And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt
in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Gen. 4: 16.
Moses leaves it to the thoughtful reader to reflect how miserable
and full of tears this departure of Cain from his father's
house must have been. His godly parents had already lost their
son Abel ; and now, at the command of God, the other son departs
from them into banishment, loaded with divine curses, on
account of his sin—the very son whom his parents had hoped
to be the only heir of the promise. But they obey the command
of God and cast out their son.
Adam and Eve had learned by their own experience in paradise
that it was no light sin to depart from the command of
God; therefore they thought: Our sin in paradise has been
punished with death, and with an infinite number of other calamities
into which we have been thrown since we were driven out
of paradise. Now that our son has committed so atrocious a
sin, it behooves us not to resist the will of God and his righteous
judgment, however bitter we feel them to be.
This departure from his home was, I have no doubt, most
bitter also to Cain himself. For he was compelled to leave, not
only the common home, his dear parents and their protection,
but his hereditary right of primogeniture, the prerogative of
the kingdom and of the priesthood, and the communion of the
Church. Hence we have the expression in the text, that Cain
went out from the presence of the Lord. "The presence" or
"face of the Lord" are all those things and means by which the
Lord makes himself known to us. Thus the face of the Lord,
under the Old Testament, was the pillar of fire, the cloud, the
mercy seat and the like. Under the New Testament, the face
of the Lord is baptism, the Lord's Supper, the ministry of the
Word. For by these things, as by visible signs, the Lord makes
himself known to us, and shows that he is with us, that he cares
for us and favors us. Cain "went out" to where there was no
"face of God," no visible sign by which he could derive the
consolation that God was present with his favor. A wretched
departure full of tears.