Altar

<<place of sacrifice>>

In the OT altars were normally stone structures upon which animals were sacrificed and burnt as amends for sin (Lev 9:7). Altars were also built in thanksgiving for God's goodness or to commemorate a notable dealing or encounter with Him (Gen 8:20, 12:6-8, 28:16-18,). These altars often remained for years, and were a reminder of God's protection, promises and dealings (Josh 4:2-7).

The front area of a church auditorium is sometimes called the altar and communion may be served from here, signifying Christ as our sacrifice.

Today making an altar doesn’t involve a physical act as in the OT,  but an inner spiritual laying down of our fleshly wants and desires in a heart ‘business’ transaction or dealing with God (Rom 12:1,2). Once the sacrifice is on the altar it is no longer our property but God’s. When we lay down our personal rights, we will come into freedom and His power

     Am I prepared to lay my all on                the altar – and leave it there

is released in greater measure.  God gives us everything we have for a season to use and enjoy for His glory. On the altar of sacrifice we may also be required to give up ‘God given’ desires – what we firmly believe is His gift or calling. Sometimes these dreams or things we hold dear are taken away. Other times these challenges to surrender a particular thing are tests of our devotion as they were with Abraham giving up Isaac (Gen 22:1-18). Either way altars are places of blessing. They are significant spiritual milestones in our life, where we are forever changed, with altered perspectives and priorities with renewed commitment and passion for our Saviour. The physical OT altars were costly with an animal forfeiting its life. Today they should be no less costly or life changing as we figuratively lay down something we value for a more intimate relationship with God. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsame said to His Father, "Not my will but yours be done" (Mk 14:36). 

Although we will always remember such special turning points in our lives, revisiting them on occasions, we should move on so we don’t stay and make them monuments even though they are not actual physical structures. We should continually be progressing towards our next major dealings with Christ as we walk with Him in consecration and obedience. Every part of our spiritual jouney is dependent on our surrender. When we came to Christ for salvation we exchanged being slaves of Satan to becoming slaves or servants of Christ. We don't get to choose the experiences we are subject to, yet it calls for a continual laying down of our rights. This is our responsibility to obe what He requires, yet we can trust our loving heavenly Father who has our best interest at heart. If there is a difference of pathways, we must submit to His.

Altar call. In some services an invitation (altar call) is made for people who would like to be prayed for to come forward. This can be a time of being powerfully impacted by the Holy Spirit as others pray for a person, although much of what transpires at the front can also be transacted one-on-one (God and the individual) in the privacy of their own home. Some consider this as "acknowledging Christ before men" yet the prayer or response does necessarily indicate genuine salvation or a real heart transaction (Mt 7:22, 10:32). While such appeals require a physical response, any decision must be confirmed and reinforced with an ongoing life of sanctification as the Holy Spirit produces more and more of His fruit as evidence of the reality of saving faith (Gal 5:22,23).

See also: commitment, consecrate, cross, responsible/responsibility, rights, sacrifice and offering, submission, surrender.

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