God walks with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the day” in Eden. He gives them an instruction to follow which requires faith in Him. After they eat the forbidden fruit He comes to the couple, confronts them regarding their insurrection, slays an animal to cover their nakedness, and promises redemption. His presence in Eden is conspicuous. His presence outside of Eden, however, is less conspicuous (though quite real) and appropriated by faith.
Though the sun lights the day and the moon and stars the night, the book of Genesis demonstrates that life outside of Eden is morally and spiritually dark. Man cannot see spiritual reality except through the lens of God’s promises which require active faith. A. W. Tozer describes this drama: “The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal.”
Scripture does not record any further utterances from God for ten generations. Silence is broken when God speaks to Noah regarding the global flood and instructs him to build an ark. Noah hears God speak to him only four times over the course of his life. Noah, like Abraham after him, lives “being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:21) for one hundred years until the promises of God become present reality. Hebrews 11:1 describes Noah’s kind of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Ten generations pass after the flood before God speaks again with man. God speaks to each of the patriarchs regarding His intentions. He speaks ten times to Abraham during his one-hundred year faith-walk, twice to Isaac during his 180 years (once to Rebekah) and five times to Jacob during his 147 years. He speaks to Joseph only once (through two similar dreams) during his 110 years. Job had no specific word from God leading into his suffering (Job wasn't privy to the conversation in heaven that preceded his suffering). God speaks to Job only once near the end of his time of suffering. Job only had the early stories of Genesis and the certainty that God is good to energize his faith. It was enough.
Abel, Noah, the patriarchs, and Job demonstrate the life of faith and the battle for faith in a world dominated by sight, where what is seen appears more real than what God has promised and seems to negate the very goodness of God. Their stories encourage the hearts of those who’ve heard His Word and who seek to walk the life of faith that pleases God—they seize the invisible spiritual reality as though it were visible. The writer of Hebrews describes this faith, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Genesis and Job reveal a number of truths about who God is and how God walks with man outside of Eden:
- God speaks to those whom He calls into His story regarding the future and calls them to a walk of faith; that walk rests in the twin realities that He is good and His Word is true. Sometimes He doesn’t speak at all. His activity and interaction in the lives of those living before us who walked with Him by faith speak loudly of His goodness, wisdom, power, and providence.
- God acts over time (decades, centuries, and millennia) in the affairs of man to fulfill what He has spoken. God’s promises obligate His activity to accomplish them.
- God’s activity may make no sense at the time, but true faith requires that His people live in the gap between what they see and what God says until what He says comes to pass.