God's "Where Art Thou?" Grace

by Don Roberts

For the first couple it was yet another pristine day in the paradise that was the Garden of Eden. There were no thorns or thistles to avoid, no weeds to pull, no environmental pollution, no aches or pains to distract from the day's work, no sin in the heart to disrupt their fellowship with God. Their world was perfection in every sense of the word. Jesus told the multitudes on the mount that "Solomon in all his glory" was not arrayed like a single lily in the field (Matt. 6:28-29). Nor was he arrayed like Adam and Eve in their sinless brilliance!

We are all well aware of the tempter's wiles as he solicited and deceived Eve with a promise of betterment for eating the God-forbidden fruit. Disobedient Eve was battered rather than bettered, and Adam joined her in their precipitous fall from innocence. The entire creation must have let out a collective anguished groan as the stench of death began to permeate God's handiwork. The first couple found themselves hiding from the presence of God instead of basking in it. How rapidly satanic deception can lead to self-deception!

The Bible says: "they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen. 3:8-9). After they had hidden themselves, the "Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?'" Do you see the time lapse between the voice and the call? The Scripture is clear as to what Adam heard in the post-hiding call, but silent concerning what he heard in the pre-hiding voice. In my mind, the content of voice and call were different, but the tone was the same.

My sense is that the query Adam and Eve heard was like the lament of a father who arrives at the crash scene and finds his son's mangled body inside the wreckage. It would have been comparable to David mourning the death of Absalom (2 Sam. 18:32-19:4). David cried, "O my son AbsalomWould God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" The "Where art thou?" from the Lord God must have been one of brokenness and pity over those that bore, but had now corrupted, his image! 

The "Where art thou?" issued to Adam also signifies something glorious—and that is grace! We observe that while fallen man is moving away from God, the Lord God keeps moving toward fallen man! The sinner continued to hide, but the Lord God continued to seek! So the first link in the chain of redemptive history reveals a God of grace and mercy whose nature it is to pursue sinners—and to keep on coming after them—in spite of their efforts to avoid Him! This is fundamental to the character of God! Where would any of us be if God had abandoned His pursuit, and allowed us to continue hiding in our shame and nakedness?

If we were to ask Jacob why he ended up a saved man, he would tell us it was because the Lord God kept coming after him! We know Jacob's track record. Brother Esau and Uncle Laban both bore the brunt of his trickery and deception, which accounts for him spending a good part of his adult life on the run. But God kept tracking him down! The Lord was ever-present in Jacob's affairs during his twenty years in Haran. At the end of his tenure, God instructed him to return to the land of his fathers, warning Laban to take care how he spoke to Jacob (Gen. 31:24). At last came the face-to-face wrestling match with the God-Man at Peniel. The limp he took away from that encounter was a permanent reminder of grace that would not let him go!

If we were to ask Paul how he ended up a saved man and an apostle, he would likewise tell us it was because the Lord God refused to abandon His pursuit! After revealing himself to Saul as Jesus, the One he was persecuting, the Lord added: "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:4-5). With every arrest—witnessing the glory of God displayed on the countenances of those he imprisoned—the Holy Ghost was pricking him with conviction. Saul kept kicking, but the Lord kept pricking! Saul kept running, but the Lord God kept coming! The words, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" signaled a capitulation and surrender to the will of God. Saul of Tarsus was transformed into Paul the apostle, and the rest is history!

 It is true that there are none that seek after God in their unregenerate state (Rom. 3:11). But it is also true that the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). It is the initiative of a merciful God that accounts for the salvation of any sinner who finds forgiveness and life eternal through the Lord Jesus! Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the God who keeps on coming!

Currently working as a technical editor for a large U.S. company, Don Roberts has pastored a number of churches, as well as conducting revival/Bible conference meetings, etc., since God called him to preach in 1971. He writes a weekly email column, The Pastor's Pen,  which can be found at www.truthonfire.com. Roberts lives with his wife, Barbara, in Jacksonville, Florida.

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