Entry Level Theological Truth 
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
Since the entrance of sin into the world, nakedness connotes vulnerability and shame – a naked person cannot hide anything about his physique. It is a metaphor for man’s undisguised guilt – the creature as he actually is before his Creator, as Hebrews 4:13 implies in these pointed words: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
It was the awareness of this reality that pushed Adam and Eve into textiles, fashioning fig-leaf tunics in a futile attempt to cover their shame (Genesis 3:7.) It also moved them to hide from the Lord among the trees of garden (v. 8) – an absurdity considering that He is both omniscient and omnipotent (Psalms 139.)
Thankfully, the matter of dealing with human sin is not left to fallible, inconstant man; instead, the Almighty Himself provides a covering for our first parents’ nakedness, thereby signalling His redemptive plan that centered on the “seed of the woman” (v. 15.)
The Apparel Oft Proclaims The Man
After prophesying regarding a deliverer from the serpent’s tyranny (v. 15), the Lord then provides Adam and Eve with garments made of animal skins. Of course, this points to the death of innocent victims in order to fashion their new clothes; beasts do not part with their skins without suffering mortal injury!
This is the beginning of the principle of substitution, which anticipates “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29.) The first humans’ physical nakedness was covered by the divinely given skins; whereas, the Lord Jesus died on the cross as a propitiation for sin (more than merely covering human iniquity and shame, He removed it entirely by enduring God’s wrath against it; Romans 3:23-26.) Having fully met the claims of His own justice, the Almighty then declared those who receive the Son of God by faith legally righteous in His sight (Romans 5:1.)
The Seriousness Of Being Covered
Every time that Adam and Eve looked at their new wardrobe they must have been struck by God’s mercy and grace. What is more, they also must have realized the high cost of their covering. Blood was shed; others died so that they might live. Old Testament atonement and its more complete New Testament cousin, propitiation1, are exceedingly costly. It took nothing less than the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to remove sin and effect reconciliation. He died and rose again to save mankind from the eternal condemnation that they justly merited.
A classic hymn avers: “In His spotless soul’s distress, I have learnt my guiltiness; Oh how vile my low estate, Since my ransom was so great!”2 If Christ’s violent death of unparalleled suffering was what was needed to bring forgiveness and eternal life to people, then how bad must we be? The supreme value of the sacrifice of the willing victim – the Son of God Himself – declares our wretchedness apart from Christ, while simultaneously upholding God’s justice, mercy, love, and grace.
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Image Source: http://www.antiochian.org/node/22302?size=_original Accessed on 9/5/12.
Source of the fist heading: William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3, Line 72.
1Atonement means “covering” (it translates the Hebrew Caphar, which is first used in the Bible to refer to Noah covering the ark with pitch, Genesis 6:14.) It was a temporary measure, expressing the faith that looked forward in time to Christ’s death on the cross. In contrast, propitiation goes farther in actually removing the sin by judgment (study Romans 3.)
2R.C. Chapman, “Oh my Savior crucified”; found here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/71 Accessed on 9/5/12.