A Covering of Fig Leaves

Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver

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

Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command and eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When they did, something happened, they discovered their nakedness and were ashamed and tried to find a covering for themselves. Before this, we are told that they were naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:25

So what had changed? Sin had entered the scene and altered everything. Their first response to sin was to try to cover it. Whenever we discover our falling short, we resort to fig leaves for a covering.

Fig leaves represent anything we use to cover up the shame and guilt we feel from our sins. Relationships can become fig leaves that we use to cover our fear of feeling like we are unlovable. Material things can be fig leaves we use to cover our lives because we feel inadequate.

We can have all sorts of fig leaves in this life; pride is a fig leaf we use to cover our insecurities. Religion is a fig leaf man uses to cover himself before God. Shallow repentance without real change can be a fig leaf. Our love for comfort can be a fig leaf that we use to cover up our need for change. Just like Adam and Eve reached for the closest thing to cover their nakedness, we all have fig leaves we turn to whenever we feel naked and exposed.

Few things to remember:

No covering is able to cover us from the presence of God.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10

Even after covering up their nakedness with fig leaves. They quickly discover that their nakedness was more spiritual than it was literal. Nothing could cover their nakedness from sin but God. Nothing is hidden from His sight. Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

Our true covering is His righteousness.

Anything man resorts to for a covering is inadequate to cover him from sin. We can only truly be covered by His righteousness. I greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 Nothing else will fully cover us but His robe of righteousness.

Sin changes our relationships.

The first relationship that changed was between God and man.

Man felt the need to hide from God. He could no longer walk with God in the cool of the day because now there was a separation. Sin brings a separation between us and God. But when we receive His salvation and righteousness, our sins are covered before Him and we can come without shame or fear. We can come boldly. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

It also changed man-to-man relationships.

They now saw each other as enemies. Before this, they were naked before each other and not ashamed. Now shame has separated them, they not only hide from God but are also hiding from each other. Because of sin man to man relationship was now altered. They needed to hide from each other because of the shame and guilt they felt. They no longer showed up as their authentic self but as versions of themselves covered in fig leaves.

But when man’s relationship with God is repaired, it affects how he shows up in all other relationships. He has no need to hide because his sin and shame are covered by God. He can now build authentic relationships. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. Colossians 3:9-10 Our knowledge of God changes how we relate with others.

It also changed man’s relationship with himself.

The way he perceived himself changed. Instead of taking responsibility and acknowledging that they had sinned, they shifted blame. He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” the woman said, “ The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Genesis 3:11-13

Blame is the fig leaf we use when we don’t want to look at ourselves and see where we have fallen short. If we can make it someone else’s fault then it will be someone else’s problem and we are off the hook. Adam blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the serpent. Even though what each said was true, none of them took responsibility for what had happened.

But when man comes to God for a covering the way he sees himself changes. He can now take responsibility for his mistakes without fear of judgment and condemnation. For there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

God cannot cover what we are determined to hide. He will only cover what we bring before him in repentance. He will cover what we choose to take responsibility for. We will either come to God or keep sewing  fig leaves over things that only His righteousness can truly cover.

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