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. (Genesis 8:20)
Consider Noah. When Noah and his family disembarked from the ark, Noah built an altar (the first altar mentioned in the Bible) and made burnt offerings upon it. Noah’s first act was to offer gifts to the Lord.
How had Noah come to this position? Genesis 6 tells us that the Lord was angry at the wickedness which had infested the world and he vowed to blot out man from the earth. But God chose one man to be saved from destruction. God did not scour the globe seeking a man worthy of salvation; there was none. Noah did nothing to earn his place as contractor and captain of the ark. Noah was selected simply because he “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Only after Noah had found favor with God was he called a righteous man (Genesis 6:9).
Noah faithfully executed his assignment constructing the ark, and in the meantime served as the Lord’s prophet, proclaiming God’s word of judgment on the earth (see 2 Peter 2:5 as Noah is called a “herald of righteousness”).
Noah’s act of giving to the Lord, this sacrifice, had three essential meanings.
Noah was giving thanks to God for his deliverance from the judgment on the earth.
The animals on the altar were a sin offering for himself and his family. Despite their deliverance and Noah’s right standing before God, Noah acknowledged they were sinful creatures separated from a perfect, holy God.
Noah’s offering on the altar was a dedication of his whole being to the Lord’s service.
Giving that is inspired by a willing heart, a heart directed to the Lord, honors God.
Noah understood that his life was not his own. He belonged entirely to the Lord and God was his Lord and master. Noah as the patriarch of the human race, had to serve the Lord as prophet, king and priest in the new world order. This sacrifice was his consecration to the service of the Lord.
The gifts Noah offered on the altar were accepted by the Lord, who acknowledged them as a pleasing aroma. Noah’s gifts, representing his thanksgiving, repentance and dedication, constituted a pure offering.
In his building of the altar and his sacrifices, Noah shows us that giving that is inspired by a willing heart, a heart directed to the Lord, honors God. When we give, we too should give thanks for all the Lord has given and entrusted to us, acknowledge our own sinful nature and powerlessness beside an omnipotent loving and just God, ask for forgiveness, and dedicate our lives to his service.