“Salvation” series (post #5)
When Adam and Eve became sinners by eating of the forbidden fruit, God had all kinds of options as to how He could respond. He could give them a good scolding, pat them on the heads, and say, “Now go about your business.” He could throw down a couple of lightning bolts to kill them on the spot and create another man and another woman to pick up where they had left off in Eden. Or He could delete all of creation, including them, and start the whole Genesis chapters 1 and 2 process all over again from scratch for another try.
But God didn’t do any of these things. Instead, He personally came down to Eden and pronounced various judgments upon Adam, Eve, and the serpent (with the fallen angel Satan still being inside the serpent’s body). And then He did something completely unexpected: He killed a couple of Eden’s animals. Our best guess is that the animals were lambs, but the Bible doesn’t specifically say what type they were.
Okay, so why did God kill those animals? Well, He was working on multiple levels there. First, He wanted Adam and Eve to see firsthand what the horror of physical death looked like. Up until those deaths, they hadn’t had any visual reference on that subject.
Second, since their sinful state had now created a newfound shame within them concerning their nakedness, God had to address the practical need of them requiring clothing. They had tried to meet this need by covering themselves with fig leaves, but those fig leaves weren’t acceptable to God. So, He made them clothes from the skins (hides) of the dead animals. Evidently, He fashioned one set of clothes from each animal.
Third, however, and most important, God killed those two animals to provide Him with a way to forgive Adam and Eve for their sin. You see, what Adam and Eve did not know, because God had never told them, is that He holds to the concept of blood atonement. Blood atonement is the idea that the innocent can die to pay the sin debt owed by the guilty. What did those two animals do to deserve dying? Absolutely nothing. In that sense, they were innocent. So why did God kill them? They died as substitutionary sacrifices for Adam and Eve. It’s that simple.
As Adam and Eve stood there, watching the red blood ooze out from the lifeless bodies of those animals, they must have been aghast. Never before had they seen the stuff that flows through the bodies of humans and creatures. Perhaps they thought, “Oh, this is what God meant when He said concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ‘In the day you eat of it you shall surely DIE.'” Standing there looking down upon those animals, Adam and Eve undoubtedly had a whole new level of appreciation for that warning.
The husband and wife didn’t know it at the time, but God had just evidenced to them a couple of major theological truths that He would later on reveal more fully to the human race. One of these truths is summed up in Leviticus 17:11, where God says to the people of Israel:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. (N.K.J.V.)
This verse explains why God wouldn’t accept Adam and Eve’s fig leaves as coverings for them. Those fig leaves might have covered the couple’s nakedness, but they could never cover the couple’s sins. Why not? It was because those fig leaves didn’t have blood. It’s blood that indicates life, and the only way that God will accept a substitutionary sacrifice is upon the basis of life-for-life. Actually, Adam and Eve’s fig leaves have been called “the world’s first religion.” In other words, it was the human race’s first attempt at addressing the sin problem. But it didn’t work because it didn’t approach the problem in God’s way.
The other major theological truth that God killing those animals evidenced is very similar to the first and is summed up in Hebrews 9:22. There we read these vitally important words:
…and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (N.I.V.)
Here again we see that for Adam and Eve to receive forgiveness for their sin, blood had to be shed. If their problem had been no more than them needing clothes, God could have handled that by merely shearing a couple of sheep, without actually killing the sheep. But Adam and Eve’s problem ran much deeper than that. They were now sinners, and God only forgives sin on the basis of blood shed via literal death. The innocent must die for the guilty. Anything short of that, and the sinner still stands condemned in his or her guilt. In that regard, fleeces from sheep wouldn’t have helped Adam and Eve any more than fig leaves did.
And here’s where we will put a period on this subject for now. Rest assured, though, that we will pick things up from right here in the next post. Now that we understand the concept of blood atonement, how far back it goes for the human race, and the incalculably high value God places upon it in regards to the forgiveness of sin, we can trace the concept down through history. Trust me, it will be an interesting ride. And where will it end? It will end with a man named Jesus dying on a Roman cross. Stay tuned…..