5: Noah’s Altar
Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014Print
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Follow Martha through the scriptures as she looks at what worship pleased God, and what worship He rejected. Find out what this means for your life today!
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
Genesis 6:11-12 NIV
God responds to His creation. His heart is open to us when ours is closed. He is here and involved, never remote and ever intently listening to His children. He reacts to humanity in all our actions by His secret watching of the heart’s real motive.
Men “called on God” after Abel, but prayer is not the same as worship. Prayer is asking FROM Him. Worship is giving TO Him. Prayer wants something from a loving Father. This He welcomes. But worship is giving Him His place as Awesome God. This He loves.
The rejected God of Adam and Eve meets with those who build an altar!
Every altar gains a response from God. Following altars through the Bible is discovering what God likes what moves Him – toward the worshiper. And His heart is vividly open to altars of worship constructed by the human choice to bow.
But Almighty also responds to the absence of altars, to the evil swirl of those who chose to revere flesh instead of God. By the twelfth generation of mankind, God was sickened by its evil. “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth’” (Gen. 6:13).
Noah, the only one who had the favor of God. He was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”
So Father would build his future humanity from this only good-man among countless bad-men. Noah assembled the vast list of God’s requirements and built his ark of safety, all by God’s specifics. The scorners of Noah’s project would have labeled it insane!
Noah’s mind could conceive of the ark but probably not of the flood. The drowning of the whole earth. The rains the world had never seen, rained on and on…and on.
As the crushing waters rose, the horror of destruction floated atop it. Noah would hear crashing of structures, felling of trees, the thrashing panic of the animals and worse, hysterical screams of the drowning, the awful desperation of the sinners dying. Even children were swept up in this deadly ocean of God’s disgust. All…all died around the Ark.
And Noah! forbidden by Divine Orders to rescue so much as one soul. All of it a frightening scene of the rage of God’s unequivocal judgment against an entire multitude of His own creation. “The wrath of God rests on the disobedient.” It does!
The storm and rain, with its toll of death was not the worst. The myriad bodies floating past his ark, the eerie silence of an empty world…with no other humanity! Gone, even as God had predicted but inconceivable in its fulfillment.
A nightmare of God’s judgment! Noah, a lonely witness, the single survivor who – with his startled family – carried the sole thread of a tiny humanity strung between Adam and the entire future of the world.
God was known by the flood. His holiness and wrath. His intolerance of evil. His unlimited power to destroy. What trembling terror Noah would have known in the presence of such a God!
So immediately when Noah’s foot stepped on the dry land, he had one project. One first act. Immediate and primary! The building of an altar and the burning of a sacrifice.
So Noah came out… 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.
Genesis 8:18, 20
The first altar of Abel was with a sacrifice slaughtered for merely for its blood. Noah’s offering was killed but also burned. Burning speaks of God’s judgment, a picture of His fiery wrath.
The altar of burning flesh says,
I worship the God of judgment.
I know Your power and holiness.
I acknowledge Your righteous judgment with this burnt offering.
The knowledge of God’s holiness was expanded by the flood of His intolerance of evil. And the altar reflects the fear of such a God and an offering in fire that concedes, “I worship and surrender to who you are. I give you the offering of living beings, slain but also burned before you.”
This was an offering to appease God. And it did! The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart; Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.
God responded to the burning altar of worship. The altar acknowledged that He was God. He was right in His judgment and by the sacrifice Noah bowed to This Almighty, to His standard and holiness.
He reacted to the worship!
And because of this altar of Noah, He declared a promise, serious as a covenant:
As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
Genesis 8:22 NIV
Our worship evokes God’s response and affects His heart, His plans and His attitude. Worship is His glad meeting with the children of His disappointment.
This altar brought forth from His Holy Heart, God’s desire to never destroy humanity by flood, never kill the earth again. Never was it His joy to do so. Judgment is His last resort. But judge He will. Noah’s altar: worship of the God who judges.
Abel presented the blood of a sacrifice to God. Noah presented the burning of the sacrifice. And worship was expanded to understand Jehovah.
Christ’s life was taken, his blood was shed for sin. But He also bore upon himself the awful burning of God’s wrath. Jesus bore our sin but He also took the judgment of God!
Christ is now the offering of our worship. He, the bloody and the burnt sacrifice upon which we rest our sinful case and approach with awe, our personal Father of Lights. And this altar is Christ, the Ark of our deliverance. He is explained – and anticipated – by the altar of Noah.
Copyright © 2001 Martha Kilpatrick, Worship Forever