If Adam and Eve lasted more than a day before they chose to sin, then on the day that they sinned they heard a familiar sound. God came walking in the garden. And every time before, this sound stirred their hearts with delight. God was near and they could walk with him in the cool of the day and talk with their Creator. Can you imagine? No one since then has had this privilege until Jesus came from heaven. No one since Jesus ascended into heaven will enjoy this privilege with renewed bodies until He comes back. Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God, but this time, it created fear, not wonder and delight. Instead of running to the Lord, they ran away. They hid themselves among the trees of the garden.
Oh, the irony of this! The creatures try to hide from their Creator. Not only that, but they try to hide behind a tree. Surely, they did not choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But does it matter what they were hiding behind? Yahweh Elohim, the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God would not and could not be fooled, any more than you are fooled when your two-year-old says he is going to hide from you and stands behind a floor lamp or sits beside you and throws a blanket over his head. David understood this and wrote in his great, “Don’t play hide and seek with God” psalm, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me.” (Psalm 139) But you see, Adam and Eve at this moment fear the hand of the Lord. They are not running to him to be led but hiding from him with dread. Here’s the amazing grace we see in our loving Creator: he came looking. God came looking for Adam and Eve, anyway. God came looking for me and you when we were hiding from him, or trying to, in our sin. That’s grace. God’s grace. But he does more than look for us. He calls out to us. God started with a simple question.
Questions can be a wonderful thing, and they can be used to draw out the truth, but sometimes they are just plain dumb. I found a list of questions this week that have been compiled in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal. They were asked by real lawyers to real witnesses in real courtrooms. Here are a few. “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?” How about this one: “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?” Or, “You say the stairs went down to the basement” “Yes.” “And these stairs, do they go up also?” Sometimes it is not the question that is dumb, but that answer. As in this last one: “Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?” “No, this is how I dress when I go to work.”
The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” It is not a question of location. God is not confused as to what tree Adam and Eve are hiding behind. It is a question of spiritual condition. Adam, where are you right now? It is meant to draw Adam to the truth. God will do the same with Cain in chapter 4 when he says, “Where is Abel your brother?” God will do the same with Saul the persecutor on the road to Damascus when he calls out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Do you remember the day God called you? Some can name the time and the place, and others look back and see a long process of God calling them and knowing in their heart that God loved them even before they knew him through Christ. Jesus said, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10) God calls Adam out with a question: “Where are you?”
When anyone is hiding from God, running from the truth, separated from the church and from fellowship with believers, God is pursuing them! He comes looking and asking questions. But we must do the same, with love. We may also ask, “Where are you?” And if they say, “God is not good, Jesus is not enough, the church is a waste of time,” we must ask, “Where did you get this information? Why do you think that?”
Remember, Thomas doubted that Jesus had been raised from the dead, saying he wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it with his own eyes. Jesus did not admonish him when he saw Thomas after this. He invited him to come closer. “See my hands,” he said, “and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve but believe.” (John 20) Doubt is not a sin unless it is a place where we put up a shelter and hang out a shingle and live there and try and teach others to live there, too. Jesus says to doubters, come and see. Do not disbelieve.
The first thing we see in Genesis 3 is a talking serpent. Eve was not bothered by that, apparently, but there is no other dialogue in the garden that is recorded between man and beast. In fact, animals do not speak in the Bible except twice: here, where the serpent is controlled by Satan, and later, when Balaam’s donkey is given a message by God to speak to his owner who was acting like a donkey. So, what’s up with this talking snake? We know from Revelation 12 and 20 that Satan is called “that ancient serpent…the deceiver of the whole world.” Up until this point, Adam and Eve had only listened to God and talked to God and to each other. Now they listen to another voice and sin enters the human race as a result. Allen Ross writes, “On the archetypal level the story describes the process of temptation that occurs repeatedly in human experience. Here the story… (teaches) us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). Accordingly, the people of God may learn to resist the Tempter.” (James 4:7) How was the first woman tempted? And remember, she was not under duress; she was speaking to a subordinate, a creature over whom God had given her and Adam dominion. Temptation comes this way…
Satan questioned, misquoted, and denied the word of God. It was the Word of God that created the heavens and the earth in chapter one. It was the Word of God that was given to the first man in chapter two, a direct command for man and woman to follow. Now it is the Word of God that is questioned, misquoted, and denied.
Satan is the first to misquote God’s Word. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” He uses exaggeration as a device of temptation. Wow! You can’t eat from any of the trees? Derek Kidner says Satan “smuggles in the assumption that God’s Word is subject to our judgment.” Perhaps Satan is also probing to see if the woman really knows God’s Word. She doesn’t. She minimizes it first and then exaggerates by adding to it.
The woman minimized God’s Word twice. First, she says, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees.” God said that they may freely eat. She understated God’s permissiveness. She also minimized the consequences when she said, “lest we die.” God said if they ate from the tree of the understated God’s consequence for disobedience. Finally, she added to God’s Word when she said, “Neither shall you touch it.” She took away from and added to God’s Word, and as Kidner says, “She will have many successors.” Let’s not be included in their number.
Now the serpent flatly denies it in verse 4: “You will not surely die.” The construction of the Hebrew here is this. “NOT you shall surely die.” This is my word, Satan says in effect, and this is what I say. You will not die. In fact, I have really good news for you, which is bad news about God.
Next, Satan questions God’s motives. He says in effect, God knows that when you eat of that fruit, you will be like God. Your eyes will see things you cannot even imagine right now. You will understand good and evil. Hey, woman, this God of yours is holding out on you! It is still the same scheme, and it works just as well every day. Really, there was only one person upon whom Satan’s tactics did not work.
Remember, Satan tried the same thing with the last Adam in the wilderness as he showed all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time to Jesus and said, “I will give all of this to you, for it is mine, if you worship me.” Jesus answered what the woman and the first Adam should have answered the serpent: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” But let’s not beat up on Adam and Eve too much, because we would have done the same as they, and have done so many times. The enemy whispers in our hearts, “Hey, God wants you to be happy, and what makes you happy like taking every weekend and going to the beach or the mountains? You can do church when you are old.” Or to children he might whisper, “Hey, you know your parents don’t really understand you. They have never felt like you do, and they don’t need to know anyway if you just go ahead and…” I won’t tell you all the ways I filled in the blank when I was a teenager and young adult, but it got easier and easier to ignore the Holy Spirit speaking to my conscience and just give in to the other voice. That’s why Paul reminded us that we are NOT ignorant of Satan’s devices, and Peter urged us to “Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
He certainly found someone in the first family. Both the woman and her husband.
During the pandemic I watched the first two seasons of a show called “Alone.” Ten individuals are dropped off, alone, in different spots on Vancouver Island, Canada, with a limited supply of survival equipment. They must keep a fire going, find their own food, and build a reliable shelter that will protect them from the nearly constant rain and cold, and the one who can survive the longest without using their satellite phone to call for rescue, wins the prize of $500,000. The first winner made it 52 days, I believe, but what surprised me was this. A lot of the people tapped out not because of injury or the elements or even because of hunger. They called for rescue because of loneliness. We need human fellowship.
It is the first negative statement in the Bible. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” The problem was lack of human community. God the Father has eternal fellowship with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One God in three persons. Man was created in God’s image so the plan all along was that man would also have fellowship. First and most importantly with God, but second and also vital, with other people. We see from this foundational text about our need for human companionship that animals are not a substitute. God shows Adam that important truth by initiating an awareness program, if you will. God will make a perfect companion for Adam but first he brings every animal and every bird to him to see what he would name them. Can you imagine? And we know that Adam wasn’t just going through a book of names that God had loaned him, starting with the A’s: “Aardvark, Ant, Antelope.” No, it took time and thought and Adam had to study the creature, as Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzsch pointed out, which led to “a deep and direct insight into the nature of the animals.” At one point Adam may have said, “A wonderful bird is the Pelican, His bill will hold more than his belican.” Sorry, Dixon Merritt actually said that in a poem.
As Adam named the animals, he became more and more aware that there were none like him. Ladies, you may think your husband is more sloth or ape or playful otter than human, but he is not. He is the man God made for you. The other thing Adam saw as he observed the birds and animals was that they had companionship that he lacked. Maybe he envied Mr. and Mrs. Chimpanzee and Mr. and Mrs. Cockatoo as they cuddled and cooed. And it is reasonable to assume that Adam began to long for someone like him, but not like him. Kent Hughes writes, “God was preparing him to value his helper.” Man’s need leads us to God’s supply.
God said, “I will make a helper fit for him.” The first thing we see here is that God is the solution to our loneliness. God is the great problem solver. God is the initiator whom we can and must absolutely trust. The second thing we must see here is the fullness and the power of the word “helper.” God said he would make a helper for Adam and the word is ezer in Hebrew. It means “one who supplies strength in the area that is lacking.” It does not imply someone who is stronger or weaker. In fact, the same word is used to refer to God in many places, including 1 Samuel 7 where God helped Israel defeat the Philistines and so Samuel set up a stone and called it Ebenezer, “stone of help.” Perhaps the most familiar verse is Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The third thing we must understand is that God made woman “fit for man.” The word there means, “corresponding to; matching but not like.” There is relative difference but essential equality. Kent Hughes writes that when Adam first laid eyes on Eve, “He saw her as a mirror of himself, with some very agreeable differences!”
We know that trouble came to paradise through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, but before that they lived as God intended. “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” There was no shame. There was innocent delight in one another and in God. The first marriage did what God calls all marriages to do: it put on display the relationship that God has with his people. Paul wrote, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Marriage is a picture of how Christ and his bride relate.
In one verse, powerful prose, the Bible tells us how a loving God made man. It’s a play on words that speaks to a theological truth. “The Lord God formed the man (ha adam) of dust from the ground (ha adama.)” Adam is dust and his name is dust. We come from dust and one day, we return to dust. One little boy heard that in a sermon one Sunday, that we all came from dust and go back to dust, and that afternoon he was playing in his room and a toy rolled under the bed. He reached to get it and was horrified at what he saw. He ran downstairs and said, “Mom, there’s somebody under my bed and I don’t know whether he’s coming or going!” Well, the truth is we all did come from dirt, and John Calvin said of this, “No one should exult beyond measure in his flesh. He must be excessively stupid who does not here learn humility.”
As a potter forms his clay, God formed man, but he was not done. Then the Lord God did what no human potter could do. He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Derek Kidner writes, “God breathed is warmly personal, with the face-to-face intimacy of a kiss and the significance that this was an act of giving as well as making; and self-giving at that.” What happened when the breath of God entered the dust-man? “The man became a living creature.” It is the same phrase used in chapter 1 to describe fish and birds and animals; they too are “living creatures.” They draw breath one way or another, to live. But there’s one important distinction. God breathed life into man, not into the other living creatures. Job 32:8, “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” The breath of God shaped man into God’s image with a spiritual understanding. It gave him a conscience and a moral capacity that the rest of the creatures do not share. “Nature is red in tooth and claw,” as the saying goes. Fish and birds and animals do not have a moral compass. Man does. Though he was made from dirt, man was created in God’s image and the law of God is written on his heart. Maybe that’s why Mark Twain said once, “Man is the only animal that blushes…or has reason to.”