In our series exploring the big questions of life, we moved on to look at some of the questions God asks. We certainly don’t have a prerogative on questions, and it’s important to think about what He asks us and why.
The first questions asked by God are found in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve’s first sin:
“Where are you?” (Gen 3:9)
“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Gen 3:11)
“What is this you have done?” (Gen 3:13)
God does not ask questions simply to get answers (He knows everything, after all!) but to engage us in conversation, to re-open dialogue with Adam after Adam’s disobedience led to sin, shame and a desire to hide. Sin led to the fracturing of Adam’s relationship with God, symbolised by his hiding from God. By asking where he was, God is drawing him back into communication, showing that He is prepared to work through the problems caused by sin in order to mend the relationship. We need to be prepared, as God was, to re-engage with people when our relationships break down and to work through the problems.
Adam’s answer (“I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Gen 3:10)) indicates a loss of innocence and the beginnings of fear, guilt and shame. God asks who has told him that he was naked (after all, this was not a problem until now!) It matters very much who we listen to. It’s very easy for us to be influenced by other people and we need to be careful to assess what we hear and accept into our lives. Just because we may hear something over and over again from a wide variety of sources doesn’t necessarily make it true. Just because someone plausible may tell us things or suggest courses of action doesn’t necessarily mean we should accept those things. Acts 17:11 tells us, ‘the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’ Truth has to be weighed by Scripture; we can’t afford to let the Government, media, social media, ‘influencers’, family or friends dictate to us what we believe, but must be led by God and the truths of His word.
God then asks a direct question, confronting Adam’s sin and disobedience directly. He reminds Adam of His direct commandment (Gen 2:16-17). Adam does not like being confronted in this way and tries to shift the blame onto Eve (and perhaps even onto God, since God was the one who gave Eve to him!) Our tendency is always to shift the blame for our sin onto someone else, to refuse to accept responsibility for our own actions and to complain. The only way we can ever know freedom from sin is when we own up to it and accept our responsibility for it. The Bible talks about the blessings that come from confession of sin, because it’s then that forgiveness and restoration can be received. (Ps 32) We tend to think God confronts us over sin to make us feel guilty, but the truth is that it’s only as we confess and repent that we can be restored.
God’s question to Eve again forces her to own up to her sin and to accept responsibility for it. She too shifts the blame onto the serpent rather than accepting her responsibility for her actions. We need to stop making excuses for our sin and move forward into the cleansing and forgiveness offered us by God (2 Cor 5:21, 1 John 1:9-10).
God’s questions are designed to search our hearts and turn us back to Him in repentance, in honesty, in sincerity and in responsibility. May we allow the spotlight of His Holy Spirit to shine in our hearts now so that we may return to Him and allow Him to restore us, now and always.