before the LORD.  This was God’s way as seen by the actions of Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac and then with Moses and the law.


Genesis 4:6 “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”


God warned Cain that if he did not approach God the correct way, sin was waiting to destroy him.  Cain failed to follow God’s method and sin overtook him just as God said would happen.  In a moment of rage, Cain killed Abel his own brother.  Cain followed the way of evil and was demonstrating the confrontation between the seed of the woman and the seed of evil that continues to this day.


Genesis 4:8 “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (9) And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? (10) And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.”


The New Testament commentary on the story of Cain and Abel is very interesting.  The Apostle John writes that Cain’s work of bringing the fruit of the ground was evil and Abel’s was righteous.  Abel by bringing a clean animal before the LORD made him righteous.  Cain was following the wicked one, satan, and he killed his brother because of his evil works.


1 John 3:12 “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. (13) Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”


The New Testament is in complete agreement with the Old Testament that death is needed to pay the price for sin.  God in the Old Testament would only accept the burnt offerings of clean animals for sin, and in the New Testament, He will only accept the death of His Son to remit sin.  To reject the need for burnt offerings in the Old Testament and the death of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament is to follow the way of Cain and thus be rejected by God.  God will only accept His way to Him and that is through the death and shed blood for sin of His Son, the Lord Jesus.

Cain tried his way and was outright rejected by the LORD.  Are you following the way of Cain or are you righteous like Abel?


Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”



By John McTernan: Defend and Proclaim the Faith
Blog: John McTernan's Insights at www.johnmcternan.name

Meet author John McTernan
During numerous appearances on television, radio and in seminars, he has publicly defended Israel in light of Biblical prophecy. His current best selling book is As America Has Done To Israel.
He is author of the acclaimed book God's Final Warning to America, and co-author of the bestseller Israel: The Blessing or the Curse. From his experience debating, John wrote the Only Jesus of Nazareth series. This series includes: Only Jesus of Nazareth Can Sit on the Throne of David and Only Jesus of Nazareth Can Be Israel's King Messiah. Additionally, he has written several tracts, including Muhammad or Jesus: The Prophet Like Unto Moses, and The Koran vs the Bible.

As America Has Done to Israel

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