“Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 3:9, NKJV)
There are a lot of questions in Genesis 3 and 4. One from Satan. The rest from God.
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (3:1)
“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (3:11)
“Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (4:6-7)
“Where is Abel your brother?” (4:9)
I’d like us to focus on one question in particular. It’s the first one recorded from the mouth of God and is addressed to Adam after his disobedience. “Where are you?” (3:9)
How are we to understand what God is asking? Tone would help us. For example, if we were late for a family event and our spouse were to call and say, “Where are you?,” we could tell from their tone whether they were worried or wondering or accusatory.
While the grammar of the original language can sometimes help with understanding emphasis, it doesn’t in God’s question to Adam, except that “you” is singular rather than plural.
So how can we determine what God is asking when He says “Where are you”?
We can rule out that God doesn’t know where Adam is. God is omniscient. Psalm 139 regales us with the glory of God whose knowledge is not limited by time or space. God does not discover. He does not grow in knowledge. Nothing is hidden from His sight, even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
Perhaps God has donned His judicial robes and is interrogating Adam. We do find questions that lend credence to this thought in God’s addressing Eve in 3:13 and Cain in 4:10, asking a variation of “What have you done?”
But there is another possibility, one where the questions are not to gain information but to gain attention; not to accuse but to alert.
It is noteworthy that God begins questioning after the fall. In Genesis 3 and 4 questions prompt Adam and Cain to take stock of their situation and to take responsibility. The questions represent God’s interest and intervention. They lift eyes and ears to the God who cares and calls to be circumspect in the face of danger.
God asks that same sorts of questions of us in our waywardness. In our folly we find ourselves in the morass of sin or the wilderness of wandering or the slough of despond. The pursuing God comes to us and asks: “Where are you?” Like the prodigal son, we are brought to our senses to realize that we are in the slop among the pigs.
It is with another question that God calls us home.
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you— the sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:1–3)
By His goodness and grace, God pursues us as the hound of heaven. He points us to His Beloved Son – the living water, the bread of life. To partake of Him by faith, not just at conversion but also at crossroads throughout our journey, is to know life abundant, eternal, and free.
- What question might the pursuing God be asking you in directing your steps?
- How have I not listened to God and because of that am seeking satisfaction apart from His provision in Jesus Christ?
Father, I am so gullible, such easy prey for the lies of the devil who would lure me from You and set me against You. I thank You for Your relentless love. I am weak. You are mighty. Hold me with Your powerful hand. Amen.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.