And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 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.”Genesis 3:8-13
Mankind’s first response to our own sin is almost always to avoid taking responsibility for it. Typically our response to being exposed for the sinful creatures that we are follows a progression: 1) hiding, 2) blame another image bearer, and 3) ultimately blame God Himself.
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:7) Up until the moment that God created man, every instance of the mention of God used the word “Elohim”. The word is actually plural and in the pagan, polytheistic societies of the Ancient Near East, this was a word that was known to reference all of the pantheon of the gods in that culture. However, Moses appropriates the word but with a twist that instills the triune nature of God into the meaning of the word. While neither he nor the Jews of his day recognized this nature is a matter of considerable debate, the fact that Moses recognized something extremely unique about Him from his many face-to-face encounters with Him gives a hint to what was to come in the life of Israel as they continue through history.
However, beginning in Genesis 2:5, as Moses relates how God creates man, he makes a shift from referring to God by His title to referring to Him by His given name: “Yehwah Elohim” (יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים), commonly translated as LORD God and traditionally pronounced in Orthodox Jewish communities as “Adonai Elohim”, in order to avoid possible corruption in pronouncing the sacred name. It is because of this pronunciation of Adonai and the German pronunciation of the Y as a J that we get the name, “Jehovah”.
What Moses seems to have done here is transition the recounting of creation to a more personal, intimate relationship where His name was revered and Adam knew God face-to-face, with an embraced intimacy that is reflected in Moses’ use of God’s personal name when referring to His relationship with His special image-bearer. Even after Adam and Eve sinned, we still see the pursuit of God after them in the garden and the expression of this strained intimacy where God’s personal name is still used, in spite of the fact that Adam and Eve are hiding from Him.
God’s rhetorical question of “Where are you?” in verse 9 is directed at Adam, and Adam alone, as the pronoun “you” is in the Hebraic second person, masculine, singular form. It is not that God doesn’t know where Adam is, but rather it is an expression of the brokenness of the intimacy between Adam and God. He is still Yehwah Elohim, but Adam and Eve have distanced themselves from the pursuit of the love of God out of fear of the holiness of their Creator. “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself.”
Professor Justin Jackson, of Hillsdale College, explains that when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there is a strange juxtaposition occurring simultaneously. When God created all things, including that tree, it was summarily declared to be “good”. However, as they partook of the eating of the fruit of that tree, they simultaneously experienced the heights of the good along with the depths of the evil. The more they ate, the more they experienced the evil and the consequential shame of violating the good, and it was this shame that left them exposed. And this is why God answers Adam’s revelation of exposure “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I command you not to eat?”
This is not a reflection of God’s ignorance, but rather an invitation by the Father to repentance – to admit to and take responsibility for what he had done. The Father is ALWAYS inviting us to repentance and back into an intimate relationship with Him. But Adam’s response was anything but repentance: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) Not only did Adam blame his wife, thus rupturing the relationship between man and woman (human-human dynamic), but he also subtly deflected blame on God Himself. “The woman whom YOU gave to me.”
God turns to Eve and extends the invitation of repentance to her as well. And Eve fared no better: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Neither of them take responsibility for their disobedience to the one prohibitive command that God had given. Both rejected God’s offer of repentance. Both rejected grace and as a result, they were ultimately expelled from Eden and the consequences of their sin was borne out as they were doomed to die, in accordance with God’s faithfulness to His word.
Paul states that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) But even as far back as Eden and all throughout the Old Testament, culminating with the cross of Calvary, the Father is always inviting you to repentance. He is always pursuing His greatest, most precious creation and calling us all into an intimate relationship with Him, whereby we might know Him by name and walk with Him and experience Him in all His goodness. Even in the midst of the aftermath of our sin, He is always calling out to us “Where are you?” He is calling you today. How will you respond?