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When Your Punishment is Greater Than What You Can Bear

As a child, I was grounded a few times by my parents. My worst punishment as a student was being called to the principal’s office. When I gave up trying to improve as a saxophone player in 8th grade, I became a troublemaker. Subsequently, I was rolling up fake joints made out of oregano. However, our band director thought it was the real thing. After being dragged down to the main office like criminals, the boy who brought the oregano to school cracked under pressure. While I was cleared of any charges, my band director never forgave me.

Then Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is]greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the land, and from Your face I will be hidden; and I will be a fugitive and a vagabond and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me. 15 And the Lord said to him, [d]Therefore, if anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark or sign upon Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. 16 So Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod [wandering], east of Eden, Genesis 4:13-16.

In the case of Cain, he verbalized his concerns to the Lord in the passage above. Perhaps, nightmares of Abel’s death kept replaying in his mind. Cain’s overwhelming conscience brought conviction and regret to his heart and soul daily. Sensing that other members of his family would eventually hunt him down in revenge, Cain asked God for some sort of intervention. God’s solution is detailed above with a mark, a visible sign to avoid touching Cain. Yet, this doesn’t mean Cain lived happily ever after as a social outcast forced to think about what he had done to his brother.

But I say to you that everyone who continues to be [ad]angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be [ae]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be [af]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You [ag]cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be [ah]liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire, Matthew 5:22.

There’s a lesson in every crime as illustrated by shows like Cold Case Files and Forensic Files. No matter how careful the killer is, there is always at least one clue left behind at the scene of the crime. Although Cain denied any involvement, God saw right through Cain’s lie. Jesus indirectly mentions Cain in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Jesus equates hatred with murder. The jealousy within Cain due to the prosperity of his little brother conceived a root of bitterness inside of Cain’s heart. When you give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-28, hatred can lead to murder. May Cain’s story serve as a warning for all people.

by Jay Mankus

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