This sermon is offered by the CRCNA as part of our Reading Sermons series.
Scripture: Genesis 3:1-19
Text: Genesis 3:8, 9
Sermon by Rev. Harry Bierman of Charlottetown , Prince Edward Island
Dear Christian friends,
When Christians talk about God, we often use attributes to describe what God is like. We say, for example, that God is Good, that He is a God of Love, and of Justice, that God is Merciful; Patient; Kind; full of Grace, Omnipotent, and All Knowing. And each of these attributes tells us that He is a God of amazing grace and love! He loved the world so much, “That He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins, so that whoever believes in Jesus, will not die, but have eternal life!”
God’s love is deep! It is the love of the Father searching for His prodigal sons and daughters to come home. This is the Father’s love that is manifested in Genesis 3 right after the terrible fall of Adam and Eve into sin. The Belgic Confession in article 17 says, “We believe that our good God, by His marvelous wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had plunged himself in this manner into both spiritual and physical death and made himself completely miserable, set out to find him, though man, trembling all over, was fleeing from Him. And He comforted him, promising to give him His Son, born of a woman, to crush the head of the serpent, and to make him blessed.”
And so we see that from the very beginning, immediately after the fall, we see what God is like – We see Him in His goodness, His wisdom, His mercy, reaching out to comfort and to save His lost children.
So let us look together at the actions of this amazing and loving God in this story of the fall. We consider the “The Call of God after the fall,” and we notice two things:
1. First: In fear, Adam and Eve hide from God;
2. Second: In love, God seeks Adam and Eve.
(In fear, people hide from God; in love, God seeks people.)
- In fear, people hide from God.
God created people good and after His own image. He created them in righteousness and holiness so that people could know God their Creator, love Him with all their heart and live with God forever and ever.
But you and I know how Adam and Eve, tempted by the devil, and through their own willful disobedience, chose to disobey God and robbed themselves and all their descendants from those marvelous gifts! That is so clear from what precedes our text. It is the Goodness of God and the Evil of people that is strongly contrasted in the fall.
It pleased God to create Adam and Eve and to call them His children. He highly exalted them and gave them a name above every other creature. Adam and Eve were God’s children, called to live in fellowship and harmony with their heavenly Father. And as His children, God gave them dominion and rule over all of creation.
What a marvelous picture this is!
The Almighty, Sovereign and Eternal God, wants to live in the closest relationship imaginable with His children! The Creator God in living and loving fellowship with His creatures! Words alone cannot describe this wonderful and amazing relationship of God with His children.
Ah, yes, but then it is just as difficult to find words that can adequately describe the awful rebellion and disobedience of Adam and Eve when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! This was a sin against the majesty of the most high God – their heavenly Father no less!
This sin was inexcusable, and therefore deserving of eternal death in body and soul. The only thing we can say about it is that Adam and Eve were not content with just being the children of God, and they were not content in just having dominion over the earth. They wanted to be like God, on the same level as God, and to determine their own destiny and decide for themselves what was good and evil. And ever since the fall, that has always been the sin of humanity – people want to live in separation from God. They don’t want His love.
In Genesis 3 we learn the awful truth that it was Adam and Eve who broke their side of the covenant of love with God! They regarded it as if it was nothing! They chose to break the covenant with God and became a partner of the devil and all that is against God. It is called the fall of humanity into sin and it was a horrible fall!
But what does God do in response to this terrible fall?
Oh, He had forewarned them. He said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the Garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2:16]
And now they had eaten! They had done exactly what God had said they should not do! What will God do now? How will He respond?
- Will God cut off all relationships forever?
- Will He forsake Adam and Eve to wallow in the quagmire of their sin and misery?
- Does God lay bare His outstretched arm, and with one mighty blow, just wipe them out?
- Or, does God in justice and righteous anger, rain down fire from the sky to destroy His disobedient and rebellious children huddled in fear among the trees, as they waited in mortal suspense to see what God would do?
Their deep sense of guilt before God made them afraid and ashamed. They ran off and hid among the trees of the garden and covered their nakedness. They had broken the covenant of love with God! It was truly broken! And as guilty covenant breakers they cowered in fear, afraid of what their Holy Father would do.
But …where is the Lord? What does God do?
Listen, “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.”[vs.8]
And brothers and sisters notice that this is the first thing that Adam and Eve heard after their dreadful sin – “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden!”
No fire raining from heaven!
- No lightening bolts of God’s vengeful wrath because of their awful sin!
- No thunderous voice from heaven speaking words of condemnation and judgment upon His disobedient children!
- Not even a word of admonishment!
The very first thing they heard was the “sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Now isn’t that amazing? You can hardly imagine a more peaceful paradise scene than that!
And the way it is put in our text, it certainly was not an unusual thing that God would do this. Adam and Eve had heard that ‘sound’ many times. The Lord always came to visit them, in the cool of the day, after the days work was done, and then they would wait for that footstep – the sound of the Lord walking in the garden as He was came to visit His children. And then they would sit down together, talking about the events of the day, discussing the agenda for the next day, enjoying true fellowship, and then no doubt, the three of them, would take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the marvelous creation that God had made.
And this is how the Lord God comes on that terrible day of the fall! He comes in the same way as He had done so many times before; He comes to visit His children. And the Lord acts as if nothing has changed! That’s the amazing thing we find here! It’s almost like God doesn’t know about their awful fall. He acts as if nothing has changed!
And so we ask ourselves, did God not know what they had done? When He came from heaven to earth and walked in the garden in the cool of the day, did God not know about their sin?
Well of course He did! God knows everything – “even before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord,” the psalmist says. Of course God knew about their sin! But the point to remember is that from the Lord’s side, the covenant was not broken. From God’s side, nothing had changed, nothing had happen. God’s faithfulness was unbroken. He came just as He had always come, to visit His children! The break, the fracture in the relationship came from the side of people and not from God’s side! And Adam and Eve are painfully aware of that! They “hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
Before the fall, they would run to meet the Lord! As soon as they heard the sound of His walking in the garden” – “Hey Eve, He’s come! Our heavenly Father is here!” Oh they had a wonderful relationship – the love of the children for the Father and the Father for His children. Their love quickened their steps as they run to meet their Lord whenever He came to the garden in the cool of the day.
But now it is so different! Now they are terrified!
Now they hid themselves – “trembling all over” - afraid to meet the Lord. They do everything they can to escape meeting the Lord. And they don’t want God to find them. The break is so great, and they’re so afraid! Hide! Hide! Hide from God!
Oh yes, brothers and sisters, we could say some pretty sentimental words about the terrible and painful plight of Adam and Eve. How sad for these poor souls, huddled among the trees of the garden! This could be a great story of human interest that would make the front page of any newspaper today. And we may be tempted to do that – to focus on the sad plight of fallen humanity for we know that to live apart from God is death! How sad for them!
But God has given His Word not to move us to self-pity but to show us His amazing grace and salvation. And that’s clear from our text. God came, just as He had always come! He was there at the appointed time and place. The heavenly Father comes to meet His children. But His children aren’t there! And you would think that Adam and Eve would have run out to meet the Lord, no matter how deeply they had sinned, and fallen on their knees and cried, “Father, we have sinned and we are not worthy to be called your children anymore, make us slaves in your creation.”
But they didn’t do that. Instead they run away in the opposite direction. They try to hide from the Lord! That is an insult to the amazing love and grace of God! How sad for the searching Father that He’s lost His children and that they hide from Him.
And this kind of rejection of God’s love has continued to this very day by people everywhere who turn their backs on God, who run away from Him. People don’t want God in their lives. They say, “If there is a God in heaven, why does He allow all this misery and suffering in the world. Who needs a God like that?” And still others, who don’t hide from God, but in open defiance, deny that God exists or that He has anything to do with this world today.
Well let me tell you something!
God came before the fall, and He comes after the fall, and no matter how much this old world may speak against Him, He still comes, and keeps on coming to do what He has always done. He comes to meet His children! He ultimately came in His Son Jesus Christ who was in this world, and “the world did not know Him.” He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
But notwithstanding all of that rejection and hiding, the Lord still keeps on coming! The sound of His walking in the garden - a garden now corrupted by sin - can still be heard in the cool of the day! The Lord wants His children back! Father searches for His lost sons and daughters and He waits for them! No matter how much His children cry out in protest against Him, and hide from Him, and reject Him! Ah yes, you would think that He would have given up a long time ago! But He doesn’t do that! This is His amazing goodness, His love, His mercy, His patience, His grace – how many attributes or characteristics are there not used in Scripture to show us that God is an amazing God of love and salvation.
And it’s all for us! It’s all for sinners! It ought to bring us to our knees and confess before Him our lukewarmness, our sins! It ought to make us sing out from the bottom of our hearts “amazing love how can it be, that you my Lord should die for me!” Father we love you for loving us!
Ah yes, because when His children don’t come running to the appointed meeting place, when they don’t come running to Him, the Lord searches for them. He calls them! Father missed His children and He calls them.
I’m tempted to draw a comparison here. Imagine that little Mary doesn’t come home at the appointed hour. Her parents are getting anxious. There are so many frightening things happening nowadays. Where can she be? Is she safe?
And so her parents go out and look for her – calling her name anxiously – “Mary??? Mary, where are you?”
Or a father coming home from a long business trip and he’s eager to see his family. But when he gets there, nobody is home. The house is empty. His voice echoes through the house, “Is anyone home?”
And then his eyes fall on a piece of paper on the table, and there’s a note scribbled there that says his wife and children have left him!
Terrible, isn’t it? But don’t you see brothers and sisters that this is only a faint comparison of what God has experienced. He called in the garden, “Where are you? Why are you hiding? The Lord missed His children, and now He goes to search for them. He’s calling out “Where are you?”
Now when Adam and Eve didn’t run to God, but instead hid themselves, you and I could perfectly well understand it if God would have left them there! After all, it was man, not God, who had broken the covenant of love. And the Lord would be perfectly in His right to let His children go! To cut off all relationships with them! That’s what they deserved. They were the ones who disobeyed and ran away!
But God does not do that!
He doesn’t say – “So, if that the way it’s going to be? Well then, if you want to come back then you’ll have to make the first move. Maybe I’ll be good enough to forgive you and we can try again. But we’ll have to wait and see. I’ve done what I could do. I came to you, but you went and hid yourself. I’ve come a long way to find you, but this is the last straw. If you don’t want my love, you better find your own way.”
If God had said that, we’d all understand it, wouldn’t we? That’s the way we probably would have done it. When somebody wrongs us, and they refuse our often-meager attempts at reconciliation, then we say, “That’s it! It’s over. It’s his fault. I tried, but he refused, and it’s finished!”
But the Lord is not like we are. His ways are higher than our ways. If He were like us, we would have been eternally lost! The Lord goes after His children! He seeks them out! He doesn’t give up until they respond to His call – “Where are you?”
The Lord will not let His children go! He’s their Father and they belong to Him. His children may reject Him. Children in this congregation, perhaps, who say – “It’s finished between me and God. I don’t want anything to do with His church. I don’t feel anything in my heart for the Lord. I want out! Just let me live my own life, without God and without His church!”
But don’t think it’s as simple as that! The Psalmist says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where could I flee from your presence?” [Psalm 139].
CS Lewis called God the “Hound of Heaven” – on the trail of His runaway children. God calls and keeps on calling, until His children respond – “Where are you?”
There was once a mother who had a severely mentally challenged child. And this child had his 10 th birthday! And this mother’s friend came over to celebrate her son’s birthday with her. But when she got to her house she found the mother in tears.
“What in the world’s the matter with you?” she said, “It’s your son’s birthday! Why all the tears?”
And the mother said, “Do you know what hurts me so much? My boy is 10 years old, and he’s never known that I am his Mother!”
Brothers and Sisters, the world is full of people and some of them may be here this morning about which God sheds a tear today and says, “Now he’s 15, 20, 40 or 70 years old, and he still doesn’t know that I am his Father!”
Oh brothers and sisters, if we do know God as our Father, then let’s not be bashful about saying it! Let’s speak up and acknowledge it – “I’ve got the Lord in my life! He’s my loving heavenly Father!” What ungrateful children the Lord has!
And Adam and Eve did respond.
They had to respond to a love that is so strong! And notice that as they come crawling out of their hiding places, that they try to excuse themselves and blame somebody else…the woman you gave me… the devil made me do it… We call that human nature and it is so widespread and universally true.
But when all is said and done they both say exactly the same thing, “And I ate.” That’s where God wants to bring them! That’s what the Bible calls repentance. It’s an honest confession of sin. No trying to hide or to cover over in any other form. It is a simple, honest confession to which they are reduced – “And I Ate!”
That’s as far as humans can go in restoring the relationship. We can confess our sin! This is where God always seeks to bring us, because it brings us back to the Father where we belong. He finds us in our failure, our estrangement, our guilt, our sense of nakedness and loss, and He moves to brings us to repentance and reconciliation. That’s what He does here with Adam and Eve. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9].
And so God and sinner are reconciled! The communication between God and Adam and Eve is restored. And the Lord told them that a terrible punishment would come over all the creation because of their sin, and it would involve even their children and children’s children. But He also told them of how the power of sin would one day be broken and that Jesus would one day come and crush the head of the serpent on the cross of Calvary !
And at the end of the chapter, we read these words of amazing grace and love in: 21, [:21] “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.”
God sheds blood in order to make clothing for His children. He covered over their nakedness, shame and guilt with clothing made from the skins of animal sacrifices. This is what Jesus has done for every one of us – He gave His life and sacrificed it on the cross as atonement for our sins – as a covering to take away our sins and our shame and to reconcile us to God in faith. The Bible says “Put on, or “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…”[Romans 13:14 ] .
And all of this is possible because of the persistent call of “Where are you?”
The Almighty, the Lord of hosts calls and keeps on calling to this present day – to the ends of the earth – “Where are you?”
And if we respond – if we come out of our hiding places – then He will be merciful. He will abundantly pardon the sins of His people and receive them as His own.
And this opportunity is there for everybody!
I am convinced that this is the heart and core of the gospel; it is available to everyone. No matter how far we’ve run away from God; it’s for everyone.
There was a man who had a very rebellious son. He was at his wits end to know what to get his boy to behave.
But one day, the father came up with a great idea. He took his son out into the shed and he told him about his plan. He said, “Billy, here’s the deal. For every bad thing you do, I am going to take this hammer, and I’m going to pound a nail in that beam.”
“But,” he said, “I’m going to be fair with you, and so every time you do something good, I’ll pull one nail out.”
Well, that sounded like a good plan to Billy. And it was really working. New Year’s Eve rolled around, and Billy had really tried his best to be good, especially in December! You know how that works, don’t you – there are a lot of people who try their best to be good in December – And…there were only a few nails in the beam.
And his father stood there with his son looking up at the beam, amazed at how it reflected the good behaviour of his boy. And then he said,
“Son, I’m really proud of you! I never expected this!”
Billy said, “Yes, Dad, it feels good, but it hurts a little bit too, because … look at all the nail holes there are up there.”
But I can say to you Brothers and Sisters and friends, that when you and I come to God in true repentance then God says, “Pull the nails out for Jesus' sake!”
And then I might say, “Yes Lord, the nails can go, but what about the nail holes.”
Then the Lord will say, “Oh yes, the holes go too! I forgive and I forget. My forgiving is forgetting!”
And that’s the wonderful and amazing gift of God’s grace we have in Jesus Christ.
God has called us to come to Him. Maybe you’ve been hiding and trying to live your life without your heavenly Father. He calls you and He calls all of us to come to Him. He wants to live in fellowship with us. He wants to live in a relationship of love and trust in Him.
He calls through His Son Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus that the Father makes His gracious call heard throughout the world today.
And God forsook Jesus. Jesus did not hide from God – but it was the Father who hid Himself from the man Jesus on the cross – and He cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
And all of that was for you and me. Jesus was once forsaken by God, so we might forever be accepted by Him.
That’s the good news – the gospel we have heard way back in Genesis 3 when God called – “Where are you?”
Have you heard God’s calling you?
And how do you respond?
Lord, I’m yours and you are mine! Bought with the precious blood of Christ. Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Suggested Order of Worship:
We Gather to Worship
*Call to Worship, Psalm 113
*Opening Hymn 111:1,2,3,7
*God’s Greeting “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
We are Renewed in God’s Grace
The call to confession
The prayer of Confession
The assurance of Pardon
[suggest using the ones on p. 972 in Ps. Hym.]
God’s Guide for Grateful living – Romans 12:9-21
God Speaks From His Word
Prayer for Understanding
Scripture Reading : Genesis 3:1-19. (text:8,9)
Sermon: “The Gracious Call of God After the Fall”
We Give Thanks and Pray
*Hymn of Response 490
The Offerings: Hymn 440
We Leave Praising God
*God’s Parting Blessing, Numbers 6:24-26