Clothes and the Gospel
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
In our study in Genesis, we read this short blurb about God creating clothing for Adam and Eve. Like my post last week in discussing the previous verse, this verse is easy to skip over in moving to the next event. However, if we slow down and take a few moments to really contemplate what is happening in this verse, we realize there is much more here than we first notice.
God’s Mercy and Love
The first thing to recognize in this verse is God’s love, mercy, and grace that He lavishes on Adam and Eve.
God had complete right to destroy them immediately upon their disobedience. He would have even been right in expelling them from the garden and never having anything to do with them ever again. However, in the previous verses we see that God didn’t abandon them. Yes, they would bear hardship and death as a result of their sin, but He would provide for them food and children. Even more beautiful was His promise to one day provide a Seed that would destroy the serpent.
Then we come to this verse. God once again bestows mercy, grace, and love on them. He doesn’t leave them in their nakedness, He doesn’t leave them to try to make do with the leaves as clothing. God creates for them leather coverings.
Before the fall, we had no need for clothing. Sin had not revealed our nakedness and there was no danger that we needed protection from. But after the fall, our shame is revealed and we are suddenly at risk of sunburn, freezing temperatures, bugs, injury from falls and thorns, etc.
Adam and Eve’s first attempt at clothing using leaves was very inadequate. God provided protective clothing.
“We have here a further instance of God’s care concerning our first parents, notwithstanding their sin. Though he corrects his disobedient children, and put them under the marks of his displeasure, yet he does not disinherit them, but, like a tender father, provides the herb of the field for their food and coats of skins for their clothing. Thus the father provided for the returning prodigal, Luke 15:22.” ~ Matthew Henry
Clothing as a Reminder of Our Sin Guilt
We had no need of clothing before sin entered creation but now, we all carry the scar of sin and we all need clothing to cover our shame.
Adam & Eve witnessed the first death as a result of their sin. The death of this animal was their fault. In this act, they get the first glimpse of the seriousness of sin. They not only knew that the animal had to die because of them but they had a constant and daily reminder of the cost of their sin.
“…clothes came in with sin. We should have had no occasion for them, either for defence or decency, if sin had not made us naked, to our shame. Little reason therefore we have to be proud of our clothes, which are but the badges of our poverty and infamy.” ~ Matthew Henry
Clothing should daily remind us of our first parent’s sin and how we are still suffering the consequences of that sin today. It should remind us that our own sin, no matter how small, has consequences that can continue to affect all of creation for eons to come.
We have no reason to be proud of our clothing. It is a reminder of the shame of our own sin. We may attempt to embellish and accessorize our clothing but no matter how beautiful it is, it still represents our sinfulness and need of a Savior. No amount of good works and embellishment on our lives is an adequate covering for our sin.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
We may try to cover over our sin with good works, we may try to dress in the latest fashion but, before God, we all stand in filthy rags; we all stand before Him naked.
“Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in, Isa. 28:20. Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them coats of skins; large, and strong, and durable, and fit for them; such is the righteousness of Christ. Therefore put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Matthew Henry
The Skin and the Gospel
In this act, God first demonstrates the need for blood to be shed for the atonement of sin. This shows that one must die to cover the sin and shame of that sin.
God reaffirms this need the night before He freed the Israelites from the Egyptians. During the Passover, God instructs the Israelites to take the blood of a lamb and cover their door posts so that the angel of death would pass over their homes (Exodus 12:1-13). Later, when God establishes the sacrificial system for the Israelites, we see this picture painted over and over again.
The true meaning of all these pictures are finally revealed in the life of Christ. We see that Christ has come as the perfect, sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29). His blood is the only adequate covering for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
We see in this act of an animal having to die, Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death,” played out. In the covering Adam and Eve, we see our own inadequate attempts of trying to cover our sin. We realize that nothing we can do is sufficient. Only God choosing to act and cover His children is sufficient.
Our sin is great and nothing we do can fix it. But God has provided a covering. He sent His Son to be the perfect, sinless Lamb. He laid down His life and His blood (Matthew 26:28) was made sufficient to cover our sins.
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered! (Psalm 32:1)