The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark (Part Nine) — The Altar
At the end of my last Red Thread post, I told you I had one more post in The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark series.
In writing what I intended to be my last post, I realized The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark is just too rich to wrap up in only one more post. In fact, it requires three more posts, including this one.
Now on to today’s Red Thread in Noah’s Ark . . .
We last saw Noah and his family stepping out of the ark — Resurrection. Now what?
Consider if you’d just endured a cataclysmic flood and then drifted for about a year confined to a floating zoo. What’s the first thing you’d do when you stepped onto dry ground?
Please don’t say you’d go to Disney World.
What Noah did was worship God.
He worshipped God through the building of an altar and the sacrifices he offered upon it.
The altar[†] and the sacrifices are a Red Thread Clue.
Jesus is the altar and the sacrifice. He paid the ultimate cost, presenting Himself as the final sacrifice, wholly pleasing to God.
The altar looked back at God’s promise to Adam and Eve to send a Savior, and it looked forward to the fulfillment of that promise through Jesus Christ.
It proclaimed that apart from God and His extravagant grace, they had no hope — we have no hope.
An altar is one of the most important Red Thread Clues we see in the Bible, and Noah built the first one recorded in Scripture.
It’s very possible that it’s not the first altar actually built since Noah’s offering isn’t the first recorded offering. (We already looked at Cain and Abel’s offerings, and we experienced the sadness with Adam and Eve of the original offering.)
This is, however, the first time we see the word “altar” mentioned in Scripture.
“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.”
~ Genesis 8:20
This was no small deal.
When every animal on earth was near extinction, willingly sacrificing even one took faith.
But more importantly, it revealed what was foremost on Noah’s heart: to honor God by remembering where they’d come from and where they were going.
Noah’s heart pleased God’s heart.
“And 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 ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.”
~ Genesis 8:21
God’s purpose for the flood had been accomplished.
Before the day could come when not even one person loved and honored God, God brought judgment and salvation.
It’s how God has worked from the beginning and continues to work: Grace reigning through Righteousness. (Romans 5:20-21)
When Noah built the altar, he was looking back at God’s extravagant grace.
He was looking back at God’s extravagant grace that Adam and Eve not only didn’t die instantly when they sinned (although die, they did eventually), but that they were also given the promise of the coming Savior. (Genesis 3:15)
He was looking back at God’s extravagant grace that while the entire world was destroyed through the flood, his family and he were saved.
Noah’s altar also looked forward with gratefulness and confident hope to the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a Savior.
God had kept His promise to save them from the flood, and Noah knew He would also keep His promise to save the world from sin through His Son.
God’s response to Noah’s altar and offering was beautiful.
It’s also the focus of my next Red Thread post.
I appreciate your continued patience as we dawdle (there’s a great old fashioned word) through The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark. I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as I am. I’d love to hear from you!
[†] Jesus is referred to as the altar in Hebrews 13:10:
“We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” (NIV)
Normally an altar is considered the place on which a sacrifice is offered, not typically the sacrifice itself.
With Christ, it’s different.
Since the altar makes the sacrifice holy, Christ, who is fully holy, is qualified to be both the altar and the sacrifice.
He is, in fact, also qualified to be the priest, for as our High Priest, He offered Himself up as the sacrifice upon the altar.
From Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible:
“We have an altar,…. By which is meant, not the cross of Christ, on which he was crucified; nor the Lord’s table, where his flesh and blood are presented to faith, as food, though not offered; but Christ himself, who is altar, sacrifice, and priest; he was typified by the altar of the burnt offering, and the sacrifice that was offered upon it;