Think of all that Noah and his family had lost as they went through the flood of God’s judgment. They were utterly alone, without home or possessions, friends or family. Did they have some sort of writing system then, scrolls with instructions on how to farm, do carpentry and animal husbandry, how to weave and make clothing, tan hides into leather, chip flint into tools, and so on and so on? Did they just know those things? Were any of them creative with artistry, to beautify their homes, to make music, and tell stories, to paint and sculpt?

Think of all they had suffered and grieved over, their sense of loss, their profound loneliness in this immense, newly empty world. And yet, Noah and his family were deeply grateful to God, even to the point of sacrificing from among the few, and therefore particularly valuable, animals they had left. 

Giving thanks recognizes the reality of God’s presence in the midst of life, and his control over the affairs of life. 

Your life and mine depends on the kindness and goodness of our all-powerful Creator. Listen to yourself as you say thank you today—how often will you say it at all? How many times will you say it to God?

Noah and his clan’s humble thanksgiving was a desire to worship and please God for God’s

  • grace, His undeserved favor, that saved Noah and his family in the ark.
  • gifts, all the creatures that were saved.
  • groundwork, dry land and an opportunity to build a new life.

There is reason to believe God had explained about blood sacrifice to Adam and Eve when He made skins for them to wear. Abel and Cain understood God would desire blood sacrifice as a symbolic expiation for sin. When Seth’s descendants began “calling on the name of the Lord” it must have included the kind of sacrifice that pleased God, a return to their old ways as given to them through Adam and Eve. Noah accepted without question God’s instructions to bring seven pairs of clean animals, those appropriate for sacrifice, which seems to imply an understanding they were to be used for burnt offering.

This was not a developing idea of God’s, though it may appear that way from the developing details in these first nine chapters. God had a plan from before time to expiate for people’s sin with the ultimate blood sacrifice. Here in these first chapters, the redactors of the fifth century B.C. were faithfully laying down the foundation for explaining why the shedding of blood would be necessary. Their original sources—now lost to us—surely came through Moses, as their  traditions of old asserted.  

Through sacrifices, God provided a sort of visual aid to help people understand the awfulness of sin, the price that it exacts and what would eventually be exacted of God Himself in order to fully satisfy the penalty for sin.  A person had to take a yearling lamb, without any blemish of any kind, lay their hands upon the head of the animal, confess their sin, and symbolically, the sin would be transferred to this innocent and perfect living being. They then killed the lamb, pouring out its life blood in a symbolic pouring out of one’s own life in payment for the sin—the judgment of death transferred to the sacrifice along with the confessed sin.

The experience had to have shaken the confessor, creating an indelible recollection of every awful moment tightly knit with their repentance.

From this account, we know God delighted in Noah’s thanksgiving and praise, and approved the sacrifices made by Noah and his family. God promised to hold back His hand even though,

The inclination of the human heart is evil from youth.

Genesis 8:21

Noah and his family carried within themselves the inheritance of sin, there was no getting away from it. Even in a fresh new world, to be filled with a fresh new humanity, there would be sin. Some warm to the largely comforting and hopeful philosophy that babies are born pure and innocent, and it’s the morally unhealthy culture, the surrounding society, that inclines us to sin. Others argue that to believe such a theory takes a person off the hook, my sin is always someone else’s fault, rather than owning we are born sinful.

But honestly, either way, whether by nature or by nurture, we can’t escape this ancient declaration. Every person is capable of and indeed culpable of a heart with sinful inclinations.

This makes God’s proclamation all the more powerful. Despite the truth of our own deep-seated blemish, God will deal with us differently.

I will never again destroy every living creature as I have done.

As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
    shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:21-22

No, instead of destroying sin in the earth, God will find a way to destroy sin by taking it within Himself, and by His very Godness make sin as though it never was. How?

By offering Himself as the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s sacrifice for sin.

You and I offer our thanksgiving to God by believing Jesus, putting our faith in Jesus, and by entering into the reality of Jesus’ faithfulness to us.  Our thanksgiving offering is to lay our hands upon Jesus and experience the transfer into Jesus of all the guilt and shame that our sin has built up in us. Jesus has taken it all, and He has made you and me free.

Our thank offering comes in our willingness to be humble, admit our sin, and then release it up to God. When you and I do this, Jesus fills that inner, newly emptied place with His Spirit, His life, flooding you and me with His love and forgiveness and making us absolutely, freshly pure and clean. 

Then God will say to us, as well,

Be fruitful” by allowing your character to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into Christ’s character.

Multiply and fill the earth” by giving this message of grace and freedom to everyone you meet.

Taken from God’s blessing to Noah and his family in Genesis 9:1

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