8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
All it took was one generation for mankind to find out the deepest depths of what sin one can do to another. To murder a fellow-person is contrary to our very nature, but Cain had found out how to break that barrier inside of him, and having introduced the idea it would now be repeated many times over.
The first instance of murder, and also the first account of lying. Adam and Eve may have hidden themselves in shame, but when God called for them and asked what had happened they told the truth. Telling the truth is a natural instinct for each of us, and to lie also requires another breaking of something inside. But Cain was able to do that as well, denying knowledge of what he had done, and then following it up with a most damning statement of cold indifference.
I wonder if Cain really thought that God could be deceived. Did he not realize that every soul was in God’s hand, and that “not a single sparrow falls to the ground” without God knowing it? In fact, God’s omniscient awareness and compassion is the one encouraging note in all this story. Cain had opened Pandora’s Box, and this first murder has been followed by an unfathomable number ever since. But while we as a people may have become desensitized to the act of killing, it is good to know that God knows and mourns each and every one.