Saturday, February 26, 2005

From Nakedness to Leaves to Skin

As I was walking up Moulsecoomb way, the Lord brought this passage to my mind and there was a splendid revelation concerning it. First the passage, it is taken from Genesis Chapter 3.

[verse 7] Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [verse 8] Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. [verse 9] But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" [verse 10] He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." [verse 21] The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

The human state and condition can be summarised as a journey from nakedness to leaves to skin. After Adam & Eve had sinned against God, they realised that they were naked. Their sin exposed them - it made them naked. They were uncovered, insecure and unsafe and humiliated. What a sorry state they had descended to! A sudden drop from glory to shameful nakedness. That is the reality of moving from God. A move from God's presence exposes all humanity to all the vile and harsh realities of life. It is the worse kind of nakedness that could ever happen to mankind. But man was never made to be naked.
All instances of nakedness instantly call and demand covering, a shield, a blanket and in the worst case scenario - leaves! We must be covered of our shameful state. The instinctive reaction for man is to attempt to cover his shame - to sew leaves together and make coverings for himself. These inelegant quilts of shame are demanded by man's state and are not optional, nor are they a fanciful statement of fashion. Indeed they are rarely a statement of fashion. When in our longing for a quality relationship with God we turn to relationships with the opposite sex and call it love; when we turn to learning and we call it academic pursuit; when we turn to clubbing, parties, societies, gyms and try to find "trees of the garden" in which we could discover solace, we are merely sewing leaves together and making coverings for ourselves.
And yet all around us the Lord God is "walking in the garden in the cool of the day". In the depth of our sinfulness, God is walking in the garden in the cool of day. As we hide in the trees of the garden, He is there walking in the garden in the cool of day. His is not a sweltering summer heat, but it is "the cool of the day". God is calling us from the trees in which we are hiding into "the cool of the day".
Just as he took the first initiative and 'called to the man, "Where are you?"' his call hasn't ceased. He still relentlessly calls to you and I as he did then. The call has not changed its poignancy. It is still: "Where are you?" Are you in the trees of your preoccupations or are you to be found in "the cool of the day" of God's presence? Does hearing God produce fear; because you are naked - and therefore you hide? It is in the nature of nakedness to produce fear and seclusion. You hide behind excuses, reasons and justifications. You hide behind busy schedules, work conditions, educational commitments and familial responsibilities. Are these things the trees in which you attempt to avoid God?
If that is the case then, the good news is there is no need to hide anymore. God does not like our nakedness, neither does he find our turn to leaves in good taste. Some still turn to trees even now - their trust and faith is in the powers of the traditional doctors' herbs and the sangomas concoctions. "But the Lord God" [verse 9] has made an amazing provision to cover our nakedness. He has "made garments of skin". He provided a great garment which became skin like you and I. This garment felt the pain that you and I feel and endured temptation just like you and I. He took this skin and clothed our nakedness. He allowed his son to die on the cross - to be crucified - so that his skin could cover our nakedness, so that we may find favour with him. Since we now have the son's skin, when God sees us, he sees his son. We don't deserve this new position - it is nothing that man can attain by good acts for the height of man's excellence is filth before God. It has been freely bestowed upon us by God because of his great love for us. What a great thing grace is! It takes us from our nakedness, from our leaves, so that we can be God's kin; God's beloved sons.

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