Summary: How we can rebuild the altars in our life that have fallen into disrepair.
Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist
May 29, 2005
Memorial Day Sunday
“Abram: The Altar Builder”
INTRODUCTION: Throughout the Old Testament people built altars to offer
sacrifices, a ritual through which the Hebrew people offered the blood or flesh of an
animal to God in payment for their sins. Sacrifices originated in the Garden of Eden. An
altar, usually made of stones or other rough materials, was built on which to offer the
sacrifices. Both Old and New Testaments confirm that sacrifices were symbolic.
Because of their sins, the Hebrews presented offerings by which they gave another life in
place of their own. These substitutes pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus
Christ (Hebrews 10:1-18) who laid down His life for the sins of all people.
Although we probably think of altars primarily as places of sacrifice in the Old
Testament there are SIX REASONS why Abram and others built altars. It actually
symbolized COMMUNION with God and commemorated notable encounters with Him.
You might wonder, “How is an altar relevant in any way to my life today in the
year 2005? What do I have in common with Abram of the Old Testament times? What
does it have to do with me as I sit here this morning?
In my research I found that we can apply all six of these things to our life today
because they are all relevant to the Christian life and to each of us today. Let’s see what
we can learn from this scripture.
Today most churches have an altar at the front of the church. It is used for
different things such as for weddings, baptisms, kneeling down for communion, for
prayer for salvation, healing or other types of things. Perhaps in past years the altar was a
more significant part of people’s worship experience than it seems to be today, but in this
church the altar is an open place where you can come and kneel to pray whenever you
want to. On Sunday mornings when I get here I usually kneel at this altar to ask God to
bless the service and to help me to do my best.
1. Purposes of the Altar: In verse 7 the Lord appeared to Abram and as a
result Abram built an altar. It was a significant time for this man. Some of the rituals of
the church serve as a special time to us to mark the place and to
(a) remember where we met God just as Abram did.
ILLUSTRATION: I remember when I was 7 years old I went to an altar at a
church and received Jesus as my Savior. You can receive the Lord many different places
and times, but for me this still stands out in my mind as the SPECIFIC place where I
knelt. Abram built an altar to signify that He had met God that day. It stood as A
REMINDER of God’s promises to him. Maybe when this day seemed to fade in his
memory, he could look back at the altar, the specific place and say, “I met God here.”
REMEMBERING your baptism, or your wedding vows or any number of things having
to do with the church altar is a significant milestone for you. Graduates, receiving Bibles
or gifts today marks a time you can look back on as you journey forward into your future.
STORY: Jack’s wife asked him how his golf game went that day.
He said, “Well, I was hitting pretty well, but my eyesight’s gotten so bad I
can’t see where the ball goes.
“But you’re 75 years old, Jack. Why don’t you take your brother Scott
“But he’s 87 and doesn’t even play golf anymore,” Jack protested.
“But he’s got perfect eyesight” his wife said. “He could watch for the ball,”
his wife pointed out.
The next day Jack teed off with Scott looking on. Jack swung and the ball
disappeared somewhere down the middle of the fairway. “Do you see it?” asked
“Yup,” Scott answered.
“Well, Where is it?” yelled Jack looking off into the distance.
Too often we forget important things and we need a REMEMBRANCE of the
place we first met God and a REMEMBRANCE of his promises to us just as Abeam did.
(b) prayer--Abram built another altar as he traveled toward Bethel and Ai.
The purpose of this altar was different in that verse 8 says that “he built an altar to the
Lord and CALLED ON THE NAME OF THE LORD”--Abram built this altar for the
purpose of prayer. In Genesis 13:4 he again used the altar as a place of prayer.
Each of us needs this altar of prayer in our lives not just once in awhile at specific
times or certain events but DAILY. Do not attempt to start out after graduation or on to