“The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
This is one of my favorite verses in this whole story. This verse seems like almost an afterthought when you first read it, but I think a good argument can be made that it reveals more important information about God’s character than anything else in this section. Let’s talk about why.
One of the popular misconceptions about God, particularly in the Old Testament, is that He is all about judgment and wrath. He is an angry God who must be placated all the time lest He start smiting people. And yet, when you read the text carefully (you pick which one), a different picture quickly begins to emerge.
While God certainly does bring judgment when it is due—indeed, the major focus of this section of text is the judgment God hands out for the disobedience of Adam and Eve—that’s far from the end of the story. What’s more, God’s judgment is only and always in response to something we’ve done wrong. Never does He just jump on us for no apparent reason. He judges as a function of His character of justice.
But, God’s character is not limited to justice. He is also loving. He is love. And where His justices rolls down like water, His love provides the banks and the bed for the river, directing the path of its impact.
We see that clearly here. Think about the context. Adam and Eve have just eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the one thing in all of creation God had told them they could not have. They bought the serpent’s line of temptation without even really making it work for the win. In spite of the incredible beauty and sufficiency of what God had given them, they decided they wanted what they wanted more than they wanted what God wanted for them.
Think about that time when you did something for your kids or a friend or a coworker. You put a lot of effort into it and it came out really well. But when you presented the final product to them they all but threw it in the trash can. They were totally ungrateful and even spiteful of your efforts. How did you feel in that moment? That’s something like what God was experiencing, except He had just created the whole world and they rejected it.
Angry doesn’t begin to cover how He could have reacted to the situation. And He does hand out punishments for the gross offense and sin of it all. The very next thing He does after this verse is to kick them out of the garden. This was serious stuff.
But right here in the middle of all of this judgment and chaos, God makes clothes for them. Why does this matter? Think about it. They’re being kicked out of the garden. All the safety and abundance of their home is going to be gone. And, from the shape of the curses, life is about to get really hard. They deserved death for what they had done besides. But instead, God makes them a gift to make the hard road ahead of them just a little bit easier than it would otherwise be. In other words, in the midst of all this judgment God offers them grace. His love is the final statement on the matter.
And while this act of grace certainly matters and means a great deal in its present context, in the broader context of the Scriptures, we understand it matters even more. Here in the immediate aftermath of sin, when the toxic dust was still settling, God gives a gift of grace that points forward twice to the grace He would yet give first in the sacrificial system of the law to provide a covering for sin, and ultimately in the sacrifice of His Son as the perfect covering for sin.
When God’s judgment rings loudly, His grace shines brightly. No matter how fierce His justice may be, His love is there to guide its application. God will always do what is right, no matter how hard that right thing may be to do, but His love will always be the medium of the message. He never acts to judge without grace being part of the production. This is the God we serve. He is worthy of your life and devotion.