Our Daily Bread Devotional 23rd August 2023 Topic: Witnesses

 Our Daily Bread Devotional 

23rd August 2023

Topic: Witnesses

Bible in a Year: Psalms 113–115; 1 Corinthians 6

Key Verse: The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Genesis 4:10

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 4:2–11


In his poem “The Witnesses,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) described a sunken slave ship. As he wrote of “skeletons in chains,” Longfellow mourned slavery’s countless nameless victims. The concluding stanza reads, “These are the woes of Slaves, / They glare from the abyss; / They cry from unknown graves, / We are the Witnesses!”

But who do these witnesses speak to? Isn’t such silent testimony futile?

There is a Witness who sees it all. When Cain murdered Abel, he pretended nothing had happened. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” he said dismissively to God. But God said, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand” (Genesis 4:9–11).

Cain’s name lives on as a warning. “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother,” John the disciple cautioned (1 John 3:12). Abel’s name lives on too, but in a dramatically different way. “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did,” said the writer of Hebrews. “By faith Abel still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

Abel still speaks! So do the bones of those long-forgotten slaves. We do well to remember all such victims, and to oppose oppression wherever we see it. God sees it all. His justice will triumph.

REFLECT: What situations of injustice and oppression do you know about? What might God be calling you to do today?

PRAY: Dear Father, You’re the God who sees. Help me to see oppression when it happens and show me what I can do to counter it.

Insight: Genesis, which means “beginning,” is a book of origins. Genesis 1 tells how God created the universe and the first man and woman. Genesis 2 gives us the first wedding. Genesis 3 tells how perfect humanity became the sinful human race. Genesis 4 tells of the first family—the first parents, Adam and Eve; and the first sons, Cain and Abel. Adam and Eve were created by God, but Cain was the first human being conceived and carried in the womb of a woman. We also see the children in worship. Cain and Abel didn’t come empty-handed but brought offerings to worship God, so they must have been taught about Him and how to worship Him (vv. 3–4).

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