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Verses of Genesis 3

21

Genesis 3:21 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 8
THE WAY OF SALVATION ILLUSTRATED TO OUR FIRST PARENTS

Gen 3:21-24. Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

THE works of God are extremely different from those which are carried on by man. Creatures of limited capacity are compelled to act as unforeseen occasions require; and hence their works are, for the most part, independent and detached, without being regulated by any fixed system: but the works of God are all united and harmonious, as parts of one grand whole. In the structure of the tabernacle and all its diversified rites, there was not any thing, however minute or obscure, which did not shadow forth some mystery. This appears from the strict injunction given to Moses to “make every thing according to the pattern shewn to him in the mount.” It is thus also with respect to all the most remarkable events recorded in the Bible, whether they relate to the Jewish, patriarchal, or antediluvian ages; they were all, in some respect, figurative and emblematical. Amongst these we must certainly number the fall of man, with all its attendant circumstances: the covenant made with him, the means by which he was induced to violate it, the way provided for his recovery, were all of lasting and universal importance. In like manner, the facts specified in our text must be regarded, not as mere uninteresting casualties, but as occurrences of most mysterious import. In God’s conduct towards our first parents, as it is here related, we may see,

I.

The manner in which He illustrated to them his promised salvation—

Our first parents, feeling in themselves the sad effects of their fall, “sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons,” or rather, twined together the tender branches of the fig-tree for girdles. But God was pleased to clothe them in another manner, even with the skins of beasts; and thus to direct their attention to,

1.

The blood of atonement—

[We are not expressly told, that the animals which were slain on this occasion were offered in sacrifice; but if we duly weigh the reasons for believing that God ordered them to be slain for this purpose, we can scarcely entertain any doubt upon the subject.
In the first place, we may be sure that the offering of sacrifices was not an institution of man’s device; and that, if it were, it could not be pleasing and acceptable to God. How could it enter into the mind of man to imagine, that the blood of a beast could make any satisfaction to God for sin? What connexion is there between the blood of a beast and the sin of man? There was much more reason to think that God would be displeased with the unauthorized destruction of his creatures, than that he would be so pleased with it as to forgive the iniquities of mankind on account of it. Moreover, had not God himself enjoined this method of propitiating his anger, we cannot doubt but that he would have answered the presumptuous offerer, as he did the Jews, “Who hath required this at your hands [Note: Isa 1:12.] ?” But we know that when a bleeding sacrifice was offered to him by Abel, he testified his acceptance of it in a visible manner, probably by sending fire from heaven to consume it. We cannot doubt, therefore, but that the institution of sacrifices was of divine appointment.

In the next place, if sacrifices were not now instituted, we can scarcely account for the slaughtering of the animals, and much less for God’s direction respecting it. It is thought indeed by some, that the flesh was given to our first parents for food: but this seems very improbable, because God told Adam at this very time, that he should henceforth subsist, not upon the fruits of the garden as before, but on “the herb of the field,” which should be produced only by constant and laborious cultivation [Note: Gen 3:18-19.]. Nor was it till after the flood that God gave to man the liberty of eating the flesh of animals [Note: Gen 9:3.]. Hence, if the animals were not offered to God in sacrifice, they were killed merely for their skins, which seems to be by no means an adequate reason for God’s interposition. On the contrary, if they were by God’s commandment offered in sacrifice, we see, what we are in no other place informed of, the origin of the institution; and at the same time we behold abundant reason for God’s special interference. We see what instruction and consolation our first parents must derive from such an ordinance: for while they beheld their own desert in the agonies and death of an unoffending creature, they must be encouraged to look forward to that Seed of the Woman, who was in due time to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

We cannot doubt therefore but that this was the time when sacrifices were instituted; and that, as they were appointed of God to prefigure the great sacrifice, they were enjoined at this time for the express purpose of directing the views of fallen man to that atonement which Christ should afterwards offer to God upon the cross. In this sense, as well as in the divine purpose, may Christ be called, “The Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world [Note: Rev 13:8.].”]

2.

The righteousness of Him who made that atonement—

[When we are told that “the Lord God made them coats of skins, and clothed them,” can we suppose that nothing was intended by him but to provide more conveniently for their decency and comfort? Impossible! There was in this a deep stupendous mystery. Adam and Eve thought only of a covering for their bodies: God pointed out to them a covering for their souls. They were despoiled of their original righteousness; and they needed a robe to cover their naked souls, that they might again stand before God “without spot or blemish.” All means which they could devise for this purpose would be ineffectual. God therefore was pleased to shadow forth to them the righteousness of Christ; of Him who was “to be the propitiation for their sins,” and emphatically to be “called, The Lord our Righteousness [Note: Jer 23:6.].” How far they beheld the substance in the shadow, we cannot say: but there is abundant proof that the same means were used in subsequent ages to represent the Saviour to the world. All the vestments of the priests, sprinkled with the blood of sacrifices, clearly shewed in what manner all were to be clothed who would be “an holy priesthood to the Lord.” And the language of Prophets, and Apostles, and of Christ himself, has so strict an analogy with the event before us, that we cannot but discern their harmony and agreement. Isaiah speaks of being “clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with a robe of righteousness [Note: Isa 61:10.]:” St. Paul, enjoying the fuller light of the Gospel, says more plainly, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ [Note: Rom 13:14.]:” And our blessed Lord more plainly still, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear [Note: Rev 3:18.].”

We need only further observe, that in this marvellous appointment God taught our fallen parents to look to Him through one Mediator, and to make that one object the only ground of all their hopes; or, in other words, to expect pardon only through His atoning blood, and acceptance only through His meritorious and perfect righteousness.]

Having seen how strongly God illustrated to them his promised salvation, let us notice,

II.

The means he used to secure their acceptance of it—

He banished his guilty creatures from Paradise, and, by the ministration of angels, prohibited effectually their return to it. This he did,

1.

Partly in judgment—

[The ironical and sarcastic expressions which purport to be the reason of this dispensation, are certainly strong indications of his heavy displeasure. The flattering hope of “becoming as Gods,” had led Adam and his wife to transgress the divine command. Now therefore God casts it, as it were, in their teeth, with holy indignation, in order that they might see what they had gained by their folly and presumption. And whereas they had hitherto enjoyed the liberty of eating all the fruits of Paradise, and especially that which was a pledge and earnest to them of God’s eternal favour, he drives them out from the garden, to live in a far different manner by the sweat of their brow, and to feel that they were cut off from that life, which, had they maintained their innocence, would have been consummated in glory.
Thus we behold them driven as outcasts from God and happiness, and doomed to a life of labour and sorrow which should issue in a painful death, and (if repentance intervened not) in everlasting misery.]

2.

Partly in mercy—

[God’s judgments in this world have always been tempered with mercy; yea so tempered, as to be capable of being turned into the richest blessings. Thus it was in the case before us. Our first parents had been accustomed to consider the tree of life as a pledge of the divine favour; and would be likely to regard it in the same view after their fall, as they had done before. Under this delusion they would be ready to embrace these means of reconciliation with their offended God, and would be led thereby to neglect the means which God had prescribed. Persisting in this mistake, they would pacify their own consciences; and having lulled themselves asleep under the guilt of their transgressions, they would perish in the midst of all the mercy which God had offered them through the mediation of his Son. To prevent these fatal consequences, God cuts them off from all access to the tree of life, and thus necessitates them to seek for mercy in his appointed way. Precisely as, in destroying the Jewish nation and polity, God punished his people indeed, but at the same time consulted their truest interests, by rendering it impossible for them to fulfil the righteousness of the Mosaic law, and thereby “shutting them up unto the faith of Christ [Note: Gal 3:23.] ;” so did he expel our first parents from Paradise, that they might have nothing to divert their attention from that “Seed of the Woman who was in due time to bruise the Serpent’s head.”

Thus did God “in judgment remember mercy;” and, in the very hottest exercise of his anger, provide means for the richest display of his unmerited, unsought kindness.]

From this subject we may learn,
1.

The antiquity of the Gospel—

[Whenever Salvation by the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus is insisted on, it is exclaimed against as a new doctrine: but it is none other than “the good old way [Note: Jer 6:16.],” which has been pointed out by our Reformers, by the Apostles, by the Prophets, and by God himself from the beginning of the world. God shewed it to our first parents immediately after their fall: he shewed it them not only by a prophetical declaration, but also by an emblematical exhibition. And our very clothing in which we are so apt to pride ourselves, would, if we considered the origin and occasion of it, lead us to that way, even to Jesus, in whom alone we can find righteousness and life. Let us then hold fast the Gospel, without regarding the senseless cavils of the world: and while “the proud make it only a stumbling-block, and the conceited reject it as foolishness,” let us receive and glory in it as “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”]

2.

The necessity of embracing it—

[Like our first parents, we are ready to rest in the seals of the covenant (as baptism and the Lord’s supper), instead of fleeing to the Saviour himself. But whatever devices we use for the reconciling of ourselves to God, they will all prove vain and useless: we shall find them “a bed too short to stretch ourselves upon, and a covering too narrow to wrap ourselves in [Note: Isa 28:20.].” There was one way appointed from the beginning: that way has been progressively displayed, and illustrated in different ages; but it has never been altered, no not in the slightest degree. “There never has been any other name whereby we could be saved, but that of Jesus Christ [Note: Act 4:12.] ;” and the only difference between us and the Jews, or us and Adam, is, that we behold in meridian splendour the truths, of which they saw only the early dawn. Let us be persuaded then that all access to life by the first covenant is stopped; and that all plans for covering our own shame will be in vain. We must all be accepted through one sacrifice, and all be clothed in one righteousness; and all comply with that direction of the prophet, “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”]


Verses of Genesis 3

21

Consult other comments:

Genesis 3:21 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 3:21 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Genesis 3:21 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Genesis 3:21 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Genesis 3:21 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Genesis 3:21 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Genesis 3:21 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:21 - F. B. Hole's Old and New Testaments Commentary

Genesis 3:21 - Geneva Bible Notes

Genesis 3:21 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Genesis 3:21 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:21 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Genesis 3:21 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:21 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Genesis 3:21 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Genesis 3:21 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Genesis 3:21 - Scofield Reference Bible Notes

Genesis 3:21 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:21 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Genesis 3:21 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)