The Altars of God
An altar is erected, to place a sacrifice on…..whether it is stone, or wood overlaid with brass; it’s sole purpose is for sacrifice to God…for sin or sweet-savor.
(Although I believe there was an altar for Cain and Abel to sacrifice at the gate of Eden, for Abel’s lamb was “accepted”….which meant that fire came down and consumed it. Cain’s was rejected—no fire.
Still, it does not say “altar” there….so…..)
The first mention of “altar” was after the flood….the waters having cleansed the earth from “the wickedness of man was great….every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis6:5)
Noah “found grace” (the first mention of grace)…..and by faith he obeyed God and saved himself and his house by building an Ark.
After the waters dried up….Noah and his family came out of the Ark, and the first act was to build an altar.
Genesis 8:18-20 “And Noah went forth….out of the Ark….And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
This sacrifice was accepted and God made a covenant with Noah for the earth, because of this sacrifice.
The second time an “altar” is spoken of is Abraham’s.
Genesis 12:7 “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, Who appeared unto him.”
He had been called of God to come out of idolatry, and follow His call to a land which God was going to give him and his seed.
When he got there, the Lord appeared to him again,…..
….and Abraham built an altar to sacrifice to the Lord.
The last known altar of Abraham was on Mt. Moriah (Calvary)…..where he was sent to sacrifice Isaac. (He believed that God could,….and would raise him.
Genesis 22:5 “and I and the lad will go and worship….and come again…”)
When he went to sacrifice Isaac…..
……..God told him to stop, and gave him a ram to sacrifice, saying, “…I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.”
Moses built the first altar for the children of Israel in Exodus,……..only after they had come out of the bondage of Egypt:
Exodus 17:15 “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi.”
Then he built an altar and sacrificed, making a covenant with the children of Israel concerning the Ten Commandments….sprinkling the blood on the people. (Exodus 24:6-8)
After Moses was given the pattern of the Tabernacle, the altar of God for sacrifice, was the Brazen altar in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple….
Exodus 38:1 “And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was four square; and three cubits the height thereof.”
The people were to come “before the Lord” at this altar and sacrifice there, through the priests…..
But though they had an altar of God in the Temple at Jerusalem……you found the children of Israel often sacrificing in groves and mountain tops…..to idols.
Forsaking the Altar of God,…….for the worship of the heathen gods, on altars of their own making.
Even to the point that the Temple was defiled….
The last time time, before the Israel and Judah were taken away captive, the altar was used, was with Josiah. (He was the king Jeremiah lamented…for he was a godly king….the last). He made a Passover feast:
2 Chronicles 35:16 “So all the service of the Lord was prepared the same day, to keep the Passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord, according to the commandment of king Josiah.”
After the Captivity, the first thing they did for the Temple was to build the altar:
Ezra 3:1-3 “And when the seventh month was come,…..the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Then stood up Jeshua….and his brethren the priests……and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
And they set the altar upon his bases;…..and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.”
But not many generations passed till……the Lord again had to speak to them concerning their sacrifices on the altar….for they were defiling it, again….
God sent Malachi, the prophet…..who spoke to the priests, who were allowing the people to give sacrifices which were lame, or broken…..in direct contradiction to the law….
…….for the sacrifices were to be “without blemish”….because they were to picture Christ.
Malachi 1:8 “And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the Lord of Hosts.”
God told Israel, through Malachi, that there would be One coming which would make the offering “pleasant unto the Lord” (Malachi 3:1-4)
Coming to the times of the New Testament; the physical “altar” was done away…..but the spiritual altar was given:
Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of the times was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
John 10:15, 18 “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.
No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.”
The Lord Jesus Christ was the great Priest and Sacrifice. It was to Him that all the other sacrifices pointed.
He “laid down His life”…..for He was Priest….sacrificing Himself: His life, His blood…..to God for our sins,…
…..on the altar of the cross……brought about by the rejection of His own people.
He gave Himself over to them……”He came unto His own and His own received Him not”. John 1:11
…….They were the ones that cried “crucify Him”….till Pilate agree…..and they watched as a Roman cross was laid upon Him….and then Him on the cross….
….which lifted Him up between heaven and earth.
He was “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world”.
His was the only Sacrifice that was acceptable to God….therefore He gave it…..to please the Father, and fulfill all His Will.
And then there is our altar:
Although the word “altar” is not used….yet…our “altar” is our everyday lives where we “present” to God our sacrifice.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable , and perfect, will of God.”
We are a living sacrifice….for only Christ Jesus could die for our sin.
But we are to deny ourselves, lose our lives in ourselves (that is being identified in His death)…..and live unto God (that is being identified in His resurrection).
We, too are priests….for we are “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5)
The sacrifice we are to offer is ourselves to God…..as Jesus Christ offered Himself up to God, for our sins…..we are to offer ourselves up to God, through the merits of Christ….to live unto Him in believing obedience, in this world of sin.
He offered Himself, for us……we offer ourselves, to Him.
The altars of God have been varied….but they all do the same thing:
They receive the sacrifice given to God, by His appointing.
Have we placed ourselves on our “altar of everyday things”, to God, today?