Guarding Against the Spirit Of Complacency

Bible Study and Commentary in Zephaniah 1:1-2:3

Zephaniah actually deals with the “Day of the Lord”, much more directly than any of the other Old Testament prophets.  Much like the prophet Amos, Zephaniah points out that the people of Judah shouldn’t be looking forward to the “Day of the Lord”, even though their enemies would be punished, for they too would be judged for their sins.

That said, the purpose of the PROPHECY wasn’t to drive the people to hopelessness and despair for what was coming, but rather to shock them out of the complacency they had developed in their worship of God.  As Matthew Henry once stated, Zephaniah intended “not to frighten them out of their wits, but to frighten them out of their sin.”

With many other prophecies I’ve come across in the reading of the Old Testament, I’ve found both a near term and far term fulfillment of Zephaniah’s prophecy.  It’s like peeling an onion, one layer at a time.

The near-term fulfillment came in Zephaniah’s generation as Babylon invaded Judah and Jerusalem and took the people captive.  But there are certain aspects of Zephaniah’s prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled with the return of Jesus.  [See “are we THERE YET?” blog-study, 8/27/19]

In this chapter reading, much of what is learned about the “Day of the Lord” is confirmed:

  • It’s universal – the entire world is going to experience the effects of God’s wrath being poured out.
  • It’s certain – although we don’t know when the final culmination of the “Day of the Lord” will begin, it will happen.  [READ 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12]
  • It’s horrific – perhaps more than any other Old Testament prophet, Zephaniah describes the nature of the final culmination with words like wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, darkness, and doom.

I don’t want to focus my studies on those specific details.  I want to investigate and dig deeper into God’s Word to see if we can discover some of the underlying reasons for God’s JUDGMENT, particularly in the discipline of His own children.  There’s little doubt in my mind that the key verse for the entire book of Zephaniah is…

Zephaniah 1:12 – “And at that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish the men who [like old wine] are thickening and settling on their lees, who say in their hearts, The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.”  [Amplified Bible]

The language in this verse certainly would have caused Zephaniah’s listeners to think of the Passover, where every family would take a candle (“lamps”) and search every nook and cranny in their house to find and remove any leaven that might be tucked away.

In much the same way, God said that He would search every single inch of Jerusalem in order to punish the sin that was there.  And there was one SIN in particular that God focused on here – the SIN OF COMPLACENCY – or “stagnancy.”

Usually, there’s a grouping of sins into Two Groups:

  • SINS OF COMMISSION, where we do something that we’re not supposed to do.
  • SINS OF OMISSION, where we fail to do something that we should do.

But what really provokes God is the kind of COMPLACENCY that accepts sin as a lifestyle because we don’t think that God really cares about our sin, or that He won’t do anything about it.

It’s clear from the entire passage here, that the scriptural context provided isn’t speaking to the outsiders, but rather to those that claimed to be His children.  It reminds me of Jesus’ letter to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3, where He warned them against being lukewarm.

Okay, so we are complacent at times in the Church.  How do we guard against complacency in our own relationship with God?

Complacency in our spiritual lives can come from a number of different factors.  So in this bible-study, I want to use this passage to evaluate our own spiritual lives to determine whether we are in danger of slipping into complacency, or even if we’ve already arrived.

After reading and re-reading this passage of Scripture, I decided to group into THREE major components attributed to the number of underlying problems.

  • FAILURE TO SEEK GOD

In verse 6, Zephaniah addresses “those who have turned back from following the Lord who do not seek the Lord or inquire of Him.”

While David was out in the wilderness of Judah, he wrote Psalm 63, which he described the way that we need to seek our God in every way, and every day:

Are you a SEEKER?  Are you thirsting for God in the same way you would thirst for water if you found yourself stranded in Death Valley in the middle of the summer?

Unfortunately what happens for most of us is that we start out on our spiritual journey thirsting for God.  We can’t get enough of our Bible reading, study, we long to come into His presence in prayer, and we take advantage of every opportunity that we can find to learn more about Him, getting to know Him as we should.

But gradually over time our fervor, our enthusiasm wanes and we wake up one day and realize that we are no longer seeking after God like we once did, and we don’t know why!

I truly believe that the same progression is exactly why so many marriages in this country end up in divorce.  According to a 2008 study by the Barna Research Group, those identified as Christian are just as likely as non-Christians to be divorced.  And according to Shaunti Feldhahn in her book The Good News About Marriage says, the overall divorce rate has never reached the 50 percent level.  According to her study, the overall divorce rate is around 33%.  That’s lower than the purported 50%, but still, nothing to jump up and down about.

When I first started dating my future wife to be, some 55 years ago, I would do everything that I could to get to know her, and then to do what I could to please her as I got to know her better.  But for many couples, once the honeymoon is over, they gradually move away from that process until one day they wake up and realize that they don’t really know their spouse all that well and lost the desire to do what it takes to please the other person.

But just as it’s never too late to re-start that process in a marriage, it’s never too late to return to our roots and seek God like we once did.

  • Separating the “secular” and the “sacred”

As we look at the spiritual life of Judah as described by Zephaniah, it becomes clear that one of the root problems was that the people had separated the “secular” from the “sacred”.

This isn’t the first time that Israel had engaged in this practice, as the prophet Amos had to address that same issue with Israel over 100 years earlier.  Zephaniah points to the problem in detail, verses 10 and 11 (NIV):

[10] “On that day,” declares the LORD, “a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.

The FISH GATE

[11] Wail, you who live in the market district (or the Mortar); all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined.

In this section, Zephaniah is primarily addressing the practices of the businessmen in Jerusalem.  The Fish Gate was primarily on the north wall of Jerusalem and gots its name either because the fishermen brought their catch through the gate or because the fish market was nearby.

Pike’s Place Fish Market, Seattle Washington

I don’t believe there was “fish tossing,” at the marketplace in Jerusalem, but you get the idea.

The Second Quarter was likely the area northwest of the Temple area, home to many wealthy businessmen.  And the Mortar was a business district in Jerusalem.  All of that would be consistent with Zephaniah’s condemnation of the traders and those who weigh out silver.

The scenario was exactly the same as described in Amos 3.  These business people would go to church on Saturday and then the rest of the week, engage in immoral business practices in order to make a bigger profit.  And the only way that was possible is, they had to separate the “secular” and the “sacred” aspect of their lives.

Unfortunately, as I see it, not much has changed in the last 2,600 years.

We still tend to compartmentalize our lives.  We put Bible reading, prayer and church activities, all in one basket we identify as “spiritual.”  Then we dump everything else into another basket we label “secular” – things like our family, our job, our neighborhood, our communities, politics, and our finances.  But the problem with that approach, it’s not Biblical.  The apostle Paul certainly had to address that same mindset while writing to the Colossian church:

Whatever we do in the name Of Jesus, Paul didn’t make any exceptions.

He didn’t write, “In everything but your finances” or “in everything but your marriage.”  The fact is that the true measure of our WORSHIP is far less dependent on what we do on Sunday morning than it is on how we live our lives for the rest of the week.

So here’s an idea for us all to practice, God helping us along the way – Romans 12:1 (The Message Bible)

The OFFERING that God wants from me is to take every aspect of my life and make Him the center of all I do!  That’s the kind of WORSHIP that pleases my heavenly Father.

  • Seeking to “cover all my bases”

This may be the biggest problem of all!

The people haven’t forgotten about their “worshipping” God – they’ve just added a whole lot of other things to it.  It’s as if they decided to “cover all their bases.”

So they bow down to idols, following the example set by the priests, who are also engaging in that idolatry.  They go up on their roofs and worship the stars.  They swear an oath to God, but just in case…swear that same oath to another god.  The entry into the superstitious practices of the pagans around them, like leaping over the threshold in order to avoid disturbing the gods.

Of course today, we would never do anything like that, would we?

Edward Gibbon in his book, The Decline, and Fall of the Roman Empire described the attitude towards “religion” in the last days of the Roman Empire.

  • The people regarded ALL religions as equally true.
  • The philosophers regarded ALL religions as equally false.
  • The politicians regarded ALL religions as equally useful.

Sound familiar?

But unfortunately, the problem isn’t limited to our culture in general.  It’s crept into the Church itself.

I’ve known those who claim to be Christians who would never think of starting their day without reading their horoscope, maybe even right after they read their Bible.  And even if we don’t have idols carved out of stone, how many Christians make gods out of their jobs, their possessions, their social status, or even something good, like their families?

But God has given us a very clear command about trying to worship other gods at the same time we claim to worship Him:

Sometimes, we have slipped into or maybe even fallen completely, in a place of complacency in our spiritual life.  The good news is, we don’t have to fall prey to complacency.

In fact, even for the people of Judah in Zephaniah’s day, it still wasn’t too late to take steps that were necessary to recover from the complacency to guard against falling back there again.

At the beginning of chapter 2, Zephaniah provides his listeners, and us, the antidote to COMPLACENCY:

Zephaniah 2:1-3

In this passage, we find God’s commands that are intended to keep us from becoming spiritually complacent.

  • SEEK

This is the predominant command here for it’s repeated three times.

This is exactly the opposite of what started the people on their downward slide to COMPLACENCY in the first place when they quit SEEKING God.

There are THREE specific things we are commanded to SEEK:

  • The Lord
  • Righteousness
  • Humility

Rather than dealing with each of the three separately, and after meditating on the three, it occurred to me that these 3 Things are actually connected.

Although the people of Zephaniah’s day certainly couldn’t see the whole picture, on this side of the Cross, or recognizes that he’s describing here a process – the only process – by which we can become righteous in God’s eyes.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

The “Connection Junction” –

  • HUMILITY

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  C.S. Lewis

We have to first HUMBLE ourselves and admit our sinfulness to God.  Then as we SEEK out Jesus as the means to deal with our sin, we are made RIGHTEOUS before God as a result of His finished work on the CROSS, not based on our own merit or good works.

But that can’t be a one-time decision!

We have to choose each day to continue to HUMBLY recognize our shortcomings, our sinfulness, and confess it in the name of Jesus so that we might be able to continue to SEEK our God.

  • OBEY

In verse 3, those who may be hidden by God are described as those “you who do what he commands”.  Although it’s impossible to earn God’s favor by obeying His commands, the Bible is clear that whether or not we OBEY His commands demonstrates whether we truly love Him.

And for those who guard against COMPLACENCY by adhering to these commands, God has a promise – one that’s related to Zephaniah’s name, which means “YHWH hides”.

So for those who SEEK & OBEY, God holds out hope that He will hide them away at the culmination of the “Day of the Lord” when His anger is poured out.

I encourage you to look at the rest of the Book of Zephaniah on your own, because Zephaniah, like many of the other prophets, ends his book with a word of hope.  He describes how God is going to restore Israel and make them prosper in their land once again.

So let’s make sure that we don’t become complacent in our worshipping of God.  Every day let’s humble ourselves before God, and seek His face.  Let us obey His commands!

_____________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Interlinear Bible; New English Translation (NET); The Message Bible;

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search

Commentary:  Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary – Zephaniah 1:12;  StudyLight.Org

TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY – “No Reserves, No Regrets, No Retreats”

Today’s Bible Study in Galatians 6:10:   LIFE HAS A PURPOSE…

NIV BIBLE:  Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

LIVING BIBLE:  That’s why whenever we can we should always be kind to everyone and especially to our Christian brothers.

MESSAGE BIBLE:  Every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. 

Most OPPORTUNITIES come by way of A PROBLEM, A TRIAL, or A TEST.

Opportunity defined:  A favorable chance or opening offered by our circumstances, an occasion, a possibility.

AN OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED…(John 6:4-12) –

We’ve got a BIG PROBLEM here in this biblical account…5,000 HUNGRY PEOPLE!

John 6:4 –  “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was approaching…”

Many teachers say 5,000 are men and doesn’t include women and children.  Now is this going to be a BIG PROBLEM, or is it… A BIG OPPORTUNITY???

VERSES 5-12 (NIV):

[5] When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,  “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  [6] He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  

[7] Phillip answered him,  “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  [8] Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,  [9] “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 

[10] Jesus said,  “Have the people sit down.”  There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.  [11] Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish.

[12] When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples,  “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”

JESUS already knew what He was going to do.  I don’t think we can realize the scope of the problem here–the scope of the presented opportunity.

In my hometown, a Big Mac sandwich, Fries, and a medium soft drink on average runs about $7.01.

Google Image Search, Advance Search Setting

 

So $7.01 x 5,000 = $35,050.00.

The Disciple ANDREW had the answer as his human reasoning focused on the PROBLEM rather than the OPPORTUNITY.

I think most of us have had an ‘Andrew Moment’.

JESUS took the little boys OFFERING and said thanks…Nothing was lost, and they gathered up the leftovers.

Often people have the tendency to allow their PAST determine their FUTURE and what is denied can never be healed.

Let us not forget that not all OPPORTUNITIES are good…

And in the COURSE OF TIME, choices matter, behavior matters, and how you treat others matter.

Many times ANGER, BITTERNESS are the drivers of OPPORTUNITIES…

And in the COURSE OF TIME…

CAIN OFFERS THE FRUIT…

ABEL OFFERS THE FIRSTLING.

Cain gets ANGRY at his brother but why not at himself?  You show me what ticks you off and I’ll show you what makes you tick.

Genesis 4:3 – In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground.

One event can drive one to right or to wrong.  It might come down to ATTITUDE regarding the OPPORTUNITIES set before us which will set in concrete our words and actions.

Genesis 4:5 – So Cain was angry, and his face fell.

Check it out–SIN, COMMISSION OR OMISSION, SIN lies behind WARS & STRIFE.

Genesis 4:7 (AMP) – If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

The New Testament Records the Sad History of Missed Opportunities –

There’s no record of CAIN ever repenting, rather, he throws out the EXCUSE-

Genesis 4:9 (NIV)

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

HEBREWS 11:4 –

Perhaps we need to burn some bridges behind us…the BRIDGE could be an OPPORTUNITY!

HOW MANY PEOPLE, DO YOU THINK, LOOK BACK?

Luke 17:32 “Remember Lot’s wife?”

[33] Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it and quicken it  (AMP).

When we can take full advantage of an OPPORTUNITY, we find what lurks in the SHADOWS, an OPPORTUNITY to return.

ABRAHAM, SARAH AND OTHERS OPPORTUNITIES – 

Hebrews 11:8-16 (NIV)

[8] By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  [9] By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  [10] For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

[11] By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. [12] And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

[13] All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  [14] People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  [15] If they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return.  [16] Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

This Brings A Series of QUESTIONS to ask oneself:

WHO ARE YOU?

WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN FOR?

WHAT WORDS WOULD YOU HAVE OTHERS SPEAK ABOUT YOU?

We ALL have OPPORTUNITIES in the menial task we face every day.  OPPORTUNITIES to demonstrate who we are!

OPPORTUNITIES to demonstrate the FLESH or the SPIRIT man.

Romans 12:10 (AMP) –  Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], GIVING precedence and showing honor to one another.

Do I REACT or do I ACT by FAITH?

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

ARE YOU:

  • FAITHFUL?  DEPENDABLE?
  • ARE YOU KIND?  TENDERHEARTED?  DO YOU CARE?
  • DO YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS?  REFRESH THEM?
  • DO YOU MODEL FORGIVENESS?

LIFE Does Have A Purpose…

Does the OPPORTUNITY make me a VICTIM or a VICTOR?

How many of us take the OPPORTUNITY to drive down the road while looking in the REARVIEW MIRROR?

Philippians 3:13 (TLB)

[13] No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energy to bear on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

OFTEN, Christians just want to LIVE IN THE MOMENT…

We only want to think of the “right now!”

Sure, we face all kinds of TROUBLES and TRIALS every day, but by TAKING THIS MOMENT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE CHRIST,…

We look ahead!

Never forget that JESUS IS A REWARDER— a return or recompense, restoration, award, prize, bounty, satisfying, worthwhile, fruitful.

HEBREWS 11:6 (AMP)

[6]  But without faith, it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him.  For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] BELIEVE God exists and that He is the REWARDER of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

THERE ARE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD!

Deuteronomy 30:15 (NIV) –

[15]  See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (AMP) –

[19]  I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE AND DEATH,  the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.

WE have OPPORTUNITIES to PRAY, READ the Bible, WITNESS, to DREAM BIG…

A missionary served in Egypt.  He died after serving there and in the front of his Bible was penned:

NO RESERVES,

NO REGRETS,

NO RETREATS.

OPPORTUNITY IS YOUR CHOICE.  WHICH PATH WILL YOU CHOOSE?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

– BIBLE HUB-

Photos:  Google Image Search – Advanced Settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR NAKEDNESS REVEALED

Several years ago, as an adult Sunday School teacher, I was asked this question during a bible study in Genesis 3: 

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness
Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

“Why was it, that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the first thing they noticed was that we’re NAKED?  Weren’t they ALWAYS naked?”

“Well yes,” I answered.

“But before they ate of the tree…they didn’t think about it.  They were innocent; their hearts were pure.” 

Genesis 2:25 (AMP):  

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.”

Have you ever noticed little children?  Sometimes they strip off all their clothes and begin running naked all through the house.  They’re not worried about being naked, one bit.

They have no shame.  But why?

One commentator noted:

“Two-year-olds don’t see any difference between (their) face, (their) knees, and the parts of (their) body which we adults insist that (they) cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Because those parts are connected with physical lust and passions”  (Chaya Sarah Silberberg, Chabad.org).

You see, before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, their hearts were PURE–nothing needed to be covered.

But once they ate of the FRUIT…that all changed.  Their HEARTS–MINDS were now tainted by sinful thoughts they had never considered before.

JESUS said “…out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs)…”

You see, there were NO evil thoughts inside them UNTIL…they ate of the FRUIT.  

But afterwards, the KNOWLEDGE they gained…SHAMED them.

But it gets worse!

The couple’s new-found knowledge separated them from God.

THE FINAL PUNISHMENT from their disobedience of God’s command (Gen. 2:17) upon Adam and Eve was for them to leave His presence (Gen. 3:23,24):

23  So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt of which they’d been made.  24 He threw them out of the garden…

Yep! God kicked them out!!!  He evicted them from their home.

But God didn’t completely turn His back on them.  Before God sent them away, He gave them a SPECIAL GIFT:

Genesis 3:21:  “…the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now when I read the words here, I thought this was interesting:

 1st, Adam and Eve ALREADY had clothes–FIG LEAVES.

Genesis 3:7 tells us that “…they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves”  (English Standard Version – ESV)..

You know, I’ve seen many different kinds of leaves over my lifespan; I even once tried toFigLeaf grow a FIG TREE in the backyard BUT I have yet to see any LEAF that I’d feel very comfortable with wearing out in public.  And apparently, these particular leaves didn’t do much more for Adam and Eve.

When GOD comes walking in the Garden and finds the couple hide themselves…and when GOD calls out and asks Adam where he’s at, look at how Adam replies:

“I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was afraid because I was NAKED; and I hid myself”  (Genesis 3:10).

Think about that!

Up until that moment they thought their fig leaf aprons were doing the job.  But suddenly the LEAVES…leave them feeling NAKED…EXPOSED.

SO WHEN did Adam realize his fig leaves were not enough; making them feeling NAKED?  (when God came visiting)

It was when Adam found himself in God’s Presence that he realized his man-made coverings were not enough.

NAKEDNESS has been the symbol of our sinfulness ever since the Garden.  

Whenever a person’s SINS are discovered, we say they have been EXPOSED/REVEALED.

JESUS warns us NOT to be found “naked and exposed” when He comes again:

“BEHOLD, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake (alert)  and  who  guards  his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!”  (Revelation 16:15 AMP)

I think most people understand this reality of “being exposed”.  

They know their “nakedness”…they know their own sin/shame personally.  They even may be merrily living their lives, working out in the garden one day, doing something in the house, or working at the local grocery store and suddenly…it hits them out of the blue; A THOUGHT will overcome them reminding them of a something they’d said, done or thought in the past that brings a sudden wave of SHAME over their lives.

Genesis 3:11:  And GOD SAID,  “Who told you that you were naked?”

I just love that verse, which brings me back to the peruvial “THE GENESIS QUESTION” presented in Genesis 3:1:

And he [Satan] said to the woman,

“Can it really be that God has said…?”

In Henry M. Morris’ book, The Genesis Record, he writes this commentary:

The approach of Satan (through a serpent) to the woman was a masterpiece of effective subtly.  Catching her when she was alone, without Adam to counsel and warn her, probably one day when she was admiring the beautiful fruit trees in the garden, he first insinuated something which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before, namely, that it was possible for a creature to question God’s Word, “that God has said?”  In other words, “Did God really say such as that!”  Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve’s “naive” acceptance of God’s command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries with great success ever since. This first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought.  “He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He?  Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?

If one studies each situation closely, you will find that SIN always begins by questioning either the Word of God or the goodness of God, or both.

So the 1st thought-provoking thing that came to me about the story of ADAM & EVE was that they ALREADY had clothes; they just weren’t very good clothes and were man-made.

The 2nd thing that’s thought-provoking here was God supplied their clothing.  He gave them clothing that He made for them.  GOD DID IT ALL–they did nothing.  All they did was to put on the clothes and even more interesting was the KIND of clothing God supplied–ANIMAL SKINS.

Genesis 3:21 says, “…the Lord made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now where would God get skin off an animal?  It’s got to die!

When God called these animals to cover Adam and Eve’s NAKEDNESS–their Shame–it became the beginning of animal sacrifices.  Animal Sacrifices were made throughout the Old Testament to pay for SIN.

The LAW OF MOSES repeatedly taught the Israelites that every SIN that they committed was punishable by DEATH.  But since everyone sinned, God allowed them to PAY for their sins by OFFERING UP a Sacrifice a pure and spotless animal in their place.

Hebrews 9:22 tell us  “..without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”

Leviticus 17:11 taught  “…for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents].”

In order for God to give mankind forgiveness…something had to die.

But why would God have an animal die for ADAM & EVE?  Well, God had created the animals FOR them.  One of these gentle companions God had given them had to DIE to cover their NAKEDNESS.

A PRICE had to be PAID for their SIN and BLOOD, which is the life of the sacrificial animal was the dearest price that could be paid.

And so, the animals that God used to make Adam and Eve’s garments are the FIRST DEATHS on earth.  Nothing else had ever died before this.  They were literally the FIRST SACRIFICES ever made in man’s history.

One person has rightly noted that God made the FIRST and the LAST Sacrifices for man’s sin.

Here in the Garden of Eden, God sacrificed the FIRST innocent animal to cover sin.

And it was on Mount Calvary, God made the LAST sacrifice, His sinless son, to COVER sin. 

In the garden, God supplied Adam and Eve with garments.  His GIFT to them involved the DEATH of an innocent animal.

His GIFT to us, involved the GIFT of His Son…a PURE & SPOTLESS OFFERING to cover our NAKEDNESS.

Genesis tells us that God sacrificed those first animals to cover man’s NAKEDNESS. And today, the SACRIFICE of Christ on the Cross covers our NAKEDNESS.

BUT HOW?

The answer is found in Galatians 3:27:

“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ  [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah]  have put on (CLOTHED yourselves with) Christ.”

When we were buried in the waters of our BAPTISM, we were literally wrapped in JESUS and His righteousness COVERS us like a garment.

BUT THE GARMENT we received through Jesus Christ is far better than the ones that Adam and Eve were given.

  • Their garments would eventually wear out.
  • Their garments would eventually be torn and stained.
  • And their garments would ultimately become shabby and not worth wearing.

But worse than that…the GARMENTS God had made for Adam & Eve would never allow them back into God’s presence.  No matter how long they wore them, they would never be allowed to re-enter the beautiful Garden that He had prepared for their home.

But when you and I put on JESUS, that all changed.

Hebrews 10:14-23:

“…by one sacrifice (Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more…Therefore brothers, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having out hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”  (NIV Bible).

Unlike Adam and Eve, the GARMENT Jesus supplied us with gives us the privilege of BOLDLY COMING to God’s presence and enjoying His love and compassion on a personal level.

No more NAKEDNESS–no more SHAME!  We have been made innocent in God’s eyes by the BLOOD COVERING of His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

stock-photo-cross-with-a-man-kneel-in-prayer-on-a-beach-at-sunset-138903485

 

 


CREDITS:

The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris – Baker Book House Grand Rapids, MI 49506 – Copyright 1976

Photo Images:  search Google Images; Shutterstock.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.