God Comes Looking
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.