The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21)The blazing fire Noah lit on the altar crackled its way through the skin of the offering— eventually reducing everything to ashes. The stench arising from the scene could not have been pleasant— and no human would have described the smell as a "soothing aroma".
God, however, does describe the smell as a "soothing aroma". But why? Obviously it was not the death-filled odor that God found pleasing. Neither was it merely Noah's outward act of burning animals, in and of itself, that God found soothing. After all, the Old Testament is filled with statements like this:
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;Ultimately, it comes down to this: God found Noah's burnt offering soothing because of the heart of the one who offered it. The burnt offering Noah offered up was a genuine act, motivated by a love for God. The offering was also a picture of what was to come: the final aroma— the aroma of Christ.
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Burnt offerings were rightly present throughout the Old Testament, and beginning with Moses, such offerings were clearly commanded. But Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ put an end to burnt offerings, by offering up His blood— for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:2).
What Curse On The Ground Was God Talking About After The Flood? - Genesis 8:21
Cain and Abel: An Offering - Genesis 4:3-5
Noah Builds The First Post-Flood Altar - Genesis 8:20
Noah Leaves The Ark - Genesis 8:18-19
A New Year, A New Era, A New World - Genesis 8:13