Genesis 8 – Part 2 – SAVE OUR ANIMALS! ARK OR ALTAR?

Posted: January 12, 2010 in Genesis, Genesis 8
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Genesis 8 – Part 2 – SAVE OUR ANIMALS! ARK OR ALTAR?

Julie and I move to Sydney on Monday night. We’ve done all the packing and I still need to pack away the last vestiges of files from my study, a never ending process. We are looking forward to getting to Sydney after a couple of days journey in the car. 26 hours driving time, so I can put on the timer and I won’t have to ask “Are we there yet!” I am looking forward to getting out of that car already at the other end and sorting out what we will be doing.

Noah stepped out of the ark to a whole new world. Now don’t get the wrong view of this. When Noah stepped off the boat, it wasn’t like I have seen in the picture books and children’s stories – all sunshine and a big rainbow, and the animals are all smiling. And there’s trees and there’s rivers and there’s green grass everywhere. I am sure that wasn’t what they saw.

They came off that ark, and there was death everywhere and desolation, and a landscape devastated by flood – incredible erosion and upheaval. I’m sure there was plant life, but it probably wasn’t profuse. It still had to develop and grow again. It certainly wasn’t like Eden. It would have been the opposite of that. It was a destroyed planet.

And when they walked off, maybe the first thing that they saw were carcasses and dry bones. Massive evidence of death and destruction, the aftermath of judgment.

I bet one of the questions Noah had was “Well lord, where do we go from here?”

That’s the question all of us ask when we’ve had the faith and trust to put your life into God’s hands, and Noah answers that question.

Genesis 8:20 (NIV) says “then Noah built an altar to the lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.”  

The first thing Noah did in verse 20 was build an altar. Where do you go when the world you knew has been ripped apart, and all you see is the aftermath of the storm – when you really come to grips with what life would be like without God.

Noah says to me and you, “Build an altar – totally surrender your life to Christ in an act of worship”

Genesis 8:20 (NIV) says “then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.”  

God didn’t command him to do that. It was a freewill offering. By the way, some people think that there were only 2 of every animal in the ark, but Noah was told to take 2 of every unclean animal and 7 of every clean animal (or domesticated animals) into the ark. (Genesis 7:2-3)

Noah’s reputation with the Animal Rights movement was good until this time, but in the Bible, a burnt offering is primarily a recognition of total devotion to the lord. There were some offerings where you put it on the altar and burned some of it and you ate some of it. But a burnt offering was totally consumed in the fire, and it was a picture of total devotion, total dedication to the Lord. You gave everything to the lord. You didn’t keep anything back for yourself. You just gave your all.  

If you just got off the Ark you would say, that is very generous offering. Remember, it’s not as if there’s a lot of animals around. In fact there was an animal shortage! Nevertheless, he didn’t say “Look, we don’t have a lot of animals here to populate the whole world, so I’m just going to hold back a little on the offering side of things. Things are tight at the moment. We have a severe animal shortage. He didn’t do that! He took from every clean animal and every clean bird he had, slaughtered them, and burnt them all totally on the altar, as an act of unrestrained worship. When it came to giving worship to God He didn’t hold back.

By this time the animal rights groups would have notified the authorities. As they held up their placards saying “SAVE OUR ANIMALS FROM EXTINCTION” Noah would have been fined thousands of dollars. Fortunately for Noah, it was the animal rights group that had become extinct!

If you just survived a worldwide flood, would you be giving up your livelihood by giving God the best of all you had. What did Noah need the most? The domesticated animals and he gave one seventh of his livestock to God, as a sacrifice.

This wasn’t just a tithe. Like one woman said to her pastor, “Pastor, I can’t afford a tenth of my income. I’ll have to give you a seventh instead!”

It requires faith to give to God and risk. If the storm is a financial storm, it doesn’t make sense to give.

There is a choice involved in obeying God, and building an Ark. And there is a choice involved in worshiping God and building an altar. No ark, no altar. You won’t know what it’s like to worship, until you appreciate what it’s like to be saved, and then your worship will never be something trivial. It will be a wholehearted expression of thanksgiving.

This is the first mention in the bible of an altar. Cain and abel gave an offering, but there’s no indication about an altar. This is the first time an altar is used for the purpose of sacrifice.

You may be asking like Noah, “Where do I go from here?” Here and now is your opportunity to build an altar, to totally dedicate your life to Christ.  

Romans 12:1 (NASB) says Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

So the altar is a picture of total devotion, total dedication to the Lord, where you give everything to the Lord. You don’t keep anything back. You just give all of yourself to the Lord.

God bless you Church as you declare “I’ve been saved in order to serve unreservedly, total commitment. It’s no longer ark building time. It’s altar building time!” It’s time to give sacrificially! Of time and talent and yes, of treasure. Worship for me must never be just being there on Sunday. It involves sacrifice, giving of myself completely to Christ. He want’s my heart.

Pastor Ross

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