We had a retired minister help fill in at church services so one of ours could take a well deserved vacation. He gave a sermon on Adam and Eve, and in that sermon he said something profound. He said Adam and Eve’s covering themselves with fig leaves after they had eaten the forbidden fruit was man’s first religious act.
In their shame, they tried to make themselves acceptable to God. He said that is the purpose of all religions. Each one tries to find a way for man to become acceptable enough to commune with the god or gods that person believes in. And that is where Christainity is different. It is not a religion, but a relationship in which God has made us acceptable. He ended with saying that God made them garments of skin to cover their exposure for which, through the nature of sin, they were embarrassed. An innocent animal had to shed blood for that purpose. That foreshadows Christ on the cross.
All day I pondered the ways I try to cover up my sins instead of bearing them to God and exposing them. How often do I still try to be acceptable in His presence, to “make Daddy proud”, instead of humbly kneeling before Him, open and vulnerable, to accept His gift of forgiveness. Even for us Christians who understand we can never be good enough to be in God’s presence, that it is He who makes us that way through Christ, don’t we often fall back into the prideful “I want to do it myself” mode? Like Adam and Eve we don a flimsy fig leaf that will wither and fade instead of accepting the sturdy skin covering God offers.
Animal skin, or leather, has been found on Neanderthal bones, from what I am told. It is long lasting, it protects us against the harshness of life on earth. The longer it is exposed to the elements, the harder it can get, like a shell. That is what Christ has offered us. He gave us his own “skin” to cover our sins when he died on the cross. Much better than the fig leaf of our own attempts that will wither and die in a day or so once it is plucked away from the tree.
What are your fig leaves? What are your gifts you have taken from the Branch of Life and tried to make into something of your own? How long did that last? Come again to Christ, accept the living skin he offers to cover your failures, your wrongs, your hurts and your exposed shame. Let Him make you acceptable before your Father in Heaven. Be skinned -and alive again in Christ.
Help us, O God of our salvation, Because of the honour of Thy name, and deliver us, and cover over our sins, For Thy name’s sake. Psalm 79:9