Genesis 8:16-22 God Remembers Noah, and Noah Worships God
Last week we did not get through the lesson due to some really good discussions. So today we shall pick up where we left off. I have added some things to the lesson, so if you looked at last weeks lesson on the blog this one is substantially different.
II. Noah’s Obedience and Worship 8:13-20
John Sailhamer (Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol.2 p.91) that there are some remarkable similarities in the text and ideas between Gen. 8:15-9:9 and the Call of Abram in 12:1-7.
Gen. 8:15 Then God said to Noah….Gen. 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram
8:16 “Come out from the Ark”…12:1 “Leave your country”
8:18 So Noah came out…12:4 So Abram left
8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord…12:7 So Abram built an altar to the
9:1Then God blessed Noah…12:2 “And I will bless you”
9:9 I now establish my covenant with you and your descendents…12:7 To
offspring, I will give this land.”
Noah and Abraham represent a new beginning, important steps in the history of Redemption.
Noah has been described as being righteous, blameless and walking with God. When God told him to build this big Ark, he obeyed. Noah entered the Ark when God told him to and Noah obeyed during the long months of being cooped up. Sometimes obedience requires instant compliance in a crisis, and sometimes it is a long, boring, difficult obedience over many months. Guys, when you are called to the ministry, and you are in seminary studying away, it is easy to get so absorbed in your studies, in whatever ministries the Lord allows you while you are in school, and in your dreams and fantasies of future ministries, that you might tend to possibly ignore the long, slow obedience needed in the job you have that funds your education. Or, like me, when professional ministry comes to an end sooner than you wanted, and you work a job 40-60 hours a week that does not match any of your dreams that you have while in seminary, you are still called to obey by working as unto the Lord. Noah shoveled a lot of animal dung while on board the Ark. It was a long, difficult obedience.
Now after the dove brought back the olive leaf and then departed again never to return as she was building her nest, it would have been easy for Noah to have said to his family, “Let’s open this door and get out of this Ark!” But Noah waited until v.15-16 Then God said to Noah, Go out from the Ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you…” Just as Noah obeyed going into the Ark, and obeyed while on the Ark, so he waited for the Lord’s command to depart the Ark. How many times do we get ahead of the Lord and assume it is time to leave a place of ministry, even if it is a ministry to a bunch of old goats, hippos and camels? Many ministers hop from one church to the other, climbing the Baptist corporate ladder, striving to get to that next larger church, always one or two steps ahead of the Lord’s will. Others get in a comfortable position and lose their edge and miss the call to Go out from their comfortable Ark. Finding and following the Lord’s will can be very difficult at times, and obeying even more so. But Noah waited patiently until the Lord clearly told him to go out. “So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.”
Here we see Noah as a second Adam, emerging from the Ark with all of God’s creatures surrounding him. Apparently the animals descended from the Ark in as orderly a manner, and miraculous, as they had entered, filing out family by family. Picture all the brightly colored birds flying low overhead as the lions, tigers, bears, bison, elephants and kudu came bounding out of the ark two by two to go forth and repopulate the earth.
8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. Noah had all kinds of tasks he had to do very soon. Mrs. Noah may have been requesting a new home, or perhaps just a major clean up of the Ark would do. Noah had to plant grain and vegetables, fruit trees and grapes. But first and foremost in his thoughts and on his heart, was worship. And so, he constructs an altar first. Then he gathers up some of all the clean animals and sacrifices them on this altar as whole burnt offerings. For Noah, worship came first.
Burnt offerings were where you cut the animal’s throat and drained out the blood and placed the whole animal on the fire, not reserving any portion for yourself. This is the first mention in Scripture of an altar and of a whole burnt offering. This sacrifice served three functions in Noah’s situation. 1) It can be considered as a thanksgiving offering for the LORD had kept his Word and preserved Noah and his family through the flood. 2) Typically a whole burnt offering also was a dedicatory offering, consecrating yourself to the LORD, giving all of yourself to God. 3) This kind of sacrifice was also propitiatory, meant to appease the righteous wrath of a holy God. But whose sins was this sacrifice meant to atone for? Noah has already been declared righteous and blameless by God. It seems like most of the commentators think that this was sacrifice on behalf of the whole world. God had judged the world, and now Noah is making a sacrifice on behalf of the world. This obviously points forward to the role of the priest in later Israel who offer sacrifices on behalf of the whole nation. It also points us toward Christ who would die as a sacrifice for the whole world.
Why was Noah’s first response worship? First of all, man was created to worship God. We are created in His image and he set us about doing his will. We are existing at God’s mercy and owe Him everything. God does not owe us anything, we owe Him our all.
The whole burnt offering expresses this relationship. The entire offering is consumed by the fire after the throat is cut and the blood poured out. The offering represents the worshipper offering himself wholly to the Lord. It is used as a sin offering, the sacrifice dying in the place of the worshipper. It expresses the heartfelt, humble worship of the worshipper.
God alone is worthy of worship and to ignore worship out of apathy or busyness is to actually worship a false god. This is the fundamental fact of the universe, God deserves worship and man alone is created to voluntarily offer worship to God. This is so fundamental that you can answer the question “What is man?” by saying that man is a being who worships God his Creator.
Why did Noah worship God? He had just been delivered from a devastating flood of judgment that had destroyed the world. Through it all God had preserved Noah and Noah has a huge debt of gratitude; he can never repay the debt, but he can offer thanks to God. God is never materially improved by our worship, but He rejoices in the praises of his people. Noah’s worship expresses his thanksgiving and love to God for God has safely carried him through the valley of the shadow of death.
How could someone worship in the face of all that devastation someone may ask. Like Job said, 1:20-21 “At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.”
The God-Worshipper, the Christian, the born-again believer, knows that this life is not all there is. We do not have to live and prosper here, there is eternity yet to come and it is better by far to be prepared for eternity while being impoverished in this life. Yes the devastation was great, yes Noah had some fears, yes he faced a long road of toil, but he knew that eternity waited and worship prepares him for that eternity.
Is worship our first priority? I know many people who make it to worship if they can, if they are not too busy, if life is going well. But if company is coming, well… there are meals to fix, house to clean, laundry to do. For many the workplace calls on Sunday. I worked a Sunday shift myself for several years, but I made it to worship on Sunday night. When I was a rover I worked 12 hours Saturday night and then went in to teach SS. Many people treat worship as extra, they get to it if they can. NO! Worship is who we are as the people of God! I knew guys in the army who claimed Christ but considered worship to be boring, a mere duty that had to be performed.
In the Song of Solomon worship is compared to making love with your mate, not a boring, dull duty. If that offends you check out the Song of Solomon, if it still offends you … grow up! Worship is an intimate time of loving God, praising the beauty of his character and attributes, communing with God, knowing God and being known by Him.
Many people make the mistake of putting service as the first priority. While it is true that service is an act of worship, all of life can be a worship service, should be, a dedicated time of regular worship is the first priority of the Christian. The 3 priorities of the church are Worship, Discipleship, Evangelism in that order. If we get out of sequence then it would be like Noah planting seed or building a house before he worshipped.
Worship is inconvenient to many people and many people are finding various ways of shortening worship, worship lite is in. Worship is contentious and divisive in many ways because so many people have their preferences and expectations. Sometimes worship gets to be too habitual and we ritualize it and perform it by rote, other times we get too innovative and we seek entertainment. Worship is a dangerous business; we need to approach it with fear yet also with joy, with awe and with gratefulness. Worship should be both an adventure and a familiar comfort.
Are we growing in worship? How can we grow? Certainly learning new songs, new music, new prayers can assist us in growing. Studying and preaching from the whole word of God aids our worship. Studying worship, reading up on worship can help as well. But there is more to worship than our cognitive side, our intellectual side. Worship is also a matter of the heart. Our will and emotions must be involved. I think that sometimes obviously some groups allow their emotions and feelings to lead in worship and that is dangerous. We must always link our worship to the Word of God and sound doctrine. But we can run the risk of being to cold and formal, too intellectual.
Noah was worshiping in a way that had probably been passed down from Adam in the Garden but he was also worshiping based upon the hugely personal and emotional experience of salvation from divine judgment. There had to have been a mix of emotions in his heart and in his family’s hearts. Joy and thankfulness, but also fear and awe.
If we come into worship regularly without deeply feeling a fear of God, a repentance of our sinfulness and a profound joy over what Christ has done for us, we are missing out. We must grow in our emotions in worship without allowing our emotions to dominate.
AW Tozer writes in Whatever Happened To Worship, Gerald B. Smith, ed. Christian Publications: Camp Hill, PA 1985 (pp. 9-20) “It is certainly true that hardly anything is missing from our churches these days- except the most important thing. We are missing the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves and our worship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…There are still preachers and teachers who say that Christ died so we would not drink and not smoke and not go to the theater. No wonder people are confused! No wonder they fall into the habit of backsliding when such things are held up as the reason for salvation. Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on the cross and rose from the grave to make worshipers out of rebels! He has done it all through grace. We are the recipients….I am of the opinion that we should not be concerned about working for God until we have the learned the meaning and the delight of worshiping Him….God is trying to call us back to that for which He created us- to worship Him and to enjoy Him forever!…I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven…we are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him. We do not come to God that we might be automatic Christians, cookie-cutter Christians, Christians stamped out with a die…God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness….Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters….I wish that we might get back to worship again. Then when people come into the church they will instantly sense that they have come among holy people, God’s people. They can testify, ‘Of a truth God is in this place.’”
In vs. 21 we see that when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Here is where we see that Noah’s sacrifice was propitiatory, for God’s wrath has been propitiated by the sweet aroma of Noah’s sacrifices. This begins the Lord’s covenant with Noah and we don’t have time today to get into that, we shall deal with that next week. But for now I want you to see that Noah is a type of Christ in this scene and God is promising, making a covenant with the earth, to never again judge with a flood.
The phrase “the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma…” sounds peculiar to our 21st century ears, although we can all understand the imagery since this was a whole burnt offering you have beef on the grill, so to speak. You know what it is like to arrive home some evening and get out of your car and smell somebody grilling steaks in the neighborhood! Or going to your favorite Bar B Q place. The sweet smell of Bar B Q creates a desire within you for what is cooking on the grill. So when God, using anthropomorphic language here- smells the pleasing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice, he desires the worship of his creatures, and is pleased in receiving it. So Moses uses a phrase here that we can all relate to, but what does it mean? The phrase is used repeatedly in the Pentateuch in Exodus 29:18; Lev.1:9; 3:16; and Num. 15:3.
Mathews, in NAC vol. 1 p.392, writes, “The description ‘The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma’ is typical in the Pentateuch for expressing God’s favor toward sacrifice and worshiper….Refusal to ‘smell’ meant God’s rejection of Israel’s worship (Lev.26:31; Amos 5:21). Noah’s worship soothed the broken heart (v.21) of God, which had been injured by man’s wickedness (6:6).”
Again Moses is using words in a very artistic fashion that have a rhythmic rhyming quality to them. “Pleasing aroma” is reah hannihoah that goes well with the major motif of rest, ruah, and Noah. Mathews
We see here yet another strong statement about the sinful nature of man don’t we? From our youth, even from birth, our hearts are evil. We are all natural born sinners, deserving the holy wrath of God. But there is One who died in our place, whose death atoned for our sins, propitiating the holy and righteous wrath of God the Father. That One is Jesus.
Our society, even the good, conservative right wing members of our society, view man as being basically good. Yes, we are all made in the image of God, but the image is shattered, broken by sin, and our desires are for sin from birth on. This entire story of the flood is true, it is historical and it points us to our need for the Saviour.
In verse 22 we see a passage that speaks to the constancy, the steadfastness, the faithfulness of our God. In fact, one of our favorite hymns has a verse taken from this verse. Can you name that tune?
#54 in the Baptist Hymnal, 1991 ed. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no
Shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions,
They fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
REFRAIN: Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed, Thy
Hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and
Stars in their courses above Join with all nature in
Manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear
Presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright
Hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Words: Thomas Chisolm 1866-1960; Music: William M. Runyan, 1870-1957
Have you been born again? Are you sure that if you died today, you would be brought into the arms of Jesus, safe from the fires of hell? Is your first priority worshiping the Lord?
Are there any questions about the lesson this morning?
Genesis: Beginning & Blessing, R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word series by Crossway: Wheaton, Ill. 2004 (pp.141-148).
Genesis: A Devotional Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI. 1970 (pp.58-65).
Word Biblical Commentary vol.1 Genesis 1-15, Gordon J. Wenham, Word Books: Waco, TX. 1987 (pp.183-208).
The New American Commentary vol.1a Genesis 1-11:26, Kenneth A. Mathews, Broadman&Holman Publishers: Nashville, TN 1996 (pp.382-412).
Whatever Happened To Worship? A.W. Tozer, Gerald B. Smith, editor, Christian Publications: Camp Hill, PA. 1985 (pp.9-20).
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol.2, “Genesis” John H. Sailhamer, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1990 (pp.88-94).