We are probably all familiar with the story of how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. After they did this, they felt shame because they knew they were naked, and God threw them out of the Garden of Eden. However, if we look at how Adam, Eve, and God responded to the “problem of nakedness,” we might gain a little insight into how God covered them and plans to cover us.
First, we must understand this principle: “The Old Testament is a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things. It can never with those animal sacrifices which were offered year by year continually make us perfect” (Hebrews 10:1). In other words, the laws expressed in the Old Testament are not enough to save us. We, therefore, cannot live such a perfect life that it gets us into heaven. Thus, what we discuss here today is a precursor of good to come; it reflects something more significant than what it says on the surface.
So now, we see, in Genesis 3, that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they realized their nakedness; they became ashamed of their nakedness, and, in Genesis 3:7, they made aprons to cover their nakedness. But their aprons were not enough. So God made Adam and Eve “coats of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Adam and Eve, thus, attempted to cover themselves, but God desired to cover them more adequately.
Where do we see God similarly covering us? In Isaiah 61:10 (still in the Old Testament), we hear the prophet Isaiah express the joy that God “has clothed us with the garments of salvation, and he covers us with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” In the New Testament, we hear the apostle Paul tell us that “we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2). Later on, the apostle Paul reminds us that “God made Jesus be sin for us, who knew no sin so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we read this last verse I just read and insert one letter—the letter K—in the word sin, what the Old Testament foreshadows might become a little clearer to us. Instead of sin, we can say skin. So that changes 2 Corinthians 5:21 to say “God made Jesus to be skin for us, who knew no skin so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Jesus.” How wonderful is that! This little change opens up our minds, doesn’t it? For 1) Jesus became a covering for us, a skin for us, and 2) Jesus was not skin but became skin or flesh. We cannot possibly take 2 Corinthians 5:21 literally when it says that Jesus became sin because Jesus was sinless. But what did he become? He became flesh as it says in John 1:14. He became skin which because of what Adam and Eve did (because indeed they were accomplices), skin became sin, and flesh has an evil nature.
So what does all this mean? It means that when God makes Adam and Eve coats of skin, it foretells us of Jesus Christ who becomes righteous skin for those who believe that he is the son of God and follow his commandments (Romans 10:9). It means that no matter how we try to cover ourselves—through doing right by the law or the world’s standards—we still need God to cover us (cover our sin) to make us acceptable to him. It means that we might think a “skimpy apron” is enough to cover our nakedness, but we need coats! It means that our minds (because of the fall) tend to underdress our sin. It means, ultimately, that we are like children who cannot put the correct clothes on and need God to put our clothes on for us.