The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9 ESV
Background Genesis 3:1-20
Most people are familiar with the story of Eve and the serpent. She suffered from the same ego as any other human being, and when the serpent told her that eating the forbidden fruit would make her equal to God, she could not resist. Her husband could not resist, either, although by the time Eve offered him a taste, she had surely realized that the serpent had deceived her. They both liked the idea that they might be equal to God, but as soon as they heard his voice, the truth sank in. They were not equal to God, and besides that, they were naked!
They heard his voice calling out, the way a friend might call at your back door.
“Yoo hoo! All y’all in there?”
God called in the plural. A translation in Standard English hides that fact, because English does not inflect the second person pronoun to indicate number. That is why I used language that gives you some idea of the difference between singular and plural. Of course, I had to resort to the redneck dialect in which the plural of y’all is all y’all. It is probably the way it would look in a Cotton Patch Creation Story. (See The Cotton Patch Gospel if you wonder what I am talking about.) The important point is that God did not call out just to Adam. God called to both Adam and Eve. Instead of calling back, they hid themselves. They were naked!
Have you ever felt naked? Maybe you dreamed you were on your way to work, stepped out of the car, and discovered you were naked. It still feels embarrassing even after you wake up. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve did not simply recognize that they were not wearing any clothes. They had never seen clothes or heard of clothes. It wasn’t that God would see them without clothes, although they did rustle up some loincloths in a hurry. They felt naked because they realized that God could see through them. Loincloths would not cover up the self-worship that had led them to disobey him.
You probably felt this way as a child after you had sneaked into your mother’s closet at Christmas time and looked at the presents hidden there. You could not resist looking for them, but after you knew, you felt sure there must be a sign on your forehead that said, “I looked.” This is the way Adam and Eve felt when they heard God call. Each of them heard that call as an individual, because that call was plural—both of you. Each of them felt individually guilty, and hiding there in the bushes, each was going over what he or she had done.
They must have looked very sheepish when God walked by and said, “Oh, there you are.” Worse than that, like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Adam burst out saying, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” Genesis 3:10 ESV. God looked right at the naked man and the naked woman, and they were truly naked. No doubt about it. What’s more important, however, He could see right through them. “Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. Silence. No answer. They were still processing their justifications for disobedience. Their minds had to stop spinning their answers as God looked into them and asked, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11 ESV.
The guilty pair was still dealing with fact that God had not specified one of them. He was speaking in plural, but both were mentally wriggling, looking for a way out. Each experienced God’s words as a personal message, a personal question. Each of them knew that he or she was individually responsible for what had been done. Yet each of them looked for someone to share or simply shoulder the blame. They wanted a village.
Adam started first, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” Genesis 3:12 ESV. Adam blamed Eve, sure enough, but God had brought her into the picture, so he had to takes some of the blame, too. We both ate the fruit, Adam thought, but I would never have done it if she had not made it sound so good. Forget all that bone of my bone stuff. This woman made me do it.
God saw right through him.
Then it was Eve’s turn. She was mulling over what Adam had said. It really was not fair to blame everything on her. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She probably said these words while looking at the ground. She could not have looked God in the eye. He could see right through her! She was naked!
This story of Adam and Eve completely refutes the secular mantra that humans have evolved and are evolving into progressively better creatures. Secular teaching says that the ancient people, primitive and ignorant as they were, simply did not know the truths about morality that humans know today. The people who wrote the Bible were simply unaware of things that humans have discovered as they are evolving toward the ultimate human being. Because of that issue, secular thinkers say that if the Bible ever had any relevance in the past, humans have now outgrown it. However, reading the story of Adam and Eve, or any other story in the Bible, will make it obvious that human beings have not changed since the dawn of history. We still like to be our own gods, and we still like to make our own rules, but no matter what we do, the other truth is that God sees right through us. We are naked in his sight!
This is why we all need Jesus. One evening Jesus had a visitor who was slinking around for fear his friends would see him with Jesus. In today’s world, most Christians have friends who treat our faith with either dismissive humor or with skin-shriveling scorn. We can identify with Nicodemus. His friends completely rejected Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises, but Nicodemus was troubled. He needed more information. He came to Jesus with questions, and Jesus answered them. He explained to Nicodemus who he was and why he had come.
Jesus told this curious man, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” John 3:17 ESV. Jesus came to earth a long time after Adam and Eve, yet he said that the world was still a mess. Jesus had not seen any evidence of humans evolving into something higher. He did not, however, leave Nicodemus in despair. He gave Nicodemus a reason for hope. He said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 ESV.
We are all naked before God. He can see that we are too busy worshiping ourselves to pay any attention to what he says. He knows we are all lured by the idea that we can become our perfect selves by exercise of will and determination without needing a voice in our heads or an imaginary friend. He knows that we also rather like the idea that the Bible is outdated, and we can ignore it.
But we still wonder: if these things are true, why do we feel guilty without knowing exactly why? Each of us is just like Eve. Just like Adam. We try to hide from God, too, going so far on occasion as to deny his existence, just like the secular thinkers all around us.
God confronted Adam and Eve, and he punished them severely, but he held out hope for them and their children. He rebuked the Tempter and promised that evil would not triumph, because God would take action to set things right. God said,”I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” Genesis 3:15 ESV. This word of judgment was simultaneously a prophecy that evil’s apparent victory in the lives of Adam and Eve was an image limited to time and space. Viewed from God’s throne, the story would have a very different ending.
We need not stand naked before God, because we can sing with Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10 In Christ, we are, in the words of the hymn, “clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!”
Photo Credit: Lawrence OP / IWoman / CC BY-NC
Hymn credit: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, by Edward Mote The text is in the public domain. source: http://www.ccel.org/a/anonymous/luth_hymnal/tlh370.htm
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love, available on Kindle