But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
I love this passage from the story of the Garden of Eden because I think we get an incredible glimpse into the character of God in these few verses. There are multiple questions to look at here, but I want us to think more about the heart behind God's questions rather than the questions themselves. You can learn a lot about someone by listening to the questions they ask, and I believe the same holds true for God.
The first question God asks is, "Where are you?" Obviously, God knows where they are, so if he's not seeking new information, then what is he doing? Why not just walk over to where they are hiding and expose them for the sinners that they are? That would be easier right? Yeah, but that's not God.
So often, I create this false picture of God as a sort of policeman. I treat him like he's looking down on me from heaven watching me to make sure I don't do anything outside the rules he has put in place to curb my freedom. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get away with as much as I can without getting pulled over and ticketed. And I think that's exactly where Adam and Eve found themselves after eating the apple.
If I were to guess what was going through their heads (and I realize it's risky to project my own thoughts onto Biblical characters, so know this is in no way canonical), I bet it was something like, "Sh*t we screwed up. We need to figure out a way to not get caught. Let's hide in these bushes." As an aside, it's my personal opinion that the first sin mankind committed was eating the apple and the second sin was swearing after realizing their mistake. Anyway, my point is their view of God immediately became distorted. The figure they had lived in close communion with instantly changed in their minds the moment they sinned.
Their loving creator became their overbearing enforcer.
I think God was very aware of their shift in mindset, and he asked this question to try to show them who he was. In asking, "where are you?" God was giving them the opportunity to come to him of their own free will. He didn't force them out of hiding, and I think that is a HUGE truth that is so commonly overlooked. God didn't come flying in as Adam and Eve took their bites of the apple to throw them out of the garden as fast as he could. No, he came in as their loving creator.
God didn't change when Adam and Eve ate the apple. The only thing that changed was the way they viewed God.
And that's what sin does. It tricks us into thinking God looks at us differently because of our actions, but that's just not true. There wasn't a single moment in the Garden of Eden where God didn't love Adam and Eve. However, there was a moment where Adam and Eve thought God didn't love them, and that's why they hid. They hid because they misunderstood God's character, and that is the real curse that comes with sin because we do the same thing today. At least, I do.
Now, the "where are you?" question is the first question God asks, but the next few questions are also important and they are entirely for Adam and Eve's benefit. God knows the answer to each of these questions, but I think he asks them in order to make sure Adam and Eve understand what happened. And paraphrased, these are three questions that would be great for anyone to ask themselves the moment after they realize they've made a mistake.
"Who told you that you were naked?" OR "Whose fault is this?"
The blame for sin rests squarely on Adam and Eve's shoulders, but I think God wanted them to know there was another force responsible for causing them to recognize their nakedness. It's important for us to acknowledge an enemy that wants us to view ourselves, and in turn our relationship with God, through a skewed perspective. We are meant to live fully exposed (naked) before God, and any temptation or desire to cover ourselves up is from the devil. Period.
"Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” OR "Do you realize that you have broken my rule?"
I've often wondered why God put the tree in the garden in the first place. It seems like he was setting them up for failure from the start, but I don't think that's true. I think God gave Adam and Eve a rule to obey simply for obedience's sake. If obedience and trust go hand in hand, the forbidden tree was a way for Adam and Eve to prove their trust in God. If we trust God, then we will obey the rules he has put in place because we know they are there for our ultimate benefit. I could ramble on about this concept for days, but the point of this question is to force us to realize our disobedience and more importantly what that says about our trust in God. Yes, I realize how heavy that is. Yes, I hate answering that question too.
"What is this that you have done?" OR "Do you realize the consequences of your actions?"
This is the best question because it's the scariest, but also the most freeing. The consequences of Adam and Eve's sin, and the consequence for our sins as well, is death. The beautiful thing about this consequence is that it is not ours to bear. Jesus took the consequences of sin to the cross, and they're already paid for. When I sin, I'm tempted to feel guilty because I know that it's my sin that forced Jesus to die on the cross. And while that's appropriate to a certain extent, recognition of my sin's part in the cross is not meant to overshadow God's glory in the resurrection. There is freedom in recognizing the consequences of our actions because our sin resulted in both the death of Jesus AND the resurrection.
To boil everything down, I think the appropriate response to sin is this: Repent without reserve. Rejoice without remorse.
Don't hide from God. Come to him willingly and tell him exactly what happened. Recognize your own responsibility as well as that of the devils. Acknowledge the negative consequences of sin, and then PRAISE GOD because Jesus rose from the dead and those consequences have been dealt with. If that's not worthy of rejoicing, then I don't know what is because there is no better news than realizing God loves us before we sin, as we sin, and after we sin.
So where are you? I think that's something we all have to ask ourselves because the answer is different for everyone. Maybe you're fully exposed before God, or maybe you can't find enough fig leaves to cover yourself. I don't know where you are, but what I do know is that wherever you are you're fully loved by God. And that's a great place to be.