Genesis 4:10-16 “The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ But the LORD said to him, ‘Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no-one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

Whenever anyone does anything wrong God speaks to them through their consciences and convicts them of their sin. “What have you done?” God says. He has placed in every person a conscience, the divine monitor which rebukes us when we misbehave and commends us when we do what’s right. Animals don’t possess a conscience; when a fish bites off the head of a smaller fish it suffers no pangs of conscience, but people are all made in the image of Almighty God. A man is urged to do what is right even at considerable cost to himself. He believes it is honourable and noble to lay down his own life for his friends. Parents will voluntarily suffer that their children may not be in want. A husband will sacrifice himself for his wife’s sake, and his conscience will commend him when he acts like that, “Well done.”

When Cain killed his brother Abel God addressed the murderer personally, in a manner in which he doesn’t speak to men today. I mean that Cain – like his parents before him – actually heard the voice of God questioning him, “Where is your brother Abel? . . . What have you done?” (vv.9&10). Today God speaks to us through the Bible, through sermons preached to us which are faithful to the Scriptures and through our consciences, especially when they are enlightened by the Word of God. That is how God speaks to us, in a different manner from how he addressed Cain, but the same questions which God asked Cain he still asks everyone of us, “Where are the people you’ve hurt? Can you see them in your mind’s eye? Do you often wonder how things are with them? Where are they today? What have you done?” God is holding us accountable for our pasts, and for our actions, and our omissions.


It is the all knowing Lord who interrogates us. On one occasion the Lord Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan woman and during the conversation he said to her, “Go, call your husband and come back” (Jn. 4:16). She replied, “Oh, I’m not married,” but the Saviour knew all about her past. “Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true’” (Jn. 4:17&18). You can’t pull the wool over the Lord’s eyes. He possesses omniscience. Jesus knew about a man called Nathanael when he was still in the shade under a distant fig tree, before Philip had called Nathanael to come and meet this fascinating person Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Lord who knows each one of us; everything about our lives is utterly naked to his gaze. “What have you done?” he asks us.

What have you done with the law of God? You shall have no other gods before me – what have you done with the command? You shall not make an idol and worship it – what have you done with that? You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain – what have you done with your lips and voice concerning God’s holy name? Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy – what have you been doing with your Sundays? Have they been the Lord’s Day or your day? Honour your father and your mother – what have you done to those who cared for you and sustained you for so many years? You shall not kill – what have you done with your lips and heart emotions towards your brethren when they irritate you? Have there been outbursts of anger and hatred? You shall not commit adultery – what have you done with your body? Have you practiced purity and faithfulness? You shall not steal – what have you done when you saw that drawer open, or when you came across that shopping bag forgotten, and the bicycle left unchained? You shall not lie – what you have done? Have you scrupulously spoken the truth? You shall not covet – what have you done about being content? Have you been thankful for what you have and delighted in the prosperity of another? What have you done concerning the law?

What have you done with this one life God has given you? Have you served God, and said no to sin and loved your neighbour as yourself? What have you done? What are you going to bring before God in the Great Day? What fruits of faith, what victories over temptation, what godly zeal and self-denial, what cross-bearing and suffering for righteousness’ sake? What have you done with your life? What have you done with the gospel? Jesus says, “Come to me,” and what have you done? Christ says, “Turn from your sins for the King is near.” What have you done? That is what God said to the sinner Cain, and that is what he is saying to you.


Do you hear these other words that he says to Cain ? “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (v.10). What is he saying? “Your life and your actions matter to me Cain, how you live, what you say and do. I notice; stuff matters; I am involved in your life.” Aren’t we held responsible today for what we did in all our yesterdays or for murders we plan in our tomorrows?. Cain cannot say, “But I killed him hours ago . . . I killed him yesterday . . . I killed him six years ago.” What has that got to do with the evil done? How does chronology change an evil that’s been done. There is no forgiveness achieved through the mere passing of the years. As you tear the months off the calendar does that tear away the guilt and shame? I tell you it does not. Little ten year old Damilola was killed six years ago in Peckham, London, but it was this week in a third trial that his killers were found guilty. A crime demands a verdict. Was it OK to kill a little boy? Or your own brother? OK to end a life? Is it OK to plant bombs in ten planes going to the USA sending 3,000 people to their deaths? Are we right to hold people responsible for planning such wickedness and to punish them? Of course we do and we are reflecting the righteous Lord who comes looking for Cain. God told Cain that he knew exactly what had happened in the field, and that the blood of Abel kept crying out from the ground to him. “You brother’s blood cries out to me!” (v.10). The murder was clamouring for a response from God.

What would Buddha do if the blood spoke to him? Simply smile on enigmatically and say nothing more than “whatever will be will be.” What wickedness! Heinous indifference to evil! The Sphinx would go on gazing ahead utterly immobile. Dead idols do not respond; the living God does. He acted; he roused himself and came to Cain as he comes to us and he tells us all that he knows what we are and what we have done. He assures us that the sins that hurt others matter to him. “Listen,” he cries to Cain (v.10). “Are you listening Cain? Are you paying attention? Prick up your ears! Listen Cain! You killed a man a few hours ago and now you are trying to turn your mind to a million other things and forget all about the murder, but I want you to listen. Are you listening Cain? Do you hear it . . . the voice of the blood? Do you hear the speaking blood? Do you hear? Abel’s blood is crying out and I can hear it. Listen, can you hear it?” It is demanding a divine response. Cain’s blood is saying, “Cain attacked and murdered me. What are you, living God who sits in the heaven, going to do about it? Are you a God who shrugs his shoulders and does nothing?” The blood shed in hate is demanding that God be involved, and of course he is involved.

There are some simple powerful statements at the end of Exodus chapter two. We are told that the cry of God’s people in slavery in Egypt ascended to the Lord, and we are told four things about his response, that he heard their groaning, he remembered his covenant with Abraham, he looked on the Israelites, and he was concerned about them. He heard, he remembered, he looked, and it really got through to him; it got under his skin and into his heart and he was concerned. That is our Lord today, not one untouched with the feeling of our infirmities, not one unmoved by the groaning of mankind. Our bone and our flesh and our feeling heart is on the throne of the universe.


i] Firstly it was crying out, “Imitate me.” However men hate you for true religion don’t ever back down. Don’t betray the Lord. If you’ve put your hand to the plough then don’t look back. Don’t be parted from the Saviour. Abel was a sincerely religious man. He had saving knowledge; he knew what offering to bring to God, the shed blood of the very best of the firstlings of the flock. In Abel’s heart there was true saving faith because we are told it was by faith he made a more acceptable offering than Cain. Here is the blood of a man who believed God and did what Jehovah wanted. “Only the best is good enough for God. I’ll bring a lamb without a blemish and offer that to God.” God accepts people according to their faith in him. Imitate Abel, the blood cries. Be faithful unto death and you shall receive a crown of life. Keep the faith. Be followers of Abel.

ii] Secondly the blood of Abel was crying out, “Vindicate me.” There is a striking picture right at the other end of the Bible in the book of Revelation chapter six; John sees an extraordinary sight, “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’” (Rev. 6:9&10). From Genesis to Revelation the voice of the martyrs is heard crying for vindication.

So the voice of a martyr was crying out in the blood of Abel. He was the first of a great cloud of witnesses who bore a brave testimony for the truth. You must know that there have been more martyrs for Christ in the last hundred years than all the previous 19 centuries put together. I get Christian newspapers every month with many reports of this year’s martyrs. Let me tell you of two who have suffered for Christ in the past weeks, the first in India. We are told that last month while distributing Christian literature, Pastor M. Aharon, was mercilessly assaulted by a group of militant Hindus. He was beaten up for his zeal in bringing both Hindus and Muslims to Christ. He was not killed but was left half dead. His face was covered with blood from heavy blows to his mouth and nose. He survived the attack at the hands of a Hindu mob in the town of Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh, located about 300 miles east of Bombay in central India. As a group of thugs were beating him, a mob of over 100 Hindus cheered and yelled in support inciting others to join in. Police stood by doing nothing, the constables even preventing the pastor from escaping. Only after Aharon was falling unconscious to the ground did police move in and lead him away.

Pastor Aharon was targeted because he has helped 700 Hindus and Muslims to trust in Christ. He has established 12 churches in that community, and has outraged Hindus and Muslims. When a Voice of the Martyrs contact asked Pastor Aharon what was going through his mind during the attack, he said, “I remembered Christ and many others persecuted for their faith in the last twenty centuries.” What does the blood of Pastor Aharon say to God? Vindicate me!

The other martyrdoms took place eight weeks ago in the Philippines. We are told of a Christian pastor, the father of four children, brutally gunned down by three men on 3 June. Also killed was his 22-year-old daughter. In the preceding months, Pastor Mocsin L. Hasim, had been receiving death threats but remained unmoved in his Christian ministry. He was on a motorcycle returning home after officiating at a wedding. His daughter Merdilyn was on the bike with him.

While at the wedding on 3 June, he received a text message: “Pastor, you will die today.” The 47-year old pastor brushed aside the death threat, as he’d done before. After the wedding, he and Mercilyn rode home. Their bodies were later found near their motorcycle in an isolated area of the Zamboanga Del Norte province in western Mindanao. Pastor Hasim had been shot 19 times, mostly in the back, using a semi-automatic rifle. The final shot, according to the police report, penetrated the back of his head, leaving his face beyond recognition. His daughter Mercilyn was shot five times. His wife Evelyn and their three other children are recovering emotionally and spiritually in an undisclosed destination. What does the blood of these two Christians say? “Vindicate us O Lord. We died serving you.” There have been many more martyrs this year, but that is enough. Their blood – as Abel’s – is crying out to God for justice. “How long until you avenge our blood?”

The weakness of my repeating those incidents to you is that none of us know these people. They are names in the paper to us, and so it is hard to bring our emotions to their stories, but these men have wives and children, families and friends, who are still hurting ‘real bad’ about what happened to a dear husband and daughter. Hear a Philippine wife crying out to God, “Lord, avenge the blood of my husband who was shot 19 times. Lord avenge the blood of my daughter shot 5 times.” I ask you what if it were the missionary sent from your fellowship, whome you saw growing up as a little boy, whom you pray for every week, who has stayed in your home, and spoken often in your prayer meeting? What if one day you got a terrible E-mail saying he’d been murdered by the enemies of the gospel? You would pray for their salvation, of course, and also that they would be caught and punished justly, and that thus his blood would be avenged – of course! What horrors are awaiting the church in the 21st century none of us can imagine, but none outside the plan and purposes of God, and there will be no unavenged blood shed by the people who are serving Jesus Christ!


How can the devils most effectively undermine the word of God? They can spread lies – which they do night and day – lies such as that there’s no such thing as ‘the truth’ to be found, or the lie that everything that exists is because of evolution, or the lie that nothing really matters, or the lie that Christ did not rise from the dead, or the lie that God cannot be known. The devil certainly gives all his energies to spreading the lie that there is no hell. “You can live like a devil but there’s no judgment.” That’s what men and women say they believe today. “Let’s eat, drink and be merry for there’s no judgment.” Well, if the modernist bishops believe this the man in the street is smarter than them; he knows that before him is the place of woe. His conscience tells him he is living in a moral universe, and whatever a man sows that will he also reap. That is a law of the universe. If you sow to the flesh then of the flesh you will reap destruction. So it was with Cain. His judgment was fourfold;

i] Cain was put under a curse (v.11). The serpent was put under a curse in the Eden and here is the first of the line of the serpent, Cain, and he is also cursed. The NIV translates the next phrase, “and driven from the ground” but the better translation is “more than the ground.” Cain was a farmer whose one vocation was to produce crops, but the ground was under a curse; it produced weeds and thorns and thistles; the heavens withheld their rain, the harvest was nil, the beasts bleated and bellowed for water and died; Cain’s family starved. “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you” (v.12). Barrenness, pain, frustration, despair, death – that was the curse that came upon the world when man defied God, and that curse remains. When God cursed Cain his state became like the barren soil, but worse, because the soil is inanimate while living Cain bore God’s image. Cain faced an appalling future of barrenness, pain, frustration, despair and finally death – as do all men who defy God.

ii] Cain was made “restless wanderer on the earth” (v.12). The first born of all mankind became a vagrant, an alien, a wanderer, of no fixed abode. Cain had no sense of belonging, a farmer who was driven from the fertile ground. A man called to sow and then wait until harvest time for the reaping was constantly moved on, unable to gain the reward from his labours. You see it again and again; a man lives for his business, works and sweats and worries and sacrifices for his business, and then he has a heart attack and dies before he gains a reward. Others benefit from all he did.

iii] Cain was “hidden from God’s presence” (v.14). Cain had no Lord to turn to each day; no day of rest each week. There was no coming to the one Lord who promises, “I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The Christian widow is never abandoned; “I have the Lord with me all the time,” she says. “He never leaves me. What would I do without him?” You reject my Saviour and what have you got? You are on your own on your journey to the grave, trying to find meaning in life by indulging yourself in this passion and that lust. O restless and lonely sinners you are made by God and for God and you will always be alone until you know God.

iv] Cain had a desperate fear of man; “whoever finds me will kill me” (v.14). The knock on the door, the sounds of a man walking up behind him, the sudden appearance of a stranger waiting round the bend, the noise in the night, the strange taste to food he’d bought, the look on the face of a woman he thought he could trust, the group of teenagers acting oddly, the man riding towards him, the old man reaching under his cloak – was it for a knife? – every day Cain thought, “Is this one out for vengeance for my killing Abel?” He was left in perpetual fear. What irony, that the man who had struck down his own brother utterly mercilessly lived all his life in fear of being struck down himself. Fear God and you will then have nothing else to fear

God assured him that death would not come to him, though many a day Cain might have welcomed death. “Do not kill Cain,” God said to every man, but would they heed God? Cain hadn’t heeded God when he killed his brother. The Lord even put a mark on Cain so that no one who came across him would touch him (v.15). We don’t know what the mark was; we only know that it said, “Don’t harm this man. Vengeance is mine. I will repay says the Lord. Don’t you dare touch him or you will feel the full weight of my wrath – seven times over.” God will not have this world turned into hell. He will place restraints on human behaviour. He will have no feuds developing, no descendants of Cain killing the man who killed their father, and then the descendants of the man killed killing that man and his family and so on and on. So there was a mark put on Cain to stop that process ever beginning. Cain was left carrying this stigma before the world, a sign which said, “This is the man who murdered his own brother.” Parents turned the faces of their children away from him. Men looked down as he hurried by – the man who murdered his own kid brother.

This was the judgment that was meted out to Cain. Was it not just? Didn’t it perfectly suit Cain’s guilt for taking away the life of his kid brother? It was a perfect judgment, righteous in its every detail lasting his entire life. The Judge of all the earth does right, and he will do right when he judges you. He will bring every factor into consideration; he will know every circumstance. There is no way that the judgment will be unfair, married by any ignorance. God cannot be bought or bribed or given misinformation about a single person. No one can pull the wool over his eyes. No orator can sway him into a miscarriage of judgment. The worst man or woman the world has ever seen will be judged fairly. The best man or woman will also be judged fairly. Every fallen angel will be dealt with fairly, but all of us will certainly be dealt with; none will be exempt; none will find a hiding place away from the great white throne. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and all of us appearing there are sinners. Not one righteous person will appear before him, no not one. All the world lies guilty before God. So, cursed, alienated, wandering, fearful Cain was driven from God’s presence to face a long and empty lifetime.

We’d have condemned Cain then and there, wouldn’t we? We’d have executed him there and then, but in his goodness God spared him, to lead him to repentance. Let us make a guess that Cain was the very worst of all men; he was the chief of sinners. He’d had great privileges and yet he murdered his own brother, however God spared his life, and forbade every person from killing him. What grace! Haven’t I read that grace abounds to the chief of sinners? If the very worst man or woman the world has ever seen should come to the Lord aren’t we assured that the Lord will in no wise cast him out? Can you believe that a murderer like Cain could yet find mercy from God? Yet the reaction of Cain to the justice of God is not promising. Do you see how Cain responded to the sentence that God passed on him? Was he silent before God? Did he say, “I am justly punished for my sins”? That is what the dying thief hanging on the cross said to his companion, that they were justly suffering that condemnation, but Cain protested to God in his cry, “My punishment is more than I can bear.” Sinners say that about hell, that no loving God would put them in hell. It would be unjust; it is more than men could bear, they say, but God alone knows what sin deserves. There is one more question, and it is this, how can Cain be delivered from hell? What is going to save Cain from the wrath to come?


There is other blood that speaks to God. It is also the blood of a murdered man, but one utterly innocent, wrongly condemned by men, one without spot or blemish. It is the blood of “Jesus the mediator of a new covenant . . . the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). You’ve often thought of Calvary haven’t you? The children’s hymn says,

“I sometimes think about the cross, and shut my eyes and try to see

The cruel nails and crown of thorns and Jesus crucified for me.” (William How, 1823-1897)

What does Golgotha say to you? Doesn’t the death of Jesus speak to you? If you should see your wife or husband or child or parent covered in blood wouldn’t that sight cry out to you? Would you be untouched by that sight of a loved one bleeding? No. Their bleeding wounds would cry out to you for compassion, and pity, and love, and perhaps anger if some wretched person had hurt them. Never did any Father love his Son as God loved Jesus Christ, and one day he saw Jesus’ blood running from hands and feet and side. What did it say to God? Didn’t it say, “See, this is not a sinner dying before you! This is your own spotless Son, and he is pouring out his soul to death.” Why is his blood shed? Jesus was the Good Shepherd who was laying down his life for the sheep. He was the Lamb of God who was taking away the sin of the world. He had become our Substitute and he was dying under the magnificent rectitude of a sin hating God. He was the cosmic sacrifice propitiating the divine hatred of every form of wickedness, and “in my place condemned he stood.”

What was that blood saying to the Father? “Can you be indifferent to this blood? If men who are sinners are moved to respond by the sight of their bleeding children how much more will you respond to my blood? Will you despise the cries and groans and tears and prayers of me your Son? O tender Father, didn’t I lie in your bosom before the foundation of the world? Shall my blood fall to the ground in vain? Can you not see, can you not feel, the force of this blood as it cries to you? Is it not for your honour I die here? Is it not in obedience to you I have humbled myself to the death of the cross? Is it not to honour your law? See your Son’s flesh pierced by cruel nails and a spear thrust. He is dying for your glory. If you hadn’t existed he wouldn’t have died. If there were no law to vindicate he would not have died. If there were no truth to defend, he would not have died. If there was no hell to save sinners from then he would not have died. If God were content to treat fallen men just as he had treated the fallen angels casting them into darkness then Jesus would not have died. But the Lord has given his life for you. He has committed his life to you. He offered himself, and he dies in the place of his enemies; he groans for them who made him groan; he is pierced for those who pierced him; he is mocked for those who mock his agony. O God what will his blood say to you?

Men and women, the blood of those we love stirs us to focus all our love on them, especially if they have shed their blood for us. Then how much more does the blood of God the Son move the heart of God the Father? Will the perfect, holy and gracious God be indifferent when sinners like ourselves are moved to deep emotion? Isaac Watts looked at the wondrous cross and said, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Isaac Watts grasped the tiniest part of the meaning of Calvary and yet was overwhelmed with that. God knows all the meaning of Calvary and he is overwhelmed, and the Spirit is overwhelmed, and the angels in heaven are overwhelmed, and the spirits of just men made perfect are overwhelmed at what the blood of God the Son cries to them.

God comes to every one of his people and he says, “I know everything you have done, every sin you have committed, every sinner you have hurt,” and then he quickly adds, “No matter how vast that guilt, however wretched and cruel your sin, the voice of the blood of my beloved Son Jesus Christ has cried to me from the ground of Golgotha for your pardon, and from now on you – whose plea is his precious blood – shall be blessed in your homes and blessed in your studies and blessed in your work and blessed in old age and blessed when you die and blessed in the grave. I have forgiven you your iniquities; I have set my mark upon you. No man and no devil shall destroy you. There will be no condemnation. I have received and accepted you, guilty as you are. Go your way in peace for I have taken away your iniquities and cast your sins behind my back, and if the day should come when your sins are searched for no sins shall be found, for I have freely pardoned you.

I wish you could all see this so clearly, more lucidly than every before. I wish I could command the Holy Spirit to open every heart and clear every mind. I can plead with him but I cannot command God. Don’t you see that long ago, before you sinned, and long before you were born, this blood was speaking to God for your pardon? Long before your sin God had heard and spared you. Abel’s blood was like the cry from the minaret; “Do your duty,” it said. Abel’s blood called for vengeance, but Jesus blood cries, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” That is why we are forgiven; it is through the blood of Christ. It is not the cry of the sinner seeking mercy that brings mercy to us, it is the cry of the blood of Jesus. The blood does not need your voice to increase its power with God. God will hear your voice crying for mercy because he first heard the voice of the blood of Christ. Jesus’ blood does not plead for the innocent, for if there are any innocent they don’t need atonement, but Jesus pleads for rebels and hypocrites and the prayerless and killers and adulterers and thieves that God may dwell among them. The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. For you who have broken God’s law and despised his love and fought against his power and now entrust yourself to the Saviour the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son pleads for you. Shall it plead in vain?

“Dear dying Lamb Thy precious blood shall never lose its power

Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.”

The writer to the Hebrews says that the blood of Christ speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. It speaks, present tense. When that letter was written forty years after Calvary the blood was speaking. It speaks yet. It is speaking to you now. It tells us of a prevailing Saviour. Years ago some of us came to Christ and we found pardon then, but our faith occasionally faints and our doubts grow strong. Come and let us go afresh to the fountain. Let us look anew at the cross for the blood speaks still. When you are not able to plead with God, lying ill on a hospital bed, preparing for the anaesthetic, or recovering from the big operation, and all you have the strength to say is ‘Jesus’ then know that he pleads for you and he saves you to the uttermost when you come to God by him. The blood of Jesus is as powerful today as it was when a dying thief saw it and pleaded, “Lord, remember me.” Cast yourself on him. Rest wholly in him. Come and link yourself with the infallible plea of the precious blood of Christ and it will be well with your soul, all safe with him, and safe for ever.

The thought of the blood of Abel made Cain a wretched man, and so in the same proportion should the thought of the blood of Christ make you a happy man. If today you have lost your confidence, and are conscious of letting down the Lord, and that you’ve done despite to his Spirit, and are ashamed of the very name of Christian because you have dishonoured it so much, and if today despair is almost strangling you and you are tempted to give up, come now again to the blood of Christ. Listen to it speak of a full pardon. You hear all the clamouring voices of the world, but the blood of Christ speaks louder, and sweeter, and eternally. It tells of sins forgiven, hell subdued and peace with heaven. Come to the blood of Christ for pardon. It is a movement of your heart and soul, motivated by the word you have heard and strengthened to do so by the Spirit of God to rest in Christ for ever and ever.

“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins,

And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” (William Cowper)

13th August 2006 GEOFF THOMAS