The story of Noah and the ark has been a familiar one to most of us since childhood. However, it is amazing how God can continue to show us new things from even the most familiar of passages.
What impacted me recently from this story was the fact that the first thing Noah did when finally able to come out of the ark was to build an altar to worship God, sacrificing some of the animals and birds that he had rescued from the flood (Genesis 8:20). For some of us in that situation our first thought might have been to unpack our belongings, settle down and build a house to live in after all that time in the ark. We certainly might have been reluctant to kill any of the creatures we had spent a year feeding and saving! We might have been tempted to wait until the next breeding or nesting season, just to ensure the continuation of the species before sacrificing any of them!
However, it shows how important worship and sacrifice were, and still are, to God. In His meticulous instructions to Noah before the flood, God made provision for these sacrifices by commanding that seven of each clean animal and bird be taken into the ark, not just pairs as for all other species. As God prepared to spare Noah and his family from the catastrophe that He brought to the rest of His creation, His plan was for them to worship Him and sacrifice to Him. I believe that this is still the highest calling for mankind.
When we speak of “worship”, we often think of the time during a service when we sing hymns and songs. However, true worship is much more than that. In The Old Testament (and for Noah) worship involved sacrifice. Since Jesus became a sacrifice for us on the cross, we no longer have to offer bulls and goats, but it is the sacrifice of our lives that God seeks. Today’s verse from Romans speaks of the offering of our bodies being living sacrifices and a spiritual act of worship.
What does this mean for us in practical terms? In parts of the world today people are literally laying down their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate sacrifice. Thankfully we are not all having to make that kind of sacrifice, but every time we deny ourselves, laying down the desire for our self-centred carnal nature to be satisfied (for example through food and drink, sexual gratification, materialism or worldly comfort) this brings worship to God. Putting Him first, allowing Him to be Lord in our lives, doing what He wants and not what we want, brings honour and worship to Him.
Let’s broaden the way we think of worship and realise that as we offer our lives as living sacrifices, this is worship to God, and it is our worship above all that He desires. This is our highest calling as His people.
Prayer: Lord, I’m sorry for the way that my understanding of worship has been so limited. I want my whole life to be one of worship to You and I offer myself afresh to You now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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