Naked, why could she feel that now? The distance stripped protection and calm from the surface of body. She never knew. How cold the breeze was on her skin. She never knew how lost she had become. She was free, she was not alone. She was cared for and warm. But now, it felt cold. Shivers ran through her spine. Along the back of her arm. Along the base of her neck. It stung her like no other sensation she had known before.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7)
Dark was present, but before it was balanced with rays of light. Cold was a reality, but now it introduced dread. There was not enough blood pulsing to her fingertips to armor against the fear that brought a chill. Now. Her eyes saw things, inside her mind, that were not there before. Sight had opened on the inside. And it colored everything else that she looked upon.
The tree that captured her attention, that was all she could focus on at this point. She didn’t even notice the other trees that surrounded. Addicted to the one and only. Blind to all the other fruits and blessings that grew all over her reality. Vanishing into the background, blurry figments of the true imagination. There were no more trees, in her sight, except for the one.
And he, too, was now focused more than ever, on purpose, on meaning. Protect his life. Protect his choices. Hide from the danger. Preserve the good that was left. He knew now they were too exposed. They were not in the place of authority. He was not in a position to argue, or shelter, or discern the significance of this situation.
So he acted. He answered his problem as soon as he could identify it. He looked to the only tree he could see. And he took the only thing he could find to fix the fresh broken world. He tore a leaf from the branch of newfound knowledge. They took the situation into their own creative hands. They created for themselves. A solution to their problem. They sewed leaves together. The only leaves in their vision of the future. The only answer they now knew was logical.
Knowing now, good and evil. Knowing, now, they were evil. Knowing, now, that he was the one who must chart the path to salvation. Because they were alone. He knew. She knew. They were wrong. They were naked. He knew. She knew. So they were as responsible as they could be, for their future. For their shivering loins. Naked, and alone. Enlightened and alone. And so, now they hid.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3: 8-9)
Where are you? The Lord God asked. Out of the darkness. Out of the shame. Where are you? The One who knew everything, much more than they thought they knew.
Knowing is now more than it should have been. Knowing is so much less than it is. Knowing what it feels like to be wrong. Knowing what it feels like to not care. Knowing the difference between good and evil. And now knowing that you had been given more than that, before. Where are you? He asked. Yet according to their original creation, God told them everything they needed to know. Still now, they hid. They found their way out. They were no longer known by the Creator as He had created them to be.
Could they hide behind the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Could the leaves and the fruit be enough? Could they successfully take it upon themselves? To hide themselves? Were they really hidden?
Where are you? He asks. And we ask, why couldn’t God find them.
Maybe they had hidden themselves more than they knew. Maybe they covered themselves too well with a knowledge that was not made for them. Maybe it was their handmade creations, their clothes sewn together by the fingers of the man and woman. Their mirages and lies of control and protection. Maybe that was just what they needed to conceal themselves from the all seeing, all knowing, all loving Creator. Creating for themselves.
Where are you? Did He know? Could He see? The Creator of all, could He not find His creations that had created another world for themselves? Of course He saw. Of course He knew. But who told you to make those clothes? For yourself? Hiding the shame. Hiding the sin. Why did His creations hide in the shadows and hide behind their invisible coverings? That’s what God really saw. That their own clothes did not really cover them at all. In knowledge, they believed they were hiding. In knowledge, they had never truly concealed their awakened nakedness.
Yet even now, we still grasp at the leaves. The tree that was supposed to make us wise. The tree that was supposed to make us like God. The knowledge that positions us brother against brother. The understandings that separates us from truth, from reality, from our bodies, from our souls. We grasp at the leaves, and sew them together. Creating intricate designs of personal desire and drive. Creating a hiding and a covering and a safe distance. From the Almighty Creator of all things.
Where are you? Where do you think you are? Do you know that you are hiding in the bushes? Do you know that you are afraid of the sound of the Lord your God? Do you know you are wearing invisible leaves knit together by the knowledge of your imagination?
Where are you? When He calls out from the dark. Can you possibly walk in the light? Can you possibly be ready for the presence of Him who calls you out? With your flimsy transparent coverings. Knowing, thinking, believing in yourself, that you will cover the shame you have tried to hide.
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:20-21)
Not concealed quite enough. God could still see every sin and every evil and that was not good enough for His creation. He caused them to be clothed. He found them and made them clothes of His hand. Not in clothes of knowledge and shame. Not in leaves of misunderstanding from remnants of a world that they should not have taken. Not from a tree that would give them less than what they were created for. Gifts of God that they were not meant to have. Clothes that were never theirs to wear. Covering made by their own hands that were not really hiding them, ever, at all.
So the Lord God acted. He answered their problem in a way that no other creature would have imagined. He found life. In the blood of another. A perfectly timed sacrifice wandered by the shivering couple in the garden. There, God took life. He slaughtered life for the clothing of His people. He poured out the life blood of an unblemished lamb. To cover the transgression that could not be returned. Blood should spill. Blood should be paid. Blood of another that would truly cover. Now.
God instituted blood sacrifice for the restoration of His people. The only thing that would fix this fallen world. The eternal wisdom from before all worlds. He answered their problem. He took their situation back into His own hands. Creating yet again, His solution to their problem. He sewed life together. Blood to bone. Transgression to righteousness. A final answer to the cursed situation of the universe.
And we have learned, by the bloody clothes from the garden, that the tree of knowledge was not a knowledge that could make one wise. By knowing it. By taking it. By using it. By covering ourselves with it. Yet this knowledge made all the difference in the world. Possessing the tree of knowledge was losing the tree of life. Trusting in the the tree of knowledge of good and evil kept us all from recklessly trusting the life that we were originally created for.
The tree in the garden that was not to be taken, the knowledge of good and evil, it cannot save, it cannot produce the success it taunts. It cannot be the last fruit ever tasted. The only life that endures is the merciful covering entirely given by God, not in any way made by man.
But we may mistake our transparent coverings of knowledge, good and evil, policy and righteousness to be enough. Yet God still sacrifices Another. Covers and clothes His people with a reckless Wisdom from before all time. We mistake our plans, patterns, and conspiracies to be the truth that redeems. Yet God still shed the blood of His Son. He washes and renames His people. He covers with the robes that have been drenched in the blood of His Son,.He declares us dead to knowledge and alive with Christ.