You and some friends have escaped to a secluded lake in the country for some night swimming. To add to the excitement, you dare each other to take off your suits for a skinny-dipping rush. Just after you set your suits on the swimming dock and have swam out some fifty yards from shore a police car pulls up. Busted. The floodlight comes on. You are totally exposed. Literally, caught with your pants down. Red-faced and humiliated you must swim toward the light to face the music—stark naked.
Change the scene a bit for another classic scenario. It’s one of the oldest pranks in the book. While you swim about in your birthday suits, another car pulls up—this time a bunch of friends who got wind of your swimming plans. Roaring with laughter, they quickly snatch your suits and towels and drive off into the darkness. Again, you’re left helpless and exposed. You have nothing to cover yourselves with. You can either wait in the water, hoping the pranksters return before dawn; or you can come out of the water and face each other’s nakedness.
When it comes to the Bible, you can’t even get through three chapters before you are faced with a similar fiasco. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate of the fruit, the Bible says, “They were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves” (Gen 3:7).
Isn’t it odd that the very first feeling Adam and Eve had after leading humanity into the long night of sin and death was the feeling you get when you’re caught with your pants down? Leaving the deeper, more theological meaning aside for a moment, we can all imagine the way they felt. It’s the awkwardness described above. It’s the feeling you get when you walk in on someone in the bathroom. It’s the paralyzing shock you experience when the changing room door swings open at Target, and you are exposing all. It’s the recurring nightmare where you are giving an important public address only to realize halfway through that you are standing naked in front of a large auditorium!
While these moments only last a second in real life, while its happening time seems to freeze eternally. Our reaction seems to be instinctive, preprogrammed since the fall. Like Adam and Eve, we run for cover, hide in the bushes and find something with which to clothe our self. Shame always seeks to conceal, and so we hide our nakedness.
There is another part of the story—often missed by the casually reader—that beautifully reveals the merciful and restorative character of God. Despite humanity’s grave offense against her Creator, and the disastrous effects it would have on His creative masterpiece, God meets humanity in their shame and provides covering for their sin. The Bible says, “The Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them” (Gen 3:21).
“And he clothed them.” A more beautiful phrase you would be hard-pressed to find. A more magnificent truth you’ll never discover. God is a God who clothes our deepest shame. He covers over our darkest sins. And, as we shall see presently, he longs to clothe all of us in a way that will never leave us naked again!