The Greatest Tragedy
But, lastly, it is here that we see the unutterable folly of man in sin. In his trouble and in his misery and wretchedness, he runs away and hides from God: “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).
And this is the saddest and most tragic thing of all about man. He runs away from God. In his shame and misery and wretchedness he runs away from the call of God, from the voice of God who comes to him in the garden in the cool of the day.
Why? Well, because he does not know God, because he has believed a lie about him, because he is altogether wrong with respect to him, because he does not realize that the very God against whom he has rebelled and into whose face he has spat is the only one who can save him and that he is prepared to do so. That is the tragedy. There man is, in shame and in failure and in utter hopelessness. And God comes, but man runs and hides. He runs away from God, his only benefactor, his only Savior.
That is the tragedy of the world. Men and women in their misery, in their sin, try everything except what God says to them. I have been making the same point from the very beginning, have I not? We start with the voice from God, the word from God. Man was made in God’s image, and he spoke to God, and God spoke to him. But then man listened to the other voice, and he ceased to listen to God, and all his troubles followed. But God speaks again, and again man does not listen. He runs away in fear. And that is precisely what is happening today.
What God Did About Our Greatest Tragedy
What am I doing as a preacher? I am nothing, and what a privilege is mine. I am just a mouthpiece for God. My dear friend, you who are in sin are being addressed by the voice of God. It is coming to you in the cool of the evening. Are you afraid? Are you resisting him? Are you in some shape or form running away from him? Do you feel that he is against you? Are you rebelling against his message? Are you trying to argue against it and to push it off? Are you afraid of the consequences of listening? If so, you are just repeating what Adam and Eve did. For God came into the garden to tell them that in spite of everything they had done, though he had to punish them for their rebellion, he was also providing a way of salvation and of deliverance. That was exactly why he came. Not merely to denounce them and to pass judgment upon them, but to bring the promise of the seed of the woman and the conquest over the enemy who had misled and defeated them.
That is the message of the gospel, and that is my simple message to you. There is nothing and no one under heaven today able to meet your need except Jesus Christ and him crucified. You are aware of the restlessness, the thirst, the hunger, the searching for something you cannot find. What are you searching for? What do you really need? Let Augustine answer in his great words: “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in thee.”
My dear friend, you are made on that scale. Nobody else can satisfy you, no one less than the almighty, eternal God himself. And he does so in Jesus Christ. He brings you back to himself. He will deal with all these subsidiary problems that I have been mentioning. Give up trying to solve them. Give up trying to deliver yourself. Give up trying to get rid of your sense of guilt, for you never will. Your conscience will follow you. As long as you are alive, it will go with you, even beyond the grave, and it will torment you in hell through all eternity. You will never silence it. You will never get rid of a sense of failure, you will never get rid of a sense of guilt and of shame, until you come to Jesus Christ and believe what he tells you—that he has taken your guilt upon himself, that he died for your sins, that God has punished them on the cross and offers you free pardon. Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary’s hill for that reason and for that reason alone.
And because of that, if you believe in him, the wrath of God no longer abides on you. God assures you that he has pardoned you freely, that he has washed away your sin. He will take away the sense of guilt and of shame. You will know that you are forgiven. You will know that you are a child of God. He will give you new strength and power. He will give you a new understanding. He will give you a new insight. You will see things differently. You will reason differently. You will have a new view of life altogether, a new view of death, a new view of judgment, a new view of eternity, a new view of God himself. Instead of running away from him and whimpering and hiding yourself and feeling that he is against you, you will long, believe me, beyond anything else in this life, to hear the voice of God. You will begin to say:
Speak, I pray thee, gentle Jesus,
Oh, how passing sweet thy words,
Breathing o’er my troubled spirit
Peace which never earth affords.
All the world’s distracting voices,
All its enticing tones of ill,
At thine accents, mild, melodious,
Are subdued, and all is still.
by William Williams, “Speak, I Pray Thee, Gentle Jesus”; Edward Griffiths, translator
How to Respond to God’s Love
My beloved friend, have you heard the voice of God speaking to you? He has been speaking to you, showing you your failure, your misery, your unhappiness, your wretchedness, the cause of it, how nothing else can ever deliver you out of it, but that he has provided a way in his only begotten Son who gave his life for you because he loved you. Come out of your hiding place. Come to him. Rush to him. Cast yourself at his feet. Say, “I believe.”
Just as I am….
With many a conflict, many a doubt.
I don’t understand, but nothing else can save me, so—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
by Charlotte Elliott, “Just as I Am”
And if you do, he will smile upon you and let you know that he has received you. And he will bless you throughout the remainder of your earthly life and in death, and then he will receive you unto himself in glory.