“‘I don’t know,’ [Cain] replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ The LORD said, ‘What have you done?’” — Genesis 4:9-10
In its opening chapters, the Bible makes clear that God created the world and all its creatures. And as the crown of his creation God made human beings—us!—in his own image. Back then we had a unique holiness. But it didn’t take long for us to experience a fall and corruption. (See Genesis 1-3.)
Cain and Abel sadly illustrate the results of our fall into sin and its deadly corruption. The Canons of Dort say, “Human beings brought forth children of the same nature as themselves after the fall... Being corrupt they brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread… from Adam and Eve to all their descendants—except for Christ alone... ”
As our story today shows, Abel gave God the best from his flock, but Cain gave only “some of the fruits” of his work. So God “looked with favor” on Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. Cain could not tolerate that. So in envy he took his brother’s life, doing as he pleased. Cain ignored God’s plea to do what is right. Even though Abel was also sinful, Cain had no right to kill an imagebearer of God.
Calling Cain to account, God thundered, “What have you done?” God still asks us that today when we do as we please and hurt others: “What have you done? Has not my Son, Jesus, shown you how to live?”