What is the Greatest Love Story ever?

If you were to name some classic love stories you might suggest Helen of Troy & Paris (igniting the Trojan War dramatized in the Iliad), Cleopatra and Mark Antony (whose love entwined Rome in a civil war with Octavian/Augustus Caesar), Romeo & Juliet, Beauty & the Beast, or perhaps Cinderella & Prince Charming. In them, history, pop culture, and romantic fiction come together in offering passionate love stories. These easily captivate our hearts, emotions, and imaginations.

Ruth & Boaz Love Story

Amazingly, the love that sparked between Ruth & Boaz has proved far more enduring than any of these love affairs. It still affects the lives of all the billions of us living today. Its ramifications live on more than three thousand years after these lovers met. Rather than the tabloid love stories that last only a fleeting moment their love has outlasted all the classics mentioned above. Their romance is also a picture of a mystical and spiritual love offered to you and me. The story of Ruth and Boaz deals with cross-cultural & forbidden love. It models a healthy relationship between a powerful man and a vulnerable woman. Thus it speaks to today’s #MeToo generation. It becomes a blueprint for us on how to establish a healthy marriage. By any of these measures, the love story of Ruth & Boaz is worth knowing.

The Book of Ruth in the Bible records their love.  It is a short book with only 2400 words. It thus makes a quick read (here).  The setting happens around 1150 BCE, making this the oldest of all recorded love stories. 

Hollywood movie depicting the Ruth Love story

The Love Story of Ruth

Naomi and her husband with their two sons leave Israel to escape drought. They settle in the nearby country of Moab (today’s Jordan).  After marrying local women the two sons die, as does Naomi’s husband, leaving her alone with her two daughters-in-law.  Naomi decides to return to her native Israel and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, chooses to accompany her.  After a long absence, Naomi is back in her native Bethlehem. She has become a destitute widow and is accompanied by Ruth, a young and vulnerable Moabite immigrant.

Ruth & Boaz meet

Ruth & Boaz meet. Much art has been done depicting their meeting
Much art has been done depicting the meeting of Ruth and Boaz

Bereft of income, Ruth goes out to gather grain left behind by the local harvest crews in the fields.  The Law of Moses, as a social safety net, had ordained harvesters to leave some grains behind in their fields. Accordingly, the impoverished could gather food and survive.  Randomly it would seem, Ruth finds herself picking grains in the fields of a wealthy landowner named Boaz.  Boaz notices Ruth among the others working hard to gather up the grains left behind by his work crews.  He instructs his foremen to leave extra grain behind in the field so that she can gather more.

Because she can gather plentifully in his fields, Ruth comes back to Boaz’s fields every day to gather left-over grain.  Boaz, ever the protector, ensures that his crews do not harass or molest Ruth.  Instead, he commands them to leave more grain behind for her to gather. Ruth and Boaz become interested in each other. But because of differences in age, social status, and nationality, neither makes a move.  Here Naomi steps in as match-maker.  She instructs Ruth to boldly lay down by Boaz’s side at night after he has celebrated the harvest gathering.  Boaz understands this as a marriage proposal and decides to marry her.

Kinsman Redeemer

But the situation is more complicated than simply love between them. Naomi is a relative of Boaz, and since Ruth is her daughter-in-law, Boaz, and Ruth are kin by marriage. Boaz must marry her as a ‘kinsmen redeemer’. This meant that under the Law of Moses, he would marry her ‘in the name’ of her first husband (Naomi’s son). In this way, he would provide for Naomi also. This would entail that Boaz purchases Naomi’s family fields. Though that would prove costly to Boaz it was not the biggest obstacle. There was another closer relative that had first rights to buy Naomi’s family’s fields (and also thus marry Ruth). 

So the marriage of Ruth to Boaz hung on whether another man wanted the responsibility to care for Naomi and Ruth. At a public meeting of the city elders, this first-in-line declined the marriage. He did so because it put his estate at risk. Boaz was thus free to purchase and redeem Naomi’s family estate and marry Ruth.

Legacy of Ruth & Boaz

In their union, they had a child, Obed, who in turn became the grandfather of King David. God promised David that ‘a Christ’ would come from his family, with further prophecies following. Centuries later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the same town that Ruth and Boaz had met in long before. Their romance, marriage, and family line resulted in offspring that today is the basis for the BCE and CE calendar. Global holidays like Christmas & Easter also count among the by-products of that love. Not bad for a romance in a dusty village over 3000 years ago.

Picturing a Greater Love Story

The rich and powerful Boaz treated Ruth, the destitute foreign woman, with chivalry and respect. This speaks against the harassment and exploitations now common in our #MeToo day. The historical impact of the family line which this romance and marriage produced, detectable every time we note the date on our devices, gives this love story an enduring legacy. But the Ruth & Boaz love story is also a picture of an even greater love. You and I are invited to this one.

The Bible describes us in a manner evoking Ruth when it says:

I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’

Hosea 2:23

The Old Testament prophet Hosea (ca 750 BCE) initiated reconciliation in his fractured marriage. The scripture used this reunion to picture God reaching out to us, the unloved, with His love. Ruth also entered the land as one unloved but then was shown love by Boaz. Likewise, God desires to show His love even to those of us who feel far from His love. The New Testament (Romans 9:25) quotes this to show how God reaches wide to love those far from Him.

How is His love shown? Jesus, that descendant offspring from Boaz & Ruth, is God come-in-the-flesh. Therefore he is our ‘kinsman’, just as Boaz was to Ruth. Thus, as Boaz paid to redeem Ruth, Jesus paid for our debt to God on the cross, and thus he…

Jesus paid our price

gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:14

Boaz was a ‘kinsman-redeemer’ who paid a price to redeem Ruth. This explicitly illustrated, how likewise, Jesus our ‘kinsman-redeemer’, paid (with his life) to redeem us.

A Model for our marriages

The way Jesus (and Boaz) paid to redeem and then win his bride models how we can build our marriages.  The Bible explains how we establish our marriages:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wifeas he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21-33

Boaz and Ruth established their marriage on love and respect. Jesus’ care for his church is a model for husbands to love their wives sacrificially. So we do well to build our marriages on these same values.

A Wedding Invitation for you and me

As in all good love stories, the Bible concludes with a wedding.  The price that Boaz paid to redeem Ruth paved the way for their wedding. Likewise, the price that Jesus paid has paved the way for our wedding.  That wedding is not figurative but real, and those accepting his wedding invitation are called ‘The Bride of Christ’.  As it says:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 

Revelation 19:7

Those who receive Jesus’ offer of redemption become his ‘bride’.  This heavenly wedding is offered to all of us.  The Bible ends with this invitation for you and me to come to His wedding

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Revelation 22:17

The relationship between Ruth & Boaz is a model of love that is still making itself felt today.  It is a picture of the heavenly romance of God who loves us.  He will marry as His Bride all who accept His marriage proposal.  As with any marriage proposal, His offer should be weighed to see if you should accept it.  Start here with the ‘plan’ laid out from the beginning of human history and follow its development. Notice how it is all predicted long beforehand to prove it really is God’s Proposal.

Another adaptation of the Book of Ruth in film

What’s the Gospel? Considered through COVID, Quarantine and Vaccine

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, emerged in China towards the end of 2019.  Just a few months later it had raged around the world, infecting and killing millions while spreading to every country.

The lightning fast spread of COVID-19 created panic around the world.  People were unsure what to do in light of this pandemic.  But before vaccines emerged, medical professionals insisted that success in containing COVID-19 hung on one big strategy. Everyone on the planet practiced social distancing and quarantine. This caused authorities around the world to setup lockdown and isolation rules. 

In most places people could not meet in large groups and had to keep at least two meters distance from others. Those who came in contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 had to completely isolate themselves from contact with others. 

Simultaneously, medical researchers raced to find a vaccine.  They hoped that vaccinated people would develop resistance to the coronavirus. Then the spread of COVID-19 would be less fatal and slow down. 

Covid -19 Vaccine

These extreme procedures to isolate, quarantine, and develop a coronavirus vaccine, provide a living illustration of another procedure to treat a different virus. But this virus is a spiritual one.  That procedure is at the heart of the mission of Jesus and his Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The coronavirus was so serious that societies across the planet attempted drastic steps to protect their citizens. So perhaps it is worthwhile to also understand this spiritual counterpart. We do not want to be caught unaware by this threat like the world was with COVID.  The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates abstract Biblical themes like sin, heaven, and hell, but also the mission of Jesus.

First how the infectious disease illustrates sin…

A Deadly & Contagious Infection.

No one really thought that COVID-19 is pleasant to think about, but it was unavoidable. Likewise, the Bible talks a great deal about sin and its consequences, another topic we prefer to avoid.  An image the Bible uses to describe sin is that of a spreading infectious disease. Like COVID, it describes sin as going across the whole human race and killing it.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. 

Romans 5:12

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 

Isaiah 64:6

Epidemics are diseases but are not the cause of the disease. For example, AIDS is the disease; HIV is the virus that causes the disease. SARS is the disease; SARS Coronavirus-1 is the virus that causes the disease. COVID-19 is a disease with its symptoms. SARS Coronavirus-2 is the virus behind it. In the same way, the Bible says that our sins (plural) are a spiritual disease. Sin (singular) is its root, and it results in death.

Moses & the Bronze Serpent

Jesus linked an Old Testament event connecting disease and death to his mission. This is the account of snakes infesting the Israelite camp in the time of Moses. The Israelites needed a cure before death overwhelmed them all.

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. 

Numbers 21:4-9
Israelites being captured by snakes
Moses made the bronze snake

Throughout the Old Testament, one became unclean either by infectious disease, by touching dead bodies, or by sin. These three are associated with one another. The New Testament sums up our situation like this:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Ephesians 2: 1-2

Death in the Bible means ‘separation’. It involves both a physical (soul separates from the body) and spiritual death (soul separated from God).  Sin is like an unseen but real virus inside us. It causes immediate spiritual death. This then leads to a certain physical death over time.

Though we would rather not think about it, the Bible treats sin as real and deadly as the Coronavirus. We cannot afford to ignore it. But it also points to the vaccine…

The Vaccine – Through the death of the Seed

From its beginning, the Bible developed a theme of the coming Seed.  A seed is essentially a packet of DNA that can unfurl and develop into new life.  The DNA in a seed is specific information from which it builds large molecules of specific shapes (proteins).  In this sense, it is similar to a vaccine, which are large molecules (called antigens) of a specific shape.  God promised that this coming Seed, announced from the beginning, would solve the problem of sin and death.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Genesis 3:15

See here for details on the woman and her Seed.  God later promised that the Seed would come through Abraham to go to all nations.

In your (Abraham’s) seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.

Genesis 22:18

In these promises the Seed is singular.  A ‘he’, not a ‘they’ or an ‘it’, was to come.

The Gospel reveals Jesus as the promised Seed – but with a twist. The seed would die.  

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:23-24

His death was on our behalf.

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2:9

Some vaccines first kill the virus in it. Then the vaccine with the dead virus is injected into our bodies. In this way, our bodies can produce the necessary antibodies. Our immune system can thus defend our bodies from the virus. Similarly, the death of Jesus enables that Seed to now indwell us. So now we can develop an immune defense against that spiritual virus – sin.

Covid -19 Antibodies

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 3:9

The Bible continues to explain what this means:

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:4

Though sin has corrupted us, the life of the Seed in us takes root and enables us to ‘participate in the divine nature’. The corruption is not only undone, but we can be like God in a manner impossible otherwise.

But, without an adequate vaccine our only option for Covid is quarantine.  This is also true in the spiritual realm.  We know that quarantine more commonly as Hell.

How is this so?

Quarantine – Separation of Heaven & Hell

Jesus taught on coming of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. When we think of ‘heaven’ we often think of its situation or milieu – those ‘streets of gold’. But the greater hope of the Kingdom is a society with citizens of completely honest and selfless character. Reflect on how much we build into the ‘kingdoms’ of the earth to protect ourselves from each other. Everyone has locks on their homes, some with advanced security systems. We lock our cars and tell our kids not to speak to strangers. Every city has a police force. We vigilantly protect our online data. Think of all the systems, practices, and procedures that we have put in place in our ‘kingdoms on earth’. Now realize that they are there simply to protect ourselves from each other. Then you may get a glimmer of the problem of sin in heaven. 

Exclusivity of Paradise

A depiction of what heaven might look like

If God set up a kingdom of ‘heaven’ and then made us citizens of it, we would quickly turn it into the hell we have turned this world into. The gold on the streets would vanish in no time. God must root out the sin in us just like societies try to eradicate COVID-19 for society to be healthy. Not one person who ‘missed’ (the meaning of sin) this perfect standard could enter God’s kingdom. Because then he would ruin it. Instead, God needs to enforce a quarantine so sin would not wreck heaven.

What then for those whom God quarantines and denies entry? In this world, if you are denied entry to a country you cannot also participate in its resources and benefits. (You cannot receive its welfare, medical treatment ,etc.). But all in all, people around the world, even terrorists on the run from all countries, enjoy the same basic amenities of nature. These include such basic and taken for granted things as breathing the air, seeing light like everyone else.

What separation from God finally is

But who made light? The Bible claims

‘God said, “Let there be light” and there was light’.

Genesis 1:3
A depiction of what hell might look like

If that is true then all light is His – and it turns out that we are just borrowing it now. But with the final establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, His light will be in His Kingdom. So ‘outside’ will be ‘darkness’ – just as Jesus described Hell in this parable.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 

Matthew 22: 13

If there is a Creator then most of what we take for granted and assume is ‘ours’ is really His. Start with such a basic entity as ‘light’, the world around us, and go on to our natural abilities such as thought and speech. We really did nothing to create these and our other abilities. We simply find ourselves able to use and develop them.  When the Owner finalizes His Kingdom He will reclaim all that is his.

When COVID-19 breaks out bringing death and havoc among us all we hear no argument when experts insist on quarantine. So it is no surprise to hear Jesus teach in his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus that

And besides all this, between us (in Kingdom of God) and you (in Hell) a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.

Luke 16:26

Taking the vaccination – Jesus’ explanation of the Bronze Serpent

Jesus once explained his mission using the story above about Moses and the deadly serpents.  Think about what would have happened for the people bitten by the snakes.

When bitten by a poisonous snake, the venom entering the body is an antigen, just like a virus infection.  The normal treatment is to try to suck the venom out. Then bind the bitten limb tightly so that the blood flow ebbs and the venom does not spread from the bite. Finally, reduce activity so that the lowered heart rate will not quickly pump the venom through the body. 

When the serpents infected the Israelites, God told them to look at the bronze serpent held up on a pole. You might imagine some bitten person rolling out of bed, looking at the nearby bronze serpent, and then being healed. But there were about 3 million people in the Israelite camp. (They counted over 600 000 men of military age). This is the size of a large modern city. Chances were high that those bitten were several kilometers away, and out of sight from, the bronze serpent pole.

The Counter-Intuitive Choice with the serpents

So those bitten by the snakes had to make a choice.  They could take standard precautions involving binding the wound tightly and resting to restrict blood flow and spread of the venom.  Or they would have to trust the remedy announced by Moses. To do that they would have to walk several kilometers, raising the blood flow and spread of the venom, before looking on the bronze serpent.  The trust or lack of trust in the word of Moses would determine each person’s course of action.

Jesus referred to this when he said

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him may have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

Jesus said that our situation is like that serpent story.  The snakes that infested the camp are like sin in us and society.  We are infected with the venom of sin and we will die from it. This death is an eternal one requiring Quarantine from the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus then said that his being lifted up on the cross was like the bronze serpent lifted on a pole.  Just as the bronze serpent could cure the Israelites of their deadly venom so he can cure ours.  The Israelites in the camp had to look at the raised serpent.  But to do that they would have to explicitly trust the solution provided by Moses. They would have to act counter-intuitively by not slowing the heart rate.  It was their trust in what God provided that saved them. 

Our Counter-Intuitive Choice with Jesus

It is the same for us.  We do not physically look at the cross, but we trust in that provision given by God to save us from the infection of sin and death. 

However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 

Romans 4:5

Rather than trusting our ability to fight off the infection, we trust God who made the vaccine in the Seed.  We trust him with the details of the vaccine.  This is why ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good news’.  Anyone who has been infected with a deadly disease but now hears that a life-saving vaccine is available and given for free – that is good news.

Come & See

Of course, we need a reason to trust both the diagnosis and the vaccine.  We dare not give our trust naively.  As one of the earliest discussions on this theme records

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

John 1:45-46

The Gospel invites us to come and see, to examine that Seed.  Here are some articles to help you do that including:

Come and see like Nathanael did so long ago.

Apparel: Why More than just Clothing?

Why do you clothe yourself?  Not with just anything that fits, but you want fashionable clothing that states who you are.  What causes you to instinctively need to wear clothing, not just to stay warm but also to express yourself visually?

Isn’t it odd that you find the same instinct across the planet, no matter what people’s language, race, education, religion is?  Women perhaps more than men, but they also display the same tendency.  In 2016 the global textile industry exported $1.3 Trillion USD.

The instinct to clothe ourselves feels so utterly normal and natural that many don’t often stop to ask, “Why?”. 

We put forth theories as to where the earth came from, where people came from, why the continents drift apart. But have you ever read a theory as to where our need for clothing comes from?

Only Humans – but not just for warmth

Let’s start with the obvious.  Animals certainly do not have this instinct.  They are all perfectly happy to be stark naked in front of us, and others all the time.  This is true even for higher animals.  If we are simply higher than higher animals this does not seem to add up.

Our need to be clothed comes not just from our need for warmth. We know this because much of our fashion and clothing comes from places with almost unbearable heat.  Clothing is functional, keeping us warm and protecting us. But these reasons do not answer our instinctive needs for modesty, gender expression and self-identity.

Clothing – from the Hebrew Scriptures

The one account explaining why we clothe ourselves, and seek to do it tastefully, comes from the ancient Hebrew Scriptures.  These Scriptures place you and me into a story that claims to be historical. It offers insight into who you are, why you do what you do, and what is in store for your future.  This story goes back to the dawn of mankind yet also explains everyday phenomena like why you clothe yourself.  Becoming familiar with this account is worthwhile since it offers many insights about yourself, guiding you to more abundant living. Here we look at the Biblical account through the lens of clothing.

We have been looking at the ancient creation account from the Bible. We started with the beginning of mankind and the world. Then we looked at the primeval showdown between two great adversaries. Now we look at these events from a slightly different perspective, which explains mundane events like shopping for fashionable clothes.

Made In the Image of God

We explored here that God had made the cosmos and then

Biblical series, The Creation of the World, the sixth day, finally humans, made in the image of God were created

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

In creation God fully expressed himself artistically through the beauty of creation.  Think of sunsets, flowers, tropical birds and landscape vistas.  Because God is artistic, you also, made ‘in his image’, will instinctively, without even consciously knowing ‘why’, likewise express yourself aesthetically. 

Fir0002GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

We saw that God is a person.  God is a ‘he’, not an ‘it’.  Therefore, it is only natural that you also want to express yourself both visually and personally.  Clothing, jewellery, colors and cosmetics (make-up, tattoos etc) is thus a prominent way for you to express yourself aesthetically as well as individually.

Male and Female

God also made humans in the image of God as ‘male and female’.  From this we also understand why you create your ‘look’, by your clothing ,fashion, through your hairstyle and etc. This we naturally and easily recognize as male or female.  This goes deeper than cultural fashion.  If you see fashion and clothing from a culture you have never seen before you will generally generally be able to distinguish male and female clothing in that culture.. 

Wellcome Library, LondonCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thus your creation in the image of God as male or female begins explaining your clothing instincts.  But this Creation account continues with some subsequent historical events which further explains clothing and you.

Covering our Shame

God gave the first humans the choice to obey or disobey Him in their primeval paradise.  They chose to disobey and when they did the creation account tells us that:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Genesis 3:7

This tells us that from this point on humans lost their innocence before each other and before their Creator.  Ever since then we instinctively have felt shame about being naked and have desired to cover our own nakedness.  Beyond the need to stay warm and protected, we feel exposed, vulnerable and ashamed when naked in front of others.  Mankind’s choice to disobey God unleashed this in us.  It also unleashed the world of suffering, pain, tears and death that we all know so well.

Extending Mercy: A Promise and some clothes

God, in his mercy for us, then did two things.  First, He uttered a Promise in riddle form that would direct human history.  In this riddle He promised the coming redeemer, Jesus. God would send him to help us, to defeat his enemy, and to conquer death for us.

The second thing that God did was:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21
Adam and Eve being clothed

God provided clothing to cover their nakedness.  God did so to address their shame.  Ever since that day, we, the children of these human ancestors, instinctively clothe ourselves as a result of these events. 

Clothing of Skin – A Visual Aid

God clothed them in a specific way to illustrate a principle for us.  The clothing that God provided was not a cotton blouse or denim shorts but ‘garments of skin’.  This meant that God killed an animal in order to make skins to cover their nakedness.  They had tried to cover themselves with leaves, but these were insufficient and so skins were required.  In the creation account, up to this time, no animal had ever died.  That primeval world had not experienced death.  But now God sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness and shield their shame.

This began a tradition, practised by their descendants, running through all cultures, of animal sacrifice.  Eventually people forgot the truth that this sacrifice tradition illustrated. But it was preserved in the Bible.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23
Sacrificed lamb

This states that the consequence of sin is death, and it must be paid.  We can pay it ourselves with our own death, or someone else can pay for it on our behalf.  The sacrificed animals continually illustrated this concept.  But they were only illustrations, visual aids pointing to the real sacrifice that would one day free us of sin.  This was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus who willingly sacrificed himself for us.  This great victory has ensured that

The last enemy to be destroyed is death

1 Corinthians 15:26

The Coming Wedding Feast – Wedding Clothes compulsory

Jesus likened this coming day, when He destroys death, to a great wedding feast.  He told the following parable

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 22: 8 -13

In this story that Jesus told, everyone is invited to this festival.  People will come from every nation.  And because Jesus paid for everyone’s sin he also gives out the clothes for this festival.  The clothing here represents his merit which sufficiently covers our shame.  Though the wedding invitations go far and wide, and the king distributes wedding clothes free-of-charge, he still requires them.  We need his payment to cover our sin.  The man who did not clothe himself with the wedding clothes was rejected from the festival.  This is why Jesus says later on:

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Revelation 3:18

God built on this initial visual aid of animal skins covering our nakedness by pre-enacting the coming sacrifice of Jesus in remarkable ways. He tested Abraham in the exact place and in a manner illustrating the Real coming sacrifice. He also instituted Passover which indicated the exact day and also further illustrated the Real coming sacrifice. But, given how we have seen clothing first come up right in the creation account, it is intriguing that creation also pre-enacted Jesus’ work.