When my boys were growing up, I had a little ploy that I used to get them to come clean when I knew they were up to something. Frankly, it was a little deceptive.
I would say, “I know what you did. I know everything. So here is your choice: You tell me everything, and the penalty will be lighter than if you hold something back.”
Clever, huh? It worked a few times. Not all that well, though. Sometimes they would confess things I knew. Sometimes they would confess things I didn’t know, and that always was a plus. But after a while, they wouldn’t own up to anything. I would look at them. … They would look at me. … Silence.
God is a lot different than that. He actually knows everything that we have done. But he wants us to own up to it, to confess it.
That is what he wanted Adam to do in the Garden of Eden, after he did what God told him not to do. God wanted Adam to admit it. He wanted him to come clean. So he called out to Adam and Eve as they hid in the trees, and he asked, “Where are you?”
It’s interesting to look at the times in the Bible when God asked a similar question. There was the case of Elijah, who had just faced off with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God had brought down a stream of fire from heaven and destroyed their sacrifices. It was a glorious day of victory for Israel and for God. Then Jezebel, the wife of the wicked king Ahab, essentially put out a contract out on Elijah. Inexplicably, Elijah, the courageous prophet, ran in terror and hid himself in a cave.
The Bible says that while Elijah was in that cave, there was an earthquake, followed by a mighty rushing wind, and then a fire. And God asked Elijah a question: What are you doing here?
I wonder if God would say that to some of us sometimes. Maybe it’s while we’re with a group of people who are doing things we shouldn’t be doing, and God says, “What are you doing here?” Maybe it’s when a movie scene comes on that is not the kind of scene we should be watching. God whispers in our ear, “What are you doing here?” Good question.
Jesus said to Judas, when Judas had come to betray him, “Why have you come?” Did Jesus know why Judas coming into the garden with an entourage? Of course he knew. But I think he wanted to give Judas an opportunity to repent.
That is what God was doing with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
But instead of acknowledging his wrongdoing, Adam offered the first recorded excuse in the Bible: “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12 NIV).
“As I recall, Lord,” Adam was saying, “Eve was not my idea. I am hanging out with the animals, giving them names, having a good time. Then I fall asleep and wake up to find a rib missing – and she is here!”
Adam actually had the audacity to blame God. True, Eve was deceived. But Adam blatantly disobeyed God. Eve was misled. But Adam knew what was right and went against it. Therefore, his sin was greater, and the blame is fairly placed on his shoulders, even though Eve certainly was complicit. Then they both tried to cover up their sin.
That is always our inclination when we fall: try to cover it up. After Moses killed the Egyptian, he looked to the right, he looked to the left, and then he buried him. Why? He didn’t want anyone to know. The problem was that Moses buried the body in the sand. And the problem with sand, especially in Egypt, is the wind blows it around. So Moses’ secret didn’t stay a secret for long.
As for Adam, God was so gracious not to strike him down right there. As the Bible says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentation 3:22).
God had placed Adam in paradise, with every possible comfort imaginable, surrounded by breathtaking beauty. What was Adam’s job description? It was to tend the garden. That doesn’t mean he had to mow the lawn and prune the trees. The word “tend” could be translated, “to discover.” God basically said, “Here’s your job, Adam. Walk around and discover all the things that I have made. Ponder my creation. Take it in. Enjoy it. You are going to love it!” That is what Adam was supposed to do. That’s a good job. Talk about having it made in the shade.
Still, Adam went out and ate from the one tree that God told him to stay away from. And then he lashed out at the very God who gave all that to him. And that is what sin does. It blinds us.
And that is why we need God’s provision for our forgiveness: so we can be restored into fellowship with him.