The debt we have accumulated through our failure to love as He requires us to has filled our lives and this world with all sorts of problems. Chief amongst these is the isolation from The LORD which we experience, but there are many others, such as the guilt we know when we think seriously about what we have done. In the New Testament, Adam is cited as the one who introduced both sin and death into our lives. Death is described as the wages paid by sin. Wages are the reward owed to us for the work we do.
We have already seen that The LORD warned Adam that he would die on the day he ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. However, he apparently lived on for many years and this confuses some people. They ask if God meant what He said, why did Adam did not drop dead on the spot? The simple answer is because Adam’s Creator already had His rescue plan in place! The same passage which records Adam’s lack of love for his Creator also tells of the Creator’s love for Adam and his descendants from then on. The LORD first speaks of His plan then demonstrates how it will work, for those with eyes to see.
Having eaten of the tree, Adam and his wife Eve had gained the knowledge of good and bad and their consciences (this word means “with knowledge”) now alerted to them to the fact their bodies were uncovered. This in turn reminded them that their actions too were exposed before their benevolent but righteous God. They reacted by trying to cover themselves up by their own work, but when that failed, they hid when they heard Him coming to talk to them as He did every day. But The LORD would have none of that and called them to speak to Him, along with the serpent through whom the Devil had tempted them. In a heart to heart discussion, He told them of the consequences of their actions, and went on to give them an initial demonstration of His rescue plan.
Speaking to the serpent (but addressing the Devil) The LORD said, “And there will be hostility between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed: by him will your head be crushed and by you his foot will be wounded.” Whilst this could be seen as referring to the subsequent interaction between human beings and snakes, its full weight applies to a much greater moment in time. The descendant (seed) of the woman being indicated is Jesus Christ, and the moment in history being highlighted is when Jesus was killed at a place called Calvary, outside Jerusalem. At that moment it seemed as if the Devil was triumphant, but it turned out to be only a bruise on the heel of Christ. Three days later when His father raised Him from death, Calvary turned out to be the crushing of Satan’s head, because the cost of the rebellion he had fomented in the world in order to fulfil his own ambitions had been paid for in full.
To appreciate how this turn-around was accomplished, we need to look at the first thing The LORD did after His conversation with Adam and Eve. We read, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skin for their clothing.” This may seem like a passing comment, but there is more behind it than the casual reader may spot. First we should remember that their own efforts to clothe themselves had not solved their problem. Next we should ask, where did the these skins come from? At least one animal had to die to provide the hide. What happened to that animal when its skin was taken? It would have died, because it is not possible to skin an animal without shedding its blood. Where did it come from; who did it belong to? It must have been one of the ones God had created a short time earlier. Did it deserve to die any more than the others of its kind? No. It was the man who had sinned, not this innocent animal.
When Adam disobeyed his Creator, he put a barrier between himself and his God. Thus he died spiritually, but he should also have died physically. Instead, an innocent animal provided by His Creator died in his place and provided, by the shedding of its blood, a covering for the consequences of human rebellion. God was faithful to His word - a life was lost on the day Adam sinned, but His justice was tempered with His mercy, because He knew that He had given Adam the freedom to make his own choices and wanted to provide him with the opportunity of repenting of that choice. This first act of mercy pointed like a signpost to the way His mercy would ultimately be made available to every human being throughout history.
Next: A promise kept
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