I want us to turn to Genesis today for our message. I mentioned this in passing recently in another sermon that I preached to you. But now I want to preach you a whole sermon on this one passage that I barely mentioned a few weeks back. Let us look in Genesis chapter 3, and read verses 8, 9 and 10 together as our starting point.
I studied on this message today expecting that we would have some unsaved people here, but since we don't I'm going to preach it anyway. Let's read that ninth verse to begin with to give us sort of our text, or our key verse, and then we'll go back and read verse 8, 9, and 10 again. Chapter 3, verse 9, the book of Genesis, "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Where art thou? Now notice those words, "where art thou?" We could use that as a title today for our message.
Now let's read the eighth, ninth and tenth verses again. Chapter 3, beginning with verse 8, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
Let's pray. Father, we thank You for Your Word that we can read, that we can preach, that we can study together. We pray that You'll bless it today as we try to preach it to these people. Use each of us to be servants of Thine in the center of Thy will leading others to the cross. For we ask it in Christ's name, Amen.
Now as we begin to think about this, where are you today? That's an important question, isn't it? Where are you? This message that I've studied for today is not really aimed primarily at backsliders, but it could very well be applied that way as well. Where are you? Is God seeking you today? Are you backslidden? Are you out of His will? Or are you truly in the center of His will, truly serving Him with His Spirit, and the joy and peace and happiness of knowing that you're serving Him in your heart.
As we think about this a little further, we notice here several things about this. Remember this, of course, is just after the temptation, just after Eve has been deceived by the devil. And she has been deceived, of course, largely by the lie of the devil in casting doubt on the veracity of God's Word. And that's still the way the devil start—starts out to work on people today. He likes to work in that manner. That's one of the reasons why he has promoted the—the uh, so-called translation, it's really not translation the way they do it now a days, it's re-interpretation of the Bible. And the publication of so many false versions of the Bible today. That's one of his main points, the devil, always has been from the garden of Eden until now is to cast doubt on God's Word.
And this is what he has just done in the few verses recorded earlier in chapter 3 here. If you read those you'll see that he has just cast doubt on God's Word. He has deceived Eve. He has appealed to her pride, and she has fallen. Then she goes to Adam, and Adam as we find in other Scripture was not truly deceived, but he deliberately sinned by choice. Took upon himself this sin, and this in so doing made him a more perfect type of Christ, because Christ Himself deliberately took upon Himself our sin on the cross, didn't He? So in a sense here, this makes Adam a better type of Christ. The first Adam, and the second Adam.
But going on now from that point, they have just both been tempted and have fallen, Adam deliberately without deceit, and she by deceit. And then God comes in the garden seeking them. It was obviously the custom we can infer from the background here, that it was the custom of God and Adam and Eve to have fellowship together in the garden in the cool of the evening. We can read that into this without any problem at all, can't we? Cause here God comes in the cool of the evening, in the cool of the day seeking Adam and Eve. So we can assume this was probably a customary thing, so that they'd been having fellowship directly with God or a manifestation of God.
And now they've fallen and God comes seeking them. And He says, "Adam, where art thou? Adam, where art thou?" And instead of rushing out to meet Him with joy and peace in their hearts as they no doubt had been doing, now they're hiding out from God. They're hiding from Him when He comes to seek them. Adam should, by all rights, knowing that he had sinned—obviously he knew he had sinned, that's the reason he hid, wasn't it? And Adam by all rights knowing that he had sinned, he should have sought the Creator, shouldn't he?
Instead of hiding from the Creator, he should have sought God to beg for forgiveness. He should have said something like this, but we don't find a verse anywhere in the Scripture that says this, but he should have gone through the garden crying out in a loud voice saying, "My God, my God, I've sinned against You. Where art Thou? I cast myself at Your feet. I beg Your mercy. I confess my sin." Yet he did none of this, did he? He hid from God. He hid from God.
He should have come casting himself at God's feet and begging mercy and asking that mercy should be shown if mercy could be shown to such an evil one as he had become. Yet he did none of this. We have no verse anywhere in Scripture that indicates that he did any such thing, do we? Yet, we should have had a verse if he had done what he should have done, we should have had a verse that said something about like I said then, shouldn't we, recording what he said? But he didn't do so. He fled from God, he tried to hide from God.
And this is the customary attitude of both the backslider and the unsaved man, to flee from God, to try to hide oneself from God. And neither the backslider nor the unsaved can hide himself from God when it comes time for God to seek him. Just can't hide from God.
The cry that should have been, "My God, where art Thou?" on the part of Adam, was not that at all, but the first cry that we hear recorded here is the voice of Grace, isn't it? The voice of Grace because God is seeking Adam, not Adam seeking God as he should have been, but God seeking Adam. In other words, God seeks the sinner first before the sinner seeks God. And this is true even today. Until God reaches out with His Spirit and touches the heart of the sinner he won't seek God at all. Whether the—whether when we say the sinner, whether when we're referring to a backslidden Christian or to an unsaved man, in either case until God's Spirit gets a hold of his heart and begins to tighten up, begins to draw him, begins to touch him, he won't seek God at all. So God first seeks the sinner before the sinner seeks God.
This question that God asked of Adam can be used in many different ways. I have jotted down here five different ways in which this question could be interpreted, this question of "Where art thou, Adam?" Five different ways that we want to think about it for just a minute today.
The first way that we could interpret this question, we could say that this question was asked in a—as a means of arousing Adam to his condition. As a means of awakening him to his fallen condition. Or in an arousing sense as we said, when He said, "Adam, where art thou?" You say, well, why should Adam need to be aroused? He obviously knew that he was in sin a because he hid from God, so why should he need to be—ask this question in an arousing sense?
Well, the effect of sin on the mind of man is a terrible thing, and we can see it even in this example of Adam here. The effect of sin on the mind of man, one thing it does, it dulls his conscience, doesn't it? It stultifies his conscience. It drugs the mind. It's somewhat similar to what I've been told in books and true experiences that I've read, it's somewhat similar to the way a man freezes to death and dies. I've read true experiences of people who almost died from freezing and then they were rescued just in time and brought back from the edge of the grave, and they nearly always tell it something like this. They say that until you get nearly to the point of freezing to death that you struggle to try to prevent it. But then when you get to a certain point in this nearness to death that you just want to lay down and go to sleep and feel good about it.
Now that's the way sin affects people, isn't it? It dulls the mind, it makes them just want to go to sleep in their sin without realizing that when they do go to sleep as this man freezing to death, when he once goes to sleep, unless someone is there almost instantly to rescue him, he's dead. And that's the way it is with sin. When they once go to sleep in the sin it's difficult to arouse them. But sin drugs the mind. It makes a man not capable of realizing his own danger, just as this business of freezing to death. After a certain point, they say, that the man gets to where he just—oh, everything looks good, feels wonderful. He begins to feel warm and comfortable and he just lays down in the snow or the ice and goes to sleep and dies. And that's the way sin affects people as well.
Men die by sin, just as when they're frozen to death. They die in a sleep not realizing their danger, and then in hell they awake in torment. When God's Spirit speaks to a man it wakens him from his sleep and causes him to discover his danger in which he is—in which he is at the moment. And this is the sense in which we're thinking now about this question, "Adam, where art thou?" To arouse Adam to his danger, to his position.
This question, "Where art thou?" was meant, we believe, to arouse Adam to his danger—to the danger of his present position; that is, away from God and out of fellowship with God. This is true, both of the saved backslider and of the unsaved. But here in this case it was meant to arouse Adam to the fact that he was naked and a stranger to God. It was meant to arouse him to fact that he was miserable, dreading the presence of God. He was hiding from God, wasn't he? To arouse him to the fact that he was fallen with a rebellious will and heart toward God. A hard heart that was even then hiding out from God, lost to God, lost to happiness, lost to peace, and lost in time and eternity. So the question is—still today the same question is, "Sinner, where art thou? Sinner, where art thou?"
The frailty of life is sometimes illustrated by something that's common to all of us. You no doubt have seen a spider web. A single strand of spider web. That's just how frail our life is, isn't it? You say, "Oh, but it couldn't be that frail," but it is. Our life is like the grass, it just withers away and it's gone, isn't it? It's frail like a single spider web. And we need even as Christians to realize the frailty of life, both to keep us on our toes, so to speak for God; but also for the purpose of causing us to realize the terrible danger of our friends. Those of our family, those of our neighbors, those of our relatives, and other friends who are lost without Christ, they're just hanging on by one little spider web. And when the spider web breaks unless they have Christ they're in Hell. Sinner, where art thou?
Ephesians 5:14 is a good verse to read here, where it says, "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Awake, sinner. That's the question, isn't it? The arousing sense of the question. Awake sinner, why are you sleeping? Awake today and honestly to yourself answer the question, Where art thou? Lost, ruined and undone without hope. Sinner, where art thou? That's the question, isn't it, for all?
God's question to Adam was meant for another purpose in addition to arousing him to the sense of danger and to the sense of the danger of his position, it was meant to convince him of sin, to convince him of sin. And so, to lead to a confession. Did you know that the only purpose God has in convincing men of sin is to lead to a confession of that sin? You stop and think about that. Even as a Christian, the only reason God has in convicting you of sin as a Christian is to lead to a confession of that sin. And a true confession of that sin leads to a forsaking of that sin, doesn't it? So the purpose of God in leading men to be convinced of sin, or convicted of sin as one of the senses in which this question here was asked of Adam, was to lead to a confession of his sin.
Even at this point Adam should have cast himself at the feet of the Lord and said, "I've sinned. I've sinned. Oh, I've sinned. I'm fallen. Have mercy on me." But even here he didn't do that, did he? He didn't do that even here. Had Adam's heart been right, then he would have made a full confession immediately of his sinfulness when God called to him and said, "Adam, where art thou?" wouldn't he?
But his heart wasn't right. He had become sinful. He was depraved. When God said, "Where art thou, Adam?" it's as if God reminded him and said, "I made you in My own image, Adam. I made you like Myself. I made you just a little lower than the angels. I made you to have dominion over all of creation. I gave you this garden of delight for your home, a perfect place. I honored you with My own presence and My fellowship every day in the cool of the evening. I planned the whole creation for your own welfare. Only one little thing I reserved for Myself. Adam, where art thou?"
In the room of a thief, a rebel, that's where he was, wasn't he? In the room of a traitor. God may as well have said, "Have you sinned Adam?" Where art thou? And now, even today the question still is to every sinner and to every backslider, where art thou? To many God could say this. He could say, "I gave you a godly mother who prays yet for you." Or, He could say, "I cared for you. I gave you food and clothing and the necessities of life. I gave you health and strength and brought you down to this good day. And yet, where art thou?" He could say, "I've healed and protected in sickness and in accidents." He could say, "I've overlooked ten thousand follies." He could say this both to the backslidden and to the unsaved. He could say, "My mercies like a river have flown down to you. And now sinner, where art thou?"
You've forgotten God's commandments. You've abhorred His person. You've rejected His Son. Or, if you're backslidden, though you accepted His Son as Savior, you've rejected the idea of following His Son and serving Him as you should. Until this day, either a disbeliever or a backslidden saved person not following properly the completed righteousness of Christ, at this moment in the camp of God's enemy. Like Peter warming his hands at the devil's fire, in the case of a backslider. Or, in the case of the unsaved, just flagrantly and totally in the enemies camp. On Satan's side in rebellion against God, defying the very one who keeps breath in your nostrils and in whose hand your life rests. Sinner, where art thou? After all of God's goodness, still a sinner. Still a sinner and a rebel against God.
Going on now to the third way in which this question could be interpreted. We first said it was an arousing sense, and then we said it was meant to—as a means of convincing of sin and so leading to a confession. Now, thirdly, God's question was the voice of God bemoaning man's lost estate. Think about it now. Here God had created man in perfection. He'd put him in a place of perfection. Only one little thing that he couldn't do without losing that state of perfection, and yet almost immediately he does this, doesn't he? And in the case of Adam did it deliberately with his eyes wide open, though Eve was deceived by the serpent.
But this thinking about the voice of God bemoaning man's lost estate, this question here it's as it God had uttered the words of the prophet. You may remember over in Hosea I read this to you a few weeks ago in another message, where he said, "How can I give thee up? How can I utterly destroy thee, Adam?" Only, of course, this quotation is from Hosea, and he didn't say Adam, He said Israel. But it's the same meaning. "How can I give thee up? How can I utterly destroy thee? You're Mine, I made you. I chose you. How can I let you go? How can I?"
Hosea 11:8 says, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Now in case you don't realize, or haven't thought about the fact of what he's talking about here when he says, "How shall I make thee as Admah? And how shall I set thee as Zeboim?" those are little cities that were destroyed in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that's what he's talking about when he says—uses those words there in relation to Ephraim, one of the worst backsliders among the tribes of Israel. And so he's—what it's basically saying is how can I give you up Ephraim, though I know you're a terrible backslider, you're the worst in following after idols, you're the worst in rejecting me, you're the worst in refusing to follow me. Ephraim was notorious for his idolatry, remember, the tribe of Ephraim. And yet he says, how can I give you up Israel? How can I make you like Sodom and Gomorrah, destroy you with fire and brimstone from heaven? My heart is turned within me, he says. And this is one of the senses in which he asks this question when he called for Adam.
Oh, God's heart must have been torn to think about here's His perfect man, His perfect woman in a place of perfection. Yet, in the situation of rebellion against Him in the one little thing that He deserved. "Where art thou, my pure Adam? Where art thou? You did walk with Me in the garden and talk, and now you flee from Me and you hide. You were happy once in the garden of delight, but now you're naked and poor and miserable and hiding out from your creator. You were once in My glorious image, blessed above all." And yet the same thing applies today. Sinner today—the sinner today needs to recognize himself as lost. He needs to realize himself without hope because of his own folly. And then he needs to bemoan his own lost condition, or his backslidden condition as God does.
You know, some people seem to take the attitude that God is stony-hearted. You know, a heart of stone. It's not—not much interested in listening to our problems. But that's not so. His heart is a heart of love for His own creation which we are. This is true both of the lost whom He's drawing to Himself, and of the backsliden whom He is drawing to Himself to restore them to their state of service and usefulness and joyous communion with Him.
But God's not stony-hearted at all. The sinner, or the backslider, is the hard-hearted and stubborn one, not God. God longs to clasp us to His breast as we would a long lost child. And He feels this way both about the backslider—backslidden one when he comes back to Him, as well as the lost one when he comes to Him. He is like the prodigal—like the father of the prodigal running out to meet the son when he comes back and clasping him to his bosom.
Over in Luke chapter 15, verse 10 it speaks of this. That is, of the pleasure that God finds when a sinner repents. In Luke 15:10 it says: "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth," Luke 15:10. So that one verse --- there are many others similar to this --- but even that one verse is sufficient to show God's attitude when the sinner comes back to Him, isn't it? And this would apply both to the backslidden and to the unsaved as they come to God.
But don't let Satan deceive you into believing that God is hard, unkind, unwilling to forgive. He's eager and willing to receive all who will come to Him by faith in sincere repentance. In Luke chapter 15 again in verse 20, it says this. This now is a quotation from the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:20, "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Then the son confessed and the father clothed him in the silken robe, or the best robe, and rejoiced with him that he had returned to the father's house. Now this parable, or this story, could be applied equally well I believe to the coming of the unsaved to the Father, or particularly even better perhaps applied to the return of the backslider to the Father. But it's a beautiful picture to use either way.
So God's voice here in this question, where art thou, Adam, is not only an arousing voice to arouse him to his danger and his position in sin; it's not only a convincing voice and a bemoaning voice bewailing his lost condition or his fallen condition, but it's also a seeking voice. A seeking voice. Adam, where art thou? God seeking the lost, or in the case of the backslider, God seeking the backslider.
We might say here that God says, "I'm come to find you wherever you hide. I'll look for you until My eyes of pity see you and I draw you to Myself." Luke chapter 19, verse 10, tells us this, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." That's what He came for, wasn't it? That's what God came in the garden here to Adam for, wasn't it? To seek and to save His creation that had fallen.
We might say that this question—in this question God said this as well. "I will follow until My hand of mercy reaches you. I'll just chase you down, Adam, until My hand of mercy reaches you and I'll bring you back to Myself." Aren't you glad He did that for you? Aren't you glad He did chase you down? Aren't you glad He caught you one night? Aren't you glad He caught you? Aren't you glad He caught up with you? He chased you down and He caught you. I'm so glad that He did me, as well. "I'll bring you back to Myself."
And the same thing is true to perishing sinners today. God says, where art thou? Where art thou? The sinner may answer, "Well, I'm in a position where I cannot help myself." But God answers that question quickly when He says, "I can help," doesn't He? If the sinner says, "Well, I'm in a hopeless situation," but God says, "I'm the God of hope." I'm in the helpless position, but God is the God of all power, He can help when we're in the helpless position, can't He? The sinner might say, "Oh, but I've sinned beyond all hope, no hope at all for me." But God says, "Yes, but I have come to give hope to the hopeless."
In Hebrews chapter 7, verse 25, it says this, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Remember that verse from your lesson the other day, Tom. He's able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. Now what does it mean saving to the uttermost? It means saving all the way beyond any possibility of being lost and regardless of circumstances, doesn't it? Saved to the uttermost.
The sinner needs to come to God today while He still seeks. Because the day may come, in fact the day certainly will come, when God will no longer come to you, sinner, and say, "Where art thou?" The sinner needs to come to God today because God is still seeking him now. He needs to look with tearful eyes to the one who shed His blood for sinners. And we, when we backslide, need to do the same thing. Look on the one who died for our backsliding. He's able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God by Him and by Him we have already said the only way, haven't we? There's no other way to come to God except by Him.
I put a little trick question on my—some of my test questions this time in the school, the closing of this semester. I put a trick question in there which was not really a trick question at all, but yet it could have been a trick question. The question was this: Name and discuss all the ways to God. Pretty good question, really. And yet you can answer it with one little short sentence. There's only one way to God and Jesus is it. There's no other answer, is there? But if you try to answer that in the long round-about way you'd get into deep water pretty fast, wouldn't you?
But those who reject this text that we've had today as an awakening voice, as a voice of conviction, those who despise it as a voice of mercy bemoaning their fallen conditions, or reject it as the voice of goodness seeking them, to them it will come in one other sense, in one other way. And that is, it'll come as the voice of judge—judgment, or the voice of justice summoning them to judgment. It'll certainly come in that way to all those who rejected in these other four senses, in which we've already mentioned it. It'll come in the sense of the voice of justice summoning them. Sinner, come here! And you won't be able to resist then. Sinner, come here, because you'll have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ if you're a backslidden Christian, or if you're a lost person you'll have to stand before the Great White Throne judgment. And there'll be no way to reject either one of those calls, will there? No way at all. Can't be done. But it'll be the voice of justice summoning them to be judged.
Adam had fled. But God must have him come to His bar for judgment. He says, "Where art thou, Adam, I must judge thee." Sin cannot go unpunished. It's impossible for a righteous and holy God to allow sin to go unpunished, isn't it? Absolutely impossible. "Come with your guilty wife Adam. Adam, where art thou? I must hear your pleading, and then I must pronounce sentence upon you." And all men will face God either at the judgment seat of Christ as saved people. Or, at the Great White Throne judgment as unsaved people, in this sense of the voice of justice summoning us for judgment.
So Adam here when God spoke to him and said, "Adam, where art thou," we could say that it was being issued in the sense of come hither to be judged. The sinner today may not hear the call to judgment at this moment where we are now. But we shall hear it soon. We shall hear it soon. Death and judgment are coming and the thing we need to do is to prepare to meet God today. If we're backslidden, then let's get un-backslidden. Let's cast our feet—ourselves at the foot of the cross at the feet of Jesus and say, "Savior, I've failed you. Help me to be a better Christian. Use me to win others. Use me to be a witness for Thee. Use me to go out and compel them to come in that Thy house may be full." Death and judgment are coming and we need to prepare to meet God today.
We may delay today and reject both in the case of the backslider who needs to get right with God, and in the case of the unsaved who needs to be saved. We may reject today and delay, but we won't be able to delay death, judgment when the time comes. No way that we can delay that it's coming. But some day we'll hear the voice of God saying, "Sinner, where art thou? Sinner, where art thou?" All the unsaved will hear that. And then it won't be an awakening voice. It won't be a convicting voice. It won't be a merciful voice or a seeking voice, as the first four ways in which we've looked at this. But it will be the voice of justice summoning the sinners to come before the judgment bar of God for their final judgment.
Then it won't be a sweet voice, the voice of fellowship in the garden. Then it will be an awful voice without mercy saying, "Where art thou, sinner." Let's think of that today, about our friends and our relatives, our loved ones that are lost. Let's think of it in that sense today. It's coming, it's coming.
Then, when this awful voice comes the sinner will be nearing the crossing of Jordan, nearing death, with his spirit awakened but too late, but too late. "Sad, sad that bitter way, almost but lost," as the song says. Then the voice of God will be calling to the Great White Throne judgment. There'll be no hope, only damnation in hell for the lost. And for the backslidden Christian, there'll be no hope. Oh, they'll go to heaven all right. The backslidden Christian, they'll go to heaven. But there'll be no hope in the sense that they will lose their reward because of their backslidden condition. They'll lose their reward.
Sinner, where art thou? Ezekiel 33:11, our last reference speaks again of God's attitude toward the lost, or toward the wicked. Ezekiel 33, verse 11, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" That's the way God feels about it, isn't it? That's the way God has always felt about it, from the time of the garden until now. And He still feels that way about it today.
Let's go out and tell others about it. Let's go out and witness. Let's go out in the power of the Spirit of God, being with our witness so that it becomes effective. Because without that it's just words, and in order for the power of the Spirit of God to be with us in our witness, we've got to be right with God ourselves. We've got to be sold out to Jesus. We've got to be right with our fellow Christians. We've got to be on fire for God in order to make our witness really mean anything to other people. And unless we're that—in that condition then we need to seek to get in that condition, so that our witness will mean something to other people.