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« “Who Art Thou, Lord?” | Main | Alternate Endings »

Where Art Thou?

christ.jpg And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Genesis 3:9

It was not a good day in paradise. Slithering snakes, half-eaten apples and disobedient inhabitants reached their profane hands into perfection and turned it inside out and upside down. The rebellion that occurred in heaven among the angels had invaded God’s creation, poisoning the pristine garden and corrupting the man that God had formed from the dust of the earth and the woman that He had created from Adam’s side.

As nearly as I can describe the situation would be the deranged geologist, Laslo Toth, who, on May 21, 1972 , walked into the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, with a sledgehammer in his hand and rocked Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, The Pieta, that was on display, while shouting “I am Jesus Christ.” In one fell swoop, he damaged a priceless marble sculpture that was nearly four hundred years old.

It wasn’t with a sledgehammer, but Satan stole into the Garden of Eden with lies, deception and doubt, and caused our first human parents to fall. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

Through this offence, many are dead.
By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.
By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.
Sin has reigned unto death.
The cost to this earth, to mankind, to God’s creation was incalculable.

Those of you who like to read know that the setting of any story determines the mood and atmosphere of the characters. Most of us believe that Adam and Eve were in trouble with God because of their disobedience. Therefore, we picture an enraged God, furious with the fickle human beings he had just created, stomping through Paradise looking for the culprits. We see beads of sweat formed on his furrowed brow, and the man and his wife as quaking with fear, hiding behind a bush somewhere.

I remember wrecking my Dad’s car driving to a school debate practice. When I drove on to the church where he was, I was in tears as I handed the keys to him, fully expecting the wrath of God and my father to come crashing down on me. His reaction was totally different that I anticipated.

You can have this impression if you want to.

Some of you see God as so disgusted with you, so insulted by you on a daily basis that you can hardly come into the sanctuary. You can’t clap your hands, you can’t raise your hands, you can’t sing the praises of God, and you surely can’t pray. Why? Because you see God through the eyes of Adam and Eve, ready to dispense judgment on you as soon as he can find you.

Sister Vesta Mangun spoke on Wednesday morning at “Because of the Times” conference. She spoke about the intense love that God has for lost souls. She briefly came across this incident in the Garden, but she put it in a totally different light than the way I have just described it. God did not say “Where art thou?” in a harsh, demanding, accusatory tone. She said that it was a sob, an anguished cry, a loving and concerned expression that escaped the lips of God that day. “Where art thou?”

You see, knowing the attitude of God makes all the difference in the world in the way you feel about the story.

News stories break all the time about lost people. There was the man and his children lost on a mountainside before Christmas; there was the little boy lost on a camping trip; there was most recently the story of a twenty year old woman who was lost, then later found murdered. Do you think the searchers went out to look for the lost with a feeling of anger and disgust? No. They had anguish in their hearts, hoping to find the slightest evidence that their love ones were still alive.

And so, whoever you are, wherever you are, you need to know that God has been asking about you. You need to know that he has a sob in his voice as he asks, “Where art thou?” He doesn’t have a whip, or a hammer or an instrument of judgment in his hands. He has a cross and some nails that he will use on himself for your salvation.

Romans 5:15-19 “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

So, the question is, “Where Art Thou?”

Adam was in the woods of guilt.

Genesis 3:8-10 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

It is time for you to realize that you have been released from sin and guilt by the blood of Christ.

1 John 1:7-9 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Did you hear that? We have fellowship one with another. But we also have a restored fellowship with God. 1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. That which was lost in Adam was restored in Jesus Christ.

Adam, where art thou?

Elijah was in the cave of despair.

1 Kings 19:9-10 “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Do these statements sound familiar?: “Life’s not fair. God’s not fair. I never get any of the blessings. I’ve tried and tried to live for God, to work for God, to point others to God and nothing ever comes back my way. I am afraid for my life.”

God isn’t trying to bring judgment down on you. He knows how you feel. He is our high priest, touched by the feelings of our own infirmities. He knows about your bouts with depression. He knows your moodswings. He knows that sometimes you can be temperamental and cranky. After all, God puts up with you every day!

Do you know what God’s answer was to Elijah? 1 Kings 19:15 “And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus : and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria .” You may not get an answer to you dilemma today. You may not get any insight into your problem at all. Sometimes you just have to get up and move on, without closure or resolution. Just get up and go. The answer will not come to you while you are languishing in your cave of despair. The answer will be in getting up and getting back to work.

God still had some anointing for Elijah to do. He didn’t fix his problems and then use him. He just used him and he overrode his problems.

Elijah, where art thou?

Jonah was running to Tarshish.

Jonah 1:1-4 “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.”

Every day, people who are under the call of God are trying to find passage to Tarshish. They think they will escape the call, or they try to disqualify themselves from the call. What if they would do something that angers God? Then, maybe, God would go off and forget about them.

“Maybe if I drink a little, God will let me alone. Maybe if I smoke a little, God will stop bothering me. Maybe if I go out a live a wild life, I can get God off my back. Maybe if I get involved in a relationship, or give myself to a job or career, or obligate myself somehow that I can mute the incessant voice of God that keeps echoing in my head.

Go ahead and pay your fare and board the ship.
You cannot escape the presence of God.
Tarshish will not hide you from God.
He will meet you in a storm. He will call you up from the hold of the ship. He will prepare a circumstance to swallow you up in the bottom of the sea. He wants you for his own cause and his own purposes.

That’s why he put you in this church. That’s why he gave you the parents he did. That’s why he placed his Spirit within you. That’s why you know the truth of the oneness of God, of baptism in Jesus’ name and the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues. That’s why you know about holiness, and worship, and the anointing of God on ministry.

Jonah, where art thou?

Simon Peter warmed himself by a distant fire.

He had so disappointed his Master that he had no confidence at all in himself or in his relationship with Jesus.

Luke 22:54-62 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

The bitter tears that Peter wept were not from the harsh words of Jesus, but from his own troubled soul. He knew he had made a terrible mistake. What he wasn’t sure about was whether or not the mistake was fatal. Finally, Simon Peter came to his senses and found his way back into the arms of Christ. He discovered that the persistent questioning of God, the inner voice that would not keep silent, was not a voice of condemnation but of reconciliation.

Peter, where art thou?

And, so, what is your answer tonight? Where are you?

I am…
In fear.
In rebellion.
In full flight from God.
In chaos.
In trouble.
In denial.
In pain.
In loneliness.
In an entanglement with the world.
In alcohol and drugs.
In anger.
In bitterness.
Away from the peace and assurance of God.

I am in wilderness of guilt, I am in the cave of despair, I am in a ship to Tarshish, I am trying to get warm by a distant fire.

Wherever you are, the voice of God calls after you. It is a pleading voice, reasoning with you to restore you to a right relationship with God.

Finally, let’s answer the question with a question. If God asks “Where art thou,” let’s ask him “Why? Why do you want to know where I am?”
God wants to know where you are so he can come to you. He has come to seek and save that which is lost.  When he finds you, he wants to take you where he is. “If I come, I will receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.”

Tell him where you are.
You’ll be glad you did.

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