God told Adam and Eve, “On the day you disobey me, you will die.” Yet physical death did not come to them immediately when they sinned against God. Instead they lived for many more years upon the earth, the first sign of God’s grace to his rebellious people. But, death did visit the Garden of Eden on the day our first parents rebelled against God. Genesis 3:21 says: “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Animals died in Eden that day and their skins were used to cover Adam and Eve, taking away the shame they felt because they had sinned against God.
This is the 2nd sign of God’s grace shown to humanity on the very day we sinned against him. God would allow a substitute to take our place and pay the penalty our sins deserved so that we could be forgiven. This principle is the basis of the Old Testament sacrificial system. For hundreds of years, animals died in the place of the Israelites, bearing the punishment their sins deserved. God’s justice was served in that sin was punished. God’s mercy was shown in that sinners were forgiven.
Yet the death of animals could not truly take away the sin of humanity. This is seen in that Adam did experience physical death 930 years after he was covered with animal skins. This is seen in that the animal sacrifices in the temple had to be offered over and over and over again. They did not permanently take away human sin.
God himself came to earth and became a man on the 1st Christmas so that he could offer a sacrifice in our place that would take our sin away forever. As a human, Jesus could authentically take our place and pay the penalty due human sin. As God, he could offer an infinite sacrifice that would satisfy divine justice for ever. In the manger lay the Lamb of God, born to take away the sins of the world.