She took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings (Genesis 3:6-7).
When Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and ate the very fruit God had forbidden them to eat, the change was instantaneous, unmistakable, and disastrous.
Suddenly, shockingly, devastatingly they felt their nakedness.
Naked and Needy
They had always been naked, but safe and shamelessly because there was no one and nothing to harm them; and there was nothing about which to be ashamed. Now they are different. So now everything is different. We see how pathetic, how exposed, how wretched their condition instantaneously was, in that they tried to sew leaf-clothes for themselves.
We today perhaps find it hard to wrap our mind around a Paradise that is free of hurt and grief and loss—but a world that is dangerous, painful, and intimidating is totally familiar to us.
Now Adam and Eve are in a world that you and I can completely relate to, the only world in fact that we have ever known. And in a world like that, how well do you think figleaf clothes are going to protect or hide them? We ourselves are so intimidated by this kind of world that we spend great sums and ingenuity building solid walls to hide in every day, strong locks to keep this world out, and countless amenities to make it feel less uncomfortable.
In Adam and Eve’s pitiful figleaf-sewing, we should see the precursor to every powerless idol, every foolish endeavor, every vain pursuit that humans have engaged in throughout history. They are all just more vain attempts to overcome the curse in our own strength and ingenuity.
We should see in their feeble figleaves the utter inadequacy of all human effort to escape the sin curse on our own.
Every king, in any palace, has still eventually been found and conquered by death. And even the wealthiest and most famous individuals have experienced the impossibility of escaping pain and loss.
After their eating the fruit, the narrator says “their eyes were opened”—and what they suddenly saw was a world they wanted to hide from. They saw a situation so horrific and terrifying that they instantly began seeking some refuge, some protection, some solution to their fallen and helpless condition.
God’s Provision In Christ
Thank God, that is not how their story ends, however. In verse 21, God makes coats of skin to cover them. Here is a vivid illustration and acknowledgment of our need, and of God’s solution.
The nakedness they so keenly felt upon eating the fruit was real. Yet God supplies a covering for them.
How merciful, that the first death in the world was a sacrificial one, for the sake of others … not a hopeless one, by the perpetrators of sin. Oh, human murder would come soon enough, but the first death in the fallen world was a sacrificial death that brought about a covering for Adam and Eve.
This of course pictures—points us to—the fact that one day the greatest Sacrifice would provide total covering and salvation for sinners.
In Jesus Christ, thousands of years later, God stooped down, became a man, and died a victorious death in order to cover our nakedness, our sin. Christ is all we ever need, but we need him desperately.
God commands us to trust in Christ alone for our salvation, because he knows that everything else is just wilting, feeble, figleaf efforts toward self-salvation. And they are bound to fail.