8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ge 3:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Ever wonder what “the sound of the Lord” was? Many of the historic theologians of Christianity say God’s sound became like thunder. That is why Adam and Eve hid themselves. Much like the Israelites before Sinai, they heard the sound of the Lord and were scared by it. It sounded to them as if it was thunder.
In fact, until the curtain in the temple was torn, we see this throughout the Bible. When God speaks to someone, that person can hear God. When God speaks to a group, that group can hear God. But when God speaks and one overhears God, it sounds like thunder.
Consider Jesus in John 12. God speaks to him and the disciples and his followers can hear and understand. But the general crowd only hears thunder.
In the next occurrence of a voice from Heaven, Paul is on the road to Damascus. The temple curtain has been torn, we no longer need a mediator, and those on the road to Damascus with Paul can hear voice, not thunder. They may not understand it, but they do not recognize it as thunder.
It is a reminder, though, that those far away from God may hear the call to repent as thunderous. Building a relationship with those far from God and drawing them close so they begin to hear and feel the Spirit is a necessary first step. It is also a necessary step in our lives. When the Word of God wounds us or troubles us, we should draw closer to it in prayer and reading the Bible.
The sound of God should not make us hide, but should draw us close to God. The fall of man has distorted our relationship with God. As Bonhoffer said, we have spent our time focusing on good and evil, and not enough time focusing on God. Doing so restores the balance and pushes away the thunder.