God Receives Worship
After he stepped out of the ark and stood on the renewed earth, Noah was so filled with gratitude that his first act was to lead his family in worship. We are now to express our thankfulness, not by burnt offerings, but by praise, and pious devotions and conversation. God was well pleased with what was done. One might have thought, his first care would have been to build a house for himself, but he begins with an altar for God. He built an altar and offered some of the clean animals as sacrifices to the Lord.
And Noah built an altar to the Lord and took of every clean [four-footed] animal and of every clean fowl or bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Genesis 8:20 (AMP)
Noah was a balanced believer. He walked with the Lord in loving communion and enjoyed His presence. He worked for the Lord in building the ark, and he witnessed for the Lord as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). While in the ark, he waited on the Lord for instructions concerning his leaving, and once he was standing on the earth, he worshiped the Lord. Like Abel, he brought God his very best (Gen. 4:4); and like the Sethite remnant, he called on the name of the Lord (v. 26). The true worship of the Lord had been restored on the earth.
In Old Testament days, when you sacrificed a burnt offering, you gave the entire animal or bird to the Lord with nothing kept back (Lev. 1). “All on the altar” (v. 9) was the biblical law, because the sacrifice symbolized total dedication to the Lord. (The burnt offering also involved atonement for sin (Lev. 1:4; Job 1:5) and thanksgiving to God.) In a new step of commitment, Noah gave himself and his family completely to the Lord. God had graciously protected them and brought them through the storm, so it was only fitting that they make themselves available to the Lord to do His will.
The description of God “smell [-ing] the pleasant aroma” (Gen. 8:21) is a human way of stating a divine truth: God was satisfied with the sacrifice, accepted it, and was pleased with His people and their worship (Lev. 1:9; 3:16). If God refused to “smell” the fragrance of the offering, it meant that He was displeased with the worshipers (Lev. 26:31; Isa. 1:11-15). [It was God who provided the sacrifices because He commanded Noah to take the clean animals with him on the ark (Gen. 7:2-3). What we give to God, He has first given to us (1 Chron. 29:14), and we don’t give to God because He lacks anything (Ps. 50:7-15) or needs anything (Acts 17:24-25). Our giving brings delight to God, but it doesn’t enrich God personally. Rather, giving enriches the worshiper (Phil. 4:18] In New Testament language, the sacrifice speaks of Jesus Christ offering Himself up for us.
“And walk in love, as Christ has also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma”
Ephesians 5:2, NKJV
In and of ourselves, we can’t please God by what we are or by what we do; but by faith, we can be accepted in Jesus Christ. The Father said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Those who put their faith in Christ are “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17); and when the Father looks at them, He sees the righteousness of His Son (2 Cor. 5:21). Believers are “accepted in the beloved” Son who is well-pleasing to the Father (Eph. 1:6).
Like the ark that saved Noah and his family, Jesus Christ went through the storm of God’s judgment for us. Jonah, who is a type of Christ in death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 12:38-40), went through the storm of God’s wrath because of his disobedience, but Jesus went through the storm in obedience to God’s will. Jesus could say, “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (Ps. 42:7; Jonah 2:3). Our Lord’s suffering on the cross was the “baptism” Jesus referred to in Luke 12:50 and that was pictured when John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.