Did Adam and Eve Walk with God in the Garden?

The only possible biblical reference to walking in the Garden of Eden is found after Adam and Eve sinned.

The only possible biblical reference to walking in the Garden of Eden is found after Adam and Eve sinned.

Why would anyone ask such a silly question? Of course, Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden, it’s written right there in Genesis…um…ah…is it 3? I know it’s there somewhere, isn’t it?

Based on the sheer number of people who have claimed this, it must be found somewhere in the Bible, right? I’ve heard pastors, speakers, authors, and many other Christians confidently state that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden.

The problem with this claim is that you’ll never find a Bible verse that teaches it. You read that correctly, the Bible never states that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden. You may be reaching for your Bible right now to prove me wrong. Please do look it up, and if you find it, let me know, so I can apologize and correct this post.

Where Does This Idea Come From?

Since the Bible doesn’t make this claim, it’s impossible to know for sure where people get the idea from. In all likelihood, it comes from a misunderstanding of or making an inference from Genesis 3:8: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” (NKJV).

It seems likely that many people have just remembered some of the wording in this verse and assumed that it says Adam and Eve walked with God. But that’s not at all what is going on here. This verse appears immediately after our first parents rebelled against the Creator. They are not taking a leisurely stroll with God, they are hiding from Him as He comes to announce His judgment. Here is the verse in its entirety.

And they heard the sound 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 among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

Even if this translation is accurate, which is debatable, it does not say that they walked with God.

Some people have inferred from this statement that they must have known what it sounded like to hear God walk in the Garden so they must have walked with Him before. But what did they actually hear that made them afraid? Adam said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10, ESV). Adam was ashamed to stand before God as he was now a sinner who was about to face his righteous God.

So what did they hear in the Garden? Was it God walking or was it something different? The ESV accurately captures Adam’s response in verse 10. It was the “sound of God” that Adam heard. The phrase translated as “the cool of the day” is better understood as a strong wind, and if this is how the phrase should be translated, then God was not simply walking through the Garden. Instead, He manifested as a violent wind, perhaps not too different than how He spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1). Psalm 29 also uses strong imagery to show how the sound of the Lord acts upon nature like a powerful storm, breaking and bending trees and stripping off their leaves (Psalm 29:5–9, NET). Remember that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost with a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2).

So if the strong wind idea is actually being conveyed by the Hebrew, then there is no textual basis for claiming that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the day.

Theological Rationale

Another potential source for this idea is found in the statements made about those who did walk with God. For example, “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24) and “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).  But even these passages do not necessarily imply that Enoch and Noah physically took walks with God. Yes, they could have done this if God made a physical appearance (called a theophany), as He did in other places (e.g., Genesis 12:7; 18:1). However, the “walk” in these passages should probably be understood in a figurative sense. That is, Enoch and Noah lived faithful lives.

In a similar way, we are told in the New Testament to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). This walking refers to living a life that pleases God. If used in this sense, Adam and Eve did “walk” with God prior to sin because there was no fracture in their relationship with God. Perhaps some people may have this figurative sense in mind when they speak of our first parents walking with God. However, most people inevitably mention them walking in the cool of the day, so they aren’t thinking of it in the figurative sense.

Finally, there are many who use the idea of Adam and Eve actually walking with God to stress the theological point of man’s closeness to God prior to sin in order to contrast that with man’s lost condition after sin. But there is no need to make the text say something it doesn’t. From this view, Adam and Eve were with God in the Garden for a while and they had the privilege of regularly hanging out with Him.

The problem with this scenario is that Adam and Eve were almost certainly not in the Garden very long. God had told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). They were created with perfect bodies and were husband and wife on the day they were created. So it would not have taken long for Eve to conceive, yet Cain was not conceived until they were banished from the Garden.

Conclusion

Could Adam and Eve have actually taken walks with God in the Garden? Of course, since God is capable of making physical appearances, but we need to be careful not to assert that the Bible teaches this. We also should not assume that God was at their beck and call so that He would come around for a stroll whenever they wanted Him there. Maybe He was physically there throughout the short time that they were in the Garden, but I have my doubts.

Responding to Victoria Osteen’s Defenders—Part Two

A host of biblical passages are being misused by those who are supporting Victoria Osteen's recent comments.

A host of biblical passages are being misused by those who are supporting Victoria Osteen’s recent comments.

I hope this will be my last post on the Victoria Osteen controversy. My initial post garnered more comments than any of my other posts in five plus years of blogging. Many people supported what I had written. Many people disagreed with what I wrote and left comments expressing their disagreements. And there were a handful of comments that I rejected because they were either too nasty to publish, too far off topic, or just the same people repeating the same charges after they had been addressed time and time again.

Since there were many comments from those who disagreed, I decided to respond to some of the main arguments being made. The first half of this response was posted a few days ago and focused on two claims: 1) “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged” and 2) God Promises Believers Health and Wealth.

In this final post, I want to address three more common arguments being made in favor of what Mrs. Osteen said or that were made simply to criticize me. Again, this post will not be an attack on Victoria Osteen or anyone else. It will simply address the arguments being made.

Error #3: Everyone Else Has Problems Too

One of the “defenses” used by supporters of Mrs. Osteen is to go on the offensive. I’ve been told in the past few days that I’m being used by the devil to attack a godly person. Again, I never attacked Mrs. Osteen. I merely critiqued her message.

I’ve also been told that I’m defending the devil because I focus on the negative passages that talk about persecution. It’s not that I focus on them, but I’m not going to pretend that they don’t exist! I’m also not going to pretend that countless faithful followers of Jesus Christ have not suffered tremendous persecution and endured lives of poverty.

Some people have said that we all do things for ulterior motives instead of out of a desire to serve God. While I can’t speak for everyone else, I can’t say that my motives are always pure, although I wish they were and I strive for that. But this objection misses the point. Yes, we all sin and fall short. I readily acknowledge that in my own life. But this does not change the fact that it is absolutely unbiblical to teach people that when they do good things, when they go to church, and when they worship God that they should do it for themselves, and not for God.

I’ve also been told that I attacked her just to make her look bad, or for my own publicity. In response to the first claim, I would say that her own words made her look bad. All I did was point out how they contradict Scripture, and then I asked people to pray for her and her husband.

As to the charge that I only wrote the post for my own publicity, I guess you’d have to take my word for it that this certainly isn’t the case. If that were my motivation, I surely would have written against the Osteens and other popular teachers on a regular basis in the past. Anyone can go back through the five years that my blog has been up to see what kind of topics I write about. They can read my responses to comments and the way that I write my posts, and they can decide for themselves what they think my motives are. I pray that my goal will be to glorify God in all I do, so please pray for me to that end.

#4: She Didn’t Really Mean What You Have Said

This has been a common defense of Mrs. Osteen’s words. I’ve been accused of yanking her words out of context to make them seem bad. The first paragraph of the initial post addressed that very claim. I admitted that we don’t have the full context in the video, and several times in the comments I’ve invited people to send me a link to a video that would show the whole context. So far, no one has done that.

I do find it highly unlikely that the context would change the meaning of her words at all. She took the time to make her statement, and then she expanded on it and reiterated the idea that you do those things for yourself instead of doing them for God.

Did she misspeak? Perhaps, but if she didn’t mean to say what she did, then why did she take the time to clarify and repeat the same message? I have misspoken in front of audiences before. Oftentimes, I’m able to catch it as soon as the words leave my mouth, but there are times that I’m unaware of what I actually said until someone (usually my wife) lets me know about it after I finish speaking. But I find it hard to believe that I would spend over 30 seconds clarifying my point if I didn’t really mean to make that point to begin with.

Also, if she misspoke, did she ever offer a correction during the next service or on any social media outlets? No, instead of offering a correction, she said that she stands by her remarks. “While I admit that I could have been more articulate in my remarks, I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it.” The problem with this comment is that the “point” she claimed to be making was not at all what she initially said. In the original clip, she clearly stated, and then restated, that the motive for doing the things she mentioned was to do them for self, and not for God. Her more recent statement speaks instead of one of the outcomes of worshiping God.

I’ve been accused of twisting her words, but no one has really been able to tell me how I’ve twisted them, because what she said is pretty straightforward.

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Notice that she was specifically talking about our motive for worshiping God, going to church, or doing good. She said to do those things for yourself. She didn’t say that we should do them for God, and then as a byproduct of doing that we’ll benefit in some way. What she told people to do was focused on self, which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us to do everything for the Lord (Colossians 3:17) and that we need to deny self (Luke 9:23).

Furthermore, it’s unlikely that she misspoke since the same sort of message is found throughout her book, Love Your Life. Yes, I have now read much of it. The book is full of anecdotes and “positive” messages about applauding yourself, rising above your disappointments, living with confidence, and being the model of change.

This may surprise many of my readers, but I’m not completely against everything she has to say. I do think we need to strive to have a positive outlook, live with confidence, and be an example for others to follow. But the reason I can be positive and confident is because I know that Jesus Christ has paid for all of my sins and no matter what anyone does or says to me, I will be with Him for eternity (Romans 8:38–39). I know my sins are forgiven because of what Jesus has done. My confidence comes from what God has done for me, not what I can do for myself.

Her book does not really lay out any solid foundation for doing these things other than having a goal of improving your life. I won’t offer a full book review here, but I did find it very hard to read because it was essentially “fluff.” I’m used to reading deep theological volumes, and most of the fiction books I read are deeper than this one. I know some people enjoy that, but I have a tough time remaining interested.

Error #5: We Can’t Do Anything for God

Finally, some of the people who have commented on my initial post have argued that we cannot do anything for God and we cannot do anything to please God. Therefore, they say that when we worship God, it must be for our benefit instead of for God.

This is truly a strange objection since we are clearly told in the Bible to do things for God. As mentioned in the initial post, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). He also wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

There are so many other passages where we are specifically told that all we do should be done for the Lord. Paul told the Colossians, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for me, know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23–24, NASB). See also Romans 12:1–2.

Also, there are passages that do speak of our actions pleasing the Lord. Paul wrote, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Two chapters later he wrote, “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). See also  Psalm 69:31; Proverbs 16:7; 1 Corinthians 7:32.

It seems like the people making this argument are confusing a couple of important issues. It is true that we cannot add anything to God and He does not need our worship because He does not lack anything. However, we do not worship Him to add something to Him; we worship Him because of who He is and what He has done. Do we benefit from worshiping God? Yes, but our motive for worshiping the Lord should never be for self. Our motive must be God-centered, not self-centered.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the conclusion of the previous post, we all need to follow the example of the Jews in Berea. Luke said that they were nobler than the Jews in Thessalonica because they took the time to search the Scriptures daily to see if the things that Paul taught them were true (Acts 17:11).

The modern church suffers badly because so many people neglect to take the time to make sure if what they are being taught lines up with Scripture. Too many people simply look for one verse that, when used out of context, can be used to support what they want to believe. But we need to be willing to do the hard work of studying the Scriptures in depth, and be willing to change our minds and actions when necessary.

Let me encourage you once again to prayerfully and carefully search the Scriptures daily and do everything for the glory of God—not for yourself.