GENESIS 4:13-16 (New International Version – NIV):
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote the novel, East of Eden. It’s a book that wanders through the subjects of depravity, beneficence, and yes, love. It goes to great lengths to detail human struggle for acceptance, greatness, and freedom. Also, it relates to man’s capacity towards self-destruction.
Despite being considered a great book, East of Eden hasn’t come close to the total number of sales of the BIBLE, nor lasted through thousands of years like the GENESIS account has.
As The Word Detective, I’m always curious to the origin of unfamiliar words; their meaning and sometimes, the geographical significance to the story.
“NOD” is the Hebrew root of the verb “to wonder”–therefore, to dwell in the Land of Nod is usually taken to mean that one takes up a wandering life.
In English, to “nod” is to fall asleep suddenly. Consequently, in the United Kingdom, to go to the Land of Nod is to go asleep. [Footnote [i] ]
CAIN was worried, in despair, about the PUNISHMENT that had been handed down by God. Based on our laws today, the sentence was less than it deserved perhaps.
In his anger, Cain kills his younger brother over jealousy: “…And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed” (Genesis 4:4-5 AMP).
Ah, that old SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY and ENVY had gotten hold of Cain that day.
JEALOUSY is a feeling of discontent because of what others possess. Jealous people view someone else’s success as a threat to their success–their existence.
ENVY on the other hand, is proof that the SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY is present in your life and as a result, there will be negative consequences.
In CAIN’s future, he certainly faced in his wandering, negative consequences, spiritually and physically.
Although JEALOUSY is a tool the devil uses in our lives at times, there are ways in which you can open the door to that spirit. I’ve been down that road myself too many times before.
James 3:14-16 – AMP:
 If you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth.  This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, even devilish.  For wherever there is jealousy and contention, there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.
[See also, Philippians 2:3; Proverbs 14:30]
And what was Cain’s outcome, his punishment from God regarding his selfishness?
He was left aimlessly to WANDER the earth as a vagabond; even the ground wouldn’t yield for him. Whatever he sowed…would fail!
Our bibles make a contrast between the sowing of unrighteousness and the harvesting of FAITH.
Cain sowed the ground with BLOOD of his brother as the result of his JEALOUSY.
It was because of Abel’s FAITH that his offering was acceptable to God. [See Footnote [ii] ].
Cain’s lack of FAITH, instead of being converted–a change of mind–through the lessons God had presented, led to the murder of his brother resulting in NO HARVEST at all, even for the duration of his life.
We have exactly the same thing going on in the world today. Christians are murdered in large numbers for their FAITH by the modern spiritual successors to Cain–the “peaceful” religion of Islam.
But in the end, those faithful Christians will stand in JUDGMENT over those who kill the body but can’t harm the soul.
The WAY of Cain leads to DEATH whereas, the FAITH of Abel last for eternity.
After his sentencing, Cain cried out “from Your face I will be hidden” (Genesis 4:14).
The greatest honor that can be placed upon a person is to have the face of God shine on their life. For this reason the High Priestly Prayer found in Numbers 6:24-26 not only includes it, it states it twice–
 “The LORD bless you and keep you;
 the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
In 1 Peter it says the reciprocal is true for Evildoers –
“For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His eyes are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
CAIN understood this in his limited way and cried out at the loss–a loss which he had brought upon himself.
The very first thing I noticed Cain doing AFTER God banished him from His presence, was to continue to defy God after He said, he would be a fugitive and a vagabond. (4:14).
BUT verse 17 tells us Cain “built a city”. Apparently Cain still didn’t believe that God’s Words were true. Cain was attempting to establish a permanent place of settlement, a place for him to find residence after God had declared that he would never find such.
Some Bible Scholars believe that because of God’s punishment, CAIN only started building a city, leaving a legacy, letting his son Enoch to complete his unfinished work.
Despite of CAIN’s SIN, his murder, we see a great demonstration of the LORD’s MERCY.
In order to protect him, the LORD said “…if anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.”
Just so you know, CAIN was given a mark to protect his earthly life, but those who call on JESUS, the last chapter of the Bible says we too will have a mark.
The MARK will be on our foreheads and will be the very name of God–an eternal reminder that we have been purchased with the most precious substance in the universe–THE BLOOD of Jesus Christ (Revelation 22:3, 4).
If you find yourself “wandering” aimlessly…staying away from God’s presence and a rewarding life because you think you’re living under God’s punishment, you are a vagabond in the Land of Nod.
BUT…there is a way to ESCAPE!
Wandering vs. Pilgrimage –
A TRUE BELIEVER’s life is at its very heart a PILGRIMAGE–LIFE on this present earth is not the final goal.
To be sure, the Christian Pilgrimage, unlike the WAY OF CAIN, while coming with difficulties, can none-the-less be productive and filled with assurance.
God is with us and the best is yet to come!
As BELIEVERS, we must neither wander for the presence of God nor His standards. In fact, to live a lifestyle of a WANDERER, invites His righteous response in JUDGEMENT.
If we are tempted to do so, let’s be quick and earnest in seeking our Heavenly Fathers’ COMPASSION from a living God (Psalm 103:1-18).
For He will TRANSFORM our earthly desires into even better ones. Moreover, to begin WANDERING could lead to further Wandering and take us even farther away from God’s BLESSINGS in our life. And of course, this could lead to even more punishment, chastisement. A vicious cycle indeed.
Rather than Wandering, wasting our productive life away from God and following one’s own selfish, worldly desires, BELIEVERS should keep in mind…this earth is not their true home and final destination. Ours is a PILGRIM’s JOURNEY while we work out our salvation.
Therefore, as the apostle Peter admonishes his readers,
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12 – NIV).
BELIEVERS therefore should remember and honor the fact that living as PILGRIMS, we should put away selfish lusts and desires, for it only causes their condition to worsen further.
As Grant Osborne’s commentary on 1 Peter 2 advises, “We…can trust our lives to our Creator, but we are also at war with our ‘worldly desires’. Every part of our life is involved–the physical and spiritual, the internal and external–and when one gives in to sinful behavior, Satan is waging WAR against us.” [Footnote [iii] ]
As PILGRIMS in this world, abandoning self-centerness and personal wandering (not focused) becomes a daily exercise, not a one time experience (Romans 12:2).
BASK in the full light of God’s abundant grace.
May we be careful in our living and keeping His standards; be living testimonies as His redeemed people, glorifying the LORD by experiencing the BLESSINGS of His presence and His guidance,
I still love singing Old Hymns that used to be sung in the church but not so much today. I rediscovered the words to a hymn, I think best sums up my thoughts:
‘O Jesus I have promised to serve Thee to the end,
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle, if Thou art by my side
Nor wander from the pathway, if Thou wilt be my guide.
FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:
Footnote [i] : Land of Nod – Wikipedia.
Footnote [ii]: See OUR “OFFERINGS”; The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving – at https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/our-offerings-th…ws-of-our-giving/
Footnote [iii]: Grant R. Osborn, “1-2 Peter,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Ill. Tyndale House, 2011; 18 vols.).
Land of Nod Map: In the Land of Nod, East of Eden – These Stone Walls.com – All other photo’s obtained from Google Image Search.