Covering Your Brother’s Nakedness
God performed the first covering in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve after they sinned. When they fell, the glory of God that covered their bodies was lifted and their eyes were opened to their shame as they realized that their nakedness was exposed. Before this, Genesis 2:25 says that they were not ashamed.
The Cover-Up “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:7)
Adam and his wife knew that they had transgressed against the Lord but did not seek the Lord for mercy. Instead, they sought to cover-up their mistake.
Adam and Eve’s fall happened immediately after they partook of the forbidden fruit. Yet, the cover-up took a long time as they had to pluck and sew fig leaves together (probably with little twigs) to make themselves coverings; which in actual fact was not covering, but “cover-up’. Their cover-up was insufficient that they hid when they heard the Lord walking in the garden.
It is better not to be wounded than try to cover up or heal a wound. It is fast and quick to fall or be afflicted by our own mistakes but is time-consuming and difficult to cover them up. If you accidentally cut your hand, for instance, and a deep wound is inflicted, it happens within seconds but takes much time, effort and money to restore or stitch the wounded part. Furthermore, we should never try to cover up our mistakes but lead and open and transparent life before God and man.
Blood Covering The Lord slew an animal and clothed Adam and Eve with the skin in Genesis 3:21, shedding blood, which was a prophetic action of His great redemption plan. God had a redemption plan of covering the transgression of man through the priceless, pure and unblemished blood of Jesus that cleanses, purifies and covers us from our weaknesses. No wonder Malachi prophesied in Malachi 3:2-3 ‘…He is like a refiner’s fire and like launders’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;…’
God can certainly able to help and cleanse us if we allow Him.
The Consequences Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, a place of deep communion with God, to face the consequences of their sin. Yet, God’s promise of redemption was pronounced to give them hope that through it all, God in His mercy would deliver them.
Jesus Covers The Accused With Mercy
When Jesus walked the earth, He covered sinners with love and mercy, setting us examples.
1. In John 8.4, the scribes and Pharisees who wanted to test Him to know of His stand on Moses commandment brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. As they pressed Him for an answer, He replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
John 8:9-11: ‘Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”‘
Jesus could hear the plea in the woman’s heart for another chance. When Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”, He gave her hope when her situation was dark and bleak with death close at hand. Jesus covered her with His love and mercy, forgave and released her from her sins. She was given another chance to live a pure life. She did not make any noise, pull strings or try to manipulate Jesus into forgiving her but just stood silently, perhaps praying in her heart for mercy. Mercy was given and not demanded! Another chance and hope to live for Jesus were given!
2. Similarly in Luke 7:36-50, another woman who was a sinner, entered into Simon the Pharisee’s home to anoint the feet of Jesus with an alabaster box of fragrant oil. Luke 7:38 reads: “And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.”
Hers was an act of repentance, a cry for mercy and another chance to live a clean life. These silent pleas were only audible to Jesus’ sensitive ears. The others, including Simon the Pharisee, had thoughts of accusation and condemnation arising in their hearts. Jesus quieted them with a parable illustrating that one who had been forgiven much would naturally be more grateful and love God more than one who had been forgiven less. Jesus’ verdict “Your sins are forgiven” brought her hope of living a clean life and loving God even more.
We likewise need to have the heart of Jesus when men and women fall into sin. We think it shocking the way some Christians fall. Yet when everyone condemns them, God wants us to have the heart of Jesus, knowing if they truly repent they could be so grateful they would love God more and not just serve Him or need Him. Only loving God with grateful hearts for giving them another chance. If we think we will not fall, we need to take heed lest we do, which means having a merciful heart and covering our fellow brethren who have sinned with prayers and tears before God, not tearing them down with condemnation.
James 5:19-20 says, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins”.
Covering Your Kinsfolk
We can either cover or expose the weaknesses of our loved ones and family since we know their weaknesses and failures better than others do. We could tear them down and expose their weaknesses or instead cover them with our prayers.
One lady exclaimed, “My husband is a messy man I have ever met”; another declared, “My husband is the most selfish man I have ever known”. One man said of his wife, “I dread going home to hear the nagging complaints of my wife.” Though these may all be true, such public tearing down and exposing weaknesses damages one’s marriage. Romans l0: 9 -10 makes it clear that our confession, which comes from our heart, reveals what we believe. Believing and confessing the wrong things produces wrong results. Praying and believing God for the best in your spouse will result in you speaking the right words. Wrong words from a heart of unbelief will nullify any positive prayers for them. If there is nothing good to say, it is better not to say anything than speak wrong words and see the worst consequences. God calls deliberate exposure and tearing down of kinsfolk, wickedness.
Leviticus 18:6, l 7b reads, “None of you shall approach to anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD…. It is wickedness.”
Stay Covered At The Peak Of Your Achievement Genesis 9:20-2 “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham the father of Canaan saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.”
At the peak of Noah’s ministry, he weakened and fell into drunkenness. It is at the peak of our life, success, and ministry that we should tread even more carefully than ever before. This can be illustrated by the ‘parable of Mount Kinabalu’.
Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in South-East Asia, stands majestically above the clouds in Sabah and is an exciting place for mountaineers. As one climbs up, one will experience different vegetation and climatic conditions. The higher you climb, the better your view is (provided there aren’t many clouds). The peak of the mountain is visible for many miles. In one of our trips to Sabah, we had an opportunity to have a good view of the peak from the airplane that was bypassing it to go to another town in Sabah called Tawau. It was so awesome to see the kindly view of the mountain among the clouds.
Well, if you are standing at the peak of the mountain, it is natural to have the sense of being on top of the world, with a lovely view of the ocean, islands, and coastline. However, the exuberance and thrill should not lead you to forget your steps because the smallest mistake like tripping over a stone and falling over the edge could be disastrous. Many who were not careful have stumbled and fallen over the edge to their death.
Mount Kinabalu is a symbol of our life achievements and successes – as Christians, we must be careful not to walk on the clouds of pride that bring destruction. The applause received must be channeled to God who deserves all the glory.
Noah’s Exposure/Covering When Ham saw his father’s nakedness, He went and exposed Noah’s failure to his two brothers, Shem and Japheth. They, however, had a different spirit as seen in Genesis 9:23.
“But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.”
Shem and Japheth’s main aim was to COVER and not to expose. Unlike Ham, they did not take delight in looking at their father’s nakedness but covered him up instead.
I believe God will rise up many ‘Shems and Japheth’ who will cover the “nakedness” i.e. weaknesses and failures of their brethren with the mantle of prayer. They will not get carried away telling juicy stories of another’s fall. Their hearts and faces will turn away from wickedness or evil deeds but they will cover the sinner with a prayer that he might turn from his sin and be restored. May we be like Shem and Japheth who inherited blessings instead of Ham whose descendants were cursed.
Moses – Accusations
Those from your own household could be your greatest enemies as seen in Numbers 12:1 when Moses’ own family members rose up with accusations against him. Both Aaron and Miriam, senior in years to Moses, thought it strange that God had been speaking to Moses who had married an Ethiopian woman. God, who vindicated Moses before them, judged their wrong attitude and heard their reviling accusations. Aaron and Miriam did not seek to cover Moses their brother with prayers but rather thought of tearing him down.
In Numbers 16, Korah of the tribe of Levi and others rebelled against Moses’ leadership to their destruction. God’s judgment causing the ground to open and swallow Korah and his company were probably too much for the children of Israel to handle and they became frustrated and discouraged. The shock, grief, and anxiety over the death of their friends and kinsfolk caused a further uproar and they began to complain and murmur against Moses. God displeased with their murmuring, sent a plague to kill them.
Standing In The Gap
As the plague began to burst out, Aaron ran (at Moses’ instruction) with incense on a censer in the midst of the congregation of Israel and stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped.
What a terrifying experience! Aaron was standing between the Angel who was bringing the plague and the children of Israel to plead for God’s mercy. The smoke of the incense that went up to God caused Him to relent from further destroying the people.
God is calling for more Christians who will be like Moses and Aaron, willing to stand in the gap for those who have fallen and sinned against God. We need prayers that will turn a sinner to righteousness and the wicked to repentance before God. We need prayers that will heal lands, churches, families, and lives.
May the Lord find us as intercessors covering others with the mantle of prayer and supplication being reminded that we too are mere human vessels, susceptible to failures
Sir Godfrey Gregg OHPM, ROMC