Noah worships and receives a word of promise (Genesis 8:20-22).

Joni Eareckson Tada shares:

On most nights when I wheel out my office door and into the courtyard of our building, if the wind is blowing just right, I experience the most pleasurable sensation. I catch a whiff of the mouthwatering aroma of charcoal-broiled Tri-Tip steak sizzling on the grill over at the Woodranch Barbeque Pit across the freeway. Invariably I stop, draw in a deep breath, and say with a groan, “Wow, does that ever smell great!” As I drive away from the office, I can sometimes spot a billow of smoke rising from the chimney of the restaurant. Little wonder the place is always packed—the smell of burnt fat and meat on the grill attracts more diners than any billboard or newspaper advertisement.

Not long ago as the scent of grilled steak wafted across the courtyard, it struck me that this is exactly what Old Testament sacrifices must have smelled like. The temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement was filled with the aroma of meat cooked on an open fire, what with so many lambs being sacrificed. In fact, considering that thousands of animals were sacrificed on that one day, the entire city must have smelled fragrant. The sacrifices were pleasing to God—not so much for the smell as for the sins confessed.

Inhaling the aroma of meat on the grill (and smiling as a result) gives me a tiny insight into the enormous pleasure God must experience when his people confess their sins. “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life” (2 Cor. 2:15-16). Oh, to please God with the aroma of Christ in our lives!

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Taken from More Precious than Silver

By Joni Eareckson Tada

Copyright © 1998

Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids

We are continuing our trek through Genesis chapters 1-11. We come to Genesis 8:20-22.

My theme is: Noah worships and receives a word of promise.

  1. Noah’s sacrifice (8:20–22): He builds an altar and sacrifices on it animals approved by God for that purpose.[1]

Verse 20 reads: 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.

  1. Remember in Genesis 7:2 God had Noah take 7 pairs of the clean animals for sacrifices.
    1. NET Bible: Offered burnt offerings on the altar. F. D. Maurice includes a chapter on the sacrifice of Noah in The Doctrine of Sacrifice. The whole burnt offering, according to Leviticus 1, represented the worshiper’s complete surrender and dedication to the Lord. After the flood Noah could see that God was not only a God of wrath, but a God of redemption and restoration. The one who escaped the catastrophe could best express his gratitude and submission through sacrificial worship, acknowledging God as the sovereign of the universe.[2]
    2. CSB: that is, one of every mammal that chewed the cud and possessed split hoofs, as well as one representative of every kind of bird that did not eat carrion—was offered, it must have been an impressive sacrifice.[3]
    3. This is the first alter and sacrifice in Genesis.
    4. It seems to me that the Lord told Noah, by special revelation what were the clean animals and how to build the altar and make sacrifices. Later in Lev 11, God will give instructions on clean animals (Also, Deuteronomy 14).
    5. Abraham will build alters a lot (see Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:18; 22:9).
    6. Moving back to our text:

Verse 21 reads: 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.

  • This is anthropomorphic language.
    • The Lord is described with human attributes.
    • He is smelling the aroma. God does know the smell of the sacrifice, but He does not smell like we do.
    • It is still true that God is pleased with the sacrifice.
    • The sacrifice atones and makes amends for the sin. Though ultimately the sin was to be taken care of at the cross, the sacrifices still had a symbolic significance of taking care of sin.
    • Now, it says that the Lord said: “in His heart.”
    • This a passage revealing the Lord’s thinking. This is pretty awesome.
    • God inspired Moses to reveal His thinking.
    • God now commits to never flood the earth like this again. He commits to never strike down every living thing that breathes oxygen again.
    • Then God says, or His thinking is, the intent of man’s heart is evil, or it could better be translated the “inclination of man’s heart is evil.” The intent of man’s heart is evil from youth up.
    • That has not changed:

Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Je 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Ro 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

  • God repeats that He will never again destroy every living thing.

Verse 22 gives more detail: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Verse 22 reads: Basically, while the earth remains in its current era. This is because God is still going to restore everything someday (Rev 21 and 22).

  • Seedtime and harvest: that is spring and fall
    • Cold and heat: that is winter and summer.
    • Day and night shall not cease.
    • In the flood it seems that God interrupted seasons, but not anymore.

Ps 74:17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.

Je 33:20 “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time…

Je 33:25 Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth…

  • Applications:
    • Noah responds in worship. We must respond in worship (Genesis 8:20).
    • How do we view worship? Do we take seriously singing to the Lord (Psalm 96; 100; 101; 106; 107; 150)?  

Listen to Martin Luther:

Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor. I would not change what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that next to the Word of God only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devil music is distasteful and insufferable. My heart bubbles up and overflows in response to music, which has so often refreshed me and delivered me from dire plagues. (Here I Stand, 266)[4]

Piper shares: I’ll tell you a story why I’m so convinced of that: four years ago I got a phone call — 10:30 at night — and the person on the other end said, “There is a woman in this apartment who is demon possessed. Would you come over?” “Alright, I’ll come over.” I called Tom Steller on the phone. “Tom, would you go with me?” “Sure.” We go; our wives stay home and pray. We don’t know what we’ll find.

What we find is an apartment with about five young women and one young man who will not let this woman out of this apartment. She had glazed eyes, was bitter, and had a little penknife in her hand, threatening. For two hours I talk to this woman: I read Scripture and read prayers of deliverance. It comes to a head where she starts getting very violent. She knocks the Bible out of my hand, she rips the paper out of my hand, she pounds on my back. About 1:00 in the morning, when the word of God and the force of evil were at their fever pitch, one of those young women started to sing. And what they sang was the little phrase “Alleluia.”

And she became vicious, threatened everyone if we wouldn’t stop singing. She fell on the ground, screamed for Satan not to leave her, went into convulsions, and then went limp. When she came to, she didn’t have any idea what had happened. She was willing to take the Bible, read Romans 8, and pray with us.[5]

  • Noah responded to the Lord’s faithfulness with worship.
    • We must also worship.
    • Sometimes we are so busy judging God that we do NOT worship Him.
    • The Lord responds with a promise (Genesis 8:22). Are we trusting in the promises of God?
    • The Lord says that seasons will continue, can we trust that we do not need to worry about the future of the earth, God is in charge.
    • God is sovereign and we can trust Him.
    • We must worship Him.


[1] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ge 8:1–22.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 8:18–20.

[3] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 22.



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