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The First Sacrifice

The garden is still beautiful. Tucked among the deep green canopy of leaves, birds chirp and squirrels play. The air is fresh with the scent of flowers and dew. Being there, it just feels good to be alive.

Except that the first two humans have just disobeyed their Creator, bringing shame and discord upon all of creation.

Perhaps the Lord is heart-broken. Perhaps He’s infuriated. Certainly He is not surprised.

So God the Just metes out the punishments. The serpent will be cursed, will eat the dust from which Adam was created, and will some day be further punished by the Offspring of God and humanity. Eve, the life-giver, will experience pain in bringing about that life, and will continue yearning to usurp her husband’s authority. And Adam’s work will no longer be pleasant, but a grueling chore.

But then the Lord does something both peculiar and prophetic. He calls over a lamb, a gentle creature that has been grazing deeper in the garden. As the animal walks over, the Lord bends down and gathers it in His arms, pained at the terrible grace He is about to extend to Adam and to Eve. The Maker and Sustainer of life slices deeply into the lamb’s neck, blood splattering down His arm and collecting onto the ground in crimson puddles. Never before has He killed one of His creatures, but this moment calls for a death, a providential and atoning death.

The frantic bleating comes to an end and the flow of blood slows. The Lord peels the animal’s skin off its muscle in sheets. Adam and Eve look on, horrified. He folds this edge of the skin back over, affixing it to that edge, pulling this flap under and that section over.

And then it’s done. He instructs Adam and Eve to remove the clothes they had made of leaves. As they do, they’re freshly made aware of the shame of their sin. Trembling, Adam stares at the ground, trying to take in what he has just seen, trying not to think too much about the difficult road ahead of him. Eve stands next to him, tears flowing down her blushing face.

Then the Lord tells the first couple to look at Him. As they do, they are stunned to find not a face of anger, but of compassion. And there in His hands they see it, still moist with the blood of the lamb, something divinely crafted to cover their shame: a garment for Adam, and a garment for Eve....

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