Coats of Skin, Fig Leave Aprons: Getting Naked In Order to be Clothed











Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the first seventeen verses of the twenty-first chapter. When this chapter opens, it opens with the word of the Lord again coming unto the prophet Ezekiel instructing him to set his face toward Jerusalem, and to drop his word toward the holy places. The prophet Ezekiel was instructed to prophesy against the land of Israel, and to speak of something very specific concerning that which was about to be released within, and that which was about to released upon both land an inhabitant. When you come to the third verse you find the Lord of hosts speaking unto the prophet Ezekiel and declaring unto and through him, saying, “Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” (Ezekiel 21:3). When the Lord begins speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, He begins speaking to him about a sword which He was going to draw forth of his sheath, in order that that sword might be released within and upon the land. Within the third verse we begin to discover and uncover the reason and purpose for this sword being released within and upon the land—to cut off from the land both the righteous and the wicked. It is absolutely imperative that we pay close attention to the words of the Lord in this particular verse, for this verse not only reveals something specific concerning the Lord, but also concerning the sword which the Lord intends on releasing within, and perhaps even against both land and people. If you pay close and careful attention to this particular verse you will notice two distinct realities that are present within it. The first reality is that the Lord was going to draw His sword out of his sheath and was going to release it within and upon the land to cut off from it both the righteous and the wicked. It is absolutely imperative that we understand this purpose for and this purpose behind the sword, for it is something that concerns how the Lord may operate and work within us in our midst. The word of the Lord spoke unto the prophet Ezekiel concerning His sword which was going to be drawn from his sheath in order that both the righteous and the wicked might be cut off from the land. In essence, the purpose for this sword was to cause the land to become utterly and completely desolate. The sword which the Lord was going to bring against and upon the land of Israel was to cut off and effectively remove from the land those who dwelt within and inhabited. The sword which the Lord was going to release within and upon the land was going to perform a work within the land, for the sword was going to remove that which previously occupied the land.

 WHEN THE SWORD CUTS OFF! WHEN THE SWORD UPROOTS! If you read this particular verse you will begin to understand that the sword which the Lord was going to release from his sheath was going to not only cut off from the land—effectively removing from the land that which previously occupied, but the sword was also going to uproot and remove. One of the single greatest purposes and intentions of the sword which the Lord brings within and which the Lord brings upon is to uproot and remove that which needs to be removed. The sword which the Lord was going to release within and upon the land of Israel was going to cut off and remove both the righteous and the wicked, thus causing and allowing the land to become fallow and desolate. The time had come for the Lord to draw forth His sword from his sheath, and to bring that sword upon, against and within the land. It’s imperative that we recognize and understand that the sword wasn’t merely brought against the land of Israel, or the city of Jerusalem, or the southern kingdom of Judah to threaten and intimidate, but it was actually released within the land. The Lord wouldn’t merely bring and release His sword against the land of Israel, but would actually allow the sword to pass through and move within the land. THE SWORD CANNOT REMAIN WITHOUT! THE SWORD CANNOT REMAIN OUTSIDE THE WALLS! There would be those who when considering the sword which the Lord may bring against the city of Jerusalem, may think and believe that the sword can remain outside the walls. In other words, the sword can be brought against the city of Jerusalem, but the sword would never be permitted to enter into and be released within the city. The sword would be brought against the city of Jerusalem, but the sword could never be permitted to enter into and be released the city. There are those who would limit, relegate and prohibit the work of the sword which the Lord unleashes to outside the walls, and are completely unwilling to accept the fact that the sword can indeed be released within. So long as the sword remains outside the walls of the city and outside the walls and boundaries of the land, the full and complete work of the sword may in fact be prevented from occurring. I am sure if men and women within Judah and Jerusalem could keep the sword outside the borders of Judah, and even outside the walls of Jerusalem, they would have been perfectly content with doing so. The truth of the matter is that the sword would neither remain outside and beyond the borders, nor would it remain outside and beyond the walls.

 KEEPING THE SWORD OUTSIDE AND BEYOND THE BORDERS! KEEPING THE SWORD OUTSIDE AND BEYOND THE WALLS! What’s incredibly interesting to consider when reading this particular passage of Scripture is that before the sword even approached the walls of the city, it first approached the borders and boundaries of the land of Judah. This reality is actually one which we must carefully consider, for there are countless times when we think and even believe that we can set borders and boundaries for the sword which the Lord desires to release within our lives. There are times within our lives when we think we can set borders and boundaries for the sword of the Lord, in order that we might somehow prevent it from entering into and being released within our lives. There are many who spend a considerable amount of time, effort and energy seeking establish boundaries and borders around their hearts, around their minds, around their souls, around their lives, and the like, and they do so to prevent the sword from entering in and being released within those designated areas. The question I can’t help but ask is this: What do you do when the sword doesn’t remain outside the borders and beyond the boundaries? How do you respond when the sword doesn’t remain outside the borders and beyond the boundaries? I can’t help but wonder what the collective response of the inhabitants of Judah was when the sword was no longer beyond the borders and boundaries of the land, but actually crossed over and entered into them. It’s one thing for the sword to remain outside and beyond the boundaries and borders which were set up, yet the minute that sword enters into and is released within those borders, men and women are completely clueless on how to react and respond. In all reality, I would dare say that there are men and women who would rather spend their entire lives keeping the sword of the Lord outside the boundaries and borders they have set up and established within their hearts and lives. There are men and women who may even spend a considerable amount of time within their days, weeks and months to ensure the sword cannot enter into, nor can be released within their hearts, their lives, their homes, their marriages, their families, etc. Furthermore, I would even dare say that there are churches that spend a considerable amount of time, effort and energy preventing the sword of the Lord from entering into and being released within their midst. Such individuals are perfectly content with the sword being released within and released upon other nations, other lands, other peoples, other churches, other families, other ministries, other marriages, and the like, yet they are unwilling to entertain the thought of the sword moving beyond the borders and boundaries that have been set up and put in place.

 SEEKING TO KEEP THE SWORD OUTSIDE THE BORDERS! SEEKING TO KEEP THE SWORD BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES! When studying the sword which the Lord drew forth from his sheath, it’s important to note that this sword didn’t immediately come upon, nor was it immediately released within the land. The sword which the Lord was going to draw forth out of his sheath was going to be drawn forth out of his sheath in Babylon, and was going to make his way to the land of Judah, and ultimately to the city of Jerusalem. The sword was going to begin in Babylon and was going to progressively move within and move throughout the nations and lands round about Judah until it would eventually come to and reach the borders of the southern kingdom. What’s more, is that when the sword was drawn forth out of his sheath, and when it began to be brought forth within and upon the earth, its ultimate destination and purpose was the land of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem. One of the most interesting things to note and realize when considering this particular reality is that more often than not we establish borders and boundaries in a furious attempt to prevent the sword from coming near to the walls we have built within our hearts and lives. The borders and boundaries are in all reality the first line of defense against any threat that would emerge from beyond and outside the kingdom. Oh how many men and women spend their entire lives seeking to keep the sword of the Lord outside and beyond the borders and boundaries they have established, for those borders and boundaries are designed to prevent anything that poses a threat to Jerusalem from entering in. It is absolutely necessary that we understand that Jerusalem was the ultimate target and was the ultimate destination within the southern kingdom of Judah, and that in order to come near to, and in order to move upon Jerusalem, the borders and boundaries round about Jerusalem would need to be breached. Perhaps one of the best ways to explain this is when you think of your own physical body, and how your skin forms the outer part of your body that is essentially the first line of defense against anything harmful that exists beyond the body. The blood that flows within and throughout your body cannot be touched without first breaching the outer surface of the skin. What’s more, is that each and every organ within your body is carefully protected by the outer shell of your physical being which is your flesh. Only when the flesh is breached can the organs that are present within your body become vulnerable and ultimately exposed. The border and boundary of the southern kingdom of Judah was in all reality the first line of defense surrounding the city of Jerusalem. It was the city of Jerusalem which not only contained the throne of David, but also contained the Temple of Solomon as well. If one sought to rise up against either the throne or the Temple, one would first need to breach the border and boundary which was present round about Jerusalem.

 If you study the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army, you will notice that once they breached the borders and boundaries of Judah, they strategically transitioned and moved to the fortified cities that existed round about Jerusalem within the land. In other words, first came the breach, and them came the strike within the land upon the fortified cities therein. Once a breach was made in the border and boundary of the land, that breach would expose and cause to become vulnerable all the fortified cities that were present within and throughout the land. The borders and boundaries of Judah were there to form an outer perimeter round about the city of Jerusalem, for the capital city of Jerusalem would be the ultimate and ideal target. IF the sword was every permitted to breach the border and boundary, and if the sword was able to overwhelm and overtake those fortified places within the land, then it would only be a matter of time before the sword would arrive at Jerusalem and would be present outside the walls. Oh, there are countless men and women who establish borders and boundaries within their lives in order to create an outer perimeter if you will round about the walls they have built within their lives. There are men and women who have built and established walls around their heart, and perhaps even walls around their soul in order that neither can become vulnerable, exposed and/or touched. They create, set up and establish borders and boundaries as a first line of defense against any external threats that could potentially inflict damage within and damage against. WHAT DOES THE SWORD BREACHING THE BORDER MEAN! WHAT DOES THE SWORD BREACHING THE BOUNDARY MEAN! As you read this particular passage within the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will notice that the sword being drawn forth and released from his sheath would cause to be cut off from the land both the righteous and the wicked. The sword being released within the land would cause both the righteous and the wicked to be cut off from the land, and would then proceed to move forth against all flesh from the south to the north. The sword which the Lord would draw forth from his sheath would not only cut off from the land both the righteous and the wicked, but it would effectively remove and uproot both from within the land. The Lord was going to bring and release His sword against, within and upon the land in order that He might cause it to become completely desolate so that His work might be fulfilled and accomplished in the midst thereof. The sword would effectively produce within the land that which the inhabitants were seeking to prevent and avoid—namely, the cutting off and removing of the inhabitants of the land from the midst of it.

 If we are going to truly understand this particular passage of Scripture, we must understand that borders and boundaries are set up and established as the first line of defense against any external threat that would attempt to rise up and be brought against the land. There was within the southern kingdom of Judah the symbol of the authority and government of the Lord of hosts, for the throne of David was present within the city. Moreover, there was within the southern kingdom of Judah the symbol of the glory and presence of the Lord of hosts, for the Temple of Solomon was present therein. When the sword was released upon and released within the land, it would not only be brought against every fortified city that was present within the land, but it would be brought against the inhabitants that dwelt within the land as well. Ultimately, the sword would be unleashed and released within the land until it would eventually come near and come against the city of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and set up camp round about the city, the sword had effectively been brought against the city. For nearly two years the sword was present outside the walls of the city threatening each and every day to enter into the midst of the city. For nearly two years the inhabitants of Jerusalem lived in constant fear, terror and dread because of the sword that existed beyond and outside the wall of the city. The sword had already breached the outer boundary and border of the land, and had already made its way and moved through the southern kingdom of Judah. The sword had already captured all the fortified cities within the land, and it had now come to and been brought against the city of Jerusalem. When the sword of the Lord arrives at Jerusalem it is a sure sign that each and every defense round about the city had been neutralized, and that Jerusalem was now exposed and vulnerable to the purpose for which the sword was released. When you read this particular set of verses you will quickly discover that the sword was drawn forth from his sheath with and for a very specific purpose, and it would not return any more until it achieved its purpose. The sword was sharpened and furbished in order that it might make a swore slaughter within the land. The sword would breach the outer border and boundary of Jerusalem until it would eventually come near to the walls of Jerusalem. Once it reached the walls of Jerusalem it would pursue its final and ultimate objective within the land, for once the sword entered into and completed his work within the city, there would be nothing else left to accomplish within the land. Once the sword came near to the walls of Jerusalem, and once the sword entered into the midst of the city, the purpose and reason for which it was sent would be completed, and the sword would then depart from the midst.

 I cannot escape this concept of borders and boundaries, and how we seek to set up and establish borders and boundaries in order that we might somehow prevent the sword from entering into and moving throughout the different areas of our lives. When you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews you will notice the author speaking of the word of God in a very specific light. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). I have written before that when seeking to understand the word of God as a sharp two-edged sword, we must first understand that first comes the division, and then comes the discernment. When you read this particular verse you will notice that the author first speaks of the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and then you will read of the word of God discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. The more I read and consider this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but get the strong sense that there needs to occur a division between the soul and the spirit in order that the heart be revealed and made manifest unto the Lord of hosts. In fact, you will notice that in the thirteenth verse we read how there is nothing that is not manifest in the sight of the Lord, but that all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of the Lord. The ultimately purpose for the word of God is to lay everything as naked and opened before and unto the Lord of hosts, and to cause everything to be manifest in His sight. The word of God first divides the soul and spirit of a man in order that the heart of a man might be vulnerable and exposed before the Lord. The Lord causes the soulish nature of a man to be divided from the spirit nature of a man in order that the heart of a man might be accessible to the work of His Word. It is the Word of God which divides soul and spirit in order that the heart might be revealed and exposed. Once the heart is revealed and manifested before the word of God, both the thoughts and intents of the heart might become manifest. Mark these words and mark them well—that the purpose of the word of God is to lay bare and to cause to become naked and bare everything within our lives. Adam and Eve at once point were naked in the garden and unashamed, and yet once they sinned against the Lord, they became naked and ashamed. It was from that place of shame that they proceeded to sew fig leaves together to make garments to cover their nakedness. What’s important to realize concerning this is that it was the word of God which came down into the garden in their midst, called out to them, and eventually exposed their nakedness. What’s more, is that when the Lord covered Adam and Eve with the skin of an animal, He didn’t place that skin atop the fig leaves which they had sewn together for themselves.

 

 THE LORD WILL NOT COVER FIG LEAF COVERINGS WITH COATS OF SKIN! In the seventh verse of the third chapter we read that when the yes of Adam and Eve were opened, and when they knew that they were naked, they immediately sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. When you come to the twenty-first verse of this chapter you will find that after the Lord had finished speaking to Adam, to Eve and to the serpent, the Lord made for them coats of skins, and clothed them. What we must understand when reading these two verses is that before the Lord could clothe Adam and Eve with the coats of skin He had made for them, He had to first remove the fig leaves which they had sewed together for themselves. In other words, the Lord had to cause them to become naked once more by shedding the fig leaves they had attempted to cover themselves with in order that He might clothe them with garments made by the Lord and prepared for them. The Lord would cause their nakedness to once more become visible, for He could not and would not place the coats of skin on top of and over the fig leaves they had sewn together for themselves. Oh, how many times do we think that the Lord can clothe us with His nature, and cause it to go over the fig leaves which we have attempted to cover ourselves with? How many times do we think the Lord can clothe us while we still persist in keeping the covering(s) we have made for ourselves? I would dare say that we are indeed faced with a decision and choice to make—either we will choose to keep and retain the covering we have sewn together for ourselves, or we will shed that covering and allow the Lord to clothe us. The Lord cannot and the Lord will not clothe us with Himself while we still persist in covering ourselves with our own efforts, our own merits, our own self-righteousness. If we wish and desire to be clothed with the garments which Christ has prepared for us, we must first be willing to shed the coverings we have made for ourselves, and to allow ourselves to be naked before the Lord. THE LORD CAN’T CLOTHE WHAT IS ALREADY COVERED! COATS OF SKIN CAN NEVER BE WORN OVER AND ON TOP OF FIG LEAVE APRONS! Oh how many men and women seek to retain the fig leave aprons they have sewn together for themselves to cover their nakedness, while still expecting the Lord to clothe them with His garments. It is only when we are willing to shed the fig leave aprons we have sewn together for ourselves that the Lord can truly clothe us with the garments He has prepared and made available for us. The word of God divides soul and spirit in order that the heart might be revealed, and once the heart is revealed, the word of God might discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is from that place of division and discernment that all things are naked and opened before and unto the Lord of hosts. It is from this place of the division of soul and spirit that our heart can truly become manifested, exposed and vulnerable in order that the thoughts and intents within might be revealed—both to us, as well as to the eyes of the One before whom nothing is hidden. It’s worth noting the two words “naked” and “opened” in this passage of Scripture, for this is ultimately what the word of God should produce within our hearts and lives—a nakedness and openness before the Lord of hosts.

 When reading this particular set of verses within the New Testament, we come to an understanding why we establish borders and boundaries within and around our lives. We establish borders and boundaries within our lives in order that the sword might not begin its work of division and discerning, for once the sword reaches the walls of Jerusalem—once the sword reaches the walls of our heart—the process of discernment and division truly begin. Oh how many of us are absolutely petrified and terrified of the sword within our lives, for we understand that if the word is truly permitted to accomplish that for which it was released, it needs to bring about a division and discernment. The word of God must divide asunder our soul and spirit in order that our heart might be revealed. Once our heart is revealed and exposed before the Lord, both the thoughts and intents therein are revealed and made manifest before the Lord of hosts, and we suddenly find ourselves naked and opened before and unto Him. Oh how very few men and women are truly willing to live their lives naked and opened before the Lord—despite the fact that our nakedness must be exposed and revealed in order that we might be clothed with that which has been prepared for us by the Lord. One of the greatest realities I am finding myself facing at this very moment is the reality of shedding the fig leave garments I have sewn together in order to conceal my nakedness, and the shame of my nakedness. I cannot expect the Lord of hosts to be able to clothe me with His garments while I am still holding onto and clinging to the garments I have made for myself. Tell me dear brother, tell dear sister—are you willing to shed the fig leave garments you have sewn together for yourself in order that you might be clothed with the garments which the Lord has prepared for you? Adam and Eve could not take up—much put on—the coats of skin which the Lord had prepared for them unless they were first willing to remove the garments they had made for themselves, thus revealing and exposing their nakedness. How many of us are afraid to allow our nakedness to show—even if it’s but for a brief period of time—and thereby prevent and prohibit the Lord from clothing us? The Lord cannot clothe anyone who is not willing to shed the garments they have sewn together for themselves and allow their nakedness to be revealed and manifest before Him. The apostle Paul speaks of “putting on Christ,” yet we cannot “put on Christ” until and unless we are first willing to allow our nakedness to be made manifest before the sight of the Lord. We cannot put on Christ over our flesh, for Christ can never and will never provide a covering for our flesh, nor our own [self] righteousness. Oh, are you willing to allow your nakedness to be made visible in order that you might be able to put on and be clothed with Christ? Are you willing to allow the sword to pierce and penetrate in order that it might divide asunder soul and spirit so your heart might be revealed and its thoughts and intents be manifested? Oh that we would be willing to allow the sword which the Lord desires to release to move beyond the borders and boundaries we have established in order that it might not only come to the walls we have set up within our lives, but might also enter into and move beyond those walls and accomplish the purpose for which it was intended.

 I believe with everything inside me this day that we need to embrace the sword crossing over and entering into the borders and boundaries we have attempted to set up and establish within our lives. I am convinced that we must be ready and willing to allow the sword to enter into our lives in order that it might discern the thoughts and intents of our heart in order that from that place of revelation and manifestation, everything might be naked and opened before the Lord. It is only from that place of being naked and open before the Lord that He can truly clothe us with His own garments which He has prepared and made ready for us. Oh that we would allow the sword to pass through and be released within and upon us in order that anything and everything that needs to be cut off, uprooted and removed might be removed from our lives. Oh that we would open ourselves up to the ministry of the sword in order that we might find ourselves “clothed and in our right mind” before the One who sits upon the throne. Oh that we would bring to an end our relentless quarrel with and fight against the sword of the Lord within our lives, and that we would allow the division and discernment to occur exactly as the Lord desires and intends for it to take place. Oh that we would be willing to shed the garments we have sewn together for ourselves in order that the garments the Lord has made and prepared for us might might put on and worn. Oh that we would allow our nakedness to be seen and revealed before the Lord so we can be clothed with Christ so we can wear Christ before and in the presence of all those we interact and come in contact with.

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