Clothes are deeply theological.
What in the world do I mean by that sentence?
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
One of the first things that happened when Adam and Eve fell into sin was that they felt shame due to their nakedness. Their nakedness was no longer acceptable, and they knew this to be true. They hid themselves from the Lord because of their nakedness (Gen 3:7-10). Man and woman before the fall were naked and unashamed (Gen 2:25). After the fall into sin this is clearly no longer the case. The clothes man makes for himself is insufficient. Genesis 3:7 informs us that they sewed fig leaves together to make loincloths. This was before God went looking for man and found them hiding because of the shame caused by their nakedness. Clearly their own clothing had failed to remedy the shame of their nakedness. Man’s own solution did not solve the problem. God then pronounces judgment on the man, woman, and serpent. Once he has finished declaring their punishments he does something very interesting.
“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
We already know that the wages of sin is death (Gen 3:17). So God had the right and ability to carry out that judgment on Adam and Eve as soon as they ate of the tree. However, God chose to extend grace but notice closely, something still died. If we are not reading carefully we might miss it completely. God made garments for them from skins. God used the skins of an animal and made it their clothing. I’m no expert at making clothing from animals; however, I’m pretty sure that when one makes clothing from the skin of an animal, the animal dies. The clothes they made were insufficient; they had to be clothed by something God had given them, something that had died in order to produce the clothing. This should not surprise us, the Old Testament law set up a complex system of animal sacrifices as a consequence for sin. This appears to be the first animal sacrifice of the Old Testament. As we learn in Hebrews 10:1, the Old Testament law provided us with shadows of the reality which are revealed in the New Testament. With a shadow there is consistency, the shadow from my body will never look like an ostrich, it must look like me. Yet, while my shadow must look like me, it will be neither an acceptable replacement for me, nor can it be as intimate and relational as I can be. I am superior to my shadow in every meaningful and practical way. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the fulfillment of the all those animal sacrifices in the Temple. It is what they were pointing to, they were the shadow, and the cross of Christ is the reality. As Isaiah the prophet states…
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10).
The righteousness of Christ which we get when we become regenerate, repent, and believe, is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s clothes for his children. In closing, we all must be clothed in something that we cannot create, just as when Adam and Eve were still shamed into hiding themselves from God even after they made loincloths to cover themselves. We need to be clothed in the righteousness of our savior, Christ, whose sacrifice is the ultimate reality of the animal sacrificial system. Much more could be said about our need to “put on Christ” and also they results which directly follow but due to length I will end this piece here.
Thanks for reading,
W. R. Noble, Jr.