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Don Stewart :: How Are We to Understand God Walking in the Garden?

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Don Stewart
After Adam and Eve sinned, God found them hiding from Him as He was walking in the Garden.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8).

The use of the term walk with reference to God brings up the issue of God communicating to humankind in human language. To reveal Himself to humanity, God used human language and human concepts so we can understand something of His character and deeds. Since God is infinite He could never fully explain Himself to finite humanity. Therefore He expresses His character and deeds in human terms so we can have a reference point for our understanding. In the Bible God uses both human-forms and human-feelings to reveal Himself.

Human-Forms

God, by nature, is Spirit and a spirit does not have a bodily form. God has, in certain instances, revealed Himself in bodily form. The episode of God walking in the Garden of Eden is one of these instances. It is possible that God literally walked in the Garden of Eden in the form of a human. The term used to explain this and other episodes is anthropomorphism (huhuman-forms).

God's Feelings

Human emotions are not part of God's character. However, the Bible does refer to God's emotions in human terms such as laughter, disgust, weariness, and jealously. When these instances occur, theologians use the word anthropopathism (human-feelings) to describe it. Though they do not fully express God's feelings, they are helpful to describe His character to us.

Theophanies

The person who was walking in the Garden was the Angel of the Lord or the Pre-Incarnate Christ. Before He came to earth two thousand years ago, Jesus appeared at various times in the Old Testament in a physical form. These include appearances to Abraham, Hagar, Moses, Joshua (Joshua 5:13), Gideon (Judges 5:12), and the wife of Manoah (Judges 13:3).

Cool Of The Day

Genesis 3:8 also says that God walked in the Garden in the cool of the day or the time of the evening. The phrase literally reads the wind of the day.

No Reference To Time

Some do not see this as a reference to time. There is nothing in the context to suggest the time of day. Rather, the phrase suggests God revealing His presence through the wind. The Bible gives other examples of this happening.

Then He said, Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind (1 Kings 19:11).

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said (Job 38:1).

Jesus compared the working of the Holy Spirit to the wind.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

The Hiding Place


Trees play a central role in the account of the Creation and Fall. The trees represent God's provision in chapters one and two, and in chapter three the trees represent the place of the rebellion against God. In Scripture, the tree speaks of the place of death. Moses said to the people:

If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).

Place Of Life

The tree also speaks of the place of life. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree) (Galatians 3:13).

Summary

The description of God walking in the Garden of Eden was a visit of the pre-incarnate Christ or a Theophany. Though God does not have a physical body the Bible describes Him in human forms such as walking and with human emotions such as laughter.

The phrase cool of the day probably does not mean time of day but rather the reference of God revealing Himself to the people.

It should also be noted the Bible places an emphasis upon trees in the first three chapters of Genesis. Trees speak of both life and death.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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