The image of God’s presence in the garden in the cool of the day (vs. 8) is a powerful one. God is described as “walking” which is a vivid way of describing his presence. The same word translated “walking” is used later of God’s presence with his people. And, of course, the Christian life is often referred to as “walking” with God. The image of God “walking” suggests the happy fellowship the man and woman had with God in the garden prior to the fall. But because of their sin, the man and woman sacrificed that fellowship.
Their sad attempt to hide from God was an admission of guilt. They hid precisely because for the first time they felt shame and fear. They were guilty and knew it. The trusting innocence and happiness of their former communion with God had now been replaced by the fear of God’s displeasure, an instinct that now lives in every single human heart. This then was the first consequence of sin: alienation from God.
God asked Adam where he was not because he did not know. God asked about Adam’s whereabouts to shed light on the fact that for the first time in his life Adam was hiding. Prior to sin there had never been the need to hide. There had never been the need to be covered. God’s inquiry to the man and woman reflected his order of creation. He asked the man first and then the woman because the order of responsibility is established in the order of creation. When God asked the man and then the woman what had happened (vs. 9) they each state facts but in such a way as to shift blame. Each in turn blamed someone else and ultimately God for the disaster that had befallen them (vs. 13).
But where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. God does not storm into the garden in wrath though it was his right to do so. He responded to the rebellion decisively but with a great measure of gentleness. He asked questions to draw them out rather than driving them into his terrifying presence. What is more, as we will see, God provided them with the cover that they needed; the cover which their fig leaves righteousness could not afford. And to this day God covers sinners by grace. He turned his own Son over to executioners that he might provide the covering of righteousness for guilty sinners.