Genesis 4:1–16: The Offspring of the Serpent
By the end of Genesis 3, we might think that the human race is getting off lightly after the rebellion of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve exercised faith in response to the oracles of judgment (Gen. 3:20), and, more importantly, Yahweh graciously preserved his blessings (reproduction and food production) for his people and covered their shame with animal skins. But, if we are tempted toward over-optimism, the narrative of Genesis 4 will quickly correct our thinking. Through this story, we discover a steeper, faster descent into sin, rebellion, and chaos than anyone could have anticipated. The effects of the curse do not slowly creep into the world; they rise up quickly to shed the blood of an innocent man in the very first generation born to Adam and Eve.
The effects of sin are devastating. How will human history play out from here? We read this today with the benefit of thousands of years of human history to contextualize this story. Adam and Eve did not have any idea how their original sin could get out of hand. They woke up one morning in the bliss of perfect communion with Yahweh God in the garden, and, by nightfall, they were forever expelled from Yahweh God’s direct presence, with a flaming sword-bearing cherubim guarding the way back. What will life look like on the other side? Will everyone be corrupt, or will some trust in Yahweh for righteousness? What distinguishes the one group of people from the others? In many ways, the story we see played out in the lives (and death) of Cain and Abel becomes a pattern of the struggle of good and evil in this world to this very day. In the first two children born to the woman, we find two fundamentally different categories of human beings: the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent.
1. What are our first impressions of the world after the Fall? In what ways do God’s blessings of reproduction, work, and worship continue? In what ways does the fullness of creation’s original blessings cease? What does this tell us about the severity of sin? What does this tell us about the hope we have when Jesus returns to remake the heavens and the earth?
2. How does worship reveal the nature of Cain’s heart? How does worship reveal the nature of our own hearts? Do we listen to God’s word in worship with the desire to identify and repent from our sins by faith? In what ways might we minimize, downplay, or ignore God’s word in worship? How might we need to repent from the way we worship?
3. Is it a surprise to discover that Cain is born to the woman, but the offspring of the serpent? What does the presence of an offspring of the serpent in the first family warn us about our unfounded assumptions surrounding the members of our own families or our churches? What should we learn about the unfounded assumptions that we make about ourselves?
4. What do the Scriptures teach us about the children of God? Are you repenting of your sins and turning to Jesus in faith? Do you love your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? If not, why not? If so, what should you expect from the world? How does knowing about the offspring of the serpent in the world help you prepare for what you will endure?