Fall in California is one of the best times to be a surfer. The coastline enjoys swells from both the northern and southern hemispheres and the wind has a tendency to shift offshore more than normal. I remember a few years ago on one particular day all these factors came together as they often do in fall and I decided to head to one of my favorite waves. The spot has a fairly grumpy crew of local surfers that are quite competitive when the wave turns on, so I always try to be extra polite when I surf there. The wave really only has one take off spot when it gets good, which makes proper line-up rotation vital in maintaining order.
I paddled out with the intention of waiting my turn at the back of the line for a wave. But right as I got to the line-up a set approached. As the surfers scrambled around to get in position, I suddenly found myself sitting the deepest. I didn’t intend on catching the wave, but I heard one of the older locals yell, “GO!” and acting purely on instinct I turned and went. As I made my way off the bottom I could hear a surfer on the shoulder yell an obscenity at me. When I kicked out on the inside I could still hear this surfer yelling obscenities at me from all the way outside. I realized I had a couple choices. I could paddle in and call it a one wave session. Or I could paddle back out and take the verbal lashing this guy wanted to give me. Even though technically I was in priority position for the wave, I knew I had essentially cut to the front of the line and taken the angry surfers wave. I knew I had made a mistake.
So I paddled back out and took some heated words from the upset local. I apologized to him and told him what happened, while also explaining to him I knew I was in the wrong. Thankfully this settled the matter and the man was quite cordial after that.
The reality is that all of us have at some point in life made mistakes. We have all “snaked” someone, if you will. Whether our intentions have always been good or not, the Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short. So we are left with this issue of sin and what to do about it. It’s not a new dilemma; it’s been an issue since Adam and Eve.
Most of us know the story of Adam and Eve. They ate the fruit they were instructed not to and one of the results of this was that they realized they were naked, which made them ashamed to be seen by God. When they heard God walking through the Garden of Eden they hid from Him. It says in Genesis 3:8-9, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?””
Imagine this scene from God’s perspective. He is walking through His creation; a creation unmarred by the affects of sin at this point. It was creation at it’s most glorious, a world of incomparable beauty. But He is not concerned with any of it. His only concern is that He can’t find those for whom He made such a magnificent creation. And when He doesn’t find them He calls for them. His primary concern is that He gets to go for a walk in the cool of the day with the ones He loves. Imagine the one who created all of this, the one who walks in the recesses of the deep, the one who set the boundaries for the oceans, the one who set the stars in motion, the one who determined habitats and seasons, the one who made the mysteries of deep space and the one who holds all of it together with His word. All of it seems almost irrelevant to Him when He can’t find the ones He loves.
The story goes on to tell of the results of Adam and Eve’s sin and what it means for them, the world, and the fate of all creation. When Adam and Eve realized they were naked they became ashamed and tried to cover their shame themselves with leaves. Then in 3:21 we get a picture of God’s heart for us. It says, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” This might not seem like much, but it speaks volumes of God’s love for us and His plan of redemption. At this point in time the Old Testament Law with it’s sacrifices for sin had not been given yet, so animal sacrifice had not been instituted yet either. So where did God get the material to make “garments of skin” for them? Even in this act of clothing Adam and Eve He is declaring to us that He is the one who covers our shame and provides the means by which we are forgiven. God had to perform the first sacrifice in order to get the skin that He used to make the clothing. The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, The Sacrifice, performed the first sacrifice in order to cover our shame. He did this because He so deeply desires our presence. Imagine the eternal God, creator of everything, desiring our presence to such an extent that He goes to unimaginable lengths to secure it. His greatest pleasure was to walk through the garden in the cool of the day with the ones He loves. And He stops at nothing to provide a way for that to be possible.
Imagine how sweet those days before “the fall” must have been to God. All those times of walking in the cool of the day with those He loved, knowing full well that at some point things would change and He would have to start a heart-wrenching process of redemption. In providing the clothing for Adam and Eve He declared that only He could provide the sacrifice that was sufficient to take away our shame. He was prophetically declaring how He would ultimately sacrifice Himself so that we could live. He willingly chose death in order to give us life.
Jesus is referred to as the First and the Last; it is much more than a reference to His eternal existence. He performed the first sacrifice knowing full well that He Himself would be the last sacrifice. He initiated our redemption and He finished it.
God knew where Adam and Eve were when He called, “Where are you?” in the garden. But He gives us the choice on how we want to respond to His calling.