Adam and Eve were God’s “newborn”
babies. They were newborn in that
they were “born” of God.
As babies, they came into this world
naked and unashamed. This time
represented the period of their innocence.
But, something significant happened in their lives which caused them to lose their child-like innocence. Adam and Eve help us to understand “Eschatology and the Tabernacle – Why Can’t
Naked People Go to Heaven?”
To Adam, God had commanded that he eat of every tree in the garden which God had made. In the garden, all trees desirable for food were found. Also, there was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Of all the trees accessible to Adam, God stated that he could eat with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God commanded, the man saying, that in the day he ate of that tree, dying he would die, (Gen. 2:16).
Adam’s Awareness and Shame of Nakedness
Falling into temptation, eating of the forbidden tree’s fruit, Adam and Eve’s “eyes” were opened. At that point, they knew they were naked. It is important to understand that Adam’s physical eyes were open from the beginning. He know is able to perceive from an enlightened and heightened awareness of conscious.
After their transgression, Adam and his wife attempted to clothe themselves by sowing together fig leaves. God saw this covering as totally inadequate. In his eyes, though they had more covering on than when they were created, he yet regarded them as naked.
Not only did God regard them as yet naked, he attributed their nakedness to their sin. His question, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (3:11), gets to the heart of condition.
Following his judgment of them, God’s mercy is expressed in the fact that he makes for them “tunics of skins and clothed them.” Thus, it is in violation of God’s word that we become naked, and only God can adequately cover our nakedness.
Eschatology and the Tabernacle – Why Can’t Naked People Go to Heaven?
In one of the most beautiful courtships and love stories in the Bible, God speaks of the time when he fell in love with Israel. He found Israel, likened to a young woman just reaching the age of maturity for marriage.
God courted Israel, called her out of Egyptian bondage about to die as a people, and likens it to covering a maiden in the time of courtship.
“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord. (Ezk. 16:8).
Here God found Israel, barren and bare in the dessert, covered her, renewed the Abrahamic promises and entered into a covenant with her at Sinai. The covering God gave to Israel at this time was the tabernacle. The fabric and materials correspond to those of the tabernacle in Exodus 25.
“Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.
I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk.
I adorned you with ornaments put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck.
And I put a jewel in your noses, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth…”. Compare the materials of the tabernacle in Exod. 25:3–8.
God washed Israel with water in the Red Sea. It is called a baptism or washing in the New Testament, (1 Cor. 10:1–2). Her covering or clothing was the tabernacle, a covering God gave Israel to cover her sins through atonement and work of the high priest.
Without the tabernacle, Israel nakedness and shame appeared. When Israel sinned with the idolatrous nations around her, God eventually removed his presence from the tabernacle leaving Israel unprotected and her “body” exposed.
The Heavenly Tabernacle of the New Covenant Covers Our Nakedness
Israel’s tabernacle was but a shadow and type of the true heavenly tabernacle which God purposed for his people. The sacrifices made by the Levitical priests in that tabernacle could never take away sins, (Heb. 10:1–1, 11). Thus even though Israel had both the tabernacle and later the temple, they had no covering for their sins.
Why? Because although God gave the blueprint, it was a house made by hands that it, the hands of man. We learned earlier in the case of Adam and Eve, man cannot cover his own sins.
Thus, the temple made by hands merely symbolized that the way into the Holiest of all, i.e. the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man, was not manifested as long as the Old Covenant system stood, (Heb. 8:1–2, 9:8).
The House Not Made With Hands
It is clear that Paul has these two contrasting tabernacles in mind in 2 Corinthians 5:1–9, when he speaks about the “earthly house of this tabernacle, versus the “building of God, the house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.”
This is also why Christ did not enter the holy places made with hands, which were mere copies of the true, but into heaven itself to appear in the presence of God for us, (Heb. 9:24).
What is significant is the message Paul gives regarding the two tabernacles. Just as Ezekiel does, he styles them as a covering, —clothing designed to cover man’s nakedness, however, not man’s physical nudity, but his sins.
Those who turn 2 Corinthians 5 into a text regarding biological resurrection are far amiss of the message of the Holy Spirit and the redemptive significance of the two antithetical houses and their Old Covenant background. Paul has been building his antithesis beginning with the discussion of the covenants as earlier as chapter 3.
Not That We Should Be Unclothed
Although the Old Covenant covering for Israel’s sins provided through the tabernacle made with hands could not ultimately deliver from sin and death, it did have its advantages, (Rom. 3:1–2). It is for this reason, Paul does not want to be “unclothed,” left without any covering at all.
He sees the condition of being totally without a covering (tabernacle) as nakedness, just as we discovered above from Ezekiel 16. The remedy offered is “not that we be unclothed, but further clothed…” (2 Cor. 5:4).
The word clothed from the Greek means to pull down over one’s existing covering so as not to exposed one’s nakedness during the transition from one garment to the next. This concept could be better understood in Paul’s cultural dress than in ours, though ladies are quite adept at the process.
The Eschatological Ministry of the Holy Spirit
This process, a part of the Holy Spirit’s end times ministry, prevented the exposure of Israel’s nakedness by clothing them with Christ. In other words, this process began and consummated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Those who assign the earthly house as the physical body, run into the problem of having a naked body at death, yet awaiting the coming of the Lord to raised them. This interpretation violates the text, and repositions the Holy Spirit from the last days of the Jewish age to that of the the age to come.
Secondly, those who argue for the immortal body at death view appear to take a Christ-centered transition text and force it to teach an individual centered post transition process.
The state of nakedness has nothing to do with biological death, but everything to do with covenantal death. To be found naked was to be found with one’s own righteousness, as in the law (Phil. 3:9). To be clothed means to be found with the righteousness of God through Christ, Gal. 3:27. See also Revelation 3:17–18; 16:15.
Christ’s role as High Priest is inseparably connected to the preparation of the tabernacle, the house not made with hands. Until and unless we are covered with it, we are yet naked and exposed before God. Now that the Old Covenant ended along with the temple in 70 AD, (Heb. 8:13, 9:8, Matt. 24, Lk. 21:20–22), there is no covering for sin.
This is why Christ’s died and had to appear a second time as the High Priest, i.e. to complete the atonement in the most Holy and open the way into the Presence of God to all, (Heb. 6:19, 20, 9:28). Those who deny Christ has come, unwittingly deny the consummation of salvation.
The picture of God’s new Holy Bride descending from heaven as the holy city and new Jerusalem, is the covering for man’s sin. Further it is not by accident that the marriage of the Lamb and the coming of the holy city and bride from heaven, follows upon the demise and desolation of the “Mystery Babylon,” —Jerusalem of the Old Covenant.
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God,” (Rev. 21:2).
We noted that Adam and Eve’s nakedness came as a direct result of sin. They were naked while yet alive, still within their physical bodies. God clothed them while they were yet alive and covered their nakedness.
Israel was naked before God entered a covenant with them. God’s covered Israel with the tabernacle thus removing their shame of exposure from sin.
Finally, God covered Israel in the last days through Christ, the only righteousness God accepts. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, not to the Jews only, but to all the nations.
Learn more about God’s work of redemption in light of eschatology. Get a copy of my book, The Re-Examination, a study of the Lord’s Second Coming.