I am using the Spurgeon Study Bible for my Bible Read Through in 2023. All of the study notes are quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writing. For more on Charles Spurgeon, click here. The Spurgeon Study Bible is available from Lifeway, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, he said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings, even though the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.” Genesis 8:20-21 CSB
From the first chapters of Genesis, God establishes a pattern we will see all through Scripture: “Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). I had always thought that was established in Leviticus, when God gives instructions for the various sacrifices. But here we are on Day 3, and we’ve already seen it three times! Consider:
- In Genesis 3:21, God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and Eve. In order to cover their shame (another word for “cover” is atone) an animal’s blood was shed.
- In Genesis 4:3-4, the brothers Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God. Cain’s offering of produce was rejected. Abel’s offering of the firstborn of his flock was accepted.
- In Genesis 8:20, the first thing Noah did when he came out of the ark was build an altar and sacrifice an animal.
Spoiler alert for those of you doing a chronological reading plan: you’ll see it again in Day Four’s reading. Pay attention to what Job does the morning after any of his sons hosted a banquet (Job 1:4-6). If you accept the scholars’ view that Job was written before the Torah, then this is yet another example of a burnt offering made before the sacrificial system was instituted.
The three accounts in Genesis do not explicitly say that this was a sin offering. Still, this is one more reinforcement that an acceptable offering involves the shedding of blood. And all three of these point to Jesus. As an animal was skinned to cover the shame of Adam and Eve, Jesus was stripped and nailed to a cross to cover our shame. As Abel offered a firstborn lamb as a sacrifice, Jesus is the Lamb of God; the firstborn of Mary and Joseph, and indeed the “firstborn of many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
Of Noah’s sacrifice, Spurgeon writes:
It was Noah’s confidence in a bleeding sacrifice that gave him acceptance with the Lord. God thought about his Son and that great sacrifice to be offered long afterwards on the cross, and he smelled the pleasing aroma.
With any study Bible, bear in mind that only the biblical text is divinely inspired, not the notes at the bottom of the page. The Spurgeon Study Bible is no different. It’s presumptuous to say definitively what God was thinking if God Himself does not reveal it. Still, this is one more place where an acceptable sacrifice required the shedding of blood. And it illustrates a principle I learned a long time ago:
The Old Testament contains the New Testament, and the New Testament explains the Old Testament.