Where are you?”
The question rang out across the garden. The first humans, who had enjoyed perfect fellowship with their Creator and lived in perfect harmony with the rest of His creation, had walked and talked in naked transparency with God and with each other. But not any more.
Now they were hiding.
Now they were self-conscious.
Now they were filled with the guilt and shame that came from their lack of faith and rebellion.
And God asked them a question. But He wasn’t asking because He didn’t know the answer; He knew very well where they were, just as He knew very well what they had done. The purpose of the question was not informational; it was confessional. The man and woman needed to own what they had done; they needed to acknowledge it to God. They weren’t telling Him anything He didn’t already know – they were owning up to what He already did.
There are no secrets with God. Confession, for us now as it was then, is not informational in nature. That is, for most of us, a terrifying reality because all of us like to think we have secrets. Secret thoughts. Secret desires. Secret hatred. Secret selfish ambition. And yet all of that secrecy is really a matter of self-delusion – God already knows. In fact, He already knows more about the inmost recesses of our hearts than we do.
And yet we talk ourselves into the notion that we actually do have secrets. Or at least we do temporarily, because in time, even the idea of secrets will be obliterated:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:12-13).
That is a terrifying reality. Everything – every harbored thought, every nursed sense of entitlement, every quiet resentment or lust or whatever – will not be private forever. They will all eventually be laid bare before the One who already knows them. And as if that thought isn’t frightening enough, we are reminded that these are not innocuous secrets – we are accountable for them, too.
So what do we do with that reality?
This disturbing future is the context of a set of verses we tend to read in isolation:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).
When we read these verses, we usually read them apart from being laid bare before the Ruler and Creator of all. We tend to think of them as helpful – comforting even – because Jesus understands all the things that we go through on a daily basis. And that’s true – these verses are comforting. It’s a good and right thing for us to know that Jesus is not isolated from the human experience, but that He understands in a deep, deep way everything we walk through and because He does, is ready to help us in our need.
But what really magnifies the greatness of our High Priest is the terrifying future state that comes before it. Where can we turn when we have no secrets? What do we do when all our deepest and most shameful inner thoughts and feelings are exposed? Where do we find comfort when we are laid naked before the perfect and holy God of the universe?
We go to Jesus. The One who is at the same time both divine and man. When we are laid bare before God, we find our only recourse in God Himself.
And that glorious reality is the only thing that can save us from the terrifying reality. God is our only hope when we stand before God.