“Where is your brother?” Interpreting Genesis 4:1-16

Inspiration-Lessons of Hope for South Sudan

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] The story of Cain and Abel is the story of a pastoralist and a farmer. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. One of them herded livestock and the other one tilled the ground. They had different lifestyles, but they were brothers.

After the brothers were grown, Abel grew prosperous and happy. He praised God and God blessed him. But Cain was unhappy and envious of Abel. He thought it was unfair that God had blessed Abel. He was filled with despair and anger.

God saw Cain and tried to comfort him: “Why are you angry and so full of despair?” God said. He urged Cain not to dwell in such negative thoughts.

But Cain did not listen to God. He nurtured bad thoughts in his heart. One day, Cain invited Abel to go out to the fields. There Cain turned against his brother and killed him.

This is what is happening in South Sudan today. Brothers have risen against brothers and murdered them. They have many excuses for their warring and murdering. They talk about politics and power. They have many ways of avoiding the piercing gaze of God.

But God saw what Cain had done.

“Where is your brother Abel?” he asked him. “What have you done?”

This is the same question that He is asking today of every man, woman, soldier and citizen who is carrying a weapon, who has killed, or who has kindled up anger in his heart. God is not interested in excuses or lies. He has only one question for Cain: Where is your brother?

Cain is not honest with God: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Of course, God already knows where Abel is. “Listen! Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” said God. Like a good shepherd, God grieves over his sheep. He knows where each one has fallen. The story of Cain and Abel reminds us that God has not forgotten the vulnerable and the victims in South Sudan. He is asking after them.

Therefore, search your heart: Are you angry with your brother or sister? Do you envy him rather than count your blessings? Do you turn to anger rather than prayer? As Jesus said, “being angry at your brother is like killing him in your heart” (Matthew 5:21-22). God is calling us to repentance. He wants us to be our brother’s keeper, not his killer.

Lessons of Hope for South Sudan, #1. Read the next article in this series here.

The constributor is a seminarian, and has worked with Christians in South Sudan for several years. 

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