Friday, April 24, 2015

Theft#17FINAL - Stealin' Back Death - "You Always Knew the Deal Was Sacrifice"

3:    20 Then Adam called the name of his wife Eve, for she herself was mother of all living.  
***21Then YHWH Elohim made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them.  ***
                22 Then YHWH Elohim said, "Look! The Man became like one from us in order to know good and evil.  But now, lest he will stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat so that he lives forever ... "  23 So YHWH Elohim sent him out from the garden of Eden to serve the ground, which he was taken from there.  24 Then He drove away the Man, and He made dwell from the east to the garden of Eden the Cherubim and the flame of the sword which turned every way, in order to guard the way to the tree of life.  (URLV)

So we're finally at the end of the "death march."  I've stolen back as much as I can deal with emotionally, so I'm wrapping it up for now, even though there is so much more that could be said, that could be lamented.  Today, however, we'll focus mainly on Genesis 3:21, which is the one verse in this story that looks ahead to the way God will turn death on its head, stealin' it back and making it redemptive ultimately through the death of His Son.

In Gen. 3:21 we are simply told that YHWH Elohim made "garments of skin" (literally "leather") to "clothe Adam and his wife."  It's easy to brush by this verse and simply note the contrast between the couple's earlier, and futile, use of fig leaves to cover themselves, and the fact that God provides animal skins.  But if we stop, just for a few seconds, and ponder God's actions, we find ourselves asking, "But, but . . . where did these skins come from?"  And the answer comes back with no mercy:  "God killed an animal to clothe the man and woman."  God . . killed . . an animal.   Death has now literally entered the world because of man's disobedience just as God warned it would, but the first physical death is not that of the guilty, but of the innocent.

Why?   Well, once again this takes a bit of thinking, but with the knowledge most of us have about the death of Jesus Christ, and probably of the sacrificial system in the Law of Moses, it shouldn't take us to long to see that this first death in the world was the first sacrifice of an animal on behalf of mankind.  It is, to use the theological phrase, the first example of "substitutionary atonement," where the death of an animal takes place so that a man need not die in his own sin.

With that in mind, it is no leap at all to talk about the substitutionary and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ so that atonement could be made for all of mankind's sins, past and future, and so that forgiveness could be offered to mankind on the basis of Christ's sacrifice.  We see in Paul's letters many admonitions to "clothe" ourselves with various spiritual attributes that come only from God, and which all look back to this first act of God "clothing" mankind with the skin of an animal sacrificed by God on their behalf:  "Clothe yourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.13;14); "Clothe yourselves in the full armor of God (Eph. 6:11);  "Clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience ... (Col. 3:12). . . . all to tell us that the only "clothing" to give us redemption was bought with the sacrificial death of Christ.

The "garments of skin" in Genesis 3:20 have become the infinite garments of God's grace and mercy in redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life in Christ.   To quote Christian musician Terry Taylor, "You always knew the deal was sacrifice."

Later in Christ,
The Thief

No comments: