The Land of Nod
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain

By Jon W. Quinn
The "Land of Nod" sounds like a rather peaceful, tranquil place. There have been a few times when, apparently, my preaching has sent a few folks there. But the Land of Nod of history is not nearly so peaceful or restful! In fact, it is probably the opposite of all that. “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:16).

Cain had killed his brother Abel. He had been jealous, and that had led to hatred, and in a fit of rage he had killed his own brother. All this stemmed from his own lack of faithfulness (Genesis 4:1-16). The remainder of Genesis 4 and 5 informs us of future generations of Cain's descendants as well as Adam's other children, especially another son, Seth, through whom would descend the Savior (Genesis 5:3,4).

Exiled From God
The name
"Nod" is actually a Hebrew word. It means "exile" or "wandering". Cain went east from Eden and became a wanderer. His descendants would later build cities, but Cain himself never settled in one place for long (Genesis 4:11,12). Cain was destined to a restless life of wandering. He did take a wife from among the other descendants of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20).

"way of Cain" was not that of pleasant victory. The ultimate outcome of rebellion against God is neither liberty not restful (Jude 10,11; 13). And sadly, the rebellious spirit of Cain still exists today (Jude 17-19). The godly man or woman's answer to the world is mercy and kindness. We must not seek to overcome evil with evil, but with good (Jude 20-23). Romans 12:21).

What was Cain's sin? We most remember Cain as the first murderer. But that was not the root of the real problem, but one of the result of it. Cain killed Abel because Cain had a whole different attitude toward his life and purpose and toward others than Abel did. Note how John speaks of the relationship of our attitude toward God with our attitudes toward others (1 John 3:10-12). John says that one's attitude toward God is seen in how he or she lives and how he treats others v. 10. We are to love others, and this will be seen in how we treat others v. 11. If Cain had truly been a man of faith, his deeds would have been righteous, because faith in God produces righteousness. Cain was a worshipper, but an unrighteous worshipper going through empty motions. (and recall - God already knew Cain's faithless heart even as he worshipped - even before it became so obvious later when he killed his own brother). Cain was "of the evil one" (Satan).

Living By Faith
For our worship to be acceptable, it must be
"by faith". This would include living a daily life of serving God faithfully. How could Cain be described as "his deeds were evil" and then his worship be acceptable? His can't, and neither can ours under similar circumstances!

Abel's sacrifice was accepted because it was of faith - his deeds and manner of life were righteous (Hebrews 11:4). Consider a couple ideas about this: First, Abel is contrasted with Cain in that he offered "by faith". Was Cain's not "by faith" because it was not a blood sacrifice as God had commanded? That may be, though we do not find recorded anything specific about this. (Under the OT Levitical law both kinds, animal and grain sacrifices, were offered acceptably). Perhaps it was simply that Cain was a wicked man going through religious motions, pretending dedication at worship but not really caring all that much about God. In any case, Cain's worship was vain because it was not "by faith" - that is, according to God's word. (Romans 10:17).

The Outcome - Then and Now
What was Cain looking for? We all want to be happy and secure. We usually desire success and a sense of accomplishment unless we've given up on life completely. I am sure Cain wanted those things too. But he went about finding them the wrong way.

What did Cain find? He found uncertainty and restlessness; insecurity and ruin. But note our text again (Genesis 4:16) - notice the phrase
"Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord…" . Cain became, and evidently remained, estranged from God. Even if the rest of his earthly life had been "successful" as the world counts success, he entered into eternity without God, and therefore as a failure! His restlessness became eternal! (remember Jude 13 - "wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever."; see also Revelation 14:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Cain is never going home! He is forever in the "Land of Nod"!

But Abel, on the other hand, is going home (Hebrews 11:13,14; 16; 10). The truly tragic figure in this account is not Abel who was murdered, but Cain, his brother!

Here is why Abel is able to have a home, eternal, prepared by God. It is because of the sacrifice Jesus would one day make (Hebrews 9:27,28). Even at such an early time, Abel knew something of God's promise to send His Son into the world to be born of woman and defeat Satan (Genesis 3:15).

Do you recall how God reasoned with Cain before he murdered his brother?
"Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7 ) What patience and concern! God encouraged Cain to do well… and Cain could have done it! He could have changed!

The Lord has been equally patient and encouraging with us, if not more. He invites all of us to put our faith in Him, just as Abel did. He has declared His love for us by making the blood sacrifice required for our sins; the blood of His own Son, who was also raised up by His power. Jesus has become Abel's Redeemer, and ours as well. Do not be content to dwell in
"the Land of Nod" or exiled from God. God is preparing a city!

From The Bradley Banner 10/30/2011
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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