A Commentary on Cain and Lot, (Genesis 4 and 12) Written, Summer of 2012
Is sin crouching at your door? God likens enticement to sin, temptation, as sin crouching (lurking) at your door. (Gen 4) Sin results when temptation is allowed to enter the door of your heart. Satan or the world system can draw someone into sin, usually in areas where they have fleshly weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When temptation, whether Satan initiated or of the flesh, is allowed entrance into the heart, sin is born. James 13:4 notes that a person is tempted by his/her own evil desires and when those desires are conceived, they give birth to sin. God makes it clear that the choice of opening the door is up to the individual. The consequences of allowing sin to enter one’s life are often multiple—it compromises (sometimes severs) the person’s relationship with God and the sin is often passed down to subsequent generations. To avoid sin, just do not open the door to entertain the temptation. The power belongs to you.
Genesis 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel; the were the sons of Adam and Eve. Both gave offerings to God, but God was not pleased with Cain’s offering. Cain was called a “tiller of the ground” because he was a farmer. He offered God fruit from the soil. Abel, a shepherd, was called a “keeper of the sheep.” Abel gave God the first born of his flock. It was obvious that Cain did not have a true heart commitment to God because he did not give God the first fruit of his harvest. He gave a fruit offering. Abel gave the firstborn of his flock which was pleasing to God. (Exodus 23:19) God was not pleased with Cain, but Abel found favor with Him because he gave his best.
Cain did not look at his own heart condition or why he found disfavor with God; he became jealous and angry of his brother because he found favor with God. Cain became disgruntled, for his countenance completely changed, so God asked, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:6-7) God told Cain that he had the power to master the temptation, which would ultimately lead to sin. Sadly, Cain failed to heed God’s warning; he embraced the jealousy and anger that came into his heart and ended up killing his brother, Abel!
The temptation to sin was already at the door of his heart and he was not in a right relationship with God. His heart condition allowed temptation in, which ultimately became sin. Had his heart condition been right, he would have given God his best, i.e., his first fruit. Had his heart been right, he would not have become jealous and angry with his brother, Abel. Because Cain failed to control the temptation at his door—he succumbed to sin and allowed it to enter his heart. The jealousy and anger fermented and festered, and in the end, resulted in the murder of Abel. He did not, as God said in Genesis 4, master the sin; he allowed it to master him. His sin—jealousy and anger which led to murder, trumped his commitment to God.
Even after the murder, God sought out Cain. I surmise that God wanted Cain to acknowledge his heart condition—to be honest about the murder. God already knew what had happened to Abel. He questioned Cain about his brother’s whereabouts. He asked Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?” (Gen 4:9) Cain, like his parents after the fall, failed to take responsibility for his offense. His answer or lack of an answer further emphasized his degenerate heart. Instead of truthfully answering God’s question, he disrespected God by responding with a question of his own, “I don’t know. . . Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Now God always provides a means to escape total destruction and He even did it for Cain. Even after the murder, God gave Cain a chance to acknowledge his sin. Cain’s sarcastic response to God showed that his heart was evil. More than likely, Cain never had a real heart relationship with God. That is why he was so susceptible to temptation from Satan, “the sin crouching at his door.” His own degenerative heart prevented him from discerning or ruling over the temptation that ultimately entrapped him in sin.
Cain had to bear the consequences of his sin; he was a free agent. He could have chosen to make God his priority. He did not “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matt 6:33) As a result of sin, Cain was driven from the land and from God’s presence. Both he and his descendants were cursed and became fugitives and vagabonds.
Lot is another example of someone who through temptation allowed “sin to crouch at his door.” Lot was the nephew of Abraham; he was Abraham’s dead brother Haran’s son. Abraham took Lot with him, even though God told him to leave his country and his father’s house and go to the land that He had promised him. (Gen 12:1-4) God did not tell Abraham to take Lot with him. (That, however, is a story for another day.)
Eventually, Abraham saw the need for him and Lot to separate. Their herdsmen had been quarreling with each other. Abraham showed Lot the lands before them and gave him the first choice of the lands. “Let’s not have quarreling between you and me or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers (kin). Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” (Gen 13:8-9)
After Abraham gave Lot first dibs on the land, Lot chose the land that, to his eyes, appeared to be the best, the greenest, the most luscious. “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. So, Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.” (Gen 13:10-11)
It is at this time that sin began to lurk at Lot’s door. For one thing, Lot should have refused the first pick of lands even though Abraham offered him first choice. He should have allowed Abraham to choose first. After all, Abraham had allowed Lot to come with him and he was the elder. In addition, God had promised the land to Abraham, not Lot. Lot selfishly chose first and he chose what he thought was the best land. Abraham and Lot separated and Lot set his tent to the east near Sodom and Abraham resided in Canaan. (Gen 13:11-12)
God had heard of the wickedness of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and sent angels to check out the city of Sodom. They were to destroy the city if it appeared to be wicked and sinful. When the angels arrived at Sodom, Lot was sitting at the gateway to the city (that’s usually where the men of the city sat.) Now remember that the angels had just left Abraham where the Lord had revealed to Abraham his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham had pled with God to save Sodom. (His nephew was there.) He begged God to spare the city if He found fifty righteous people in the city. God told him that He would not destroy Sodom if He found fifty righteous people within the city. Abraham pled for forty-five—down to ten. God told him that He would not destroy Sodom if He found ten righteous people in the city. (Gen 18:26-32) Abraham did not want Lot destroyed. He must have thought that there were at least ten righteous people in Sodom because He stopped at ten!
Now, when Lot saw the angels coming, he bowed down to the ground and invited the angels into his house to spend the night. The angels initially refused, for they were going to the city square. They eventually relented and agreed to stay at Lot’s house for the night. They were there to determine if Sodom was, indeed, as wicked as the outcry against it. Before they could go to bed that night, the men from every part of the city surrounded the house. They wanted Lot to bring out the men (angels) so that they could have sex with them.
Remember, Lot had already been tempted by the lust of the eyes—he chose the lush, green plains of Jordan. Sin had been crouching at Lot’s door since he chose to live in that evil city. As the men of the city surrounded his house, Lot went out to meet with the Sodomites. Sin entered into Lot’s heart as he sought to compromise with the men. He offered his two virgin daughters to the men if they would not harm the angels. He said, “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Gen 19:8) He sinned by seeking to compromise with evil. Never compromise with sin! He told the men that they could, “do what you like with them (his virgin daughters).” Perhaps, in his mind, he was doing a good thing. What was righteous had become compromised in Lot’s heart when he chose to remain in that wicked city. He was so compromised that he was willing to allow his daughters to be subjected to all manner of sexual and physical abuse and even perhaps death when he did not have to give anybody to the Sodomites! He could have just refused to give up the angels to those wicked men; he did not have to offer his daughters as sacrifices!
Lot’s judgment and relationship with the Lord had been seared when he moved his family to Sodom. Not only did Lot succumb to sin, but that sinful nature was passed down to his family. The angels asked Lot if he had other family members because they were going to destroy the city. They told Lot to take all of his family members and get out of the city. Lot obviously had other daughters because the Bible states that he spoke to his sons-in-law about leaving before the city was destroyed. The sons-in-law refused to believe him. Obviously, his married family members had become part of the evil lifestyle of Sodom. Ultimately, only his wife and two virgin daughters left Sodom with him; however, his wife looked back at the city after being told not to and she became a pillar of salt. His married daughters and their families perished in the city of Sodom. Lot and his virgin daughters were the only members of his family that were saved.
Now when Abraham pled with God to spare Sodom if there were ten righteous people there, he stopped. Perhaps there were at least ten people in Lot’s family, so he thought Lot and his family would be enough to save Sodom.
Taking his family to the wicked city of Sodom with its licentiousness as well as offering his daughters up to the wicked men of the city must have spoken volumes to his virgin daughters. It appeared that their virginity and even their lives were of little value to their father. The curse of his sins would later pass down to his daughters who ultimately succumbed to sin by having sex with their father to preserve his seed. They reasoned that “there was no man on earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.” (Gen 19:31-38) Now, the sins of their father did not negate the sinful acts of the daughters in getting their father drunk and having sex with him to preserve his seed. They were free agents who chose to sin. However, it was Lot who introduced sin into his family. Because of his own selfishness, Lot chose to take his family to the sinful city of Sodom. It was Lot who compromised his principles by sitting at the gate of the city with the other men of the city, knowing the evil that was going on there. It was Lot who thought nothing of sacrificing his virgin daughters to the abuse and perhaps, even to death by the degenerate men of Sodom even when no compromise was necessary.
In the end, the daughters committed sin by having sex with and bearing sons by their father. The oldest daughter bore a son, Moab, and the youngest bore a son, Ben-Ammi. (Gen 19:37-38) The Moabite people were descendants of Moab; the Ammonites were the descendants of Ben-Ammi. These two groups were two of Israel’s greatest enemies down through the centuries–the sins of the father passed down through the generations.
You may argue: they were not in our Christian Dispensation—they did not have the Bible and salvation through the sacrificial atoning death and Resurrection of Jesus for the sins of mankind. However they knew right from wrong. During their time, the Patriarchal Dispensation, they knew they were to obey God and shun sin. Cain knowingly showed a lack of commitment and obedience to God by not giving his first fruit, just as his parents sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. Instead of repenting to God, he became angry and jealous of his brother, Abel, because God favored Abel’s commitment. That anger and jealousy festered and led to murder, marking Cain’s descendants generationally with a sinful nature. Lot compromised by selling out to the pleasures of the flesh in a sinful city of Sodom. He sat at the gate of the city with sinful men and he was willing to sacrifice his virgin daughters to Sodomites unnecessarily when they came to the door asking for Lot to send out the men (angels of God) so that they could have sex with them. That sinful and ungodly nature was passed down to his daughters and subsequent generations.
Both Cain and Lot compromised in their relationship with God because they allowed sin to crouch at their door and this sin not only affected them, but it also affected their future generations. It is up to you and me to choose to deny temptation that Satan brings—temptation that if embraced, entraps us in sin. It is up to you and me to keep the door closed and sin out of our lives. When we give God the first place in our hearts and souls—when we refuse to compromise with sin as Cain and Lot did, we can, as God said in Genesis 4:6-7, “master the sin crouching at your (our) door.”