December 2nd, 2013

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Clothed in Animal Skins

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Scripture Passage: Genesis 3

The third chapter of Genesis is a difficult chapter. From the very first line there is foreboding: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made.” (vs. 1) Without even telling the remainder of the story, we just know this crafty serpent will do something treacherous to Adam and Eve. And he does deceive them. They make the wrong choice. They hide from the God. The unhindered intimacy they had with God becomes veiled.

Yesterday I wrote about the pervasive presence of God in this world as witnessed in creation and how enticing that is, but it is also complicated. We feel the tug of God’s presence, but we also seem to want to hide ourselves from it, hiding from God our mistakes and our shame. We sabotage our own efforts to know Him.

What is self evident, is that even in their shame they could have run to God. God’s actions prove this to be true. God looked for them, called for them, but they hid. I think the serpent understood that Adam and Eve would respond like this, but I don’t think he understood how God would respond to them. In response to the couple’s very worse moment it was God who pursued them. God was the one who called out “Where are you?” God was the one who made it easy for them to confess their mistake by asking, “Have you eaten from the tree?” It reminds me very much of the story of the prodigal son. The father in that story had the same posture of approachable presence, possible because of his great love for his son.

But, if we are loved, then why the curses and the consequences? I don’t know the answer to this question completely, although I know the reality of it. Whether as a result of my own mistakes, or because of the mistakes of others, bitter consequences have been the result. ”In this life you will have trouble,” Jesus said in John 16:33, traceable right back to this very first trouble. But also traceable is God’s plan in Jesus to overcome the trouble in this world. We have trouble, but we also have Jesus.
There is a curious end to Genesis chapter three that has interested me since I was child. It is this line: “And the LORD God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.” It is a maternal instinct to clothe children – a loving extension from a loving heart, doing for vulnerable ones what they do not know to do themselves. This is the response of our God to our life of trouble. I will send Jesus, I have a plan and in the meantime I’ll teach you how to live in this sometimes harsh world.
Lord Jesus, as we turn toward Christmas, turn our hearts toward you. Amen

(Image above: The Return of the Prodigal, James Tissot circa 1900> (public domain)