Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight, Part 4

8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast
In the times before the tabernacle and the temple men would build altars to God, and there sacrifice to Him. Abel (by implication) did this when he offered the firstlings of his flock, Genesis 4:4. Abram did this after God gave him the promise of the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:7. It was there that Abram called on the name of the Lord, Genesis 13:4. Through the mediation of the blood, sinful man could have fellowship with God Almighty, for the shedding of blood atoned for sin. Two more times Abram (later Abraham) would do this; Genesis 13:18; 22:9. Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps and likewise built an altar, Genesis 26:25. Jacob also followed suit, Genesis 33:20; 35:7. Both times Jacob sacrificed offerings in acknowledgment of God’s provision and faithfulness.

The altar became a symbol of the penalty sin exacted on men, and God’s provisionary substitute, so that sinful men could still approach their Creator on a just basis. Noah brought seven of each clean animal with him into the ark on God’s command, Genesis 7:2-3. The purpose was to offer thanksgiving to God for His mighty deliverance of his family, and perpetuation of the race on the face of the earth. David understood this concept when he wrote, “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord…for Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great…The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant,” Psalm 25:7, 11, 14. David was pleading with the Lord to deal with Him according to what David DID NOT deserve, rather than what he did deserve. If we receive what we deserve, we would all be on our way to Hell.

Sin was dealt with by the shedding of blood; death absolved one from sin’s claim—dead men could no longer sin. The patriarchs recognized this fact, that the death of an innocent on their behalf not only atoned for sins, but permitted reconciliation, Hebrews 11:13. The repetition of sacrifice implied an imperfection in its efficacy. It atoned for previous sin, but did not cleanse one’s conscience; future sin required future atonement, Hebrews 10:1-4. Yet they clung in faith to the shadow of the reality that in due time God would remove sin’s power over His people entirely, and create a new and living way that would no longer hinder or forbid access to His intimate presence and throne.

That way was revealed in Jesus Christ, whose single sacrifice accomplished what an eternity of animal sacrifices could not: putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 9:26. This was “to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus,” Romans 3:26. He is just by satisfying the demands of the law against sin; through Jesus He may declare righteous anyone who places their faith in the Savior, because the death He died He died for us, to pay the penalty for our sins and allow us to come to God through Him. He is our Savior. If Noah worshiped so, having been delivered from a temporal judgment, then we ought to be jubilant and diligent to offer praise and worship to the God who vouchsafed such salvation as is found in Jesus Christ, our God and Savior!

8:21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake

The savor which the Lord smelled was the mingled prayers of the saints, Revelation 8:3-4. It was not sacrifice which delighted the Lord, it was His people’s devout reliance on Him, as small children clinging to their heavenly Father. “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” Hosea 6:6. The mechanical liturgy and ceremony of “churchianity” (Tozer’s word; not mine) avails nothing to people. Roman Catholicism is ripe with opulent and extravagant pomp and pageantry, but that is not what God desires. Jesus commanded us to worship in spirit and truth, John 4:24. This reflects an internal, relational worship in which we know the Father through the revelation of the Son; God desires truth in the inward parts, Psalm 51:6. Otherwise we suffer the outward self-righteousness of the Pharisees, Matthew 23:27-28.

What was more important to God: The act of offering an animal on the altar after the Flood? Or Noah’s godly obedience driven by reverential fear (love) of the Lord? The ground had been cursed when Adam sinned: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” Genesis 3:17-19. Lamech, Noah’s father, begot Noah perhaps in the hopes that Noah was the Seed foretold by God in Eden, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed,” Genesis 5:29. God covenanted after the Flood, swearing that He would not further curse the ground on man’s behalf.
To be Continued.

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