I hope many things for my three children.
Some of those hopes are quite mundane. I hope they brush their teeth. I hope their underwear is clean. I hope they learn to love green vegetables.
Others hopes are more grand. I hope they become Christians. I hope they are successful in life. I hope they have children of their own.
And if I’m hoping these things in full knowledge of the countless years of hostility on the earth, and in plain view of continued hostility, I can only imagine how great was the hope of Adam and Eve when their sons Cain and then Abel were born, for they knew only one (albeit very significant) act of hostility: their own in the Garden.
Though the consequences of their sin were many, God was gracious in many ways, and in Genesis 4 He moved to give Eve sons. Though Adam and Eve knew they would one day die, they had sons. Their family line would continue. And who knows? Maybe one of them would be the “deliverer” God spoke of in Genesis 3:15.
There was hope.
I imagine it’s the same kind of hope you might feel when you hold a newborn child, place your nose on their head, and take a deep breath: a futile attempt “suck in” the youthfulness of life. It gives you hope that things are better … or at least will be better … long after you’re gone.
For this reason, I can only imagine the devastation Adam and Eve felt they learned they had given birth not to a deliverer, but a murderer. Cain, in a fit of envy and/or spite regarding their respective offerings to God, killed his brother and buried him, perhaps from the very field that produced the food Cain had offered to God in the first place.
And just as God had come looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden, He came “looking” for Abel. Of course, he would not be found.
GOD said, “What have you done! The voice of your brother’s blood is calling to me from the ground. From now on you’ll get nothing but curses from this ground; you’ll be driven from this ground that has opened its arms to receive the blood of your murdered brother. Genesis 4:10-11, The Message
Hope was seemingly dashed. A son is dead and gone, murdered at the hands of their only other son. Abel’s blood cried out for justice, and justice was swiftly given to the unrepentant sinner.
But was hope gone?
Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. That’s when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God. Genesis 4:25-26, The Message.
God graciously continued the lineage of Adam and Eve, just as He promised, so that one day the Deliverer would come.
And He has come. His name is Jesus.
But he, too, was killed by the hands of his brothers.
He, too, spilled his blood into the ground.
But unlike Abel’s blood that cried out for justice, Jesus’ blood cried out for grace.
Whereas Abel’s blood demanded that wrong me made right, Jesus’ blood made wrong right.
Abel was not the deliverer. Jesus is the Deliverer.
Or as the author of Hebrews puts it, His sprinkled blood speaks a better word (Hebrews 10:24).
So is there hope?
Yes. And it is a certain hope that God has acted once and for all to deliver us from the curse.