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" life. Why?
Altared - Pt. 5 – The Altar of Need
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.
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.
Then we dealt with the 2nd altar occurrence in Scripture and from Noah's experience we talked about how after one of the most horrific experiences he built an altar. He teaches us to build altars even when we have gone through tough times. He teaches us that we must establish a daily altar of remembrance or we will become bitter, selfish, and complainers. So I challenged you to become like David and make a covenant that "I will remember"!
Then in week three I talked to you about the Altar of Promise that we saw Abraham build on three occasions. God is still a promise making God. He has a pinky and He isn't afraid to use it. He will swear to you! He will make and keep promises if we will learn to be silent long enough to hear what He is saying! We have to fight for our promise. The vultures of doubt and fear will try to swoop in and get us to give up on the promises that God has made.
Then last week we talked about the most avoided altar . . . the Altar of Sacrifice. Abraham again was our teacher. He shows us that Altars of Sacrifice expose our idols and force us to access where we have placed our hope. He is asked to bring what he loves most to God. Most of us don't mind losing what we hate. However, we must bring what we love most and sacrifice it to God. We like to substitute. It is at this altar that God discovers whether we are trustworthy. Many of us never find provision in the thickets of life because we won't pass the test at the Altar of Sacrifice.
There are so many more altars I would love to deal with like the altar that Issac (generational altar), the altar that Jacob built where he was forced to deal with his past, the corporate altars in of worship in Exodus, Gideon's altar of calling and host of others. However, I will wrap this series up this morning by talking to you about one final altar the altar of need.
Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite. Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?” So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow: Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!” Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.” Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.” “Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant. Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked. Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.”