July 26, 2004
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD
God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the
day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of
the garden" (Bereshit / Genesis 3:8).
Recently I was out with a friend of mine. At some
point in our time together he asked me a big question:
"What is the purpose of life?" This friend professes
faith in God and to my knowledge lives a good life,
yet this fundamental question plagues him still.
Anyone else out there struggling with a question like
this? Don't get your hopes up; I am not planning on
dealing with this subject.
My friend had been thinking about this quite a bit,
and it seemed to me had come to what was at least a
tentative conclusion. He asserted that having a
relationship with God was our prime purpose.As I
already mentioned, I am not going to discuss this
The issue at hand is the passage of Scripture he used
as the basis for what he was saying. It was the
Scripture I quoted at the beginning of this message,
which speaks of God's presence in the Garden of Eden.
My friend deduced from this passage that prior to Adam
and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit and the
resulting consequence, God would spend time with them
in the garden.
I have heard this from others before. Many people
believe that part of God's regular routine at this
very early part of human history was to hang out with
his precious creatures.
Since this was part of their regular routine, then
this is what we should strive for in life, the
This too is not a subject I want to pursue at this
time. I, like my friend, believe that the cultivation
of an intimate relationship with our Creator is
fundamental to life, but that concept is not found in
Interestingly, when I challenged my friend's
interpretation, he quoted the verse, but adding the
words, "as was his custom" to the part where it refers
to God walking in the garden. I don't blame him for
the misquote, because that is the common understanding
of what occurred there.
So while my friend's understanding of the importance
of our relationship with God is true, that concept is
not found in this passage. To assert that God used to
hang out with Adam and Eve in the garden is not
biblical interpretation, but speculation.
When we are studying the Scriptures, I think we should
keep away from speculating as much as possible. I know
that this is difficult to do, since we all come to the
Scriptures with our own sets of understanding, and we
are not always aware of the source of these
understandings. That is one of the reasons why we need
to read the Bible over and over again. It is by
continually reading and rereading that our wrong
assumptions and interpretations are challenged and
The Genesis account provides us with no information as
to how much time went by between God's putting Adam
and Eve in the garden and when they sinned. It may
have been a short time or a long time; we don't know.
We may think it would be interesting to know, but I
think if it would be helpful to us to know this
information, then God would have made it clear in the
Therefore I don't think it is worthwhile or helpful to
us to spend time and energy trying to derive meaning
from silence. Rather than thinking about things we
don't know anything about, we would do much better to
consider the things that God has revealed.