August 2, 2004

Where Are You?
"But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?' 
He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was 
afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'" (Bereshit / 
Genesis 3:9,10).

Last week I wrote about how we often speculate from 
what is not clearly stated in the Bible instead of 
focusing on what is really there. This topic was 
fueled by a conversation I had with a friend of mine. 
A few days after that message was published, I got an 
e-mail from that person. He was excited that he was 
part of the process of what I wrote. He explained that 
he basically agreed with my message, but also brought 
up some interesting points. He wrote that while the 
passage in Genesis after Adam and Eve sinned, which 
mentions God walking in the garden of Eden, does not 
explicitly say that it was God's custom to hang out 
with our first parents, there are some possible clues 
in the text that give the impression that this was not 
the first time God desired to spend time with them.

I fully agree that there is a big difference between 
speculation and what may be called inference (my 
apologies to semantic philosophers, if I am not being 
technically accurate in my use of terms). To speculate 
is the attempt to draw conclusions based on a lack of 
evidence. Inference is when we draw a logical 
conclusion from something that is clearly stated. For 
example if one person says to another, "Long time no 
see!" even if we have absolutely no knowledge of 
either person's history, we can reasonable infer that 
these people know each other to some extent, and that 
a considerable amount of time has gone by between 
meetings. But that's about all we can accurately 
infer. To attempt to draw any further conclusions 
about their relationship would be speculation.

My friend pointed out something else that is relevant 
to this discussion. His actual concern had been about 
the issue of our relationship to God. He had some 
ideas about that and referred to the scene in the 
Garden of Eden to back up his idea. I reacted to his 
use of this passage. In my friend's e-mail he pointed 
out that whether or not this passage was relevant to 
the discussion, there are other passages in the Bible 
that back up the notions he had.

Again I agree with him. We spent too much time (my 
fault!) dealing with his use of the passage and failed 
to adequately focus on what the Bible teaches on the 
issue he was grappling with. However God's 
relationship with Adam and Eve played out between the 
time of their creation and their disobedience, Godís 
intent for us is to walk with him.

Going back to my illustration of observing the two 
people greeting each other. If we knew about each 
individual and their past interactions, then we could 
more accurately infer things from their current 
meeting. Since the Bible has more to say on the 
subject of relationship with God, there may be more to 
infer from his interaction with Adam and Eve in the 
Garden.

God desires intimate relationship with us. From the 
moment of our first parents' sin, his intent was to 
remove the barrier which has arisen between him and 
us. We see glimpses of the kind of relationship he 
desires in the life of Enoch, who walked with God 
(Bereshit / Genesis 5:24); in Abraham, whom God 
commanded to walk before him (Bereshit / Genesis 17:1) 
and was called God's friend (Isaiah 41:8); in God's 
intent to dwell with his people (Shemot / Exodus 
25:8); and in his determination to be fully restored 
to us as our God forever (Jeremiah 31:33).

None of this makes the Genesis passage about the 
Garden say what it does not say. But knowing about 
these other passages helps us to understand the 
tragedy behind the interaction between God and the 
first people. However the relationship looked like at 
the time, God's question, "Where are you?" cries out 
from a deep desire of relationship. It is the question 
he is asking us still.