In Genesis 3:7, we are introduced to the consequences of sin. It says, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Anyone with any spiritual awareness is made very uneasy by the thought of God’s searching gaze. Remember the scene in the garden after Adam and Eve had first sinned. In their original state, before they fell into sin, they were “naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). With no sin to condemn them, they delighted in the gaze of their loving Creator. But after the fall, they hid their shame even from one another, pathetically sewing on fig leaves for garments. Even more, they dreaded the presence of God, fleeing and hiding from him as he approached. This is how many Christians feel in their relationship with God. The thought of his gaze chills their bones. They are willing to do anything but deal with God himself, skulking around the edges of his light rather than drawing near to him. They struggle to pray and seldom do unless forced by circumstances. It is this paralyzing fear that the writer of Hebrews now addresses. As Philip Hughes explains: “Sinners are no longer commanded to keep their distance in fear and trembling, but on the contrary are now invited to draw near, and to do so with confidence.”[1]

Of course, it is merely a popular misunderstanding to imagine that ‘because their eyes were opened,’ they had been created blind. Actually, Adam saw the animals he named and Eve ‘saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold.’  Augustine continues, “Their eyes, then, could see, but they were not open enough in the sense that they themselves were not observant enough to realize in what a raiment of grace they must have been robed to have been unaware so long of any war between their members and their will. But, once the raiment of grace was removed, they were taught the lesson that disobedience to God is punishable by disobedience to oneself. A strange and irrepressible commotion sprang up in their bodies that made nakedness indecent. They realized the rebellion and it made them ashamed.”[2]

Matthew Henry has some well-written words on this subject. He notes that their eyes were opened. “Now, when it was too late, they saw the folly of eating forbidden fruit. They saw the happiness they had fallen from, and the misery they had fallen into. They saw a loving God provoked, his grace and favor forfeited, his likeness and image lost, dominion over the creatures gone. They saw their natures corrupted and depraved and felt a disorder in their own spirits of which they had never before been conscious. They saw a law in their members warring against the law of their minds and captivating them both to sin and wrath. They saw, as Balaam, when his eyes were opened (Num. 22:31), the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand.… They saw themselves disrobed of all their ornaments and ensigns of honor, degraded from their dignity and disgraced in the highest degree, laid open to the contempt and reproach of heaven and earth, and their own consciences.”[3]

[1] Phillips, Richard D. 2006. Hebrews. Edited by Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani. Reformed Expository Commentary. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[2] Augustine of Hippo. 1952. The City of God, Books VIII–XVI. Edited by Hermigild Dressler. Translated by Gerald G. Walsh and Grace Monahan. Vol. 14. The Fathers of the Church. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

[3] Boice, James Montgomery. 1998. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.