Sacrifice and Covenant Faithfulness

Sacrifice and Covenant Faithfulness

And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21)

When the rains were over and the waters subsided, Noah and his family were able to leave the ark. One of the first they did was to sacrifice animals to God. This was both risky and costly. Noah understood there were few animals on the earth, yet he offered some in honor to God.

Sacrifice and Covenant Faithfulness

Yet, Noah’s costly sacrifice pleased God: the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Here, the Bible speaks anthropomorphically, using a human analogy of a divine action or attribute. God was more pleased by the heart of Noah in his sacrifice than the actual smell of the offering. It was as if the scent of such a costly, faith-inspired gift of roasting meat was pleasant to God. In response, God made this wonderful promise to Noah and to humanity: I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake.

God promised to never again visit the earth with judgment by a flood on this scale, to destroy every living thing. God did this even as He understood that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. This was a promise full of mercy.

It was a strange combination of truths. First, that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and second, God’s promise to never again curse the ground for man’s sake. Man’s evil would seem to invite God’s curse, not put it away. The strange combination is accounted for by Noah’s altar and sacrifice, and God’s pleasure in the sacrifice.

The sacrifice Noah made and God received was the key. Without a sacrifice, sin demands judgment and vengeance, like the judgment sent by God in the flood. But Noah’s costly sacrifice pointed to the ultimate sacrifice, one that was and is infinite in value: when God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, laid down His life, dying to bring all who believe into right relationship with God.

We can say that after the flood, Noah’s story when the flood was over illustrated many things relevant to the life of the believer.

– When he left the ark to possess the earth, Noah showed the believer’s freedom.
– When he made such a costly sacrifice, Noah showed the believer’s faith.
– When he honored God with a worshipful offering, Noah showed the believer’s heart.

Better than anything Noah showed, God showed His great covenant of mercy after Noah’s sacrifice. He promised to never again judge the world in the same way as He did with the flood of Noah’s time. That covenant has stood the test of time.

God has been completely faithful His covenant made in Noah’s day. Even so, in Jesus Christ, God will be completely faithful to His covenant with you. Rest in that today.

Click here for David’s commentary on Genesis 8

Click Here for Daily Devotionals from David

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