When you have a baby, you experience love and responsibility in a way that you never have before. You are suddenly the source to meet every need for that child – food, cleanliness, education, entertainment, etc., just as God is our sustainer.
But your child can also be a source of joy back to you. The altar is a place where we become a source of something to God, a place where God expects us to give something back to Him in an expression of love and adoration that no other living creation can give.
Abraham built many altars as recorded in the Old Testament:
- Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7
- And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8
- And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13:3-4
- Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord. Genesis 13:18
- Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order. Genesis 22:9a
Establish an altar in your life—a place to meet with God.
Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people built altars for sacrifice in places where God had appeared or where they had an expectation of meeting God. We don’t have physical altars now as we acknowledge that God is everywhere, but if you take anything from today’s teaching, let it be an encouragement to establish an altar in your life—a place to meet with God.
The altar is:
1. A place to acknowledge God’s holy presence. Genesis 12:7, 13:4, 18
If you consider the tabernacle that the Israelites built in the wilderness or the temple that Solomon built, or any other formal church design, the altar is the element that sets it apart as a religious structure.God is everywhere, but our altars are a memorial or a reminder of God’s presence—a place where we come to meet with Him. As the Bible calls us to meet with Him every day and pray without ceasing, Pastor Miles encouraged all of us to find a special “altar” or place in our homes (a den, a bedroom, a chair, a bench, etc.) where we go regularly to meet with God. In this place there should be no distractions to keep you from Him—no TV, no phone or computers—only your Bible, some paper, and a pen. Anticipate God showing up. Expect to meet with Him and to hear from Him.
Of course you can pray to God anywhere, but don’t let “anywhere” be your altar. If you’re at work, you’re working; you may be praying here and there in your mind, but God deserves some undivided attention.
2. A place to give God sole credit as the source of all your needs. Genesis 22:9
You can’t worship with a “take” mentality. In the very act of worship, you are acknowledging that it’s all about God, not about you. In heaven, not one of us will be worshiping God half-heartedly as we gazes out the window thinking about our Facebook posts. We will be wholeheartedly sold-out, worshiping with all our might once we fully understand who God is. Therefore, the quality of your worship now is an indication of your understanding of who God is. What kind of worship are we offering?
3. A place to give up falsehood and sin. Matthew 5:23-24
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Jesus instructs us that God doesn’t want us to be distracted by bitterness or any other sin when we come to Him. He wants us to be open and honest, ready to give what we are and receive from Him.
Theoretically, Sunday is when you put forth the best version of yourself. But are you putting on a show for God? He knows your heart already, so when you meet with Him, expose your true state, your true sins. There is no lying when you meet God; everything comes out!
4. A place to give an acceptable offering or sacrifice. Genesis 22:9, Romans 12:1-2
In the Old Testament, God goes into great detail in describing the type of animal sacrifice that is acceptable to him. He didn’t want his people to give him the littlest, sickest lamb with the broken leg. He wanted the best - because He deserved the best. The best sacrifice is the only one He accepts.
In requiring these high quality sacrifices, God showed us that sin requires bloodshed, and a perfect sacrifice. But earthly blood was not good enough, so the Israelites had to sacrifice over and over again.
Finally, God sent us the ultimate sacrifice in His Son. The death of Jesus was a perfect sacrifice, once and for all. If you accept His death for your sin, you can establish a relationship with God, as you will have given Him the only sin sacrifice He will receive.