I admit defeat before starting on this one and go straight from reading the passage to reading commentaries.
The comentaries encourage you to take the whole chapter allegorically, ie: Cain and Abel are symbols of believers and unbelievers.
So we go from the fall to dividing the world into those with faith and fear of God, and those without. It’s important to remember it will always be thus.
At times when the church is seemingly on the rise, is tempting to get ambitious for a holy city on earth, which is not gods plan. At times when the church is losing influence, as it is now to a degree in Australia, is it tempting to despair and get a siege mentality. Confidence and faith in Gods plan is called for.
Gods plan is for both belief and unbelief to continue in the present time, the ups and downs need to be kept in perspective.
Pray: help me not to feel responsible for the fate of the church in earthly terms, but to be faithful and serve. Unsurprised and unthreatened when things seem to go to pot. Giving God the glory and not getting ego when things go well.
With the curse that ejects them from the garden comes religion, the offering of sacrifices. Note there is no pretence really that these are the first people. When Cain gets his mark, it is partly so all the other people out there will not kill him.
Cain’s unbelief ring so true to human nature. He tries religion, the offering, but it is hollow. He is predisposed to being ruled by sin, because he has lost faith in God’s forgiveness. All he has is jealousy of Abel, so he kills him, then he lies to God about it, then when he is found out, he complains about the punishment rather than acknowledge the crime. Its so depressingly familiar, the spiral of self governance: pride piling bad decisions on each other.
So he becomes permanently restless. The mark is both his curse and his protection. We see that Cains family actually prospers. The professions of his sons imply wealth, culture. Lamech perverts gods plan for marriage by having two wives, a sign of wealth and success. He perverts Gods patience in protecting Cain despite his evil, by saying with his increased power and wealth he will reek seventy times the vengence God promised on anyone who crosses him.
It all saying that the blessing of abundance and life which God pours out on unbelievers enables them to be more proud, defiant and takes them even further from acknowledging him. See Psalms, so many of them are about the believer’s distress over this situation. Jesus parable of the talents portrays a similar picture, but has inbuilt into the story the master’s return and the reckoning.
The passage shows the believers line continuing too… killing Abel did not end that. Adam and Eve’s replacement baby Seth starts a line: Enosh. But rather than a list of worldly success, we have only a brief spiritual sucess… they call on the Lord. The rest of the bible will look into how those differing positions play out for them.