Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The first leather skirt

I began reading in Genesis because it's been a while and frankly, I love that book. So much intrigue. The story of the fall makes me wistful. And it makes me wonder what the fruit tasted like.
Sidebar: Poor apples have been besmirched long and hard for being the forbidden fruit, but I just don't buy it. First off, I highly doubt God replicated his sacred tree of knowledge and let it grow around the globe. But, if he did, I think it would have been something racier, like a starfruit. Or passionfruit, maybe.
Anywho, I was reading about how Eve ate and gave it to Adam and they realized they were naked. Like everyone's worst dream, only it was real. And then they heard God coming and hid.
Here's the two cool things. I heard a pastor talking about this and how God said they would die if they ate, yet they didn't. He said, contrary to what my Sunday School teacher illustrated on the felt board, it wasn't just a spiritual death he meant. It was literal. That the sin was not in just the eating, it came first, in the losing trust in God. The doubting his goodness. And then, when they did eat, God committed his first act of mercy, by sparing their lives.
Huh. Pretty cool, that before He even talked it over with them, before they even asked, God shed mercy on men.
Second, I always imagined the conversation that followed as if God were Perry Mason. He got Adam and Eve on the witness stand, and with his hands clasped behind his back as he paced to and fro, duped them into admitting crucial evidence of their own guilt. Then he'd point his finger, and since he's judge as well as prosecutor, banged a gavel and they broke down.
But reading it this time, I don't think that's how it went. I think he was heartbroken.
"What is this you have done?" I can hear the pain in his voice. The desire to disbelieve what is known to be true. A betrayal so shattering it would be easier not to face it. Something irrevocable had occurred that changed everything. Forever.
And even in the punishments, you can see how he's showing them what sin costs. Eve must face pain for her children, a reflection of what she'd cost her Lord. And how rich God's free and lavish provision in the garden must have become as Adam worked the uncooperative earth. These weren't punishments of estrangement, but to reveal the Father's heart.
And then, before he sent them away, he covered them. Beyond the obvious and heart-wrenching symbolism of death to cover their nakedness, there's the image of a brokenhearted Lord who will not send his children out unprotected. He sews them leather clothes. He slaughters, cleans, and stitches for each a custom garment. It would probably have been easier if he'd just spoken and made them hairy like animals, but I'm sooo glad he didn't. I don't enjoy shaving my legs now.
I guess what I was struck by was that immediately following the first betrayal, I'd always imagined God mad. But I am not convinced that was how it went anymore. He is, after all, love. And instead of anger over a broken rule, I think he wept over a broken commitment. And then immediately set about drawing his people back.
Thank you, Lord, for being that kind of God. You could have smote them. I mean, you made them. But you didn't. You cared for them. Covered their shame. Both then and then with Jesus forever. Though we fail you, you never fail. That is a huge thought and I love you the more for it. Thank you for revealing in these ancient words your very self.
And thank you for apples.

1 comment:

  1. It's wonderful to find new truths when we revisit a passage, like an old friend introducing us to a new friend.