“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
The gospel is here depicted for us in this Old Testament account of God dealing with the first man and first woman. Not only was a promise given of ultimate victory over sin and Satan but a beautiful enactment of the workings of grace is also provided.
The Need of Clothing
We first see the need of clothing. Adam and Eve had sinned. They had disobeyed God’s commandment and were now suffering the consequence of their action. They both had partaken of the forbidden fruit, and so we read, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7).Because of their sin they were no longer in a right relationship with God and with each other. They felt the need to cover their nakedness and further to hide from God when he came calling for them. When confronted about their sin, they both made excuses. Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12,13).
How true of man’s state even now! He is in desperate need of a covering because he has sinned against God.
Just as Adam wanted to blame his wife and blame God for giving him his wife, people still want to excuse their sin as though they are not accountable. They would like to hide from God or pretend there is no God.Even though Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden, God knew where they were and confronted them. And God knows about every rebellious sinner on the earth and calls on all men to repent. Our need is great.
The Effort of Man
Fallen man’s inclination is the same today as that of Adam and Even; “If there is a problem I will fix it.” They made themselves aprons of fig leaves but they were inadequate. Multitudes today feel they can put together the fig leaves of their own works and stand acceptable in God’s sight.The Scriptures make it clear that man cannot fix his own problem. “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). Even those things that men deem to be good works are not acceptable because whatsoever is not of faith is sin.Some feel that if they are good to their neighbors, try to help those in need, are fair and honest in their dealings with others; they surely must be approved by God. Others seek their acceptance through religious rites and ceremonies. They believe if they have been baptized, attend church regularly, and give consistently, theses efforts must confirm that all is well with them. But all such efforts are but fig leaves.
The Gift of God
Adam and Even could not make a satisfactory covering but God made them coats of skin and clothed them. What a beautiful picture of salvation by grace. Man’s need is great, but he cannot meet it. Yet God by his grace does for man what he could never do for himself. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).When sinners are convicted of their sin by the work of the Holy Spirit, they see they are guilty and that all their efforts, their best deeds and good works cannot resolve the matter. They come to see their only hope is in Jesus Christ and embrace him by faith. And even their faith is the gift of God.
The Sacrificial Death
In order for Adam and Even to be clothed with coats of skins, the animals had to die. And so it is in order for us to be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus had to die. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).Adam and Eve must have marveled at God’s wonderful grace. They knew they were guilty and deserved to die, but instead an innocent animal died in their place. What amazing grace that Jesus Christ was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!The message here in Genesis is carried on through the Old Testament. The Passover lamb was slain, pointing to the death of Christ who is our Passover lamb; the prophets foretold his sacrificial death, and finally John the Baptist comes on the scene crying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Fig leaves, moral reform, and man’s best efforts can never make things right with God.
But the good news is Jesus Christ came to save sinners. The righteoususness man could never produce is provided by Jesus and Christ and bestowed as a gift of God by his abundant grace.