Summary: Every day we must set aside time to come to our personal altar where we read His word, worship Him in song and pray. Here we will encounter Him afresh and He will teach us His ways. If we don’t have such a time we must build it now!
THE THREE ALTARS OF ABRAHAM (Putting God First)
Book Ezra: Altar, Temple and Walls – Remnant People
INTRODUCTION: True worship takes place in the context of obedience to God (Genesis 12:1-5) - not merely a feeling or a form. For Abraham it was in the process of obeying God’s prompting to go to the land of Canaan. We cannot truly worship God unless we are in the place of obedience.
Wherever Abraham went he built altars to the Lord God where he would worship Him (Genesis 12:7,8; 13:18). Now, we have an altar (Hebrews 13:10) which is in Christ! Through His blood we have access at any time to Him.
The altar represents true worship and involves: SURRENDER, SACRIFICE and SERVICE - Abraham would have used raw stones (not touched by man’s strength and skill) to represent a yielding to God’s strength and not trusting in his own strength (Exodus 20:25).
THE THREE ALTARS OF ABRAHAM:
ALTAR OF PERSONAL CONSECRATION - Genesis 12:6-7
Shechem - ’the shoulder - place to carry burdens’ - is between two mountains, Mount Ebal (Barren) and Mount Gerazim (Fruitful). The Jews used to proclaim God’s blessings for obedience on Mount Gerazim and curses for disobedience on Mount Ebal. As we build this altar the Lord will bear our burdens and keep us from the barren, cursed life to live a fruitful, blessed one.
This altar is.....
*The place of a personal encounter with God
Genesis 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”
And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. who teaches us His ways. (Moreh = ’an archer’, ’teacher’ or ’the early rain’).
Every day we must set aside time to come to our personal altar where we read His word, worship Him in song and pray. Here we will encounter Him afresh and He will teach us His ways.
If we don’t have such a time we must build it now!
*The place of burying all other idols and covenanting to follow Him only
Genesis 35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.
Joshua 24:23-26 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”24 And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!”25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
Jacob buried idols at the foot of this tree by the altar as did the people under the guidance of Joshua (who also erected a stone of covenant here). As we come daily to our personal altars before the Lord, He will reveal ’idols’ in our life that need to be buried. These are things we have place before God and may be our personal interests (television, computer, sports etc..) or even other people who we idolize. In these quiet moments at the altar with God we can bury these idols and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
*Place of the well-spring of true worship
John 4:12,22-23 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
This altar was the same place that Jacob later built a well which existed in Jesus’ time. Indeed it was here that Jesus said we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! We will find this personal altar to be a place of great personal refreshing.
ALTAR OF FAMILY WORSHIP (Physical & Spiritual)
Genesis 12:8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
Genesis 13:3-4 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.