Fig Leaves and a Coat of Skins
By Hollie Wells
Adam and Eve's story is a large part of the temple experience. In the scriptural accounts of these events as well as in the presentation of the endowment, there are a few pieces of clothing mentioned in this story. The first is a covering made of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7) and the second is a coat of animal skins (Genesis 3:21). Let’s compare these symbols.
Adam and Eve were originally naked in the Garden of Eden, yet felt no shame. After their fall, a covering became necessary. Satan, trying to take advantage of their newfound shame, told them to hide and to make their own covering. Similarly, Satan never encourages you to go to God in your mistakes, but to hide from Him and delay your repentance. The homemade fig leaf covering is representative of trying to hide your sins from God or trying to do all in your power to take care of and repent of those things all on your own. As if you had the power to make yourself at-one with God. Surely, when we make a mistake we will feel spiritually naked before God. Exposed, embarrassed, wanting to run and hide. Alma 12 describes that those whose sins are exposed before God “would fain be glad if [they] could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon [them] to hide [them] from his presence.”
But the only covering sufficient to withstand the glory and “everlasting burnings” of the Father is the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ. Not even the highest mountains piled on top of you would be enough.
The Hebrew word kāp̄ ar (pronounced kaw-far) is most often translated as Atonement or Atone in the King James Version. However, the original Hebrew meaning of the word is to cover or a covering, which is an appropriate analogy for Christ’s Atonement.
After we make a mistake, Jesus always offers His covering. Just like another animal had to die to provide the coat of skin for Adam and Eve, Christ shed His blood so that He may cover us in the presence of the Father.
He offers a complete Atonement, not just scanty fig leaves that are thrown together in a panic. These two symbols of the temple work together in stark contrast to illustrate that we alone are not enough, but combined with the Savior through covenant relationship, we’re covered.
In conclusion, I echo the words of 2 Nephi 9:14.
“Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.”
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