When my son was young, he loved to play hide-and-seek. He enjoyed the thrill of racing into a hiding spot while I shut my eyes and counted. There was one problem, however. In the small half-duplex in which we lived, there weren’t many places to hide.
Each time we played, my son inevitably hid in one of three spots: the bathtub, behind the curtains, or in the bedroom closet. Hiding and seeking are just not the same when you know where the person is hidden.
The first game of “hide and seek” ever recorded takes place in Genesis 3. It occurs directly after Adam and Eve’s descent into sin. The pair succumb to temptation, eat the forbidden fruit, and find themselves suffering the consequences.
It is at this point that they hear the Lord walking toward them. So, while God walks in the Garden, they hide amid the trees (Genesis 3:8). God then asks the first question ever posed in Scripture: “Where are you?”
Have you ever wondered why God asked this question? Think about it; God is the one who placed every tree of the Garden and every atom in Adam and Eve. God knows all, sees all and perceives all.
Do we really think God was unaware of where the two were hiding? Do we really think that Adam and Eve’s temptation occurred when God’s back was turned?
If God knew where the two were hiding, then what was the point of asking where they were? Could it be there is more going on? There are three things to be aware of.
1. Describing a Separation
Adam and Eve exist to enjoy a love-relationship with their Creator. Out of that loving relationship, the two are called to care for each other, the animals, and all that God had made. They are stewards of creation; that is their purpose. Within this purpose, the two have unbounded freedom.
We know the story. The serpent comes, twisting God’s words. The serpent says to Eve, “You will not die for God knows that whey you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
In essence, the serpent suggests that God cannot be trusted. The serpent plants doubt as to God’s goodness, and, as a result, Adam and Eve enter an alienation from the Lord.
The simplest answer to the question, “Where are you?” is that Adam and Eve are away from the Lord. The question itself discloses the fact that Adam and Eve had drifted from their relationship with God.
The divine intimacy, which they enjoyed at the start of the creation, was put to death when they chose to disobey God’s will. The Fall of Adam and Eve presents a movement from intimacy to estrangement, from innocence to shame, from freedom to slavery, and from life to death.
When God asks, “Where are you?” God highlights the distance that was created from their disobedience.
At that moment, hiding in the trees, Adam and Eve suffer an agonizing separation from God. God feels miles away. Of course, this is the very spiritual reality that God said would happen to the two.
2. Declaring God’s Longing
Adam and Eve hide because they could not bare to face God. The two fear that they would suffer divine wrath as recompense for their sinful action. For Adam and Eve, the divine inquiry of “Where are you?” seemed an invitation to condemnation.
From God’s side of the relationship, however, the question declared God’s longing heart for those made in His image. Genesis records that “God called out to them” (3:9).
Sometimes the most glorious truths are contained in the smallest of words. Despite Adam and Eve being away from God, God was not away from them. God journeys directly to the pair and calls after them.
Of course, The Lord feels our sins and waywardness deeply. Every time we choose our will over God’s, it stings God’s loving heart. Yet because God is the fountain of all love and grace, we can be assured that God’s presence remains.
Even when we defiantly reject every good and blessed thing of God, God still comes to us. This challenging question, by which we are faced with the full consequences of temptation and sin, is actually an invitation to enter grace.
“Where are you?” speaks to God’s ever nearness and God’s heartfelt desire to be in an intimate relationship with us.
By merely asking the question, God declares that nothing is irredeemable; there is nothing that cannot be forgiven. It declares that God journeys to us and desires to receive us.
3. An Invitation to Confession
While Adam and Eve are the first “hiders” in Scripture, they certainly weren’t the last. Elijah hides in a cave (1 Kings 19:9), Jonah hides on a boat (Jonah 1:1-3), and Peter hides in the shadows (Luke 22:62). Hiding from God is common to all humanity.
Have you ever hidden from the Lord? Have you ever found that the momentary gratification of whatever it was that tempted you was quickly replaced by an experience of regret?
Despite our love for the Lord, despite our desire for righteous living, there are times when temptation seems too much to bear, and we give in.
Thus, we cry out like Paul, “O wretched person I am, who can save me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24). We cry because, in those times, God feels a thousand paces away.
When we hide from God, God’s response to us is the same as God’s response to Adam and Eve: God invites our confession. In asking, “Where are you?” God invites Adam and Eve to disclose their experience.
God opens the door for them to be forthright about their sin and the results that they have experienced. Confession invites us to lay our sin before God so that it no longer rests upon our hearts or our shoulders.
Sadly, Adam and Eve reject this invitation. The two do not confess their sin. Instead, they justify it. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent.
Confession can be difficult and uncomfortable. We may fear that disclosing our sin will bring about God’s wrathful ire.
This is not true. In fact, Scripture teaches the exact opposite reality. John writes, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
It is because God is steadfast in love and infinite in mercy that God invites us to confess that which taints our spiritual lives. God invites us to confess so that we can be free from the spiritual weights and discouragements that keep us from fully experiencing abundant life.
What Does This Mean?
Where are you in your relationship with God? Where do you stand? You can be certain that the Lord knows all that has occurred in your life. Yet still, the Lord calls to you.
Nothing you hold within is so big that it will get in the way of Christ’s saving love or the forgiveness and salvation that he offers. This is a fact. It is a promise upon which you can rely.
So, if you are currently hiding from the Lord, I encourage you to respond to the Lord’s call. All it takes is for you to answer the question; tell God where you are and how you feel.
Disclose what has occurred in your life. God knows it all anyway. In asking the question, the Lord is inviting you close, and God promises to respond in mercy and love.
For further reading:
Did Evil Exist Before Adam and Eve Sinned?
Why Is it Important to View Adam and Eve as Real People?
Is the Garden of Eden a Real Place?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Rawf8
Reverend Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of the Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His personal blog can be found here.