Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kissing Heaven's Ground???

How many times have we seen it? Someone is held hostage out of the country or is away from their homeland for an extended period of time due to difficult scenarios and when they finally find themselves home, the first thing they do is kneel down and kiss the ground.

That's what I half-expected to read about Noah doing when he finally got off that massive floating box. Remember, he and his family were on that ark for over a year - with thousands of animals and birds (and in-laws). And finally, after more than a full year closed inside, he gets to exit the ark. It would have fit right into scenes like those I mentioned above to read that Noah exited the ark, knelt down and kissed the dry ground.

Well, Noah knelt down and he did offer kisses of sorts, but it had nothing to do with the ground. Genesis 8 says that the very first thing he did when he got off that ark was to build an altar. By the way, though we see instances of people making sacrifices prior to the flood (as in the case of Cain and his brother, Abel), this is the very first specific mention of an altar in the Bible. Noah then takes one of every clean animal and one of every clean bird that he took with him on the ark (remember, he took 7 of each clean animal and bird) and he sacrifices each of them in a lavish act of thanksgiving and worship.

What a lavish sacrifice it was. But Noah understood something. He realized that the only reason he was standing on dry ground with just 7 other people (his family) who survived the flood had nothing to do with him. Noah was a sinner. Chapter 9 of Genesis will make that clear. He didn't survive the flood because he deserved it. He survived the flood for one reason...Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Realizing this, Noah's first act after exiting the ark was not to kiss the ground, it was to make a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God because of His wonderful grace.

Now think about this. The ark is a picture of salvation and the door of the ark is a picture of Christ. Just as Noah was saved from the judgement of the flood by believing God and entering the ark through the door, so we are saved from the eternal judgement of sin by believing what God has said and entering God's salvation through the door of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So if Noah's entering the ark is a picture of our entering God's salvation, then Noah exiting the ark after his long journey could also a picture of our entering heaven at the end of our journey. What will be the first thing we do when we get to heaven? I doubt we will kneel down and kiss the ground. Instead, I think it will fully hit us that the only reason we are there is because of the grace of God. Our being there has nothing to do with us - it has everything to do with Him. And instead of kissing the ground, I think we will immediately fall on our knees and worship and give thanks to the One whose grace is so wonderful.

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