The third question God asks mankind after he creates them is this: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11b).
Once again God asks a question. And it wasn’t because He needed to know what kind of trouble Adam and Eve have found. He already knows! Do you think by this third question, Adam and Eve are catching on to God’s character? Hopefully they’ve noticed that He’s not out to accuse them, but rather to invite them into relationship with Him.
If God wanted to accuse Adam and Eve of their sin, these are what his questions may have sounded like:
Instead of “Where are you?” (His first question) He could have said, “I know where you are. You are hiding because you disobeyed Me. You should be ashamed. I’m coming to get you.”
Instead of “Who told you that you were naked?” (His second question) He could have said, “I should have known you would disobey. You’re covered in shame. You stink.”
And, instead of his third question, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” He could have said, “Why did you disobey me? Now all of humanity is cursed. That was a stupid thing to do.”
But thankfully God did not cut us off with thoughtless criticism. Our God is gentle. Though He had the right to accuse, He questioned instead. Questions allowed Adam and Eve to discover truth for themselves, rather than being told. A question gives us time to slow down, to think, rather than to react with anger. A question gives us the freedom to choose our response, as opposed to an accusation, which puts us on the defensive immediately and closes the door to dialogue.
Sweet Friendship. God wants to have a relationship with us.
A question allows us to tell our side of the story and to maintain our dignity.
God had the right to destroy Adam and Eve in that moment. Think of the sharp disappointment He must have felt – that the crowning glory of all creation – man and woman—had spoiled it all. And yet, He holds back. He checks His anger; He walks, not runs; and He questions, not accuses.
There were times He punished sin. He is God. He is just. Sin must be punished. But, when the time was right, He gave us Jesus and punished Him for our sin.
He is a God of love, redemption, and forgiveness. In the end, it’s His love that won out, and continues to win when we accept His grace.
What about us? Is God asking you a quiet question today? See it as an opportunity to confess, and to come back into the warmth of his smile. He’s already forgiven you.
Forgiveness. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us…” (Ephesians 1:7,8a).