Friday, August 05, 2005

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Dispensation of Conscience

Proverbs 28:13
The one who conceals his sins will not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: Genesis 4:3-4

The 1599 Geneva Study Bible
  • This declares that the father instructed his children in the knowledge of God, and also how God gave them sacrifices to signify their salvation, though they were destitute of the ordinance of the tree of life.
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary
  • in process of time (Hebrew), "at the end of days," probably on the Sabbath, brought an offering unto the Lord - Both manifested, by the very act of offering, their faith in the being of God and in His claims to their reverence and worship; and had the kind of offering been left to themselves, what more natural than that the one should bring "of the fruits of the ground," and that the other should bring "of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof"
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes Genesis 4:3-4
  • There was a difference in the characters of the persons offering: Cain was a wicked man, but Abel was a righteous man (Matt:23:35).
  • There was a difference in the offerings they brought. Abel's was a more excellent sacrifice than Cain's; Cain's was only a sacrifice of acknowledgment offered to the Creator; the meat - offerings of the fruit of the ground were no more: but Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement, the blood whereof was shed in order to remission, thereby owning himself a sinner, deprecating God's wrath, and imploring his favour in a Mediator.
  • But the great difference was, Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not.
  • Abel offered with an eye to God's will as his rule, and in dependence upon the promise of a Redeemer. But Cain did not offer in faith, and so it turned into sin to him.

Genesis 4:8-10
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.

And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And Cain said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

And the LORD said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power, that is not easy. ~Aristotle
When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? ~Eleanor Roosevelt

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves. ~Eric Hoffer

It is not so much that man is a herd animal, said Freud, but that he is a horde animal led by a chief. ~Ernest Becker
History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches,
it does not fight battles.
It is men, real, living, who do all this.

~Karl Marx
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. ~Voltaire

The price of greatness is responsibility. ~Winston Churchill

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. ~Goethe

There are many scapegoats for our sins, but the most popular one is Providence. ~Mark Twain
I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

~William Blake, A Poison Tree

There is so much good in the worst of us,
and so much bad in the best of us,
that it behooves all of us not to talk about the rest of us.

~Robert Louis Stevenson
Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings. ~Helen Keller

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. ~Jonathan Swift

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. ~Booker T. Washington
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

~Abraham Lincoln
A good heart is better than all the heads in the world. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There never was a good knife made of bad steel. ~Benjamin Franklin

Compassion is the basis of morality. ~Arnold Schopenhauer

I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it. ~Thomas Aquinas
I love humanity but I hate people.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. ~Martin Luther King Jr
For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes Genesis 4:9
And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? God knew him to be guilty; yet he asks him, that he might draw from him a confession of his crime; for those who would be justified before God, must accuse themselves. And he said, I know not - Thus in Cain the devil was both a murderer, and a liar from the beginning. Am I my Brother's keeper? - Sure he is old enough to take care of himself, nor did I ever take charge of him. Art not thou his keeper? If he be missing, on thee be the blame, and not on me, who never undertook to keep him.
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary Genesis 4:9-12
The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? Some think Cain was thus examined the next sabbath after the murder was committed, when the sons of God came, as usual, to present themselves before the Lord, in a religious assembly, and Abel was missing, whose place did not use to be empty; for the God of heaven takes notice who is present at and who is absent from public ordinances. Cain is asked, not only because there is just cause to suspect him, he having discovered a malice against Abel and having been last with him, but because God knew him to be guilty; yet he asks him, that he may draw from him a confession of his crime, for those who would be justified before God must accuse themselves, and the penitent will do so.

Matthew 23:34-39
Some of them you will kill and crucify,
and some of them you will flog in your synagogues
and hound from town to town.
So all the righteous blood shed on the earth will be charged to you,
from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah...

Psalms 9:12
For the One who seeks an accounting for bloodshed remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

Psalms 10:13
Why has the wicked despised God? He says to himself,
"You will not demand an account."

Am I my brother's keeper?
This may be one of the oldest questions to be asked. It is one that continues to beg for an answer. What is your answer?

End of part 5
Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain

part 1 They Were Morally Corrupt and Destitute
part 2 The Two Divisions of Mankind
part 3 In Due Time Christ Died For The Ungodly
part 4 The Revelation of Two Mysteries
part 5: Am I My Brother's Keeper?
part 6 Thy Brother's Blood Crieth Unto Me

Copyright Wendell Leahy
published by


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