Advent Devotional Day 4: Genesis 3.21
Nails, Spear, Shall Pierce Him Through
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3.21)”
In recent days, the topic of our study as been major, glorious promises of God that point to the Gospel, and inherently to the incarnation of the Son. Genesis 3.15, 12.1-3, and 49.8-11 have served as three pillars, or the three legs of a stool that lay the sound Gospel-foundation for what we read in the book of Genesis, and the storyline of the rest of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. In Genesis 3.15 we see that Adam and Eve will continue to bear offspring, there will be continual conflict between the woman’s seed (the people of God) and the Serpent’s seed (the children of the devil). In Genesis 12.1-3 the line of the woman’s seed, the line of promise and blessing to the nations, is established in one man: Abraham. In Genesis 49.8-11 we saw that three generations after Abraham, Judah was established as the one of Israel’s sons who was to rule over not only his brothers, but also the entire world.
These are thoroughly foundational texts for us to understand as they relate to the coming of the Messiah and what He would accomplish. Much of what is said about the coming of the Messiah later in Scripture will play off of themes developed from those very promises! However, with the text above, we backtrack a bit now that the foundations have been laid. Now that we have seen just a small portion of the rhythm of God’s promises for redemptive history and how they relate to the coming of Christ in the flesh, there is a lot of Gospel-pictures to fill in between these promises that give them their marvelous color and shape! The drama of redemption is a story that God has told that has played out over centuries, this says something of the meticulous glory that He displays in each and every one of the accounts in Scripture.
Our text above adds remarkable beauty to the Seed-promise that we meditated upon on the first day of December. We meditated on the bruising of the Seed’s heel, and the crushing of the Serpent’s head. We noted how this presents to us in the form of a shadow that the Seed will be wounded in a way that can be overcome, and the Serpent will be wounded fatally. This is the total conquering of Satan and the curse that was instituted on the creation as a result of our first father’s rebellion. With our text above, we have more than just an announcement of the protoevangelium, (first Gospel) we have a violent, beautiful picture of it. This is a picture of sovereign substitutionary sacrifice.
Why does God make skins from an animal for Adam and Eve to wear? Adam and Eve’s sudden realization that they were naked, their desperate attempt to clothe themselves out of their own shame and fear, and their futile plans to hide from the Lord’s sight as a result of this guilt and shame give us insight into the effects of sin upon the couple. (Genesis 3.7-11) They now have the knowledge of good and evil through their treason against the Lord and their consciences bear witness of their guilt, resulting in shame. This is why they attempt to clothe themselves with fig leaves. (Genesis 2.17; 3.5) They also experience the most significant part of the curse on God’s creation, total separation of communion with the Lord of glory Himself, evidenced by their hiding from Him when they would presumably have welcomed His awesome presence in communion and fellowship before. (Genesis 3.8-10) Cursing, separation, guilt, shame, etc. are the effects of Adam raising his hand to commit treason against God Almighty. We have already seen that the situation is not without hope, because in the blackness of Adam’s heinous sin God promises the Gospel. God’s solution to the curse that Adam has brought on all of creation in him is promised in the Seed, and pictured in the clothing.
The solution to Adam’s sin and the sins of all those who are born in union with him (all humanity excepting Christ) is to cover their guilt and shame through the death of a substitute. God promptly rips off and throws away (in a manner of speaking) Adam and Eve’s futile attempts to clothe themselves with fig leaves (what we so often try to do with our own “righteousness”) and He Himself provides the covering that they need. This covering of their sin, guilt, and shame necessitates the violent death of another: a sacrifice, oblation, or propitiation. The blood of another had to be spilled in order for their sins to be washed away, this is why God doesn’t just repeat the act of making clothing out of plants for the couple. Herein lies the principle that “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life,” (Leviticus 17.11) and “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” (Hebrews 9.22) In fact, the entire system of ritual worship, instituted by God on Sinai for the seed-line, (Israel) was built around this one central fact: God pardons sinners through the giving of the perfect life of another.
This original promise of the Gospel, the promise of the incarnation through the woman’s seed was complimented from the very beginning with beautiful pictures of what the Ultimate Seed of the woman would do to crush the Serpent’s head, reverse the curse, take away the guilt of God’s people, heal their shame, and restore blessed communion between them and God. This picture that is displayed vividly through the Lord Himself (sovereignly) slaying an animal, (sacrifice) skinning it, and using that life that was given for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (substitution) is the ultimate picture of the work of the Incarnate Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Son became a man, laid in that manger, to set His face like a flint toward that hill outside of Jerusalem. His life was a perfect, willful march toward calvary to stomp the Serpent’s head and reconcile accursed, wicked people.
Not only does Genesis 3 promise a Seed to conquer, it pictures a Seed that will conquer through the giving of His own perfect life out of infinite love for those who are given to Him. (John 13.1) The blood of animals, like what was offered in the place of Adam and Eve, could never really serve as a substitute for human guilt. “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10.4) Human nature had been plunged headlong into sin and darkness, so a Human being, the incarnate Man, had to be the One to give His life as a ransom for many. The first Adam disobeyed at a tree, and the last Adam obeyed on a tree, imparting eternal life to all whom He bought with His blood.
In the incarnation of the Son, Christ Himself comes to us to clothe us. He comes to us in all of His perfect work, He comes to us wrapped in the righteousness that we need to stand before God and offering it freely to us, and He comes to us clothed with the “garments of salvation.” (Isaiah 61.10-11) The story of the incarnation is the story of God the Son’s victory through His sovereign substitutionary sacrifice for you and me. Delight in Him.