My eight-year-old is a theological scholar – to me, at least. We were out on the town for a “Boys’ Night Out” last night and dipping deep into the spiritual well of the story of Adam and Eve. I was asking him some questions to make sure he had really read the passage he claimed to have read earlier that day, and I thought I would throw him a few that troubled me some.
“If God knows everything, then why did He ask Adam where he was?” (Me)
“Maybe because He wanted to see if he would tell the truth.” (Him)
“Hmmm…okay, that’s an interesting thought. But why did it bother Adam and Eve that they were naked? I mean, they were naked before, and it was no big deal.” (Me)
“Maybe it’s because their hearts were naked.” (Him)
The truth of what he said struck me. Their hearts were naked! That made more sense. So we continued to talk through the idea that your heart could be naked, that an uncovered, sinful heart before a righteous God was a dangerous thing that invited judgment. And before dinner was over, we had developed a pretty good exposition of the text. Here’s what we came up with.
Adam and Eve were created with God’s spiritual covering, but when they ate from the Tree, they stepped out from under it. Immediately, they realized they were naked, but it wasn’t physical nakedness that caused them shame; it was their spiritual nakedness. Never having experienced this before, they focused on their physical exposure and fashioned their own covering out of fig leaves. (Not a good choice, as it happens. Fig leaves are terribly itchy.) That sort of addressed the physical need but totally missed the spiritual.
God came walking through the garden and asked Adam where he was. It wasn’t a physical question; it was spiritual. “Where is your heart?” Of course God knew the answer, but He was giving Adam an opportunity to step up and play the man. Instead, Adam complained of his nakedness and then set about blaming his wife. In the words of a popular blog site – that’s an Accountability Fail.
God shared the new rules with Adam and Eve. That’s “rules” – plural. Because they couldn’t live with just one rule, they now had to live with many – and these first rules were just the beginning. Later would come Exodus and Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Once we got the hang of it, we started writing our own books about even more rules. (My wife is a rules person – she would understand.)
But God is gracious and merciful. He replaced the itchy fig leaves with “garments of skin” before sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden for their own protection (because, if they had eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever in their fallen state).
Here’s the beauty and efficiency of what God did. By providing the garments of skin, He covered not only their physical but also their spiritual nakedness. And with the same gesture, He trained them on how they could cover themselves in the future. The blood of the animal sacrifice provided the spiritual covering, and their hearts were no longer naked.
How did animal blood provide a covering? Scripture says that “the wages of sin is death.” That means that the penalty for sinning is death – spiritual death in our relationship with God and eventually physical death of our bodies. The penalty has to be paid, and only someone/something that doesn’t have a debt of his/its own can pay it. Animals are innocent of sin, since they have no free will, so they can serve as our substitute. Their death, their blood covers our sin.
Unfortunately for Adam and Eve, it was only a temporary fix. Animal blood had a short shelf-life as a covering for their sins, so they had to repeat the sacrifices over and over to keep their naked hearts covered.
Fast forward several thousand years. Jesus, the Christ, enters the physical world as a baby and lives a life completely free of sin. For the first time in history, a man without a sin debt has walked among us. He alone is qualified to pay what we owe. And this payment is eternal. The blood of Jesus is so powerful that it covers every sin ever committed by any person. It covers every sin that ever would be committed. It’s a one-time payment in full to the one who has a lien on our spiritual property – his name is Satan.
There’s only one catch. Jesus has provided the covering, but we have to choose for ourselves to come under it. He won’t force us. If He did, He would destroy free will, and a choice that is compelled is no choice at all.
Ironically, the covering is big enough for everyone who has ever lived, but few of us will choose to take advantage of it. Instead, we’ll try our best to cover our spiritual nakedness with money, accomplishments, love, sex, fame, entertainment, drugs or other religions….anything to make us feel less exposed in front of a righteous God. But though they provide temporary relief, they are just fig leaves with different names, and in the end, they will cause us more discomfort than they are worth.
There’s only one Covering that covers both our physical needs and our spiritual ones. Won’t you come under it today?