For the exhortation this morning, I’d like to highlight something from Genesis 3 that I didn’t explore last week. The ESV says in 3:8 that the Lord God came walking in the garden “in the cool of the day.” This is often understood to mean that God was in the habit of taking an evening stroll with Adam and Eve. God knows something is wrong, when Adam and Eve don’t show up for their daily constitutional. That’s possible, but I think the phrase points in a different direction. The Hebrew says that they heard “the voice of the Lord God walking to and fro in the garden in the wind of the day.” Or perhaps “the spirit of the day” (the Hebrew word ruach can mean either). The translators take it to mean “wind” and assume this means the cool breeze that blows either in the morning or evening.
But I think this phrase is more likely referring to a theophany, a revelation of God’s glory, the same kind that we see elsewhere in the Bible when the shining glory of God descends into the tabernacle, or Ezekiel sees a vision of the Lord. What Adam and Eve hear is the voice of God thundering back and forth in the garden, the awesome glory cloud of the living God coming to meet them. No wonder they were frightened. They were about to stand in God’s presence, and because of their sin, they hid and refused to stand before their God. They knew that their sin demanded judgment, and so they avoided the presence of God.
And they were right. God did judge them for their sin. There were horrific consequences for their sin. But, as we saw last week, God mingled judgment with mercy. He established the war, he promised the ultimate victory, and he covered their shame with bloody skins.
We are in the same boat as Adam and Eve. We have sinned. We have rejected God. We have tried to live to ourselves. We have seized goods that aren’t rightfully ours. And now God has come, here on the Lord’s day, to meet with us. We may not see him like Ezekiel did. But the voice of God is still thundering from his word. And God’s Spirit is present here with us this morning. This means that you have two choices. You will either hide from God or you will step into his presence. You will stay in the darkness, or you will come out into the light. You will lie to yourself and others, you will try to cover your shame and nakedness on your own, you will promise to clean yourself up, or you will do the hard, impossible, painful thing, and be honest with yourself and face the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. You will let him do the cleaning and the covering. And that’s what he offers you this morning. The judgment may be hard. The consequences may be real. But the only way to find life is to pass through death. The only way to find mercy is to stand before his judgment seat. The only way to be healed is to face the voice of God and the Spirit of the Day.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so as let’s seek God’s presence together now.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, we have sinned against you. We have loved the darkness rather than the light. We have taken what is not ours. We have placed ourselves and our desires at the center of reality. We have gone our own way. We have listened to lies, and we have sinned with a high hand. And we are ashamed. We hide from you. We attempt to clean ourselves up. We try to make our own clothing and covering, and we try to pretend that it is glorious. This is a great evil.
What’s more, as your people, we too try to hide our sin. We may not live in the darkness, but we take vacations there. We try to have a second home in the darkness, away from your presence, where we can do as we please and not as you please. And we too hide. Forgive us, O God, for the masks we wear. Give us a deeper repentance. In these moments, help us to come clean before you, and coming out of this service, help us to confess our sins to each other so that we might be truly healed. Forbid, O God, that we would languish in our sin alone. Help us to face the Spirit of the Day. Be the God of mercy and life, and heal us we pray.
We know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now.
Assurance of Pardon
All of us are naked and exposed before God. None of us can hide. Confessing our sins is the place where we acknowledge and embrace that truth. It’s the first step out of the fantasy world and into the real one. Welcome back to reality. You have confessed your sins. You have acknowledged your iniquity. Therefore by the authority of Jesus Christ and as a minister of his gospel, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.