On Building Altars

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No audio recording today. My apologies for the inconvenience!

June 4, 2018

Genesis 12:6-8

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and 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.

CONSIDER THIS

Abram traveled.

It seems obvious to say, but walking with God means movement. It means going from one place to another. It is not the travel of tourists following an itinerary, but of pilgrims following after God.

Sometimes the distance can be measured by actual miles. Often the geography traversed can only be measured in one’s soul. Either way, when it comes to the movement of walking with God, the mile markers are altars.

An altar is a visible sign of an otherwise unseen reality. To make an altar “to the Lord” takes prayer from the invisible realm and tangibilitates it into a visible reality. Altars create places in real time and space to mark progress in an otherwise unmeasurable journey. Abram does not know his destination. He only knows his God. In that sense, his God is his destination. Couldn’t he have known that at home and topped it off with a good quiet time every morning? If God is the destination and God is with us, why do we ever need to go anywhere, right? This is the seductive place where our faith becomes domesticated and slowly slips from the movemental dynamic of our life to a spiritual spa.

Let’s be clear, sometimes faith means physically going somewhere; other times not. Faith always means movement, because God is always on the move.

I can point to a series of altars in my past, critical turning points where I stopped to mark the action of God and my own surrendered responsiveness. I remember altars where I buried hurt and unforgiveness I had been carrying from the past. I remember altars where I burned written confessions of sin that had bound me. I remember altars where I laid face down on the ground with my arms extended outward in the shape of the cross. In each of those places I would name the Lord according to what he had done in my life.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. There are so many times in the past when you have moved in my life and I have just moved on. I never marked the moment. Fill me with the grace to start marking your movements in my life. Right here, Jesus. Right now Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever made an altar and commemorated the activity of God in your life?
  2. Why are altars important in biblical times? In today’s times?
  3. What altar might you consider making in your life today?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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