March 7, 2014

Building Altars

Exodus 20:24-25 NLT

“Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.

1 Kings 18:31-33 KJV

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: 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. 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.

It's a marvelous exhilarating feeling  in communion with the Lord,  when the presence of God rushes in like a crashing wave. You're pulled in by the overwhelming love of the savior.  It washes over you. Peace cascades about your soul and time seems to stand still.
Then there are times in prayer when it can feel like more energy and effort is spent reaching after God. Inexperience or impatience with this delay can result in frustration. "God where are you? "

Could it be that the instant release of His presence in one moment was the result of preparation from another moment with God beforehand?

God shared this perspective with me in a moment like the latter scenario. He impressed upon me that the specific prayer I was engaging in at the moment was preparatory;  I was building an altar.

How?
In Hebrew altar simply  means "place of sacrifice".  To me that means preparing the environment for a right sacrifice. Conditioning the surroundings per se- with praise and worship is one way. Repentance and surrender is another. Ps.51 talks about the broken heart and contrite spirit signifying complete submission. Letting go of our own agenda. This is the  act of building .

It takes time because sometimes we're convinced our way is God's idea.  God, in perfect timing, reveals us to ourselves.  One nugget of revelation on top of another gets us to the place of acceptance  and repentance.  Those weights from us,  of earth, of stone,  become the altar where now we can lay  the sacrifice. Romans 12:1 shows what this sacrifice is.

A Hebrew could sometimes use one large stone as a place of sacrifice.  Other times the altar was made of many stones. The spiritual
building of altars will parallel.
But the reward: Then He answers by fire - those worldly desires are consumed in His mighty Fire. We can get lost in His fiery presence,  where we are purified.

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