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Lament

September 9th, 2012 by Anthony Bosman

“Where are you?”

Sounds like it could be a text from a friend wanting to hang out. Or a loved one wondering why you’re not home. But Genesis records it as a message from God to humanity.

Adam and Eve had just voted to live in independence from God’s presence. Not in a ballot box, but at a tree. God enters the scene and asks, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9).

When the all-knowing-God asks a question, we should pause to consider it. Why is He asking a question when He clearly knows the answer?

I recently learned that something fascinating happens when you look at God’s question in Hebrew, the original language of Genesis. “Where are you?” is translated from a four letter expression (איכה). This may not wow you, but here’s the punchline, this same expression (איכה) is also the opening expression for another book in the Hebrew scriptures.* In fact, it is the title given to that book in Hebrew Bibles.

Which book you ask? Lamentations. The book of laments.

Perhaps God’s question isn’t really a question, but is actually a lament. Like parents staying up late into the night, knowing their teenager should have been home hours ago, crying out, “Where are you?”

God saw that His son Adam and daughter Eve had chosen separation from Him. He saw all the pain and suffering that this would result in. And it pained Him.

It’s an incredible thing that God would love us so much that He would let Himself experience pain. That He would find Himself in Eden lamenting.

But there’s something even more terribly awesome. Another lament in another garden. This time the scene is Gethsemane.

Here Jesus finds Himself, soon to be crucified. The sin of the world is coming upon Him, separating Him from the assurance of His Father’spresence. He laments, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

The two gardens are connected by the two laments.

In the first garden, Eden, man choose to honor his will above God’s. This happened at a tree. And God lamented for the separation caused.

In the second garden, Gethsemane, the Son of Man is experiencing separation from God’s presence. He laments as He is headed to the tree of Calvary. Yet He chooses to honor His Father’s will above His own.

“Nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.”

The Son of Man’s obedience in Gethsemane is undoing man’s disobedience in Eden. The Gospel lament is answering and solving the Genesis lament.

Can God be this good? For Him to send His Son to experience our separation, so that we who are separated may be in Christ sons and daughters of God.

Indeed, God is too good.

 

*English versions often translate this as “how” rather than “where”; however, in the original text, before vowel markings were added, the expressions are identical.

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