Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh | Genesis 8:20-22
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. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:20-22 | ESV
Mesopotamian flood stories have the gods greedily, carnivorously buzzing about the hero’s sacrifice after the flood – for in their mind that’s what the gods do. They are blood thirsty consumers (we really do fashion our gods in our own image, don’t we?). And while some of that seems at times to seep into the pages of the Old Testament – and too much of it into our own imagination when it comes to God, this scene of disembarkation will hopefully help us to pause, to linger, and sense something more. For instead of buzzing nosily about as a carnivore God, God smells. He relishes. It’s a ray-ach ha-knee-ho-ach moment (hoping ray-ach ha-knee-ho-ach will take off like wild fire as a cultural catchphrase, but doubting it). What is a ray-ach ha-knee-ho-ach moment, you ask? It’s the Hebrew equivalent of our “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh” as we slip into a soothing bath; as we step out of triple digit heat into wonderfully air-conditioned space (or vice-versa if you’ve been in that air conditioned space just a bit too long); as our parched throat received that first, cool burst of refreshment from that tall, cold glass of lemonade or iced tea. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” That’s what God does when smells what Noah has been cooking. But it’s not because God wants meat. “What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me? If I were hungry, I wouldn’t tell you! And besides, I own all the cows – and the hills their grazing on, thank you very much,” God says a bit later down the line. No. His “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh” is literally a play on the name of Noahhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s ray-ach ha-kNee-hO–AcH – a play on the very name of Noah itself. Noah = “comfort” “soothing” “rest.” God is Noahhhhhhhhhhhed. Let that image sink in for just a moment. Noah was the reject of a generation (from that generation’s standpoint). And God is deeply soothed by him. Most of us can’t escape the image of God never ceasing to be deeply irritated with us. Admit it. What was it in Noah that brought such an Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh moment to God’s very heart – a moment so expansive that God promises right there on the spot to never again play water world with creation and commits himself to be involved with a deeply flawed humanity? Scandalous, ridiculous, risky, totally inadvisable worship because Noah was awed (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhed!) by God. There was no “thou shalt” communicated here, and even if you have seven “clean” pairs of animals on that boat the fact remains that these are the only seven pairs of them on the planet – everything was an endangered species at that moment! But Noah builds. Noah offers. And God in turn is ahhhhhhhhhhhhhed. It’s good for us to remember at this point that it’s not how big the altar is, how professionally offered the offering may be (in fact, more often than not, all of that gets in the way more than anything). It’s the heart of us that ahhhhhhhhhhhhs the heart of God. As Peterson catches it in his Message rendering of Paul’s classic worship invitation: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
How often do you imagine God being ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhed by you? Why can this be such a stretch for us? Why is it so much easier to imagine him angry at us? How can this fundamental perception shift?
Lord, let me stop long enough today to be ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhed by you today – and let me actually hear the same from your heart over me. Right now. Just as I am. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.