In the Old Testament there are several examples in which patriarchs of the faith altar. Altars were built for several purposes. Some alters were built were to commemorate something God had done . An altar might be built to offer thanks to God, present tithes and offerings or for the remission of sins.
If you are unfamiliar with the story Abraham passes God’s test and Issac spared. My pastor pointed out recently that Abraham trusted God to provide a sacrifice other than his son. It wasn’t the reason for this post, but I find it very much worth mentioning.
Genesis 22:5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Unlike the Old Testament we no longer build altars to sacrifice animals animals to God. Still, altars play a huge role in our lives. Just as baptism is a New-Testament representation of circumcision, the altars we build in our hearts are a representation of the physical altars built in the Old-Testament.
You can find thousands of blog posts and sermons about altars. What they were used for, and how they were constructed. I read many while researching this post. I was still left with a question. How do we build and offer God sacrifices? None of what I read suggested heading down to Home Depot with a list of supplies. At the same time there has to be some practical way of doing this. Some evangelical churches invite people down to the “altar” for prayer. If you have ever seen Billy Graham you know this. Many Catholic churches have a place of prayer in the front where church members can kneel in prayer and light candles as an offering to God. Both are great practical ways for Christians to build modern altars.
I want to suggest some practical ways for us to build modern altars to glorify God.
–Write it down. Especially your victories. In times of trouble past victories seem the hardest to remember. Just after defeating the Amalekites in battle Moses is told by God to make sure Joshua gets this scroll. He will need it later to remember God’s promise to Israel.
Exodus 17:14-15 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against[c] the throne of the LORD,[d] the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
–Tithe. This can be easier said than done. If you are a Christian you have heard all the scripture on this subject many times. Allow me to offer one though for consideration.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
I know from personal experience that tithing during a financial crisis can be difficult. Do I tithe or buy groceries, put gas in the car, keep the lights on, etc. We have been through it. I cannot stress enough though that we should cheerful givers. Giving to the extent that your faith will allow cheerfully is more important than giving begrudging. We recently saw a $20 (we might not be able to buy food gift) turn into about $600 and a job offer.
In an effort to keep this a blog post and not a chapter in a book I am going to stop there. Feel free though to comment with your own practical ways of building modern altars to God.