Jesse Tree: Day 3 The Fall (Gen.3:1-24)
Today we got up and got dressed. Since Genesis 3 clothing has been an inescapable reality of human life - for most of us at any rate. After the ‘fall’, humanity’s first response is to clothe itself (Gen.3:7). In our own culture, clothing is verging on becoming an obsession. In the UK alone, clothing is a vast industry, worth £26 billion / yr, and which provides around 800,000 jobs to the economy. That makes it the UK's largest creative industry. On average, we each spend just over £1000 per year on clothing.
Apparently clothing is far more to us than simply a functional way of covering nakedness. It would seem that a lot of money, time and attention goes into how we dress, and how we ‘present ourselves’ to the world. We have an ‘image’ (even if our image is that we don’t have an image!). We have a way we want the world to see us, and we convey a great deal of that through how we choose to dress. Where we can afford it, we want to send a message through our clothing. Are we still hiding? Are we still covering our shame? Are we still using clothes to try and convince everyone that we are better (cooler? richer? more sophisticated? … or less?) than we are?
Clothing does seem to be massively important in the Bible. Our first abortive attempts to dress ourselves in such a way that we might cover our shame (Gen.2:25 & 3:7), elicited a deep act of God’s compassion and grace. In the breaking of fellowship with God, humanity opened the door to the lurking chaos and emptiness that had characterised creation before the Light was spoken into the darkness (John 1:4-5). That darkness rushed back in, and death casts its first shadow through creation. And with a gracious irony, it is the Lord Himself who strikes the first blow. The first ever death is at the hand of Christ. In a moment pregnant with significance, the Lord Himself slays a sacrifice, and uses the pelt to make ‘garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them’ (Gen.3:21). It is not insignificant that Jesus, in turn, is stripped for His crucifixion.
And the scene is set for one of the most powerful metaphors in the Bible. We cannot clothe ourselves adequately to stand in the presence of the Living God. No clothing that we could weave is sufficient to cover our shame. Psalm 132:9 prays that God’s priesthood may be clothed with His righteousness. Our own will never suffice (see also Jesus in Is.61:10). It is an image that runs throughout the Bible, until we glimpse the New Creation. There, the ‘fine linen, bright and clean’ given to the Church to wear stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Rev.19:8). Note they are ‘given [us] to wear’… God’s grace from the beginning to the end is to make us garments to clothe us and cover our shame.
…they realised they were naked … The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them… (Gen.3:7 & 21)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
We often recognise someone’s job by the clothes they wear. Younger children might dress up, or enjoy looking at pictures of different people in uniforms. How should people recognise Christians? What do you think Paul means when he writes: Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.13:14)?
Draw / write on a sheet or T-shirt a verse about being clothed in Christ, or in righteousness, or Jesus being our righteousness. Wear it (at least in the house!). Suggested verses (as well as the ones in our reflection): Gal.3:27; Col.3:12; part of Phil.3:9… perhaps Rom.3:22; II Cor.5:21
Visit mie.org.uk and watch the 12talks video on ‘Clean Living’