2nd Sunday after Pentecost – B (Proper 5) LSB #’s 908, 589, 655
Text – Genesis 3:8
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, & the man & his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
HEARING THE SOUND OF GOD
Because cats prefer to hunt just after sunset, it’s not uncommon to be out walking our cat in the dark. One of the things that’s very interesting, to me anyway, is the tremendous level of alertness he displays. In fact, his persona inside the house is almost like death compared to his persona outside in the dark.
His ears are on super high alert, as every sound I can hear & many, many more that I cannot, attract his attention. If he turns his head & locks in, I know from experience there is certain to be something there. One night, in those circumstances, I turned on the flashlight only to find a skunk about 20 feet in front of us.
Cats have hearing that is 3 to 5 times more sensitive than human beings have. It also ranges too much higher frequencies & is more sensitive even than the hearing of a dog. With such poor hearing, relatively speaking, it should be no surprise that human beings have trouble hearing the sound of God. Jesus Himself confirms this in Matthew 13:
“This is not why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, & hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (13:13 ESV) Jesus is making the point that even more detrimental to us than our poor hearing is the fact that you & I are extremely adept at actively tuning out the sound of God.
In just the 3rd chapter of the Bible Adam & Eve had already tuned out this helpful advice from the 2nd chapter: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” You know what happened from there, & another familiar event begins with the closing words of helpful advice in Exodus 31:
And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel & say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me & you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the 7th day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me & the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven & earth, & on the 7th day He rested & was refreshed.’” And He gave to Moses, when He had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (31:12-18 ESV)
Again, if people disobey the advice of God, He warns that death will come. And what do the people do? Chapter 32 begins with their classic response:
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron & said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, & your daughters, & bring them to me.” And he received the gold from their hand & fashioned it with a graving tool & made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (32:1-2, 4 ESV)
Talk about actively tuning out God, the people He rescued from Egypt were masters at it. So, how would you rate your ability to ignore the reality of God? If you heard the sound of God, would you be afraid & try to hide? Sadly, we know that we do.
Every time we struggle in coming to grips with a particular sin, & the guilt we feel because of it, we experience, to a degree, what Adam & Eve felt. There’s was far worse because they went from being perfect & holy to completely depraved & sinful in one fell swoop.
All that you & I have ever known is the brokenness of sin, & the road back to holiness is a long & treacherous one. Jesus described it this way, “For the gate is wide & the way is easy that leads to destruction, & those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow & the way is hard that leads to life, & those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV) Satan is hounding us every step of that way, always trying to lead us astray, chanting his mantra, “Did God really say? Did God really say?”
Have you been listening for the sound of God? Do you know what He sounds like? When you hear Him, what emotions does it bring to the fore?
Personally, when I hear the Word of God it often shakes me to the core! There are plenty of times that I sense the power & the majesty of the Almighty Creator when I read the Bible lessons or stand here in the pulpit. It can be very unnerving.
The men who serve as elders here have all commented that the 1st several times they helped serve communion was an unnerving experience that they did not expect. One of my former pastors made ‘hearing the sound of God’ a frequent experience for me when he was preaching. I’ve also experienced that ‘hearing’ while singing in a church choir.
Since God created everything there is, it’s not unreasonable to think that we should hear the sound of God from His creation. Maybe the stars sing to you on a cold, clear winter night. Maybe you hear the sound of God in the cry of an eagle in flight. Psalm 29 tells us:
“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders,… The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;… The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth & strips the forests bare, & in His temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” (29:3-9 ESV)
And there are always the classic words to the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:
“And he said, Go forth, & stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, & a great & strong wind rent the mountains, & brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: & after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: & after the fire a still small voice.” (19:11-12 KJV)
Once they heard the sound of God, Adam & Eve attempted to hide themselves from
Him. In the next verse, God asks, “Where are you?” Given that God surely knew where they were, this question has richer intent. Certainly, God was reinforcing the reality of how His children had distanced themselves from God by trying to hide. However, behind that word of rebuke it seems that God’s question implies an invitation that His children come back to Him.
What makes this astounding is that this is the 1st word spoken by God after He speaks all creation into existence. This new word, this rebuke & yet invitation, sets the theme for all the rest of Scripture – a recital of God’s desire to bring his children home.
And if they do not come home, God will find ways to come into their world to bring them home. He will send patriarchs & matriarchs, prophets, judges, elders & in the fullness of time, His Son. God’s “Where are you?” marks the 1st step toward the supreme gift of God’s love for the world, the gift of Him who came “to seek & to save that which is lost.”
When Adam & Eve broke God’s creation, the obvious question confronting them was this, “How is God going to deal with this Genesis 3 world – that is the now fallen & sinful world?” You & I have the same question when we surrender to the devil’s temptations or to our sinful desires. God’s answer is always to seek us out in order to save us.
Sending His Son is the supreme revelation of God’s answer to the problem of a broken world. Sending His Son is the supreme revelation of God’s love for us. Sending His Son is the supreme revelation that we need never be afraid even when we have sinned.
It is that love which changes our hearts & minds so that once again we will hear the sound of God & not be afraid. Amen.
Speak, O Lord, Your servant listens, let Your Word to me come near; newborn life & spirit give me, let each promise still my fear. Death’s dread power, its inward strife, wars against Your Word of life; fill me, Lord, with love’s strong fervor that I cling to You forever! As I pray, dear Jesus, hear me; let Your words in me take root. May Your Spirit e’er be near me that I bear abundant fruit. May I daily sing Your praise, from heart glad anthems raise, till my highest praise is given in the endless joy of heaven. Amen. LSB 589:1, 4.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet