A Daily Genesis

Genesis 8:20-22

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:20a . .Then Noah built an altar to the Lord[/B]

This is the very first mention of an altar in the Bible. I don't really know if anyone else constructed one before this. Abel and some of the others may have, but it's very difficult to be certain. At any rate, Noah's altar was dedicated to Yhvh rather than to one of the heathen deities people worshipped prior to the Flood-- and according to Rom 1:22-23 there were many.

The tree of the knowledge of good and bad was supposed to make Man wise; or so Eve was led to believe. But in eating it, Man became a jackass who eventually abandoned the only true god and went on to invent his own. The ancient Egyptian elite, who were otherwise a very bright and well educated people, regarded Scarab beetles as sacred and somehow associated with resurrection and immortality. Their chief deity was Ra; who was nothing more than our solar system's primary source of light: the Sun. There's just no excuse for that kind of nonsense.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:20 . . and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar.[/B]

This is the very first mention of the burnt offering. The Hebrew word is [I]'olah[/I] (o-law') which means: a step (or collectively, stairs, as ascending); or a holocaust (as going up in smoke).

The burnt offering was the very first sacrifice of any kind involving worship in the new world; and it set the tone for Yhvh's future association with mankind in the years to come. How Noah knew about the 'olah can only be attributed to revelation. But what's odd about the 'olah is that the word itself doesn't show up in Scripture again until the Akedah scene in the 22nd chapter. (the Akedah is the traditional title of Abraham's offering of his son Isaac)

Although 'olah can indicate a step (or collectively, stairs, as ascending); it's improper to construct an altar with stairs (Ex 20:24-26) so that the ziggurats that man eventually constructed were of course offensive to God not just because ritual murders were conducted on them but also because they were essentially stairways to heaven.

Killing and burning an animal may seem a strange way to worship God, but the ritual did in fact have spiritual significance. It instructed the offerer that were it not for his offering going up in smoke: he himself would be. In other words: an 'olah sufficed to ransom a soul from the wrath of God. A ransom of that nature is of course limited in scope. It actually only purchased the worshipper a reprieve; which Webster's defines as: a delay and/or a postponement; viz: temporary respite.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:21a . .The Lord smelled a pleasant odor,[/B]

Anyone who has ever been in the kitchen when something is burning on the stove knows that overcooked meat does not give off a pleasant odor. A scented candle smells a whole lot better. But the chemical odor of the burnt offering really has little to do with it. The expression "a pleasant odor" is a biblical colloquialism that means just the opposite of something that's objectionable; for example: "I hate that woman's opinions about men. They stink."

Because of the extraordinary large number of 'olahs Noah offered, I think it's safe to assume that Noah not only offered them for himself and his family, but also to dedicate the new world to God in a manner similar to that which Solomon dedicated Israel's fresh, new Temple as per 1Kgs 8:62-64.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:21b . .Then the Lord said in His heart: I will never again curse the ground for man's sake,[/B]

True, Yhvh never again cursed the ground; but neither did He lift the original curse that was pronounced in the third chapter. The first curse remains, but at least God hasn't put additional burdens on the soil. According to Rev 22:3, the first curse is slated to be removed once and for all.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:21c . . although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth;[/B]

Had God encumbered the ground with additional curses He would have been entirely justified in doing so because the Flood did nothing to rectify the intrinsically evil condition of the post-Eden human heart. So we can all thank grandpa Noah for those 'olahs because they're all that's standing between us and world-wide starvation; at least for the time being.

Remember, 'olahs only obtain a reprieve; never an acquittal (cf. Ex 34:6-7 and Heb 10:4). There are a number of passages in the Old Testament saying that certain peoples' sins were forgiven, but David put it best by saying they were actually covered; viz: hidden. (Ps 32:1)

So what happened to Old Testament sins if they weren't actually absolved by 'olah's? They were lain upon the servant depicted in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and justice was satisfied there. In other words: 'olahs don't satisfy justice; in point of fact, they're little more than posting bail.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:21d . . nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done.[/B]

According to the Bible, the bugs, the birds, and the beasties are just as much living beings as man; so Noah's 'olahs stood in the gap for them too.

But was every living being destroyed? No; life survived aboard the ark and made its way to the new world. So the Lord's promise has to be interpreted to mean that although all manner of life perished, it was only life on the Earth that perished. Noah and the contents of his ark were buoyed safely above it all. And the promise is qualified by the phrase "as I have done" which infers a future worldwide destruction by a means other than water. (Gen 9:11)

So Gen 8:21 doesn't mean God will never again destroy all manner of life, nor that He will never again destroy the Earth-- only that He won't repeat the method He employed the first time. In point of fact, next time, it's by fire rather than water. (2Pet 3:10)

[B][SIZE=1]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] The blackball temperature produced by a thermo-nuclear device is something like 180,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Just imagine if God were to turn the atomic structure of the entire universe into one great big self-destructing thermo-nuclear device. The noise, and the heat, generated by such a detonation would be beyond one's comprehension.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 8:22 . . So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.[/B]

The promise of Gen 8:22 was prefaced by "so long as the earth endures." So the Earth is definitely not eternal. It is in fact running out of time. But until the Day Of The Lord, everything will proceed as normal; which can be dangerous because people are easily lulled by the routine of status quo and fail to look far enough ahead and get ready for the future. (cf. Luke 21:33-36)

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