Day 15: Noah built an altar

Read Genesis 8:1-20

One year and ten days: I think it would feel like forever.

It would have started out feeling safe and familiar while the whole world roared away; but after weeks and months of cramped spaces, body heat, and ripe smells; with no-where to go – I think it would feel like a floating dungeon.

Imagine: the door groans open; a sweet, flower scented breeze whooshes in; and then you’re walking down the ramp and finally standing on firm ground. Imagine the vivid greens and soft, rustling, leaves.

What would you think?

I’ve wondered if they were afraid. Did they anxiously search the blue sky for some sign of a cloud? Or were they simply like children at Christmas, enjoying the gift of a world all washed clean – renewed?

What to do now? Go for a walk in the bright, open spaces? Build a house? Plant a field?

Noah builds an altar and worships God. Yes, that makes sense: like a grateful child at Christmas who runs to her parents to hug and thank them for the gifts.

“Taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings” – oh. Not like kids at Christmas at all. Noah kills animals – the same ones he’s been taking care of all this time. That’s his thank you to God.

It’s not the first time animals are killed this way. God gave Adam and Eve animal skin for clothing. Abel’s offering was an animal and God liked it. Tomorrow, we will see that God likes this offering too.

God likes animal sacrifice, or He does here at the start of the story. This makes me a little uncomfortable. It feels barbaric, bloody, and cruel. But there I am judging God again, when really I should be grateful that he takes animal sacrifice instead of human – because it is instead of. Noah knows it.

The flood is a massive word picture of God’s power and his hatred of sin.

Noah gets it.

In the aftermath of the terrible destruction, breathing in the earth’s perfume and feeling the sun’s heat on his skin, he realizes the truth: his very life is a generous and gracious gift of God.

It’s all clear.

He is no more worthy to live than any of those who died.

Offering the animals is a way of saying, ‘It should have been me. Thank you that it wasn’t. Here is a life, for my life.’

3 thoughts on “Day 15: Noah built an altar

  1. I have never been comfortable with the idea of animal sacrifice either. Although, eventually Christ removed all need for animal sacrifice when offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb.

    Either way, you’re right. God let us offer up either the blood of animals or the blood of The Lamb as a substitute for our own blood.

    Our God is a good God.

    Great post!


    1. Yes. My goal is to work through the story, and when I get to the gospels I will be allowed to show how the animal sacrifice all points to Jesus, but I can’t really bring him in yet, since he hasn’t been mentioned. These early people didn’t know about him – not directly anyway. God is so patient: first we needed to just get how great it was that he would take animals in our stead. Later, he’d show us that that’s not enough. Baby steps.
      But of course, now our modern sensibilities shudder at the idea of animal sacrifice, yet it’s so important that we understand why it existed and how much grace was in it.
      Long answer.
      Anyway – thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Long answer but I love what you are aiming to do. I guess I am so used to the end of the book I forget about the setting up of the story of Christ in the Old Testament.
        I look forward to future installments of this. Thank you for your reply.

        Liked by 1 person

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