[Abram] built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him - Genesis 12:7
An ALTAR is a raised structure on which sacrifices to god are made. Did you know that in order to offer our lives as LIVING SACRIFICES we need to have altars? Every sacrifice must be put on the altar to be burned by fire, so the sweet smelling savour can come forth. “For our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:29
The life of a Christian is the life of the altar. God requires of His children that in His presence they have an altar. Why was Abraham able to offer Isaac His promised son at the altar of sacrifice? We learn that prior to this sacrificial worship (Genesis 22), Abraham was already leaving a life of building altars.
1) THE FIRST ALTAR
In Genesis 12:7 God appeared to Abraham and he built an altar. What made him want to worship? God had taken a seventy-five year old man out of his homeland and led him to a new frontier, making extravagant promises to him for his faith and obedience. There was no written revelation at the time, no covenant history, no people of God. Just a man and his faith and a land of promise.
This altar (not for sin offering) was for offering his life to God. It was the kind of altar spoken of in Romans 12:1. What the altar signifies is not doing for God, but being for God. Unlike the sacrifice of the Old Testament, which in one act was finally burnt, the sacrifice of the New Testament is “A LIVING SACRIFICE”. The meaning of the altar is the offering up of the life to God to be ever consumed, yet ever living: to be ever living, yet ever consumed.
God appeared to Abraham and Abraham offered himself to God. Anyone to whom God has manifested Himself cannot do other than live for Him. This is the life of the ALTAR – being a worshiper!
2) THE SECOND ALTAR
Genesis 12:8 – “From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent … there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord”. This is Abraham’s second altar. The pitching of his tent implies that it is not a permanent place. The tent-life also means that what Abraham possessed does not belong to him. At the altar Abraham has offered his all to God. Was he stripped of everything? No! Abraham still possessed cattle and sheep and many other things. Through the altar God deals with our lives; through the tent God deals with our possessions. At any time God may say: “I want this thing.” If we cling to it and say: “This is mine,” then in heart we have forsaken the altar and cannot say to God that our life is being lived for Him. The second altar shows us that Abraham’s life was a life of the altar – not bound by material possessions. That is why when God demand his son Isaac, he was able to response in faith and God restored back Isaac to him.
3) THE THIRD ALTAR
In Genesis 12:10-20 we read that because of the famine (type of economic crisis) Abraham went DOWN to Egypt (a type of the world) and got himself into trouble. Abraham had his failures when he departed from the altar in times of difficulties. In Genesis 13:1-4, he went UP from Egypt and returned to Bethel (the house of God) where he has first built an altar and called on the name of the Lord again. If you are seeking the way of recovery, you will find it at the altar. But what happened to Abraham after his recovery? Genesis 13:18 records Abraham built his third altar at Hebron (means fellowship). After his recovery Abraham entered into the place of continuous fellowship with God. If we are in fellowship with God we will never forsake the altar.
What does it mean to lay our lives on God’s altar? It means that we are not our own; we have no claim on our own lives. We are bought with a precious heavy price. Living sacrifice don’t live for themselves. They live for Another. That’s their service of worship.
TPWC - Ricky