(Or The Sign of Adam and Eve)
Adam and Eve were put in a beautiful place (Muslims believe the garden was in heaven, Christians believe it was on earth, so I avoid the controversy altogether and say “a beautiful place”) and given everything they need. The only restriction on them was not to eat the fruit of a particular tree, but they disobeyed God’s clear instructions and ate the fruit. In doing so, they suddenly realized they were naked and covered themselves with leaves, but the leaves failed to cover their shame. When confronted by the Lord they plead their case, but their guilt was clear. However, the Lord he showed great mercy and provided animal skins to cover their nakedness. There is also a promise that one day, through the offspring of the woman, the head of Satan would be crushed.
By disobeying God and eating the fruit, Adam and Eve felt shame for the first time. This shame brought humiliation and disgrace between Adam and Eve and with their relationships to God. Their own efforts to cover their shame with leaves failed, and in the same way we can’t cover our shame before God by the things that we do. It is only through the mercy of God that our sin can be taken away and our shame covered. This restoration can only come through a blood sacrifice.
The story also teaches how God provided his mercy. No animal can live without skin, so by killing the animals and using their skins to cover the shame of Adam and Eve, God himself is performing the first blood sacrifice. Instead of getting what they deserved, Adam and Eve received God’s mercy as his wrath was transferred from them to the innocent animals. Therefore, in this one story we see God’s demand for a blood sacrifice for disobedience and yet his incredible mercy towards the sinner. All Adam and Eve had to do is receive the mercy that God provided. By doing so, they received God’s mercy, had their honor restored and were made righteous again in God’s sight. This wasn’t Adam and Eve’s mercy or righteousness, but God’s own mercy and righteousness wrapped around them.
God also demonstrates his goodness in promising to send one who will crush the head of Satan. Just as Adam and Eve received mercy through sacrifice, one day God will offer mercy to the entire world through a great sacrifice. But Adam only tells us this great sacrifice is coming, so we need to look to Jonah to find out more.
Even though Adam and Eve deserved punishment, the Lord was merciful in providing a covering for their shame. This covering is a symbol for what God will do in the future for the whole world through his promise of a great sacrifice.
Optional use of the Qur’an:
Note: specific references do not need to be shared when telling the story and are put there just as a citation.
– After being confronted by the Lord with their disobedience, Adam cries out “Oh Lord, unless you give us your mercy we will be lost” (The Heights 7:23). The Lord then responded with giving them something called the robe of righteousness (The Heights 7:26).
– So what is the sign in this story? The sign is the robe of righteousness (The Heights 7:26). This robe is a covering of God’s righteousness and what every person still needs today. Adam doesn’t tell us how to get it, so we need to look at the other signs to learn how we can get this as well.
When walking through this with one of my friends, I found out that they didn’t buy into the idea of animal sacrifice. We went through the Quran and I found that their word says Allah wrapped Adam and Eve in a “robe of righteousness.” We talked about how Adam and Eve need God’s righteousness. It was an awesome time. I just wanted to share this alternative in case anyone else experiences this.
Thanks Josiah. You’re correct, the Qur’an never mentions animal sacrifice in the story of Adam and Eve. (Muslims probably call it “the story of Adam” since Eve is never named.) However, I find that the vast majority of Muslims believe that the robes God gave them were made of animal skins, so I just ask, “where do you get animal skins?” or “can an animal live without its skin?” The major point though is that a true state of righteousness can only come from God. Adam and Eve tried to cover their own shame by wearing leaves, but the leaves couldn’t cover their shame. Adam and Eve deserved punishment but accepted a robe of righteousness that they could never produce on their own. You could then ask “How do you think we can receive righteousness from God today?” Even if they don’t accept the animal sacrifice with Adam our friends will see it clearly when they get to the story of Abraham. It may also be fun to show them Isaiah 61:10 in the NLT which speaks about the robe of righteousness.
Sounds like you’re doing amazing stuff Josiah! I took some time to pray for you and you’re friend before posting this.