Summary: The altar is a place where God meets with those who seek Him.
May 6, 2012
Text: Judges 6:24-32
Subject: The Altar
Title: What Happens at the Altar?
Glory to God! Isn’t it great to be in a church where the Holy Spirit has freedom to move when He wants to move? Is He moving in your life that way? Do you know that He wants to?
Maybe you have noticed the new additions to the front of the church. No, it is not extra seating for the overflow crowd. These are altars or prayer benches – whichever you would like to call them. And they have a real purpose. And that purpose is to be a tangible reminder of a place where you can go to have an encounter with God. Not everyone needs a piece of furniture to do so, but for some it provides a quiet place to come and have real contact with a real God.
In the Jewish temple there was an altar of sacrifice that was the place where the sins of Israel would be covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb. Today we have this same altar where you can bring your sins or shortcomings or even your needs to God and expect Him to meet with you regarding your needs.
I want to share with you today about the altar, but not just the altar of the temple. I want you to understand what an altar is all about and how it will significantly change your life if you allow it to.
Let’s read the first 10 verses to get a picture of what is going on in Israel.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.
7 When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’… The last part of verse 10 sets the stage for what is about to happen… But you have not listened to me.”
Three things that God wants to tell us today.
1. He will draw you to the altar…
2. He will remove any other altar that you have set up…
3. He will establish His own altar in your heart...
Read Judges 6:11-32
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
And I appropriate it to my life today…
What happens at the altar?
I. GOD WILL DRAW YOU TO THE ALTAR… Look with me at just a few verses that show us how God will draw you to His altar. 11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” I want you to notice that the first step in the Lord’s drawing people to His altar is that He reveals Himself. Look at the phrase “the angel of the Lord…” Whenever you see “angel of the Lord” preceded by the definite article “the” instead of by “an” it is referring to the Lord Himself. This is a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus to earth. How do we know that? First of all look at verse 12, 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” He appeared, then He said… What did He say? “The Lord is with you…” Now jump down to verse 14, The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have… Right there it tells us that this is the Lord… Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ And that is what He is doing for Gideon here. He is revealing a great plan for his life by revealing Himself to him and by speaking His words into Gideon’s life. Through the circumstances that had befallen Israel – and these were caused by their own failure – God has drawn them to a place of repentance. That is what the altar is for. It can be a place where God shows you your own failings while at the same time showing you His power. Do you know that every one of you has something built into you from birth that causes you to want to draw near to God? Everyone is born with that. The problem is that many don’t realize what it is they are desiring and so they seek to fulfill what God has planted in them with things of the world that bring temporary satisfaction. And all the while God is trying to get their attention (even our attention) to show them what they are really looking for. Psalm 84, 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints,