- Pastor Tom Cunningham
THE ALTAR: FOOTSTEPS TO REVELATION
Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:15, Hebrews 13:10-15
15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
The Altar: The place where God reveals Himself to his people and then fully expects them to, in-turn, make a public proclamation of their intentions regarding how that ‘revelation’ has affected the rest of their lives; thus the altar call, a time of public decision.
We must resist the modern trend of making the Christian faith a private thing. Granted, each of us individually will have to give an account to God one day for their lives, and yes, individually we must believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. However, there is nothing private about being a Christian. Christians are a community of those who have believed and professed Jesus Christ to be Lord.
Altars are places where God in his jealousy for our attention towards Him, establishes as territory or a new “beach-head” where God reveals Himself to us—that is to be used just for Him. The Altar is a Holy place, sanctified, set apart. In certain religious sects, the altar is an area set aside as unapproachable to the common people, used only by the priests or clergy. In actuality, it is a place where human beings have a “transaction with God;” where God does business with us about areas of our lives. An altar involves a reference point of a memorial. A place where God did something and a memorial is resurrected for us to refer back to in our lives. It is a place of humbling and a place of breaking...In the New Testament concept, we begin to understand that this is an area of use for the altar. It is indeed a place of revelation.
Altars are a place of God’s revelation of himself to man. God reveals himself in these altars in response to man’s need. Man needs an altar. God reveals himself to Jacob in response to his need and they seal this at the altar.
Two words that will need to be understood in order to fully comprehend the revelation of the altars of God—“atonement and repentance”.
ATONEMENT (Where JUSTICE is satisfied) kapar "to cover over, atone, propitiate, pacify." This root is found in the Hebrew language at all periods of its history, and perhaps is best known from the term Yom Kippur, "Day of Atonement." Its verbal forms occur approximately 100 times in the Hebrew Bible.
REPENTANCE (Gr. Metanoia) A change of mind...
This is to give us the basic understanding that an altar is not to be used for man’s ascension to God, but rather God’s de-scension to man. Altars are not to be built so that we can climb to God and meet him in the high places. But, rather God will come down to us and meet us there at the altar. Man is not ascending to the glory of God, but God is descending to the commonness of man...a picture of Christ.
An altar is a place of petition or prayer, an acknowledgment of our dependency on God.