The Long Journey Home: First and final death

Aaron Gesc

“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” — Genesis 3:21
It’s Easter week, so I’m jumping ahead a little in our story and highlighting some profound connections between what transpired under a tree in the garden and what transpired on a tree outside Jerusalem some 4000 years later. If you are familiar with Adam and Eve’s story you might wonder why eating some fruit was such a big deal. That’s a fair enough question because it seems a little dramatic. In eating that fruit Adam and Eve were rejecting the God who gave them life. In that simple act of disobedience they denied His authority and declared their autonomy. Simplified, they were saying, “we don’t need you God, we got this”.  They were accusing Him of not being enough, not good and not loving. And in rebellion they walked away from the One who had breathed life into them. We are told that one of the first results was they recognized they were naked. Now, more than a statement of their physical condition this recognition comes from the vulnerability and shame they immediately felt when they were no longer clothed in righteousness. Sin had left them feeling disconnected, isolated and vulnerable from God and each other. Gone was the security and significance found only in relationship to the creator. They had walked away from the Life Giver.
Just like our feeble attempts to cover our sin, Adam tries to remedy the situation the best he knows how and we are told in Genesis 3:7 they “sewed fig leaves together and made loin clothes”.  Man’s best attempts, though sincere, couldn’t address the heart of the matter, and were inadequate. A gust of wind reveals that.  In His grace God sees their pitiful attempts and rather than leaving them to their own efforts, we are told He clothes them in skins, covering their shame. And in this sacrifice of an animal’s life Adam and Eve see death for the first time. The death they had been promised as a consequence of rejecting God was first experienced by another. We aren’t told what animal God used, but the sacrifice of another of God’s creation temporarily alleviated the full weight of shame.
In this first death under a tree, God was foreshadowing a death that would take place on a tree.  In the similar way that an animal had to die to cover Adam and Eves shame temporarily, God would send, orchestrate and watch the death of His own Son to cover the sin and shame of humanity in finality. His death on the cross would serve to satisfy God’s justice thereby covering humanity’s sin and clothing the believer in His righteousness. This is what we celebrate. This is the big deal of Easter.  And how the first death that took place in a garden pointed to a final death on a hill outside Jerusalem that opened a path to life for you and me.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,  - Isaiah 61:10.
(Aaron Gesch is pastor of Basin First Baptist Church.)