Worship Him in the beauty of holiness
I recently had a flight delay which brought me into Kansas City airport three hours late. The only problem with that was that there is a two hour, 45-minute drive from there to home. I picked up my bags at midnight, my car at 12:30 – and after a gas/black coffee stop, pulled into my garage at 3:30 a.m. and after brushing my teeth, taking out contacts, checking on the dogs – was in bed by 3:45 a.m.
I remember just how good the bed felt as I pulled the covers over me, and settled in for a four-hour snooze (our bedroom is unfortunately on the east side of the house and after sunrise, there is no more rest.)
This is a perfect example of what most of us do at the end of the journey – we seek the comforts of home as quickly as possible. I remember my wife questioning me on whether I would like to simply get a hotel room in Kansas City that night … I just simply could not imagine another night out of my Serta, even if it meant sacrificing a half-night’s sleep. You know what I’m talking about.
This is why this passage of Scripture (Noah’s ark story) has much to say to all of us …
Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done,” Gen. 8:19-21.
After God landed the ark on dry land, Noah did not seem to worry himself about a domicile to call his own. Rather, Noah built an altar to the Lord. In fact, it was exactly one entire chapter after the post-ark-exodus-altar-build that we saw Noah living in a tent (Gen. 9:20).
There is no believer that would blame Noah if he would want to “crash” first. After a multi-month “layover,” and definitely travelling “coach,” Noah had every right to simply ‘bonk’ – to simply close his eyes and enjoy blessed rest. But he didn’t.
Abraham (or Abram) did much the same, always building an altar before even pitching a tent. (See Genesis chapters 12, 13, 22.) What does this tell the modern Christian sojourner? Probably for me, before seeking my physical comfort, I must seek the favor of a Holy and righteous God.
Now while building an altar to God outside would have been interesting that early, early morning that I arrived at home; it would have definitely meant estranging my good neighbors and needlessly exhausting myself. Rather, this reminder in Scripture tells me, that since my heart is the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, first and foremost I need to seek to make a place of thanksgiving, and holiness for him to dwell. Now I may have plenty of Old Testament arguments on my hands, but I think of the Festival of Booths celebrated by the Hebrews being a powerful reminder of the Holy Spirit that indwells us.
You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God,’ Lev. 23:42-43.
He chooses to indwell; therefore, it should be our custom to make this altar holy and hospitable, beyond where our comfort lies. This is beyond relevance to us, beyond our happiness, and with no consideration of our self-esteem.
Our comfort, our feelings, our emotions, even our relevance must bow to His holiness.
I encourage you, friend, to build up your booth, alter your altar, and worship Him “in the beauty of holiness.” (John Francis is the worship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)