So Noah has been cooped up in the ark with a large number of animals and birds and seven other sinners for 320 days. What a relief it must have been to get out from all that smell and noise and all those sinners. In Genesis 8:18-19 we read how they ventured forth onto a cleansed earth. It must have been so clean after all the water had ebbed away. Now Noah is free, but what will he do? We think, “Noah why don’t you go and enjoy yourself? Surely you need a bit of recuperation after what you have been through.” Or we might counsel him and say: “Noah there’s so much to do, you need a home and some food. You’d better get on with it. You don’t even know when it is going to rain again (!) and if you don’t have any crops all eight of you are going to starve.”
But Noah thought differently so we read in Genesis 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. “Why are you doing that Noah? There is so much to do and you don’t even know where you are going to get the stuff for the altar”, we might ask. So why did Noah do it?
- The earth may be cleansed. All may be beautiful. But he realised he was a sinner. 320 days with 7 other sinners had made him very much aware that he was a sinner. We need to know this: Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful food, beautiful drinks are all marred by the unbeautiful me. I am a sinner and I need another life to be offered up as a substitute so that I can be acceptable to God. And all these offerings anticipated our Lord Jesus and what He would do.
- The principle for populating the ark was that all animals and birds went in two by two. But it was different with the clean birds and animals; he took seven of them. He must have pondered why? He was not told why. But, I suggest, he concluded that these must be for sacrifice. He had the example of Abel to guide him knowing that Abel was accepted on the basis of sacrifice. He determined that I only have extra of the clean so that they are to be offered up to God, not just to be there to repopulate the earth. This all indicates to us how God provides f us so that we can worship Him. Don’t forget the Lord’s day is a gift so that we can worship God. And remember above all our Lord Jesus is given so that we can be worshippers. In Him and through Him alone we can worship God. So neither should we miss the provisions of God for worship nor should we reject them.
- He wanted to start with God. Here was a new start. He wanted to make sure that he started by honouring God. He said I will not go forth without making sure that God is worshipped and acknowledged. And so He took the offerings and offered them up. How much we have to learn here. We so often feel I am too busy to give time to prayer and reading the Word, but such reasoning is folly. We are always headed for a mess when we adopt that reasoning. We should make sure we start everything by acknowledging the Lord. Every day, every journey, every meeting, in everything start by bringing it to the Lord.
These motivations governed Noah’s actions as he left the ark. He left the ark with set determinations; nothing would deflect him. It is interesting to note that this would take preparation. The clean animals and birds had to be restrained for example. If he had just let them out they would soon have flown and ran away. Which prompts me to think about how much preparation do I make for the worship time in church.
It is instructive to see what the outcomes of Noah’s commitment were:-
- The Lord was pleased, everything in the ensuing verses indicates this. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, (Gen. 8:21a).
- Noah was blessed. He was now set to achieve what God had called him to, so we read in Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
So Philip. You must learn to put God first. You ignore this at your utmost peril.