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.’