In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out.15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
20 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. 21 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. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” – Genesis 8:14-22
We’ve been enjoying some extra time with our grandchildren these days. We’ve gone bowling, and spent an afternoon at a miniature golf place. Plans are for other excursions and experiences. We’ve played chess, Pandemic, checkers, and Pictionary. We also enjoyed gathering for worship with them.
But there’s one thing we will not do. We will not build a monument to our children or grandchildren. Proud as we are of them all, they are not worthy of our worship. I don’t mean to be harsh or unloving. In fact we love them deeply, and have them in our hearts and prayers regularly. But as sweet, adorable, and special as they may be, they – nor any human being – are not worthy of our worship.
God alone deserves our worship.
When the flood waters subside and Noah, his family, and the animals are led from the ark, Noah provides a worthy example. He built an altar and worshipped God.
Worship does something in the heart of those who are worshipped. Watch the young athletes who become sports stars. Unless they are incredibly well-grounded, too quickly they spiral out of control into self-indulgent and selfish egotism. Remember John Lennon’s infamous statement? Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus. Dangerous blasphemy to say the least.
Noah did not build a monument to his own honor. Nor did he even hint at a see,-I-told-you-so moment following the flood. He honored God. For centuries now we’ve remembered Noah, but we’ve honored and worshipped the Lord God whom Noah served.
God’s response to Noah’s worship is to promise, “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. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:21-22). God’s heart was moved toward kindness and mercy by Noah’s act of worship.
I would never say we should worship God so that he will bless us. That’s pagan religiosity. That’s not worship. Worship is a response to God’s faithfulness, mercy, love, and salvation. Noah had seen that in bold relief. He and his family had lived it out. His worship came because he had experienced God’s love. God’s love moved him further toward Noah and the world he had made.
May we never seek to manipulate God by our worship. But may God’s mercy be ever toward those who call on his name.
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