Summary: Altars are places where often alterations are made. They are constucted primarily as places of sacrifice and surrender. This sermon examines their role in the church as a means of calling worshippers to a level of commitment.
ALTARS AND ALTERATIONS
Gen 22:1-14 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,
7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
THERE ON THAT MOUNTAIN, ABRAHAM BUILT AN ALTAR. It was to be the place and time where his faith would be tested to the extreme. God was there when the patriarch arrived. Abraham passed the test and the rest is history.
This history lesson points to another Son that was offered on an altar. The altar was Calvary and there Jesus sacrificed Himself so that you and I could be forgiven and receive eternal life.
Today I want to talk to you about altars, and specifically, our altar. I want to encourage you to use it—to not be afraid of it—to understand its significance and purpose.
In May of 1955, I made my way to a church altar for the first time to give my life publicly to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the first of many life-changing trips for me.
On July 6 of 1957, I made another trip to the altar. This time it was to pledge my love to Jeanine in marriage.
In August of 1965, I made my way to the altar at a Youth for Christ campground to surrender my life totally to Christ—to go wherever and be whatever He wanted.
In July of 1977, I made another memorable trip to the altar. This time it was to be ordained at the Hastings Camp in the old tabernacle.
Then in 1982, Jeanine and I went back to the altar at KWC to renew our vows as we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
These were memorable times, but over the years I have made my way to the altar for various reasons—so many times that I cannot begin to count them—to take communion, to pray, to seek God’s forgiveness, to counsel others, to rededicate my life, or simply to praise God for His goodness to me.
The altar is an article of significance---made of stone, wood, a beam from a barn, chairs turned around, pews in a church.
About three years ago I made my way into the sanctuary at the church on White’s Road for the last time. I stood there in front of the altar and thanked God for the memories—the times of blessing and refreshing and revival and prayer that took place there—the tears that were shed, the commitments that were made. It was a special time for me. I knelt down one last time at the altar and got close to God again.