Summary: Once prominent in churches. Once prominent in life. Now seldom seen in our buildings. Have they also disappeared from our life? We have been called to live an
Altared - Pt. 2 - Blowing Santa's Mind!
For some it was padded. For others it folded down. For some a simple rail. For others it was built in and for others it was a separate piece of furniture that often became a display location for offering plates, plastic flowers, and croquette covered tissue boxes. Many, if not all of us, have had life changing moments around an altar. The altar isn't our idea! In fact, as I mentioned last week, the concept of the altar is rooted in the heart of God, mentioned 370 different times in Scripture! The message is abundantly clear . . . God meets man at the altar.
And so we began by talking about Paul's call for us to live an altared lifestyle in Romans 12:1-2. We avoid the pain, death, blood, and time required to stop at the altar. However, Paul was very clear that if we don't lived altared we will become cultured and look more like our culture than our king.
I referenced how early altars show up in the history of man's interaction with God. Cain and Able utilized an altar to approach God. However, it is the second mention of an altar where I want to spend some time this morning. The very familiar and favorite account is found in Genesis 6, 7, 8.
Genesis 6:5-8, 13, 17
God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.” But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah. (13) God said to Noah, “It’s all over. It’s the end of the human race. The violence is everywhere; I’m making a clean sweep. (17) “I’m going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction.
The flood continued forty days and the waters rose and lifted the ship high over the Earth. The waters kept rising, the flood deepened on the Earth, the ship floated on the surface. The flood got worse until all the highest mountains were covered—the high-water mark reached twenty feet above the crest of the mountains. Everything died. Anything that moved—dead. Birds, farm animals, wild animals, the entire teeming exuberance of life—dead. And all people—dead. Every living, breathing creature that lived on dry land died; he wiped out the whole works—people and animals, crawling creatures and flying birds, every last one of them, gone. Only Noah and his company on the ship lived.
Noah built an altar to God. He selected clean animals and birds from every species and offered them as burnt offerings on the altar.
The Noah account with the animals 2 x 2 has become one of, if not the favorite, Bible story for our children. We have so sanitized the experience that it has invaded nursery decorations. However, I think we have done the account a disservice. This account is not a kid's tale. In fact, if a movie of this account was made correctly, then it would probably be Rated R. Think about what takes place. Noah has a ring side seat to watch the total and complete destruction of every living thing. He hears the shrieks of panic and pain of people he loved. His extended family. His neighbors. He watched as families with children that played ball with his kids drowned. He listened to the terror filled cries. He couldn't ignore the final cries for help. This would have been a thousand more times more gruesome than the scene in Titanic where bodies were floating in the water. This was annihilation and extermination. This makes the regionalized destruction we have witnessed in the wake of tornadoes or hurricanes look like a walk through paradise. This was incredibly painful experience.
And immediately following witnessing the worst disaster ever experienced by man Noah constructs an altar! Before He makes any request or does anything to provide for his own needs he establishes a place to remember God's faithfulness!
We must establish altars of remembrance in every season of life.
Many times we have to establish this altar in spite of what we have gone through!
After witnessing such incredible and heart breaking devastation Noah remembers God's faithfulness. He remembers that God has been faithful to bring him through.
I declare that most of us need to get to the altar not to make requests, but rather to remember God's protection, provision, and keeping hand. I know you have a long list of wants and needs. Some of you have had or presently have a ring side seat to the worst destruction of your life and the temptation is only visit the altar to make requests for help, protection, resolution, and assistance. However, in the middle of the storm you need to stop and reflect on what God has already done and how faithful He has already been. God has brought and will bring you through floods of destruction! You are still alive.