Summary: Revival begins at the altar.
May 6, 2007
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:14
Subject: What happens around the altar
Title: Revival – God’s Way
I like to start sermons of with a joke or a funny story. Not today! Today I want to share my heart with you. As I look back at the last 5½ years here I have to stop and ask myself a question. “Are we making an impact here?” Maybe you have asked yourself the same question. If I asked you, “How are you different now than you were before we came here?”, would your answer reflect a positive or negative change?
I’ve had a vision of revival in this church even before we came. I have a burden for revival. I expect revival. I want revival. I don’t have any preconceived notion of what revival will look like. The only revival I have ever experienced is the personal revival that takes place in my life from time to time. I believe that there are certain elements that will accompany real revival, but I know that revival her will be different than it was at Brownsville Assembly in Pensacola, than it is in Toronto, with the Toronto blessing, than it is a Tabernacle of Praise. I want revival in this church more than anything else. What is it going to take to get us there?
When we first came here there was a piece of furniture here at the front of church. It was an old wooden altar. It was here for a couple of years and I have to tell you, from my observation, it was seldom used. When we had an altar call no one went to the altar. They made their own altar at a pew or on the platform steps. At some point the Lord showed me that he was getting ready to do something significant in the church and many were being baptized in the Holy Spirit and slain in the Spirit. That old altar was taking up space in the front of church so I moved it out. It seemed as though it was just there because it had always been there. I didn’t see any lives being changed there.
Thinking about that made me wonder about whether we will see revival here? It also made me wonder about the altar. What is the purpose? What does the Bible say about altars?
The first mention of an altar goes back to Genesis 8. God brought Noah and his family through the flood and Noah built an altar and worshiped there. In Genesis 12, God called Abram out of a land of idolatry and to a promised land – a new place. Abram built an altar there and, “called on the name of the Lord.” Abraham was called to sacrifice his own son and he built an altar. (God was taking him to a new place of obedience.) Isaac built an altar. Jacob built and altar. Moses built altars. Joshua built altars. Every time there was an altar built God was preparing to take an individual, a family, or a nation to a place they had never been before – a deeper revelation of who God is and what He wanted to do for them.
That takes us up to where I want to be today. In 2 Chronicles 7 Solomon has just finished building the temple. 1When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
8So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him…9On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more.
The altar was the place of sacrifice. It was a place to connect with God. It is the place to find God’s will. It is a place of worship.
11When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12the LORD appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people… In other words, when it looks as though destruction has come and we’ll never see the good times again; when it appears as though the world has overcome the church instead of the other way around; when it seems as though revival will never come…