"...never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth" (Genesis 9:11).
After the destruction of the earth by the worldwide flood, God was giving the human race a new beginning. It must have been an awesome experience for Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives to look out upon the horizon, from Mount Ararat, realizing that they were the only people on the face of the earth. Likewise, today, God offers us all a new beginning, as we look out upon a new year.
God was aware of man's inclination to sin, yet he promised mercy (Gen. 8:21).
This is the same as mentioned in Gen. 6:5.
In response to their apprehension after such a dramatic and fearful storm, God promised 3 things:
Gen. 8:21 shows man's sinfulness and God's grace and mercy.
Because man is helpless to save himself from his own sin - he desperately needs the grace of God.
Noah himself had "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8) through obedience and faith in God.
God's mercy is not a license to sin because there is a Judgment Day! (2 Pet. 2:4-5; 3:3-11)
God's mercy is extending time to you to repent.
Noah built an altar of thankfulness to God (Gen. 8:20).
He accepted God's new beginning for himself and his family.
In response to God's mercy and deliverance, Noah took one of the seven clean animals (of each kind), and one of the seven clean birds of each kind for the offerings on the altar (see Gen. 7:2-3) - thus leaving three pairs of each kind intact.
It appears that Noah had taken one extra animal and bird of each "clean" kind on the ark for this purpose.
He was giving God one seventh of all his "clean" flocks.
This is the first mention of an "altar" in the Bible (although Abel's offering of the firstborn sheep is recorded in Gen. 4).
An altar is a place of sacrifice to God.
Abel offered his firstborn sheep.
Noah offered clean animals and birds.
Abraham offered Isaac.
In the New Testament we are asked to sacrifice ourselves (not in the old way) but in unselfish, yielded and loving service to God. (Romans 12:1-2)
An altar in some churches is where people kneel to pray. The altar is a special place where people meet God. People kneel there to ask God to forgive their sins, receive communion, join the church, and are married at the altar.
As a special place where we meet God - it can be many places, such as kneeling beside your bed to pray, and it can be kneeling by the lounge chair, and it can be at work, or in your car when you cannot kneel down nor close your eyes.
A "Family Altar" is a special time set aside when the family prays and reads the Bible together, often around the kitchen table after a meal, each day.
You need a daily altar, a special place to meet with the Lord, everyday, not just a special place where you prayed 20 years ago.
Although the common human problem of "man's heart being evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21). is mentioned - the cure is not specifically mentioned till later in the Word of God.
It is stated that, "by faith Noah...moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his family, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
So Noah became righteous, by faith in God, that showed itself in obedience to God.
It wasn't Noah's own righteousness, because "man's heart is evil," - but he was made righteous through faith in God. God made him righteous.
Gen. 6:8 shows the fact that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
The result of his receiving God's grace, is that "Noah was a just man, blameless, and one who walked [lived] with God" (Gen. 6:9).
God clearly said to Noah, "You are righteous before Me" (Gen. 7:1).
By the grace of God, it is possible to keep the new beginning with God. New - by continuing to walk with God, by faith.
As a warning - if we are not careful to walk with God - we may fall.
Ephesians 2:8-10: We are only saved from sin by God's grace, through faith, as a gift of God. Having been saved from sin, we are created for good works.
The Lord Jesus taught us how to maintain the saving grace of God in our lives. "If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed" (John 8:31).
Jesus told His disciples, "Continue in My love. If you keep My commandments you will continue in My love" (John 15:9-10). The parable of the True Vine in John 15:1-8 explains the secret of keeping a faithful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the secret to maintaining the grace of God in our lives, in the midst of a crooked and corrupt world around us. And to keep away from those things that would weaken and drag us down and destroy us.
At the start of this New Year - you may need to renew your commitment to the Lord, or you may need to improve in your walk with the Lord, or perhaps you need to ask the Lord to give you a brand new beginning in the Christian life.
This morning - whatever your spiritual need - accept the saving grace of God, by faith now.
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life