The God with questions: Three things he asks us

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The God with questions: Three things he asks us

May 11, 2023 -

Bible opened to Genesis © By Carolyn Franks/stock.adobe.com

Bible opened to Genesis © By Carolyn Franks/stock.adobe.com

Bible opened to Genesis © By Carolyn Franks/stock.adobe.com

As I watched parts of the coverage of the coronation of King Charles III of England last week, I was struck by how biblical much of the ceremony was. Since we hadn’t seen a British coronation in over 70 years, it was likely a surprise to many.

It also brought back some fond memories of an event where I was close enough to (then) Prince Charles to have had a personal conversation. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and her family were visiting New Zealand in 1969, where I was an exchange student in a small town on the North Island. It was the Royal family’s habit in those days to do carefully orchestrated “walkabouts” in crowds and greet people. I took a photo of the Prince when he stood close enough to me to touch.

I was almost trembling with fear. What an awesome moment.

Apparently, God used to do “walkabouts,” too, in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3, God, THE king, was passing close by to Adam and Eve after they had disobeyed him and eaten the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could hear him coming close by.

There was a time when Adam and Eve were overjoyed to hear God walking in the Garden. Now, they were fearful. They had no idea how God would respond to their sin of disobedience. This had never happened before.

Adam and Eve were trembling with fear. But it was a whole different kind of fear than I encountered in New Zealand.

Two kinds of fear

To be clear, one kind of fear causes you to want nothing to do with the object of your fear. Another type of fear is synonymous with reverential awe of its object.

My experience was certainly the latter. Theirs was, without a doubt, the former. God expects the reverential fear/awe from us (Psalm 112:1). Sin creates the other.

The story of Adam and Eve’s fearful encounter with their God and King is recounted in Genesis 3:8-13. While this story is familiar to most of us, there’s a dimension of it that jumps out at me every time I read it.

It’s not how Adam and Eve responded to God after their sin, but how God responded.

He could have been harsh and yelled at them. Unfortunately, that is how I often responded to my children’s disobedience. He could have ignored them as well and punished them with silence, or he could have rained down fire and brimstone. Yet, he did none of those things.

God asked Adam three questions I have paraphrased, revealing incredible facets of the character and nature of our God and his compassion toward his children today.

“Where are you?”

First, in verse 9, he asked Adam, “Where are you?”

Of course, God knew where Adam was. It wasn’t so much Adam’s physical location but his spiritual condition that God asked about. None of us can hide from God. And, of course, God was not seeking information but providing an opportunity for confession.

He still does that today. What kind of fear does coming “face to face” with God strike in you? Shame and guilt or reverential awe? God coming close to you and me indicates he’s seeking us out, not hunting us down.

Jesus bore this out when he said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 – ESV)  He compassionately seeks us and asks, “Where are you?” We don’t have to hide.

Yet, many of us do. Some hide in disappointment. Some hide in shame and guilt. Others of us hide in busyness. (Guilty!)

So, why does God ask this? Because our confession is the key that unlocks the riches of God’s mercy and grace. He’s seeking reconciliation, not vengeance. After Adam responds about his nakedness and his fear in verse 10, God asks another question.

“Who told you?”

“Who told you?” God asks Adam in verse 11.

Until this point, their obedience and innocence had protected them from the reality and shame of their nakedness. Once again, God’s second question provided Adam with the opportunity for confession of his disobedience. Instead, Adam turned to accusing and blaming.

Obedience to God protects us. His goal is to build us up. Sin and disobedience only tear us down. When God confronts the sin in any of our lives, he asks, “Who told you?”

Ultimately, to whom are you listening?

“What have you done?”

Finally, God asks Adam later in verse 11, “What have you done?” Being sorrowful that you got caught is not tantamount to repentance, especially if it does not result in change. Sometimes, how we respond to this third question reveals that we fear we cannot be forgiven.

Again, he’s calling us to reconciliation. While there is a sin of blasphemy against the spirt that is called unforgivable, all other acts are forgivable if we truly confess and repent. While scripture is replete with God forgiving murder, inappropriate sexual behavior, dishonesty and weakness, his forgiveness does not necessarily nullify the worldly consequences of those actions.

God loves us, even when we’re hiding. He gently but persistently asks questions that make confession appropriate and opportune. Which leads to repentance and results in reconciliation.

I suppose the only thing we must fear is no longer hearing him ask those question.

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