A Merciful Response to Shame


I love She Reads Truth. The most recent study is Genesis, and Day 1 covers Genesis 1-3, The Creation and The Fall.

So we know the story: Adam and Eve eat the fruit that they're not supposed to, screw things up for the rest of humanity, and they're instantly ashamed and realize they're naked.

I'm not trying to brush off how big of a deal that is, but it's sort of the mindset that I had as I was reading it. I didn't expect to find anything that I didn't already know. But that's the thing with Scripture. As you engage with the Holy Spirit through His Word, things come to life.

I want to focus in on one, little, specific part. Just one verse, actually. A verse that I may have [very obviously] brushed over before. What happened after Adam and Eve were ashamed? After God showed up, after He confronted them, after they became aware of their sin and realized they were naked? What did they do about clothes?

They made coverings out of leaves and twigs or something, right?

That's true, but it goes on. How have I seemed to always brush over this part?

"And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them." - Genesis 3:21

What? Not leaves and twigs? Skins? And God made them for them?

I honestly read it a couple times. I wondered if this was common knowledge for people. I'll even admit that I texted multiple people with the trivia question, "hey, what happened after Adam and Eve realized they were naked?"

I think it's so important to stop and hone in on something like this, because depicts such a wonderful attribute of the God we serve: He is merciful.

Sin had just entered the world. They messed up. Big time. Humanity felt shame for the first time after they had never been aware of such a feeling. I can't even imagine. But even in their rebellion and shame, the Lord clothed them.

Even though they believed the lie that He was holding out on them.
Even though they and the rest of humankind would never again experience the kind of intimate relationship with the Lord that they initially had.
Even though they foolishly played the blame game after being confronted.
Even though they now had to leave this home of perfection that the Lord gave them, and even though there would certainly be other consequences for this sin, He provided for them when they realized they were exposed and helpless.

The Lord had every right to end it all right there and start over. But He's merciful. And not only that, but He has a plan. He was not caught off guard by their rebellion. We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

"Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever - ' therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken." - Genesis 3:22-23

My ESV Study Bible also had some notes about the moment the Lord sent them out of the garden:
"God begins a sentence in verse 22 and breaks off without finishing it—for the man to live forever (in his sinful condition) is an unbearable thought, and God must waste no time in preventing it (“therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden”). The tree of life, then, probably served in some way to confirm a person in his or her moral condition (cf. Prov. 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19)."

I love this perspective. It was an "unbearable thought" for God to think of man living forever in his sinful condition. Sending them out of the garden was a consequence of their sin, but it was also a merciful act on behalf of the Lord to send them away instead of them constantly being reminded of their shame and moral condition.

Genesis begins a story of messiness that lasts throughout the course of time. It has its redemptive qualities throughout, but it leads up to the greatest act of redemption at the cross.

How beautiful it is to be on this side of the cross - to look back and realize that the Lord had a plan all along. To know that He couldn't bear to have us stay as we are: exposed, ashamed, rebellious, messy. To know that Jesus would be sent thousands of years down the road to die on our behalf because we still can't get it right.

And how beautiful is it that Jesus is forever the same, which means He is constantly redeeming and restoring, being merciful in the midst of our sin. He pursues us and cares for us in moments when we feel the need to hide and be ashamed.

He exposes our sin, but He doesn't want us to stand in shame. And we don't have to, because He clothes us with His righteousness. No need for "just try harder," no need to hide, no need to attempt to get our own act together. Our greatest need has been met through the cross.

I hope this refreshes your heart and points you back to the character of Jesus. And if you haven't yet been introduced to Jesus, I hope this invites you to step out of wherever you may be figuratively hiding and step into His mercy.

His kindness leads us to repentance [Rom. 2:4], and His mercy is another reason to sing His grace.

Jocelyn Hepler