Author: Ron Graham
First Noah Built an Altar
—Noah after the ark
We learn important lessons from Noah. This outline starts out with the simple and ends up with the profound. It concerns part of the story of Noah, namely what happened when Noah and his family came out of the ark after the flood.
- After the great flood, Noah, his family, and all the animals, came out of the ark. Then what happened? "Then Noah built an altar to the Lord..." (Genesis 8:13-22).
- We get a lesson from Noah in this apparently simple fact that the first thing Noah did, when he got out of the ark, was to build an altar and make a sacrifice to God.
1 Noah’s World Was in a Mess
- God had "blotted out every living thing... from the earth, and only Noah was left, together with those that accompanied him in the ark" (Genesis 7:23).
- Noah had only the ark for shelter, no crops, only a few able bodied people, and he had to start from scratch. What would he do first?
- Sometimes our lives fall apart and we have to start again. What should we do first? Jesus answered that question, when he said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:25-34).
- That's what Noah did, as we shall now see...
2 Noah Put God First
- We are told, "Then Noah built an altar to the Lord..." (Genesis 8:20).
- This was the first thing Noah did before he attended to any of the other things that needed to be done. He first set up the requirements for worship, and offered worship to God using some of the precious animals from the ark. Noah put God first.
- A long time later, Zerubbabel and his people were in a similar situation. Jerusalem had long been destroyed. There were no farms, no houses, nothing. Zerubbabel and his brethren came back to rebuild and start again. What would they do first? They, like Noah, first built an altar to the Lord (Ezra 3:1-3).
- There are many things needing our attention even at the best of times. But when our lives get into a real mess, we should still put God first. That's another lesson we learn from Noah. Under the pressures of hardship or crisis, we can easily make God wait instead of attending to the things of God first.
3 Noah Portrayed Jesus Christ
- We can take this story of Noah further. There is something very profound in what Noah did, in building an altar and making animal sacrifices on it.
- Animal sacrifices in pre-Christian times were symbolic, of the sacrifice of Christ "a shadow of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1-10).
- Christians also have, in their worship, a portrayal of Christ, not in an altar with sacrifices but in the emblems of the Lord's Supper (1Corinthians 11:23-26). By putting our attendance to this as of first importance, we act in the spirit of Noah as priests of God (Revelation 1:5-6). Again Noah teaches us an important lesson.
- Of course our whole lives will portray Christ if we are dedicated to him and put him first. As Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).