Genesis 3:7-8 The Problem With Fig Leaves

Gen. 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Did you ever why Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the garden of Eden? I mean seriously what made them them think a tree (that God created) could hide them from their maker?

The truth is I don’t believe Adam and Eve were foolish enough to think a tree or leaves were going to hide them from God. In fact it’s my opinion they weren’t trying to hide their physical bodies (themselves) from God at all. Instead Adam and Eve were trying to hide their sin from Him.

Scripture tells us that when Adam and Eve decided to eat from the tree “of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil” God commanded them not to eat (Genesis 2:16–17) (Genesis 3:6) two things happened.

1. The eyes of them both were opened

This obviously doesn’t refer to literally opening their eyes for the first time since Adam and Eve had been able to see things. Instead this refers to a realization of their rebellion against God [1].

Up to this point there had been nothing impairing the relationship between them and God. The Bible tells us that they walked with Him every day, and looked forward to experiencing the Lord’s presence. But now for the first time they see that perfect relationship has been broken.

2. And they knew that they were naked

Sadly Adam and Eve’s problem went much deeper than just one rebellion against God. That act began a constant cycle of sin that Scripture refers to as a “sin nature.”

This means within every person is an intense desire to become God (the one who decides what’s right and wrong) and when tempted with an opportunity to choose our own way instead of God’s like Eve (Genesis 3:1–6) we will always choose to rebel.

The Apostle Paul in the New Testament describes those who don’t know Christ as dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5, Colossians 2:13) explaining that just as a dead body cannot save itself, we cannot save ourselves from our sin nature.

So I don’t believe the shame of Adam and Eve had to do with their “nakedness”, but instead embarrassment over a failed attempt to take the place of God.

This knowledge of their failure leads to

3. And they sewed fig leaves together

Some may think from this verse that Adam and Eve are just trying to cover up their physical nakedness, but then there would be no reason to hide from God (Genesis 3:8) since their nakedness was covered. Instead this was an attempt to cover the shame that they experienced because of sin.

That’s the real problem…we are very poor God replacements

Because our hearts want to take the place of God [2] we must cover up any sin, failure, or weakness that highlights our inability to live a Holy life.

So we cover them up

Oh sure we have much better coverings than fig leaves. Today you will find people covering up their weakness using:

  1. Money or fame
  2. The approval of others [3]
  3. Gifts abilities
  4. Personal success
  5. Lies and Deception
  6. Or Demanding control over every area of life

But of course the problem with our “fig leaves” is eventually all of them start slipping.

Someone will see our weakness

Someone will see our selfishness

Someone will see that inner struggle we try to hide from everybody

So we spend years discarding one fig leaf after another

But there’s a better way

The thing is God KNOWS we have a sin-nature that keeps us from living a Godly life. He KNOWS that we cannot withstand temptation and will fail every time. He KNOWS that we could never be a replacement for Him.

But instead of directly confronting our sinfulness God acts as if He doesn’t see it. Notice what He says after Adam and Eve hid themselves behind a tree.

Genesis 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?

Now could God see them behind that tree? Of course He could! So why in the world didn’t He say “I see you guys?” Chapter three verses ten and eleven help answer that question.

Genesis 3: 10 And he (Adam) said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”   (emphasis added)

Adam knowing how ridiculous it was to hide behind a tree was partially honest with God [4]. God pushed a little harder “who told you that you were naked?” and Adam responds by blaming his wife Eve [5].

God here instead of calling Adam and Eve out on their sin gives them an opportunity to do it willingly. He gives them a chance to take the fig leaves off and admit their rebellion. But instead of confessing his sin and repenting, Adam acts as if he had done nothing wrong.

So today God still sees the part of our lives that we cover up with fig-leaves and in love asks us to confess our weakness. If we do there will be consequences of sin (all life has consequences) but also love and forgiveness.  As someone who spent much of his life trying to make himself look strong or powerful I can tell you there is an incredible blessing in dropping your fig-leaf, and admitting your inability to take the place of God.

  1. immediately Adam and Eve realized they had disobeyed God, and would face His judgment  ↩
  2. not in the literal sense of dwelling in Heaven, but becoming the one who makes the rules  ↩
  3. to the extent of what Dr. Ed Welch calls “approval addiction” demanding that people love us so that we can feel good about ourselves  ↩
  4. I heard you and I was afraid because I was naked, he should have said I sinned against you  ↩
  5. Genesis 3:12  ↩

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