The first post in this series showed that we can build a spiritual altar to God through our consecrating ourselves to Him, that is, through our consent to let God work in us and through us. The second post presented the motivating factor for our building an altar to God—His spiritual appearing to us. In this third post, we will consider the altar built by Noah.
Genesis tells the history of Noah (6:1-9:29), who in the midst of a fallen generation found grace in the eyes of the Lord and worked with God, building an ark which would preserve his family from the flood that God sent to destroy all flesh on the earth (6:14; 7:7; 6:12, 17). After the flood subsided and the ground dried, Noah and his family went forth from the ark (8:13, 18). Immediately, before doing anything else, Noah “built an altar to Jehovah and took of every clean beast and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (v. 20). As a result, “Jehovah smelled the satisfying fragrance” of these offerings (v. 21).
We have previously seen that the altars built in Genesis signify our experience of consecration to the Lord (link to post). Through the experience of Noah in Genesis 8, we see another aspect of the altar – that of the cross of Christ. Beginning with Adam, Abel, and Noah, and culminating in the Lord’s crucifixion, the Bible reveals that God’s way of redemption is through the shedding of blood (Gen. 3:21, 4:4; Heb. 9:22, 11:4). The clearest Old Testament type is the altar in the outer court of the tabernacle and temple, where sacrifices were offered to God for the atonement of sins and propitiation between God and His people (Exo. 27:1; Heb. 10:12, 13:10). Although built well before the giving of the law and the building of the tabernacle, Noah’s altar was clearly in line with God’s heart and looked forward to the coming cross of Christ (Heb. 11:7; Eph. 5:2).
Just as Noah’s altar signifies the cross of Christ, his offerings typify Christ Himself. When Noah left the ark, he realized that the entire earth had been absolutely judged and destroyed by God; nothing on the earth at that time was acceptable to God. Therefore he offered burnt offerings from the clean animals which he had brought in the ark, the fragrance of which was satisfying to God. The New Testament reveals that Christ is the only One in the universe who is pleasing to the Father (Matt. 3:17, 12:18, 17:5). What the Father desires is just Christ. When Noah offered satisfying burnt offerings to God, he was in reality looking forward to Christ as the truly satisfying offering to the Father.
As believers in the New Testament age, we can offer Christ to God as the reality of the burnt offerings sacrificed by Noah. As we spend time beholding the Lord and enjoying all His riches, we gain something substantial of Christ which can then be offered back to the Father through our praises (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 3:8; Heb. 13:15). Our enjoyment of Christ, therefore, is not simply for our satisfaction, but even more that we may offer something to the Father for His satisfaction. This will issue in a sweet fellowship, mutual enjoyment, and mutual satisfaction between God and man.
All references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.