Shame and guilt lead to fear of God! We escape him by hiding just like Adam and Eve did. Genesis 3:8 continues the story, “…and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Today we hide in our intellectual atheism or philosophical agnosticism. Evolutionary science and other human disciplines often deny the existence of a great designer of any kind and think we made ourselves as we are! The result of all this is that man tries to make himself the center of all things. In other words, he makes himself to be God. I’m convinced that with all the fancy intellectual footwork going on in the world to dance around the reality of God it really comes down to the fact that we cannot hide from the shame of our own sinfulness. We cover it up with the fig leaves of science or philosophy. Paul is right when he says in Romans 1:18-29 that the existence of God and his magnificent glory is obvious to everyone. He says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Just like Adam and Eve, instead of becoming like God, we run and hide from Him.

The fig leaves that Adam and Eve wore weren’t enough to hide them. They knew it and slithered deeper into the woods to hide “among the trees” of the garden. Hughes says, “What a pathetic delusion for anyone, then or today, to imagine that it is possible to hide from God.”[1] The Psalmist understood the futility in such an effort and wrote in Psalm 139:7-12, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,  even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

It’s no coincidence that Adam and Eve hide among the trees. Sailhamer observes, “Throughout this chapter (Genesis 3) and the previous one, the trees play a central role in depicting man’s changing relationship with God. First, in chapters 1 and 2 the fruit trees are the sign of God’s bountiful provision. Then, at the beginning of the third chapter, the trees become the ground for inciting the man and the woman to rebellion and the place where the rebellious man and woman seek to hide from God. Finally, when the man and the woman are cast out of the garden, their way is barred from ‘the way to the tree of life.’”[2] But there is going to be another tree that  figures in the story of the redemption of mankind. Paul tells us about it in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”

[1] Hughes, R. Kent. 2004. Genesis: Beginning and Blessing. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Sailhamer, John H. 1990. “Genesis.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 2:53. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.