The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
Clothed – The first principle of atonement occurs immediately after the first sin. That principle never changes. It is this: the innocent die for the guilty. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost something irretrievable. They lost the original covering provided to them by God. They lost the covering of transparency in relationships. Once they were naked and unashamed. Now they were exposed and needed covering. But this catastrophic shift is not about covering genitals. It’s about vulnerability. Now they have something to hide.
There’s a lot to learn in this short verse. First, we see that the covering that Adam and Eve attempt to make for themselves is totally inadequate. Human effort to cover up broken relationships and vulnerability is as useless as leaves tied together. What men and women do to hide themselves is hopelessly inadequate. The truth of their nakedness can’t be concealed.
Second, we see that God’s action is the only adequate solution. If God doesn’t cover our brokenness, we will remain naked and ashamed despite our efforts. God has to dress us with a covering that only He can supply.
Finally, we discover the horrible truth of sin. God had to slaughter and skin an innocent animal in order to cover the guilty. The Hebrew verb, labash (to dress, to put on clothing), clearly means that God fashioned garments for sinful Adam and Eve at the expense of taking the life of an animal. This is the first killing, initiated by God for the sake of guilty humanity. This is the first experience of death, the first witness of bloodshed, the first smell of extinction. Now Adam and Eve wear a reminder of the loss of glorious transparency. Their second skin comes at the price of taking life away from the innocent. In God’s divine economy, the innocent pay for the guilty.
Today, believers wear second skin. Of course, we don’t wear animal hides these days, but we are all either covered by the death of the Innocent Christ, or we walk naked in the world. We are either dressed by God, or we are exposed and broken. There is no hope of making our own clothes, just as there was no concealing Adam’s sin with leaves. If we have not been clothed in the evidence of an innocent death, we are naked and ashamed.
Just one more thing. Did you realize that Adam didn’t think of killing an animal for clothing? Adam’s solution did not involve the sacrifice of another. Only God’s provision required the death of the innocent.
Believers are called to follow the principles that God has written into the moral government of the universe. This is the first one with costly significance. The innocent pay for the guilty. How have you made that a reality in your life?
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