June 03, 2023

Missing the Mark

Genesis 4:1-16

“I will be a restless wanderer on earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

—  Genesis 4:14

While hiking the Appalachian Trail, how can you know if you’re on the right track? You simply follow the white trail markers, or “blazes,” painted on trees along the way. If you see the white blazes, you know you’re still on the path. Yet stepping off the trail and getting lost in the woods is not uncommon. For a hiker, that can be a dangerous sort of “missing the mark.”

In our passage today, Cain turns away from walking with God and is lost.

In this appalling story showing the depths of human sin, Cain attacks and kills his brother Abel because he feels slighted and resentful. The brokenness caused by sin blooms fully in this first murder in human history. Looking back now, who can count the lives lost because of sin?

When God confronts Cain with his hideous deed, Cain isn’t sorry. He is concerned only about his own fate. He is terrified that others will follow his example and kill him. Though God graciously marks Cain to protect him from violence, Cain remains lost as a wanderer and a fugitive.

In the Bible the Hebrew word for “sin” (hatta’t) literally means “missing the mark.” In our alienation from God and from others, we miss the mark. We are all lost. But Jesus finds us and sets us on the right path, the way of following him and loving others.

Lord Jesus, we are lost without you. Help us to walk in your ways and to love others, just as you have loved us. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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