Shame is a powerful force in this fallen world. It comes on the scene immediately after the rebellious acts of Adam and Eve against the Most High God as they both recognized their nakedness and feebly covered the one area most intimately connected with life and love and identity and covenant. We actually see it mentioned before that when Moses records that “they were both naked and were not ashamed.” Shame was an unknown emotion in the pre-fall world; but I think its absence was recorded that we might see already the antithesis that is set up between shame and glory.
Here is where things start to get interesting. The world seems to be trying to fight and reason its way back to a state of nakedness without shame. True glory, true paradise will come (so they say) when shame is removed by acceptance and tolerance and enlightenment. But it’s a bit surprising that the final state of redeemed man and restored creation looks very different than some utopian nudist colony out in the wilds of the natural world. The garden was not meant to be maintained in naked innocence but cultivated in covered glory. Everything was created to move from glory to glory. The introduction of shame through sin did not change that design. We are still moving from a created world to a cultivated city. We are moving from nakedness and innocence to being clothed in glory and splendor.
There is a real temptation for those of us who are the Church to get confused on these things. As I have said in other places, I contend that the glory of a fully realized new heavens and new earth will be far greater than the original glory of the Garden of Eden. The garden represented innocence. The Kingdom of Christ represents redemption. There is no going back to shameless nakedness. There is either the covering of Christ that comes through repentance and faith, or there is the futile attempt to return to a former state. This is good news! All of us live with “what ifs” and regrets and past failures. Some of those are measured in years, some are measured in minutes. When our eyes are opened by the Spirit of God to see in His Word what we are really like—to see our naked selves the way God sees us—there is only one reaction…shame. And there is only one response…repentance. And there is only one result…covering.
As we confess our shame and receive the covering of glory from the King of Glory we are not taken back to a fragile innocence that can be easily lost. We are are not left to clothe ourselves with fig leaves of morality or pretense. We are not left standing outside a paradise that can never be regained. We are robed with glorious garments stained with the blood of a glorious Savior. We have our faces set toward a Kingdom Paradise that is greater than Eden. It covers the whole world. It encompasses the whole universe. While the world lives in the false hope of being “naked and not ashamed”, we who have confessed our shame now live in the unshakable hope of being clothed and not ashamed.