Bring Back The Altar!

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Genesis 22:  (NCV)
1 After these things God tested Abraham’s faith. God said to him, “Abraham!”
And he answered, “Here I am.”
2 Then God said, “Take your only son, Isaac, the son you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Kill him there and offer him as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
3 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took Isaac and two servants with him. After he cut the wood for the sacrifice, they went to the place God had told them to go.

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. My son and I will go over there and worship, and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice and gave it to his son to carry, but he himself took the knife and the fire. So he and his son went on together.
7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!”
Abraham answered, “Yes, my son.”
Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb we will burn as a sacrifice?”
8 Abraham answered, “God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.”
So Abraham and his son went on together

9 and came to the place God had told him about. Abraham built an altar there. He laid the wood on it and then tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the wood on the altar.

10 Then Abraham took his knife and was about to kill his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!”
Abraham answered, “Yes.”
12 The angel said, “Don’t kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a male sheep caught in a bush by its horns. So Abraham went and took the sheep and killed it. He offered it as a whole burnt offering to God, and his son was saved.

14 So Abraham named that place The LORD Provides. Even today people say, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time

16 and said, “The LORD says, ‘Because you did not keep back your son, your only son, from me, I make you this promise by my own name:

17 I will surely bless you and give you many descendants. They will be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, and they will capture the cities of their enemies.

18 Through your descendants all the nations on the earth will be blessed, because you obeyed me.’ “

sacrifice: from Latin sacrificare; sacer sacred, holy + facere to make.

1. To make an offering of; to consecrate or present to a divinity by way of expiation or propitiation, or as a token acknowledgment or thanksgiving; to immolate on the altar of God, in order to atone for sin, to procure favor, or to express thankfulness;

2. Hence, to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost, for the sake of obtaining something; to give up in favor of a higher or more imperative object or duty; to devote, with loss or suffering.

3. To destroy; to kill.

4. To sell at a price less than the cost or actual value.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996

Over several decades, maybe even in the past century, the word ‘sacrifice’ has slowly but surely been eroded from our Christian lexicon.  It’s replacement was slowly introduced pulpits quite gradually.  It was mixed in, served up to the congregations so that it appeared to be a Biblically correct teaching and doctrine.  It gained the speed of a bullet fast train with the advent of radio and television.  Clever preachers and teachers honed it over the years to where in most of christendom was without question, or the blink of the eye, accepted.  The gospel of ‘me, ‘I’, the message of wealth commonly known as “the prosperity gospel”.

Now, let’s begin to look at the above portion of scripture.

I cannot say I can put myself in Abraham’s shoes on how I would react to the command given by God.  Issac the son God promised Abraham in his waning years of life, now is the subject and the object to be placed on an altar to be given back to God.

Altars of sacrifice was not new to the people of the known world.  It started way back with the brothers Cain and Abel.  Jealousy over the acceptance of a sacrifice.  Cain offered a sacrifice but without respect.  Becoming enraged kills his own flesh and blood, Abel while in the fields.

The same setting takes place not with Cain and Abel, but rather with, Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

1Ki 18: KJV
20  So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23  Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
30  And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
31  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32  And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33  And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34  And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35  And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36  And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37  Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
40  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

The prophet of old, Elijah, gave to the prophets of Baal a challenge.  He placed himself in a situation that only the God he served could bring him victory.  Through many steps of the challenge God eventually proved that He was the God that Elijah served.  The prophets of Baal were then slaughtered by Elijah. God will not allow His sovereignty to be slandered or belittled.  It goes without saying, when God asks of us to give a sacrifice it’s for at the end to bring glory to Him and Him alone.  For what He says He will do.  He is not a man that He should lie. (Numbers 23:19)  For when God speaks His word will do exactly what it was sent to do. (Isaiah 55:11)

God himself gave the greatest sacrifice of all at the altar called Golgotha, Calvary.  He gave His son the spotless lamb for the shedding of blood for the cleansing of sin for all of mankind from that day forward. ( John 3:16)

A song sung by Bill Monroe of bluegrass music wrote a song that asked a question to the listener.

Brother afar from The Savior today 
Risking your soul for the things that decay 
Oh if today God should call you away 
What would you give in exchange for your soul

The pulpits and even the homes around the world need once again build an altar that all may come and give their lives to Christ Jesus.  

For the past month as I have taken to write this article one song and that alone has been going through my innermost being that it should be the clarion call across all the nations of the world.

There’s Room at the Cross for You
Billy Gaines
The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.
There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.
Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome
Now, reader you do not have to wait for the next service held in your local church building to kneel at the altar.  For you can have the altar right there in your living room, bedroom, or den.  You can kneel there before Christ the Saviour and find a listening ear to your prayer.  You can right there, right now, place all of your heavy burden at that place you have deemed to make a personal altar, find rest for your weary soul.
AT AN ALTAR OF PRAYER 
(author unknown at the time of this article)
Many long years ago from heaven 
Came a man of beauty so rare 
With a heart full of love and mercy 
And met me at an altar of prayer (Chorus) 
At an altar of prayer, I met Jesus 
With compassion, He welcomed me there 
And my burdens so heavy were lifted 
When we met at an altar of prayer 

Many times when my heart is heavy 
I need someone I know who cares 
And the one that I need is Jesus 
And I can find Him at an altar of prayer 

(Chorus) 

If your heart is weighed down with problems 
And you’re caught in sins wicked snare 
You will find peace and rest in the Savior 
Just meet Him at an altar of prayer 

(Chorus)

Let’s bring back the altar!