“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
After he sinned, Adam should have been in pursuit of God’s forgiveness instead of attempting to escape from Him. Like Adam, in our own attempt to avoid God we also try to hide from Him or to create our own gods to substitute for Him. Foolishly we think we can escape the judgment of God by drowning out His voice or hiding from His presence.
If God should abandon us to ourselves, then we would certainly be lost. But instead of leaving us to our own foolishness, He speaks to us as He did to Adam and Eve. He speaks words that are designed to help us and change us, just as this question asked to Adam was designed to benefit him. Why did God ask Adam this question? What was He seeking to accomplish in Adam and Eve?
1. To Wake Them Up
God asked this question because He wanted Adam and Eve to consider their own reality, realizing how far they had now fallen from where they once were. The trust they once knew with God had now given way to being afraid. Openness and freedom before God had now given way to shame. They knew that they were naked and could no longer be at ease in God’s presence. Love and fellowship had given way to alienation, and they lost the sense of God’s loving presence. Adam and Eve were now characterized by loneliness and emptiness, having lost their loving relationship with God.
– There are still many today who are lost and lonely and do not know His love, entirely alienated from Him. But it was not meant to be like that. What are the consequences of our sin with regard to our relationship with God?
2. To Make Them Alert to Their Guilt
God also asks this question in order to make them alert to the fact of their guilt. He wanted them to recognize and own their own actions. Not only did He want them to be awake with regard to all that they had lost, but also to alert them to the reality that they were guilty before Him. They had broken God’s laws and abandoned Him. In order that we not continue indifferent to our own sin, God pursues us and pins us down, making us alert to our guilty standing.
– What does it mean to be guilty before God? Why is it necessary for us to be made alert to our guilt before God? What does it reveal about God that He would make our guilt known to us in the same way that He made Adam’s guilt known to him?
3. To Assure Them of His Love and Grief for Them and His Willingness to Save
God doesn’t abandon us, though it is what we deserve. He draws near to us sinners just as He did to Adam and Eve when they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. And in asking this question He wants us to know what His heart is toward us:
a. He reveals His own sorrow and grief at the fact that we are lost. Just as the shepherd is grieved when he loses his sheep, or the woman when she loses a coin, or a father when he loses his sons, so also the Lord is grieved by the lost condition of His creation.
b. He wants us to know of His love. He didn’t have to ask this question; He knew exactly where they were. He was willing to come where they were and seek them out. Not only did He come to Adam and Eve, but ultimately He came to the world as a man in the person of His Son to die for us. He came to live our life and die our death, suffering in our place beneath the wrath of God in order to give us life and salvation and peace. He came to justify us, taking us from the court of law and putting us in the family of God.
c. He wanted to assure them of His willingness to save them. When asked “Where are you?” those who are Christians can say that they are “in” Christ. Through faith, they have come out of themselves to dwell in Him. They have traded their sin for His righteousness, their arrogance for His humility, their death for His life. They have come into His presence, into His strength, into His daily grace, and ultimately into His everlasting love now and forever.
– Faith means coming out of ourselves into Christ every day. It is sinners that Jesus receives, not those who have repented enough or felt enough sorrow. He receives those who come to Him through faith as they are. And He receives us, pardons us, welcomes us, and makes us His children to the glory of God. If you are a Christian today, you are in Christ, and you’ll be in Christ forever. Where are you? Are you in Christ?