Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Throughout the last few years of parenting, I have played a fair amount of games of Hide ‘n’ Go Seek. It is a simple game for most. There is one who is responsible for seeking. That person counts to an agreed upon number, while the others go and hide. After counting, the seeker goes and tries to find all of the others. As I said, it is a simple game for most. But not if you are as big as I am. My children find the greatest spots, under the bed, in a cupboard, in the laundry hamper. Great spots! But look at me, does it look like I would ever be that difficult to find?
So it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as they attempted to play Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with God. We all know the story. Satan entered the serpent and dangled the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before Eve’s eyes. And when Satan told her she wouldn’t die if she ate it, and it would make her wise like God, she didn’t hesitate to take a bite and offer it to her husband Adam who took a bite as well. But then they realized they were naked and sewed fig leaves together to make loincloths for themselves.
It is a tragic story that unfortunately affects every one of us today. Because of this disobedience of God’s command, every human being thereafter has been conceived and born into sin. It is what we call original sin. Your parents passed it on to you. You pass it on to your offspring. It is a rotten deal, I know. Since that day, humanity’s relationship with God has been damaged by sin. Because as we know, it didn’t just stop with that one sin. There have been actual sins committed ever since that original fall.
Our text makes that very clear when it says, And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8).
They heard God and they hid. Like you could really play Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with God. Yet, here we see human nature at its finest. They knew that they were guilty, and so they hid. They were ashamed and exposed. They felt their separation from God in their newfound nakedness. So they literally tried to cover up the evidence of their guilt with fig leaf loincloths.
But isn’t that what we all try and do when we know that we are guilty? We try to cover up the evidence of our guilt. We clean up the mess from the broken plate. We erase the internet history on the computer. We delete emails and text messages. And it’s all done in the hopes that we won’t get caught and have to face the consequences. After all, no one likes consequences, so we convince ourselves that if we clean up and cover up enough that no one will notice. No one will notice and the problem will just go away.
But that just isn’t the case. It is as the book of Proverbs says, Whoever covers his sins will not prosper (Proverbs 28:13, NKJV). No matter how hard we try, the sin doesn’t go away. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, we try new ways to cover sin up, to mask it in some way in hopes that it won’t be as big of a deal.
It is as one chaplain put it, “We have endorsed homosexuality and called it an alternative lifestyle, we have promoted love of money and called it lottery, we have killed our unborn and called it choice, we have broken marriage vows and called it personal freedom, we have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition, we have polluted the air with profanity and nudity and called it freedom of expression, we have ridiculed time-honored values of the Ten Commandments and called it enlightenment.”
Our game of Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with God may not include hiding behind bushes wearing fig leaves, but we are still trying to hide the sin. We just simply hide by a new set of terms so we think it pleases the palate a little bit better. We hide by failing to call sin a sin, but in no way does that remove the sin. Nor does it remove the consequence for sin, which is death. Let’s never downplay the effect of our sins or hide behind any sort of terminology to try and soften them. Sin kills. Period.
That’s why God joins in the game of Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with Adam and Eve. He knows what they have done. He knows that they are hiding. So, he goes seeking for them.
Now we might expect God to be fuming with anger or bent on condemning His hiding creation, but no. He approaches them with a series of rhetorical questions giving them every opportunity to confess. He doesn’t ask these questions for His own benefit. He doesn’t need any information. He is God. He knows everything already. No, these questions are for Adam and Eve’s good. To lead them to see the depravity of their sin and their desperate need for a Savior.
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself (Genesis 3:9-10).
I always think of my son Will when he was younger when God asks this question. When I would play Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with him, I would ask the same question, and he would jump right up and say, “Here I am!”
Well, it wasn’t quite that way with Adam and Eve. There was no jumping up of any kind. Instead he says that he hid because he was afraid. How sad that is. Here he and Eve had just sinned, and instead of turning to God to apologize and ask for forgiveness, they hide from him in fear.
But that’s what happens isn’t it? When we sin, either the devil with all of his deception convinces us that our sin is not that big of a deal or that it is just too big. Either way, we flee from God. We flee thinking we don’t need forgiveness or we flee thinking there is no forgiveness for us. So, we flee from worship, we flee from confession, we flee from the Lord’s Supper. We flee and we hide in whatever way we can try and cover up the reality of our sin. But it’s no use.
Nor is making excuses and blaming others for our sin like Adam and Eve attempted to do when God questioned them further. God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11:-13).
Here we see that the line, “It’s not my fault” started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. When we are hiding in our sin, we will try any excuse possible before admitting our fault. After all, no one likes to say, “I was wrong.” How easy does it roll off of your tongue? None of us likes to take accountability for our actions. We think it is much easier to point a finger at someone else. But as I have told you before, when we point a finger at someone, we point three back at ourselves.
That’s why the other half of that verse from Proverbs is so crucial. Whoever covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (Proverbs 28:13, NKJV).
God doesn’t come to the Garden of Eden seeking to condemn. He came seeking to lead His creation to confess their sins and to deliver mercy to them. He knew that if He didn’t intervene they were doomed to remain hiding in their sin to their own eternal condemnation. It is as the evangelist Billy Sunday once said: “Sinners can’t find God for the same reason criminals can’t find policeman: they aren’t looking for them.”
That’s why when we sin, we need God to come and seek us out. Which is the good news found within this tragic story of creation’s fall. Our God who is rich in love and mercy calls out to His most beloved creatures with His Word. We ought never lose sight of the fact that the first question in the Bible after Adam and Eve sinned is “Where are you?” God seeks the sinner. He seeks the sinner out so that they may hear that it is they who are the ones separating themselves in hiding. And He seeks them so that they may be comforted in knowing that they have a God who loves them enough to come to them to deliver good news to them.
That good news for Adam and Eve and for us starts with the curse of Satan and putting him in his place, and it continues with a promise of a Savior. The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 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 heal (Genesis 3:14-15).
All the way back in Genesis, God made a promise that what began at a tree in the Garden of Eden would be finished once and for all at a tree on Calvary. Where Adam and Eve once hid to cover their nakedness and shame, God’s Son Jesus would be sent to endure nakedness and shame as He would bleed and die to save the entire world. Where Adam and Eve feared the consequences for their sinful action, God promised to send Jesus to endure the consequences of all of humanity’s sins. Where Adam and Eve tried to cover their sins in hiding behind bushes and fig leaves; where we have tried to cover our sins by failing to call sin a sin in a myriad of ways, Jesus was sent to cover our sins with His own precious blood to wash them away for good once and for all.
In so doing, He would bruise the head of Satan. The better translation here is “He will crush your head.” I love that image. Crushing Satan’s head. When I teach on this, I always give a good stomp with my feet. In fact, if you ever look closely at the seal of our seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, you will see under the cross, a snake. In fact, what is right under the cross is the snake’s head, reminding us of the victory Jesus has won over Satan. Jesus has defeated Satan once and for all. Satan’s ability to keep us in fear and shame in the presence of God is done for.
As sinners who hear God’s call to repentance through His Word, we can approach the cross of Christ in the confidence knowing that we will always be forgiven. We have no need to play Hide ‘n’ Go Seek with God. We don’t need to fear his wrath and condemnation. In fact, it is as the Psalmist writes: You are a ‘hiding’ place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me shouts of deliverance (Psalm 32:7).
So, no matter the sin we have committed, no matter how big it is in our mind, there is always forgiveness for us. The promised offspring of Eve, Jesus Christ, was sent to endure it all in our place. Remember, God seeks the sinner. That’s why He sent His Son…to save sinners like us. It is as the hymn that we just sang goes: “He sent forth Jesus, My dear redeemer, He sent forth Jesus, and set me free. Therefore I’ll say again: God loves me dearly, God loves me dearly, loves even me.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.