“God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” Genesis 35:1
“You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.” Exodus 27:1
The Old Testament Altar
The altar played a very important role in the Old Testament. The practice and application of the altar in the Old Testament sets the table for our New Testament faith.
During the sacrificial period in Old Testament worship, God instructed the people to build a “bronze altar” also known as the “brazen altar” where sacrifices were made. This altar was located just outside the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence. It was here that the priest would make the sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins for the people as well as the High Priest prior to entering into the presence of God. It was a place where living things went to die.
In Genesis 35 after Jacob wrestled with God, he is instructed to build an altar of stone to memorialize his encounter with God. Not only would this remind Jacob of his encounter and God’s faithfulness but it also served as a “witness” to those who traveled by this spot.
The New Testament Altar
Jesus is our once and for all sacrifice, Romans 6:10, so there is no need to make an atoning sacrifice for ourselves or others. Yet, today, the altar plays a significant role in our life. In the church the altar is the place where we bring our hurts, burdens, addictions, weaknesses, and struggles to God to die and not be picked back up.
The altar is also a place we build in remembrance of what God has done in our life. We need the altar in our life more than ever today!
If you went to the altar this weekend at church, don’t pick up today what died on Sunday. Build an altar in your journal, on social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and don’t forget your encounter with God. These are moments on our journey with God that should never be forgotten.
I’m praying for your freedom and God’s blessing on your life this week. May you be consumed with His joy and peace everywhere you go!