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The couple made a feeble attempt, by the works of their hands, to patch a few leaves together to cover the magnitude of the moral shame they felt.

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Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. – Genesis 3:20-21

An oncologist knows all about cancer and how to treat the disease without experiencing it himself. This third chapter of Genesis tells us God knew all about sin and how to deal with it, yet sin remains outside of him. God never experienced sin. Why do you think God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Well, Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God in a perfect paradise, and sin was outside of them. When Adam and Eve were tempted, and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin became internal, experiential, and brought on unfortunate consequences. In these verses, God just finished pronouncing consequential curses; one on the serpent, one on the deceived Eve, and one on the rebellious Adam when he made clothes to cover both of them.

Beauty and bliss filled the garden. Adam and Eve were rightly related to the creator of the universe. God was the center of their glorious world. But, as a result of the fall, Adam and Eve decided they should become the center, be the judge of good and evil, and take charge of their lives. After that point, there was no way back – no way to restore the innocence and fellowship they once had. The couple made a feeble attempt, by the works of their hands, to patch a few leaves together to cover the magnitude of the moral shame they felt. Yet, it is impossible for them by their own efforts to make themselves righteous enough to stand before a holy God.

God knew Adam and Eve needed restoration and healing from outside themselves, and God reveals his heart in this chapter. God compassionately comes to the garden to find Adam and Eve. He comes to gently restore broken relationships, and tenderly cover them with animal skins. He gives them hope. He never says “get over it and let’s move on.” He comes to reconcile the sin even after he’s been the one supremely offended by their repulsive act. The pronouncement of these curses and the making of the coverings is called the protoevangelium. It’s the very first promise of the coming of redemption. Hope comes when the Creator himself provides clothing. This is a foreshadowing of the provision of a Savior who would take the curse, upon himself, for sin. The death of the animal eludes to the death of the God-man, Jesus, who will forgive sin and his blood will cover shame and guilt. Use this prayer to ask God to forgive you for putting anything in the place that is rightfully his alone and praise Jesus for being the sacrifice bringing you back into right relationship with God and others.

 

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry,
too real to hide, and too deep to undo.
Forgive what our lips tremble to name,
what our hearts can no longer bear,
and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment.
Set us free from a past that we cannot change;
open to us a future in which we can be changed;
and grant us grace to grow more
and more in your likeness and image,
through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

 From the PCUSA Book of Common Worship
Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993; p. 88

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By Donna Burns

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