Adam and Eve’s first son Cain murders their younger son Abel. God had given him the opportunity to change, but instead it just made him angry. And he responded with rage and violence. But afterwards, God casts him into exile and Cain fears that someone will kill him. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him” (Gen. 4:15 ESV). God says vengeance shall be taken. It shall be. Future tense. It is a promise.
Unfortunately, I got most of my theology on the mark of Cain from scary movies. I thought it was a mark for a serial killer or some other scary guy. Or girl. I don’t want to be sexist. There’s plenty of scary girls out there. But back to the mark of Cain. I always thought it was something really bad. Pointing out the bad guy. Labeling him as evil. But it’s actually something completely different. It is God’s promise of protection for Cain. It’s not a branding of him as a sinner; it’s branding him still as a son, in spite of his sin. It’s a dad saying even though he has made mistakes, he is still mine, and if you mess with him, you mess with me.
Even in our time of discipline, God still has good planned for us. Even when He lets us experience the result of our sin, He desires our protection. God the judge is never separate from God the lover. He is always both. And I will take the mark of His protection any day.