From What Trough Do We Eat?
by Fred Pruitt
(Much of this has appeared before, but also much of this has been rewritten. I first wrote the “source” of this several years ago, at least eight or nine I think. It took those years for this to settle into me in such a way that the Spirit has given me a renewed and expanded understanding of this truth and a new way to articulate it. Thanks be to God!)
So then, we come back to Cain, and are able to see that despite Cain’s personal consciousness of himself and who he is, Cain is nevertheless still a living expression of God, of the God Who expresses Himself in everything and is present in everything. Cain may not know it, but “Cain” is the being of God expressing in the land east of Eden, as a tiller of the soil and harvester of crops. Later on in the story we see all the descendants of Cain being the originators of various human endeavors – art, music, agriculture, etc., which are not just human inventions of course, but every one out of the limitless wonders of the eternal God. It is life-changing to see this, because historically those in Christ have always been somewhat ambivalent regarding the arts and sciences of this world. But what else could it be, but of God, that even in our weakened post-fall condition, humankind is continually discovering the world in which God placed him, and finding nothing but wonder and awe at the genius of God’s creation? Music, art, ethereal things, all of these are also out of the wonders of God.
But in Cain’s personal consciousness — spirit/soul self-sense, he has been born in the serpent’s lie. Nevertheless, at his inner core there is also the Crusher of the serpent, Who seeks and desires to overcome the serpent in all humankind.
Abel, the second-born, tends the flock. He does not till the ground in an effort to make it produce for him. He simply tends sheep.
Now Cain is the first son of Adam, and is fit to be Adam’s first type, since Adam is also God’s first, recorded human son (Lk 3:38). It is here I have to interject that these stories begin to express this one theme, repeated over and over in scripture.
That is this: the first son, Adam, was cast out of the garden. But he was not cast out forever. Genesis 3:15 is the first hint of the way back given even before they were put out. Still, he was not capable of returning to God on his own. His knowledge of the way back was irrevocably lost in his inner confusion and leanness of spirit.
He (in the many) had become Pharaoh’s lean cattle, who had wasted to nothing in the famine. And in Adam the famine is of the Word of God. Not the Bible of course, but the Word which had made all things, and had given Adam life in the beginning, but from Whom Adam had turned away within, and in that turning away, he lost his consciousness of God, except for a whisper, and almost turned completely into a wraith. A place for the habitation of the devils that drove him.
In short, through Adam and Eve, the whole human world began to be trapped in the deceit of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). Having lost the truth of our own being through trickery, instead of the consciousness of ourselves as living expressions of God through the indwelling of His Spirit in our human spirits, the world cracked and broke from the original design as Adam and Eve fell out of unity with God and into the darkness of separation from God culminating in all of mankind’s true “religion,” into the worship of ourselves. Our true original identity became lost as the enemy engulfed the human world with blindness. As Paul put it: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Cor 4:3,4).
Still, the Lord God never ceased to have compassion for Adam and Eve, and to want them to come back to Him and fulfill the purpose of his creation. But they could not escape the prison they had willingly entered. And this Adam is all humankind, of course, who have ever been born and ever lived.
But God tells us Cain’s and Abel’s stories to show that, from the foundation of the world, God has always sent One to seek and to save that which is lost. From the beginning He sent the Last Adam to redeem the First Adam.
We are used to thinking of Cain and Abel as first, a great example of salvation through forgiveness and grace, contrasted with salvation through man’s works.
Abel of course offered a blood sacrifice, an animal put to death not for its own corruption, but as a substitutionary scapegoat for the sins of those offering the sacrifice. This necessary scapegoat showed what a great Gulf had been opened between man and God in their departure from Paradise. Moreover, it demonstrates to what levels man had fallen, so far down in fact, that it took a Divine Death to restore him and bring him back into intimate fellowship with Himself, so that He might bestow Sonship on all Adam, as it was in the beginning.
But right here in this story, we are able to see with clear eyes Who is Christ and Who He had come to redeem and save. Abel offered a temporal animal blood sacrifice that pointed to the already Eternal Lamb of God in the midst of the Throne in Heaven, a “Lamb as if it had been slain” (Rev 5:6), pointed to also by John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the Sin of the world.” (John 1:29).
Cain offered a sacrifice of his “works,” i.e., what he had earned by the sweat of his brow in their dry and parched land outside Paradise. This offering was displeasing to the Lord, even though Cain had done his best. What was wrong about it? It came out of pride of self, whereas Abel’s sacrifice came out of his emptiness of self. How so?
The reason Cain “clashed” with God was because he was trying to be what God, and only God, is. God is completely “independent” of all. He has no rival. He determines His own way and is sufficient in Himself Eternally to be Self-giving Love. He is Eternally a “Giver!”
Man was made to be a receiver. He was to be the dispenser of the things of God, but not the Source of the things of God. Scripture calls humans vessels, temples, branches on a vine. A vessel is something made to carry or transport something else. It is the carrier of its cargo, though not the cargo itself. In Biblical terms, a “temple” was where people met God or where they believed their “gods” lived. We are called temples of the Holy Spirit. The vine/branch analogy is the same. Jesus said the Father is the Divine Farmer, and the Vine He planted was the Son, Jesus Christ. He went on to say that we are made branches of Christ Who is the Vine planted by the Father. Again, the human part is to contain and express God’s Life, which is where the human self finds satisfaction and its true eternal identity as Paul stated: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3).
In electrical terms, God is the eternal Positive. He’s got the Goods and the only one Who has the real “Divine Goods.” Human beings were created to be the negatives to God’s positive. What that means is that God’s got the stuff that we do not. We don’t have the “Divine Goods” nor can we work them up by anything we might do or say.
And that is just how God made it to be. He the Eternal Positive, Who eternally fills his eternal negatives (the not-haves), with Himself, so that the Life humans express is not their own independent self-reliant life, but instead the Life of God as expressed in human beings who know they are the “have nots” in a perfect harmony with the Eternal One Who IS and HAS all. Abel’s offering reflected that truth, that Abel realized he, in relation to God, was a “have-not,” so that God in Him would be recognized as the “Eternal Will to all Goodness,” through Abel’s life on earth. Cain’s offering, independent self-reliance, self-responsibility, etc., was an attempt to turn his inner place of being the negative to God’s positive, into Cain himself being the positive. Two positives don’t match, but likely cancel each other out. Anyone who has mistakenly installed his car battery and hooked it up backwards knows what this means. When two positives meet, there is always a clash. Two positives cannot “work together.” It always must be positive to negative, the Have fills up the Have-not.
When Cain realized he had not been accepted of the Lord but Abel had, covetousness and jealousy rose up in him and in his hot wrath, he killed his brother Abel. And from then onward, wherever Cain wandered, he heard the cry of his brother’s blood coming out of the earth.
What blood was this? We are here first presented with the theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation, the Last shall be First, as well as the Seed of the Woman Who is sent to crush the head of the serpent in all men, through the shedding of His Blood and breaking of His Body, bringing them back into Himself.
Cain Is Not Cast Out Altogether
Cain is not a lost cause. In one way to look at the story, Cain is a “son of Belial,” and Abel is the son of God, persecuted and killed by the devil in “the sons of Belial, i.e., Cain. Abel’s shed blood is the precursor to the True Precious Blood, which would pour out of the Lord Jesus. Though it might be hard to see from the story, the simple fact is that Abel died for Cain’s sake. Abel is Christ Who died for our sins, Whose blood covers the very transgressors and their transgressions that nailed Him to the Cross and killed Him.
In short, Abel died for Cain. We look at Cain and almost see him as evil. Even Jesus comes close to saying that about Cain. We see pardon for his murder of Abel (Christ) as an impossibility. Cain seems to not find redemption, but bitterness and despair instead. Cain’s story recedes as we move on, but he remains a lost tragic figure as one who could have had it all, but let it slip from his hands because of sin which had mastered him, rather than Cain mastering sin, as the Lord God told him in Gen 4:6,7 –
“And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 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.”
This is one of King James’ clumsiest verses. But the bottom line of the Word of God to Cain, was that he was to master sin, which attempted to rise up in him. Sin must not master him, but Cain master sin. Simple as that. (How did Abel master the sin? He didn’t, but gave it to God and counted on Him to overcome it, to which God gave witness in blessing Abel’s offering.)
Even though this is how it seems when the story is over, we must see that Cain is not cast off altogether. Adam and Cain are the same. Both are sent out to wander and till the earth, being banished from the home of their origins, sent out, as NPG used to say, “out where the cold human winds blow.” (I’ve been there; I know.)
Adam and Eve were cast out of a much greater paradise than was Cain, but the result was the same. They are alone, even if there are others around. It is likely those others around might be our enemies, so we must be on guard. Wanderers and beggars in the earth, even though we might work very hard and be successful in the business of the world, and all men approve of me because of my accomplishments. It does not matter. It is all Adam/Cain (all of us – the whole human race) sent out of Paradise into a land of rigor and pain, counterbalanced with all-too-fleeting seasons and moments of pleasure and joy.
We are far away – from ourselves, from God, from others, from society, alone and lost, unsure of the next step. Speaking as Cain, no man will receive me because they see the mark in my forehead, and they know they have the same mark as well, so they give me a wide berth because they know themselves even as I know myself, murderer, sinner, defamer, tortured, wishing I could love and be loved. I wander lost and alone all through the world of Cain, seeing as Cain sees, and seeing the mark everywhere on every head I see.
This is Cain and this is our father Adam, and it has been you and me. But above that, it has also been the “Son of Man who is come to seek and save that which is lost.” (Lk 19:10) That is who Abel is. Abel was not lost, Cain was. Therefore, it was Cain He came to seek and to save. When Cain rose up against his brother and slew him, Abel was not the loser. He died in the Lord and for the Lord. But he also died for Cain. Whether Abel had a conscious thought toward this we cannot know, except that He was borne by Another Who took the death into Himself, the Lamb! It was the Lamb in Abel that submitted to death for the sake of Cain. It is Cain He has His eye on, not Abel. Lost and wandering Adam, now billions of Adams and Cains all over this planet.
But then, Eve conceives again, bearing Seth. Eve says of her newborn, Seth (“Compensation”), “For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” (Gen 4:25) The Seed is Christ, passed through Eve to all her descendants, in the Spirit, but also and more preeminently in this case, it is the beginning of the line that would bring forth at the appointed time, He Who would restore all things. Seth is the beginning of the line that brought forth David and David’s Son and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Abel is Christ (the Seed) Who died for Adam-Cain, who is all of us. Seth is Christ Who rose to bring forth a spiritual line out of the physical line of Seth through Abraham, Isaac and Israel, sons who are not the sons of the flesh, or of the will of man, or of man’s blood, but of the Spirit of God. The last redeems the first.